Cannabis businesses in Baldwin Park owe nearly $4 million in outstanding fees to City Hall, but four companies are pushing back, arguing the fee is unevenly charged and improperly spent.
Baldwin Park turned to cannabis starting in 2017 as a possible new revenue source. It has since struggled to persuade cultivators and manufacturers to pay what it calls “mitigation fees,” hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to offset the impacts of the industry. Now it’s threatening to revoke their licenses.
Last week, David Torres-Siegrist, an attorney representing four of the delinquent companies, submitted a letter on his clients’ behalf urging the City Council to reconsider how it collects these fees in light of what he described as glaring flaws in the system. Three of the four companies are not in operation — largely because of a multiyear approval process that requires sign-offs from various county agencies — yet they have been billed more than $1 million each since 2017, Siegrist said.
“All these operators want is a fair playing field,” Siegrist said in an interview. “If you’re going to call it a mitigation fee, give us a report that proves that we’re impacting the city, especially the guys who are not producing anything, they’re not even open or operating.”
In total, 14 of the city’s 16 cannabis businesses were behind on payments as of last month.
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