Citing a backlog, Costa Mesa offers refunds to cannabis applicants willing to cut bait

The Daily Pilot reports

Cannabis retailers who’ve spent thousands to operate in Costa Mesa, only to be placed on long waiting lists, will soon be able to recoup money from the city after officials agreed to refund application fees to those who voluntarily withdraw their requests.

Council members Tuesday authorized a refund of licensing and permitting fees to some 45 applicants that have been waiting since August 2021 for a determination on whether they may do legal business in the city.

It’s an attempt to help clear a processing backlog that has plagued the city’s Development Services department, which has allocated roughly 25% of its time and personnel resources toward reviewing 63 retail cannabis applications.

Despite the department’s efforts, only 14 applicants have so far received the permits needed to open a storefront.

“Given the substantial number of applications and the time it takes to process each one, staff is suggesting that the council authorize the city manager to issue refunds of application fees for cannabis retail permits for those who decide to withdraw their applications,” Jennifer Le, director of economic and development services told the council.

With conditional use permit fees set at $18,499 and another $19,732 charged for cannabis business permits, staff estimate Costa Mesa has collected $866,048 from would-be operators who have yet to go before the Planning Commission for approval.


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