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July 24, 2021

Two dispensaries receive Planning Commission approval

WATSONVILLE—Watsonville will soon see its first cannabis dispensaries set up shop after two businesses received planning commission approval at Tuesday night’s virtual meeting.

Berryessa Holdings, LLC and Charlie Mike, Inc. both got the green light by a unanimous vote. The former will serve customers at 11 Hangar Way and the latter will open a location at 274 Kearney St.

Both businesses already have ongoing cannabis-related operations at their respective locations that date back to 2016.

The approvals come roughly a year after the Watsonville City Council last June OK’d wholesale changes to its cannabis rules, allowing three retail businesses, and increasing the number of licenses in cultivation (6), manufacturing (15), distribution (2) and delivery (7). The city also now allows an unlimited number of testing licenses.

Before the dispensaries came to the Planning Commission they went through a four-step pre-application process in which city staff and cannabis consultant HdL Companies scored applicants on various aspects of their business, including how they would benefit the community and their overall business plan.

Applicants were graded on both their submitted written proposals and in-person interviews.

Berryessa Holdings and Charlie Mike, also known as Santa Cruz Veterans Alliance, placed 1-2 in the pre-application process conducted earlier this year, beating out 13 other dispensaries hoping to land in Watsonville’s growing cannabis industry.

On Tuesday, Bryce Berryessa presented for Berryessa Holdings, and Jason Sweatt was on hand for Santa Cruz Veterans Alliance.

Berryessa is a member of the Santa Cruz County Business Council, and also the owner and co-founder of Treehouse in Soquel and The Hook Outlet in Santa Cruz, the latter of which prides itself on offering the “most affordable cannabis in Santa Cruz County,” according to its website.

Berryessa said the new location would be called The Hook Watsonville.

Sweatt, the CEO and co-founder of the Santa Cruz Veterans Alliance, said his business prides itself on supporting vets through its Veteran Compassion Program, which gives free medical cannabis for those who have served, especially those with service-related disabilities.

Both Berryessa and Sweatt were largely lauded by the Planning Commission for their upstanding business practices over the last five years.

Nobody spoke during the public comment period of either presentation.

A third dispensary submitted plans to the city, but they were not complete, Watsonville Associate Planner Ivan Carmona said. That proposed business is expected to come to the planning commission at its next meeting in September.

The Hook Watsonville will renovate a 3,000-square-foot building on Hangar Way that most recently housed Wargin Wines.

The Santa Cruz Veterans Alliance dispensary will be roughly 1,460 square feet. It will be in an office building abutting the business’ cultivation and manufacturing operations.

As required by Watsonville’s cannabis ordinance, the two businesses will need to comply with several video surveillance and other safety measures that will be reviewed by Watsonville Police Department.

The approvals will return to the Planning Commission every year for review.

Tony Nuñez
Managing Editor Tony Nuñez is a longtime member of the Watsonville community who served as Sports Editor for five years before entering his current role in 2019. A Watsonville High, Cabrillo College and San Jose State University alumnus, he covers the city, business, housing, entertainment and more.

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