Former Roseland School Site for a New Cannabis Company? The neighbors say no

Two local businesswomen want to open a cannabis cultivation, manufacturing and distribution facility in a building that once housed a Roseland charter school, but some area residents say they oppose this. kind of business in their neighborhood.

Old School Cannabis, which has applied for permission to operate on the site, will be reviewed by the Santa Rosa Planning Commission at a meeting scheduled for Thursday afternoon.

The owners of the company say it could create up to 50 jobs during peak production times. Local residents would receive first consideration for all open positions and the company itself would attract a representative sample of clients to the area.

“We want to… uplift the community, create jobs and uplift the culture,” said co-owner and operator Nayeli Rivera.

Rivera said she was a first generation immigrant whose parents moved to Sonoma County in the 1970s. She added that she grew up in Petaluma and now lives in Sevastopol.

“Being Mexican-American and a business owner in the (Roseland) community, I think, is just a wonderful opportunity and I feel very excited and very humble,” she said. “There aren’t that many Latinos in cannabis and especially no women.”

His partner, Cede Hunter, is also from northern California. Hunter’s father, Dennis, was a leader in the cannabis industry in Santa Rosa, according to a bio in the company’s license application.

Located at 100, chemin Sébastopol, the old school building is bordered by industrial facilities to the north and south. The residential areas are on its two other faces.

To the east, across the SMART rail line, is the Village Station development, which is under construction.

According to the company’s license application, Old School Cannabis would include an area for on-site cultivation, as well as another area where cannabis plants would be converted into product. Rivera said this allows for important quality control.

In the empty charter school classrooms, operators plan to set up a 17,120 square foot cannabis cultivation operation, as well as a 500 square foot manufacturing unit to extract oil from the plants. , a retail dispensary and salon where cannabis can be consumed (although city officials say it cannot be smoked) on the premises.

From a licensing perspective, the company’s plan is unique, said Kristinae Toomians, senior planner for Santa Rosa, who recommended that the Planning Commission approve Old School Cannabis’ application.

The project is larger for a cannabis facility that will operate within the city limits of Santa Rosa, and few cannabis dispensaries have obtained approval for on-site consumption.

Old School Cannabis could start applying for cannabis licenses once the project is approved by the Planning Commission. Santa Rosa City Council would only step in if neighbors appealed, Toomians said.

At least a handful of Roseland residents oppose the project.

An informal group of neighborhood residents say it plans to speak out against it Thursday afternoon before the Santa Rosa Planning Commission.

They can be joined by members of the Santa Rosa Junior College section of MEChA, a Latinx student advocacy organization, which posted on its Facebook page asking people to call for the meeting to voice their opposition to the business.

According to the post, the proposal has upset some members who were former students of Roseland University Prep, which once occupied the building where Rivera and Hunter hope to settle.

Through the group’s adviser, Rafael Vázquez, MEChA declined to comment, other than saying the representatives would attend Thursday’s planning committee meeting and address the commissioners.

Residents of Roseland, who also plan to speak to the commission to oppose the project, said they saw cannabis as an unwanted industry, especially in a neighborhood full of children and families.

They expressed frustration that a property, which was also seen as a possible permanent site for the long-awaited Roseland Public Library, would go to such a venture.

“There are residences around and it was a school for young people offering a healthy education,” said Marisol Angeles, 46, a resident of the area.

A cannabis dispensary could attract crime, she said, adding that it didn’t match her image of Roseland as a family community.

“They always bring the worst to the Roseland community,” said Concepcion Dominguez, 52, another local resident. “Why don’t they put him in Fountaingrove?” Because there are rich and powerful people who are going to oppose it out there.

Rivera said she and her colleagues walked through houses around the proposed project site and spoke with neighbors to explain their plans.

They encountered little opposition, she said, adding that she was unaware of MEChA’s concerns until a Democratic press reporter informed her.

“We are surrounded by a community and neighborhoods so we really care about being a good neighbor,” she said, adding that the company has a 13 point “good neighbor policy” which includes the presence of a bilingual community liaison officer on staff.

Rivera attributed fears the company would attract crime or negatively affect neighborhood youth to a lack of understanding of the legalized cannabis industry.

“It’s often stigmatized, especially in the Latino community,” she said, citing drug trafficking and cartel violence in Latin America.

Rivera said she hopes Old School Cannabis can help reverse these views by being a good neighbor and educating the community about cannabis as a legalized drug.

“It is a plant that is in our roots,” she added.

You can contact editor Andrew Graham at 707-526-8667 or [email protected] On Twitter @ AndrewGraham88

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