As cannabis entrepreneurs and investors learn about the legal requirements to operate a compliant cannabis business, the next question many arrive at is - so how do I find a compliant property?
Every city has their own zoning requirements, so within L.A. county that means that Long Beach’s requirements differ from, West Hollywood’s, which differ from City of Los Angeles’. There are patterns - meaning that manufacturing and cultivation are usually permitted in manufacturing or light manufacturing zones, and retailers are permitted in commercially zoned locations. This article will cover the City of Los Angeles since it is the largest cannabis market and will be granting the most licenses in the county for cannabis businesses.
Particularly if you are considering a cannabis retail operation, location is extremely important. Not only do you want a property that is compliant, but one that will sustain your business. There is no shortcut to finding the right property. Particularly because the City of Los Angeles allows for limited use in certain zoning designations, it is not as simple as checking the zoning of your building and seeing if it is zoned for Commercial or Industrial use. Instead, only certain buildings within those zoning designations will be eligible.
Some websites list properties that they claim are compliant, but you will need to do diligence on the property to ensure that is in fact true. Here’s how to do that.
- Find the neighborhood you are interested in operating in. Narrowing it down will help because the City of Los Angeles has 128 different maps to consult in order to check your zoning.
- You can find the maps here https://planning.lacity.org/ordinances/docs/CommercialCannabis/CommCannabis_TOC.html
- Once you have decided on an a neighborhood, lookup addresses in ZIMAS to check their council district.
- Then, consult the City Planner’s maps to check the zoning.
- Pink or Blue are in the correct zoning*
- Grey and white are not.
- Double check against Zimas.
- *Note that once you have narrowed down a property, you should hire a mapping company to confirm that sensitive uses are an adequate distance away. The City has stated that their maps are a starting point but are not definitive.
For example, say you were looking for a property that is Beverly Hills adjacent. You would be looking at Council District 5. You have to navigate to the map for that Council District and then narrow down by streets. Note that the maps for City LA are not searchable like the maps for other cities (like Oakland) are, so you need to line up streets and count buildings to find an address.
Another option which requires more work but which may become necessary is to approach property owners of compliant properties which are not listed on the market to see if they are becoming available soon or could become available. This is an approach that many retailers and restaurant owners take in order to find the best property for their business. It is more time consuming but may ultimately be necessary to get you the property you need.
Once you do finally find a property you should consult with an experienced cannabis attorney who can ensure that your lease contains the specific provisions you need to safely operate a cannabis business at your property.