CHICO, Calif. – Cannabis and COVID-19 were the two biggest topics before the Chico City Council Tuesday night. Nearly three years after the outbreak, the COVID-19 local emergency is coming to an end.
City council’s vote to end the local emergency takes effect Dec. 1 and means ending five executive orders that temporarily helped businesses during the pandemic. Those orders include some outdoor dining throughout the city and businesses who moved outdoors during the pandemic.
“We have learned as a community how to operate,” said Chico Deputy City Manager Jennifer MacArthur. Our businesses are operating and our community is operating. As you saw today, we were able to have a council meeting in person. These are all steps that have happened the past two years that have really allowed the council to consider this termination.”
That doesn’t mean all the outdoor dining around the city will be going away anytime soon though. MacArthur tells Action News Now there are only a handful of businesses that created outdoor dining or moved outdoors, that are still operating that portion of its business. These business included gyms, bars and restaurants.
These do not include the Downtown Chico parklets.
“On Oct. 18, the council will bring up the conversation in regards to the downtown parklets,” said MacArthur. “We have been fortunate to have vibrant activity to our downtown area during COVID-19 and it was because of some of the improvements including the downtown parklets.”
Many business managers tell Action News Now, they’re so thankful to have had their patio spaces and said without that, they may not still be in business.
Pleasant Valley High School senior Jesse Gonzalez went to the meeting and says ending the emergency means a lot, and shows how far we’ve come.
“It feels great to be open from everything from COVID-19,” said Gonzalez. “To be able to go out and do more things, that’s good.”
Gonzalez and the City of Chico both mentioned that COVID-19 is not gone, but people and businesses have made adjustments to live with the coronavirus and found ways to stay safe from it.
Pot shops are on the way in Chico. City council approved an extra $25,200 renewal application fee, $500 cannabis site plan evaluation fee and a $100 late application filing fee.
The business will have to pay the renewal fee within 10 to 11 months of opening.
These fees will apply to all 8 cannabis businesses including the manufacturing and distribution centers in the city.
“Well, there’s that main fee that every company will pay, that $25,200 fee that covers the audits, the compliance inspections and staff time for responding to the business and each different department for the city staff,” said Chico Management Analyst in the City Manager’s Office, Angie Dilg.
Each cannabis business will also have employee and manager fees on top of that. The city says that’s a standard fee though as the City of Redding’s renewal fee is around $30,000.
The City of Chico tells Action News Now the first storefront pot shop should open in December, the next in Spring and the third one next Summer.