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Board Of Supervisors Unanimously Approves Cannabis Equity Legislation Introduced by Mayor London Breed

Legislation aims to bolster the City’s Cannabis Equity Program and further support cannabis business owners

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On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors unanimously passed legislation introduced by Mayor London N. Breed to enhance the impact of the City’s Cannabis Equity Program and support all cannabis businesses in San Francisco. The legislation builds on the Program’s original goal to combat disparities in the cannabis industry by establishing a social equity program in San Francisco. The Cannabis Equity Program, which launched in 2018, was created to lower the barriers to cannabis licensing and provide workforce opportunities to those who were hit hardest by the War on Drugs.

The legislation modifies the permit process and creates new processing priorities in the Office of Cannabis to increase opportunities for prospective equity businesses. The legislation also provides greater ownership flexibility for cannabis businesses and preserves equity commitments in the program.

“As San Francisco works to recover from COVID-19, it’s important that we support small businesses, including our cannabis industry,” said Breed. “This legislation helps us make sure the program continues to achieve its goals and ensure that cannabis business owners are supported and have the resources they need to be successful in San Francisco.”

Since the establishment of the Cannabis Equity Program, 94 Equity Applicants have applied for permits to operate cannabis businesses in San Francisco. To date, San Francisco has issued 36 permits to equity cannabis businesses, including permanent and temporary permits. In addition to issuing permits for businesses, San Francisco’s Office of Cannabis administers grants for Equity Applicants, who are individuals that meet criteria based on residency, income, criminal justice involvement, and housing insecurity.

These grants, funded by the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) and the Department of Cannabis Control, can be used for start-up and ongoing costs. San Francisco has received approximately $6.3 million in grants from GO-Biz and BCC. To date, the City has approved funding requests for 45 grantees, ranging from around $50,000 to $100,000 each, and nearly $3 million has been disbursed. The remaining grant funds are in the process of being redistributed to equity businesses.

The legislation creates measures to ensure the cannabis industry in San Francisco continues to support communities that have historically been harmed by the War on Drugs.

Specifically, the legislation:

  • Prioritizes Cannabis Equity Applicants who are sole proprietors for permit processing
    • Equity Applicants will continue to receive top priority
    • Non-equity owners who support Equity Applicants through shared manufacturing will also receive heightened priority
  • Shortens the time period for a transfer of more than a 50% ownership interest in a Cannabis Business from 10 years to five years, giving businesses more flexibility to grow
  • Requires that cannabis businesses make additional social equity contributions if they seek to reduce the equity applicant’s ownership interest by 20% or more
    • These commitments include opportunities to provide hiring, training, and mentorship and provide other forms of support to cannabis equity businesses or local organizations

“Being the First Latina-owned cannabis dispensary owner/CEO of Stiiizy Union Square feels surreal,” said Equity Permit holder Cindy De La Vega. “My grand opening was Oct. 9, 2020, during a very difficult time for all of us, and especially for areas like Union Square. I am grateful for the San Francisco Equity Program and proud to be permit No. 11. I look forward to using my opportunity to show others that the San Francisco Equity Program does work and should be the blueprint for others to bring to their cities.”

“I’m grateful to the City and the State for this opportunity,” said Ali Jamalian, founder and CEO of Kiffen LLC and Equity Permit holder. “Thank you to the Office of Cannabis for standing up this Pilot Program. The money is incredibly helpful and allows me to scale my business during a difficult time. I’m hopeful that all eligible equity applicants will take advantage of the opportunity.”

The cannabis industry in San Francisco is important for the City’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Cannabis businesses have created jobs and provided local San Francisco residents with meaningful access to income, as many in the City have worried about employment. Over the past year-and-a-half, 17 new equity cannabis businesses have opened, each creating local job opportunities and generating sales tax revenue to fund other social services and programs. During this same time, approximately 75 cannabis businesses also operated with temporary permits, and an additional 38 businesses operated as medical cannabis dispensaries. San Francisco’s cannabis businesses employ approximately 70 local residents through the City’s First Source Hiring Program.

“Thank you to Mayor Breed for strengthening social equity and creating more economic opportunities to those hurt by the War on Drugs,” said Marisa Rodriguez, director of the Office of Cannabis. “Mayor Breed’s legislation ensures that there will continue to be a legacy of equity in the City for years to come.”

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Bay Area

IRS Extends Filing Dates in Counties Under Federal Emergency Declarations

The announcement affects residents in Alameda, Marin, Contra Costa, San Francisco, Monterey, Napa, San Joaquin, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano and Sonoma counties, the IRS said.

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Eligible taxpayers will also have until May 15 to make 2022 contributions to their IRAs and health savings accounts.
Eligible taxpayers will also have until May 15 to make 2022 contributions to their IRAs and health savings accounts.

By Katy St. Clair, Bay City News Foundation

The Internal Revenue Service has extended its annual tax return due date by a month for people who live in areas impacted by the recent storms, the IRS announced on Tuesday.

California storm victims now have until May 15 to file their individual or business taxes if their area was declared an emergency by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The announcement affects residents in Alameda, Marin, Contra Costa, San Francisco, Monterey, Napa, San Joaquin, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano and Sonoma counties, the IRS said. A full list of counties can be found at https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/tax-relief-in-disaster-situations.

