Kevin L. Hoover
Mad River Union
ARCATA – Arcata’s cannabis economy further advanced in recent weeks with Planning Commission approval of three significant facilities – one downtown and the others in the Cannabis Innovation Zone (CIZ) in Aldergrove Industrial Park.
Eel River Dry Farms
Following Planco approval, Eel River Dry Farms will process and manufacture cannabis in a 24,000-square-foot, 32-foot-tall industrial building and former wood products processing facility on a 4.41 acre property just off Aldergrove Road near West End Road, in Area 2 of Arcata’s Cannabis Innovation Zone (CIZ).
The extraction area is about 9,300 square feet and includes several detached structures designed for cannabis extraction. An additional future building will be about 22,000 square feet.
No cannabis growing will occur on the site. Instead, frozen cannabis will be trucked in from one of the “organic, sustainable” farms with which the company works and then transported to the processing and manufacturing facility. Shipping containers will maintain the frozen product.
A Condition of Approval requires the mechanical, ventilation and odor control equipment be maintained to eliminate noise and odors associated with the manufacturing process. Security fencing is also required, and landscaping will be improved.
The project will provide vertical integration for the applicant’s off-site, sun grown cultivation operations in Southern Humboldt and other state compliant farms. The company already operates an extraction and packaging business elsewhere in the CIZ, but that will eventually become a distribution facility. It also works with other CIZ businesses, providing and developing cannabis-related products.
The Eel River project is the 13th of 15 Use Permit applications in Area 2 of the CIZ. A total of 20 are permitted. Along with a Use Permit, separate City of Arcata Commercial Cannabis Activity permits and state licenses are required.
The infill project qualifies for California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Categorical Exemption and is in compliance with the City of Arcata General Plan and Land Use Code Standards, including the city’s Cannabis Regulatory System. There are no environmentally sensitive habitat areas on or within the vicinity of the project.
The project was unanimously approved by the Planco.
Humboldt Herb and Market
Humboldt Herb and Market got a Use Permit to operate at 427 H St., the former West Coast Plumbing store. As an existing facility, the project qualifies for a CEQA Categorical Exemption.
The new shop would be farmer-oriented, selling cannabis clones and starts and holding open houses for cultivators. No packaging or manufacturing will take place there. No exterior alterations are proposed, just some inside remodeling.
It’s H Street’s second storefront cannabis outlet after Pacific Paradise, located north of the Plaza. Up to 15 are allowed within city limits, of which six have been applied for, five approved and three are operational.
While a neighboring business objected on grounds of the new cannabis shop attracting undesirables, the city didn’t foresee any negative impacts on area businesses or residences. The city prioritizes vacant buildings occupied and used as viable businesses on the premise that commercial activity deters inappropriate activity. In addition, cannabis businesses must maintain extensive security procedures, including security staff, cameras and training.
Applicant Chrystal Ortiz said her goal was to support and promote rural farmers. She said the new, “industrial style” shop would be “an experiential marketplace where tourists and residents alike can have a farm-direct relationship with the farmers and a more educational cross-cultural experience.” Ortiz likened the vibe to that of Seattle’s Pike Place Market.
She plans to aggressively address the issues of trash and lingerers there with security, new landscaping and frequent cleanups.
Insofar as the future addition of a delivery service, the Planco chose to allow city staff whether to grant such a request.
Dawa Holdings in Valley West
At its previous meeting, the Planco approved a Use Permit for a retail cannabis outlet for Dawa Holdings at 5000 Valley West Blvd. Delivery services will also be provided.
No cannabis cultivation or consumption will be conducted there. The business also qualifies for a CEQA Categorical Exemption as Existing Facilities.