Are SLO officials skirting laws to protect marijuana kingpin?

February 16, 2019

Editor’s Note: This is first in a series about allegations of backroom deals in the battle to control the local marijuana market and San Luis Obispo officials’ attempts to withhold public information.

By KAREN VELIE

San Luis Obispo city officials are refusing to release details of marijuana store application forms as questions have been raised about the fairness of the process for picking who will be allowed to open local retail marijuana stores. [Cal Coast Times]

And, as city officials denied requests for public records about the nine applications filed in January, they also refused to divulge information about a fundraiser hosted by one of the applicants. Mayor Heidi Harmon and two current city council members all failed to report the fundraiser on their financial disclosure forms.

For more than two weeks, city officials have refused to allow CalCoastNews to review the marijuana store applications at city offices, posted redacted copies of applications online and repeatedly delayed the release of public records that could shine a light on the process of selecting the people who will be able to operate retail marijuana stores in the city.

The city attorney’s office has acknowledged in nearly three in four cases that its initial decisions to censor portions of records were improper under the law — but only after challenged by a reporter.

Heidi Harmon and Helios Dayspring

On Oct. 28, marijuana mogul Helios Dayspring and his marijuana brand Natural Healing Center hosted a fundraiser for eight politicians from local cities planning to open cannabis shops in the near future, including three from San Luis Obispo. Mayor Heidi Harmon and council members Carlyn Christianson and Erica Stewart then won their elections. But all three candidates failed to report the cost of the fundraiser on their financial disclosure form.

Almost a month later, on Nov. 27, the SLO City Council unanimously passed a resolution establishing criteria to rank marijuana shop applicants. It created a point system under which the city would award the top point earners the coveted pot shop permits. Legal marijuana shops regularly garner between $5 million to $10 million a year in sales in California.

The point system decision drew criticism that city officials were rigging the selection process in favor of certain local pot business owners, including Dayspring.

During the discussion, Harmon and Christianson sought extra points for people who live locally. In May 2018, Dayspring purchased a home on Los Osos Valley Road near Foothill Boulevard.

Harmon was also successful in granting eight extra points to marijuana businesses with at least three people, with 2 percent or greater ownership, who earned below the median income at the time of the application. Dayspring’s application lists four additional owners, each with 3 percent ownership, earning him the eight extra points.

One of the owners is Nick Andre, who along with Harmon founded and later co-chaired the SLO County Progressives. In his application, Dayspring includes photos of himself with leaders in the SLO Progressives including Harmon and SLO County Supervisor Adam Hill.

In late January, nine applicants applied for the three available cannabis retail shop permits. But city staffers have yet to release eight of the nine applications while posting a heavily redacted copy of Dayspring’s Natural Healing Center application on the city’s website. A review of the application shows Dayspring is in line to receive the top points available in almost every category.

City officials have refused to allow reporters to review the applications at the counter or to receive the applications through a public records request. Instead, the city attorney’s office claims posting a heavily redacted copy online satisfies the city’s transparency requirements.

While government agencies can redact documents posted on government websites, planning permit applications and many other public records are required to be viewable without redacting names and contact information at the counter upon request or in an email following a public records request.


Loading...
DocT

When Marijuana was truly illegal, anyone could grow a crop and profit from it. Helios Dayspring did exactly this, back in the day along with countless others.


When Medical Marijuana became legal, anyone could obtain a prescription, grow a crop and profit from it. Many local people did exactly this, legally.


But, when Marijuana was “legalized” January 1st, 2018 a curious reality arose:


Long time, small scale, non-violent, no-prior-arrests-type-of-folks were now newly minted criminals, while actual criminals—with political connections— obtained permits in miraculous ways.


So, is it the plant that is causing problems? Or is was it because “anyone” could be a professional grower that caused the problems? NO!!!


Government regulation—-mis-branded as “legalization” is the problem. The corruption and backroom deals are just beginning, brought to you by “legalization” which is nothing more than a code-word for corruption.


Treat marijuana the same way we treat lavender, tomato, carrots or squash. Treat it, tax it, regulate it and zone it as any other crop designed for human consumption. Allow it to be sold in the same manner as these other crops…..license the production of this crop the same as any other crop.


Why do people always assume that voting for something to be “legal” will make it so? It’s just as stupid as assuming that voting for a “peace” candidate will bring peace, or voting for a “fiscal-conservative” will bring the budget into balance, or “tough on crime” will reduce crime, etc.


The bottom line is that all these regulations are simply used to control the market for the benefit of a literal handful of people who stand to benefit from it, at the expense of everyone else.


Potheads need to resume doing what they always did—-ignore the government and keep growing and selling on the black market. Funny thing, they’re doing exactly that! They’ll win too.


rukidding

Some good points although I will have to differ with you that it is like any other crop like tomato, carrots or squash? I haven’t heard of anyone being arrested for driving under the influence of tomato, carrot or squash which resulted in a fatal automobile accident. The only result of this crop is that, as you have stated, it has nourished the corruption in SLO.


nazbol gang

But carrots don’t make you stupid


copperhead

Redacted applications? What information would need to be redacted, their recipe? This is ridiculous.


When you vote for progressives, you must consider that they believe the end justifies the means in any and all of their so called causes and because they consider themselves to be morally superior in their beliefs, they can act in immoral and illegal ways without conscience or consequence.


Joshua

A lot more than the weather feels like Chicago.


Is Rod Blagojevich, impeached Chicago mayor who diminished the public’s “TAXED faith” in its leaders, consulting from the Pen?


Scarlet

* convicted governor, Einstein


c.d.cox

Heidi Heidi ho it’s time for you to go. You say fossil fuel is killing your children.You and your progressives(socialists) have already killed SLO. The only place I go in Slo is to Dr.. The city is filthy more ways than one.


obispan

The SLO process is pure Adam Hill/Heidi Harmon corruption, exactly the same process as Grover Beach with the California Public Records Act openly violated.


Ricky2

SLO has gone from being a well-run city to a cesspool of corruption, facilitated by a city attorney who should be fired. The job of an actual city attorney is to see stuff like this — corruption and coverup by refusing to daylight documents — doesn’t happen.


Wonder if Harmon’s girlfriend, a Monterey marijuana queenpin, is also in the running?


How cute Harmon’s campaign manager, Andre, is mixed up in this mess. The SLO Progressives seem to be all about themselves.


Myself

I hate to be the bearer of bad news but i doubt Dan Dow will investigate any of this , now he might be looking into the accident on 46 where an older lady pulled out in front of a mortorcycle to charge her with manslaughter, but real crooks he doesn’t seem to care about,Hill and his ilk, the wasteful management group, the list goes on, Gentleman the dope deal is on.


rukidding

Like most crimes all you have to do is follow the money. And it appears that there is going to be more to follow with the legalization of marijuana here in SLO. We saw it in Grover Beach and now in SLO. Because of a lack of any prosecution they are getting more and more brazen which eventually will lead to their downfall. But in the meantime we will pay the price.


Gordo

The majority of voters in California chose to legalize marijuana and now act surprised that the money from legal marijuana breeds corruption among government officials.


Elections have consequences and we are seeing the results of legalizing marijuana; yes we got the “Man” off the backs of those who inbibe in the herb, but we invited those newly legitimized drug kingpins into city hall.


mesaman1651

When there is a lot of money to be made, corruption raises it’s ugly head and takes over.

The love of money is the root of all evil.