Eligible taxpayers will also have until May 15 to make 2022 contributions to their IRAs and health savings accounts.

Taxpayers will not have to do anything to initiate the extension, the IRS said, and do not have to contact the agency to get this relief.

Some other extensions are being granted to farmers, those who pay quarterly estimated payments, and those who pay quarterly payroll and excise taxes. To learn more, go to irs.gov.

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Bay Area

City Fails to Win $182 Million Federal Grant for Oakland A’s Howard Terminal Project

Opponents said the lack of a recommendation by the U.S. Department of Transportation “shows the lack of credibility — likely based on concerns over safety, economic viability, disruptions to port traffic and supply chains, echoed by maritime stakeholders — for the future of the project with key public transportation and political stakeholders that should prompt an overall re-evaluation.”

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A city document suggests $600 million will be needed for offsite infrastructure.
A city document suggests $600 million will be needed for offsite infrastructure.

By Keith Burbank | Bay City News

Oakland may miss out on millions of dollars in grant money that could advance the Oakland A’s proposed ballpark at the city’s port.

The U.S. Department of Transportation failed to recommend that Oakland get $182.9 million in the initial round of funding for the city’s Waterfront Mobility Project. Oakland has not received official word that it was denied the grant money.

The city has been securing dollars for the offsite infrastructure needed to support a new ballpark at the Charles P. Howard Terminal.

“While we are disappointed to have not been selected in the first round, we believe we put forward a strong application and are well positioned to secure other funding sources,” said Fred Kelley, director of the Oakland Department of Transportation. “We will continue to pursue other funding sources to ensure our projects have the resources they need.”

Oakland applied for grant money through the Mega Grant Program, which funds “large, complex projects that are difficult to fund by other means and likely to generate national or regional economic, mobility, or safety benefits.”

The ballpark proposed by the Oakland A’s would seat about 35,000 people, and the development overall consists of new housing, parkland, an entertainment venue and commercial space.

Not everyone wants the A’s to build a new park at the Port of Oakland. Groups have come together in opposition, hoping to have the A’s build a new park in East Oakland at the current Oakland Coliseum site.

Groups led by the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association sued to stop Oakland from issuing a required environmental impact report for the proposed ballpark.

The opponents said the lack of a recommendation by the U.S. Department of Transportation “shows the lack of credibility — likely based on concerns over safety, economic viability, disruptions to port traffic and supply chains, echoed by maritime stakeholders — for the future of the project with key public transportation and political stakeholders that should prompt an overall re-evaluation.”

A city document suggests $600 million will be needed for offsite infrastructure. The city has secured or is in the process of securing more than $320 million of that money, according to city documents published in December.

Former Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf was a strong supporter of the project.

New Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao said at her inauguration Monday that she will work with the Oakland A’s on a deal to keep the team in Oakland while protecting Oakland values.

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Activism

California Family Whose Beachfront Properties were Seized 100 years ago, Sells Land Back to County for $20 Million

In the 1920s, the beach resort was extremely popular with African American tourists. At that time, Black people were not permitted on white beaches. The site became famously known as “Bruce’s Beach.” The children and grandchildren of Charles and Willa Bruce fought for decades to get back the land.

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Supervisors Janice Hahn and Holly Mitchell commemorate the signing of State legislation to return the land to the closest living heirs of the Charles and Willa Bruce. Credit / County of Los Angeles.
Supervisors Janice Hahn and Holly Mitchell commemorate the signing of State legislation to return the land to the closest living heirs of the Charles and Willa Bruce. Credit / County of Los Angeles.

By Stacy M. Brown
NNPA Newswire

The great-grandchildren of the African American couple Willa and Charles Bruce, whose land in Southern California was taken in 1924 and returned to the family last year, have opted to sell it back to the local government for $20 million.

In the 1920s, the beach resort was extremely popular with African American tourists. At that time, Black people were not permitted on white beaches.

The site became famously known as “Bruce’s Beach.”

The children and grandchildren of Charles and Willa Bruce fought for decades to get back the land.

Chief Duane Yellow Feather Shepard, a family historian and spokesman for the Bruce family, stated in a 2021 interview, “It was a very significant location because there was nowhere else along the California coast where African Americans could go to enjoy the water.”

The Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacists often threatened the Bruce family, but they kept the resort open and took care of the land.

In 1924, the municipal council used eminent domain to take the land to build a park.

But, according to a TV show called “The Insider,” the area wasn’t used for many years.

Willa and Charles Bruce fought back in court, but their compensation was only $14,000. In recent years, local officials have estimated the property’s value to be as high as $75 million.

The area contains two coastal properties and is currently used for lifeguard training.

Janice Hahn, chair of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, revealed that the family would sell the property back to the local government.

Hahn stated that the price was set through an appraisal.

Hahn stated, “This is what reparations look like, and it is a model I hope governments around the country would adopt.”

The statement made by Hahn may or may not be exactly what the Bruce family desired in addition to the restitution of their land.

In 2021, Anthony Bruce, the great-great-grandson of Willa and Charles Bruce, told The New York Times, “An apology would be the least they could do.”

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