Palm Springs, CA

Expansion of cannabis facility north of Interstate 10 tied to odor mitigation efforts elsewhere

The Palm Springs Post

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Odors coming from this cannabis facility in the Desert Highlands Gateway Estates neighborhood have long frustrated neighbors and city officiThe Palm Springs Post

City officials frustrated with a lack of progress on odor issues at a Kings Garden marijuana cultivation facility in the Desert Highlands Gateway Estates neighborhood tied approval of the company's proposed expansion elsewhere in the city to that progress Thursday evening.

Residents in the neighborhood have reported odors coming from the facility on North Anza Road for years, and the company is working to address them. Councilmembers said that work is not happening fast enough, however, and until they are satisfied that the issues are mitigated in the neighborhood the company's plans to begin a fivefold expansion of its operation on 19th Avenue may have to wait.

"One thing I know is that residents in the area are very tired of calling in about odor complaints for years at this point." — Councilmember Grace Garner

"I personally live nearby the facility and smell the odors regularly," said District 1 Councilmember Grace Garner, who proposed linking approval of the 19th Avenue expansion with the odor control efforts on North Anza Road. "There are weeks when it's every day. I've spoken to residents and businesses around there, and they confirm it is a regular issue.

"One thing I know is that residents in the area are very tired of calling in about odor complaints for years at this point."

Representatives of Kings Garden, addressing the Council Thursday, defended their efforts at odor control to date. They said there had been few complaints at the North Anza Road facility since they began $750,000 in upgrades at the 39-year-old building months ago. A permit allowing for additional building modifications is only days away from being secured.

"We have not just been sitting back and letting this thing drag on," said Steve Kuehl, an attorney representing Kings Garden. "We have done all we can to help mitigate odor control issues."

Until the city can verify a reduction in odors at the North Anza Road operation, Kings Garden's plan to construct an additional 174,000 square feet of operating space at its 19th Avenue site may be delayed. Council members directed city staff to work with the company to usher in the odor control measures quickly. If there is not satisfactory progress, they said it might impact their decision on the 19th Street project application when it comes back before them. That won’t happen until an environmental review of the 19th Avenue operation is conducted to examine possible greenhouse gas emissions, odors, and the types of energy used to power the operation.

“We have not just been sitting back and letting this thing drag on.” — Kings Garden attorney Steve Kuehl

If all goes well, both the review of the 19th Avenue expansion and odor mitigation efforts on North Anza Road could both conclude in 90 to 120 days.

"The Council has dealt with this for over a year," Garner said. "It needs to be done."

In other action Thursday night, the Council:

  • Voted 3-2 to allow a planned 80-unit housing development at the southwest corner of East Palm Canyon Drive and Matthew Drive to move forward with approved mitigations. Opponents looking to protect the habitat of a rare beetle, including those from Oswit Land Trust, are expected to sue in hopes of forcing additional environmental review. Mayor Christy Holstege and Councilmember Geoff Kors voted no, citing the need to further examine the project which was first approved in 2017.
  • Approved allocating up to $50,000 for minor updates and repairs to The Plaza Theatre in preparation for once again holding events at the historic structure. The Post first reported that request on Monday.
  • Directed staff to inform restaurant owners with parklets that the city will soon charge them a fee, possibly around $3 a square foot. Discussion of the fee and design standards for the parklets was pushed out until the Council next meets in September.
  • Awarded a contract for demolition of the buildings at the former Tova Hotel project, 1875 N. Palm Canyon Dr., to the second-lowest bidder, Resource Environmental, Inc., for $167,000. The contract was originally slated to be signed with Uprite Construction Corporation for $163,425, but that company’s bid was protested. The Tova project is one of four in the city that is stalled or in similar states of partial construction.
  • Recognized outgoing Police Chief Bryan Reyes, who is retiring in August. Reyes will return for an in-person proclamation ceremony at the Council’s next meeting in September.
  • Heard a presentation regarding potential sister cities for Palm Springs. Three international cities — in Mexico, France, and England — and three in the United States — Provincetown, Mass., Ashville, NC, and Aspen, Colo., — are on the list.
  • Committed $10,000 to help bring a four-year college campus to the Coachella Valley. Priority One Coachella Valley is spearheading the effort.

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