The Visalia City Council took a step toward allowing delivery-only medical cannabis businesses within the city and adopted an ordinance to regulate short-term rentals.

What happened: At its Monday meeting, the Visalia City Council approved the first reading of an ordinance that will amend the Visalia Municipal Code to allow delivery-only medical cannabis businesses within the city to meet new state law requirements.

Although nearby cities like Tulare, Farmersville and Woodlake allow medical and commercial cannabis businesses to operate within their boundaries, Visalia has banned cannabis sales since 2017, after California passed a 2016 law legalizing cannabis use for those 21 and older. The council voted to maintain the ban in 2021. 

Known as the “Medicinal Cannabis Patients’ Right of Access Act,” California Senate Bill (SB) 1186 requires cities to allow and regulate medical delivery-only cannabis retailers. 

With SB 1186 taking effect on Jan. 1, 2024, Visalia had to update its ordinances to allow for delivery-only medical cannabis sales within the city or face potential legal action.

Council member Steve Nelsen said that with this bill, “Sacramento is overreaching in local municipalities.”

If adopted, the ordinance will require that these business sites are closed to the public and have security plans, delivery vehicles must be inspected by the city, sites will only be allowed in the industrial and light industrial zones and sites will not be allowed within 500 feet of any schools located inside or outside the city. 

The council also unanimously passed a consent calendar item authorizing the city manager to appropriate $85,000 from the city’s general fund to enter into contracts with Hdl Companies and FM3 Research to assist with examining potential cannabis regulations and preparing a potential local sales tax measure for cannabis sales for the 2024 election.   

And also: The Visalia City Council adopted an ordinance that will regulate short-term rentals (STR) in all residential zones throughout the city. When the council introduced the first reading of this ordinance at its Oct. 16 meeting, the council heard complaints from city residents about STRs near them. 

One Airbnb owner claimed that STR regulations threaten his rights as a homeowner and that the occupancy limits that would be placed on STRs discriminate against large families.

The ordinance will go into effect within 30 days of its passing, at which point STR owners will be required to go through a registration and permitting process, although some STRs will be grandfathered in. 

The ordinance will place limits on how many occupants can stay in an STR, where cars belonging to short-term renters can be parked and limit possible STRs to interior dwelling units. The ordinance will also require that STR owners include their permit number on any ads posted for their STR unit.

Up next: The Visalia City Council will meet again on Nov. 20.

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The Fresno Documenters are a group of local residents who are trained and paid to attend and take notes at local public meetings where officials decide how to spend public money and make important decisions...