Municipal finances and the “sniff test”

A CANNABIS cultivation, processing and sales operation can bring financial rewards to a city, but there’s more to the issue than that (Shutterstock).

Note: Second in a series of articles about what 2020 might hold for our cities. In this installment, it’s Stanton.

Stanton is smokin’ … perhaps in another way

Under the leadership of new city manager Jarad Hildenbrand, this small city of Stanton – just about three-plus square miles – is making some bold moves.

Hoping to capitalize on being bisected by two of Orange County’s busiest streets – Katella Avenue and Beach Boulevard – Stanton has raised “bed taxes” on hotels and motels, and is benefitting from new development along the latter street.
Especially tasty is the “22 and Beach” project on Beach, north of Garden Grove Boulevard. Still under construction, it’s already attracted big crowds for its popular new Raising Cane’s chicken fingers fast food eatery and a big In-N-Out, a chain that could probably pack its drive-through lanes even if located in Death Valley.

The most interesting, and possibly sketchy move, is the city’s receptivity to the cultivation, production and sale of cannabis. Voters there in November approved a measure that sets rules and tax rates on recreational “pot.”  Such businesses are not yet legal in Stanton, but the lure of as much as $1.4 million in annual revenue from an operation such as “Cookies” in Maywood might be hard to resist.

Folks today are fairly tolerant of the use of marijuana, but that tolerance has its limits, though. A consultant on this issue told the council last year that such a marijuana processing plant could expect to filter out only 80 percent of the fumes. That means people in the area surrounding such a place could be treated to a steady stream of the intoxicating stuff.

Stanton is not a rich city. It has farmed out its fire and police services to countywide agencies and recently sought outside help in public works as well. One point four million dollars would go a long way toward raising the boat. But until the technology to reduce the “collateral damage” of pot fumes improves dramatically, does Stanton really want to be known as a community where you can get a “contact high” just from walking around?

The liberalization of marijuana laws has already resulted in much more public pot-smoking everywhere. You can find yourself in an involuntary cannabis haze in a supermarket parking lot or even at a high school football game. Is something even bigger than that the shape of things to come?

Hitting the Target

Probably the biggest retail success story of the last generation has been the steady rise of the Target department store chain. With its slick approach of cheap chic, it’s a highly-coveted operation that brings in hordes of shoppers, piles of profit to shareholders and stacks of sales tax to cities.

We have two Targets each in Westminster and Garden Grove and one in Huntington Beach (the one on Beach Boulevard which seems to be in HB is actually in Westminster). Who’s the champ? It was announced at this week’s Garden Grove City Council meeting that the location at Chapman Avenue and Harbor Boulevard was the fifth-best performing store in the whole national chain. That’s a lot of Disney sweaters.

On-line shopping is fun, but sometimes you just want to browse in person.

Usually Reliable Sources is posted on alternate Thursdays.


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