Fivefold expansion of Kings Garden cannabis facility approved following debate over solar requirements

Fivefold expansion of Kings Garden cannabis facility approved following debate over solar requirements

Kings Garden is planning to add 180,000 square feet to its current marijuana cultivation operations on 19th Avenue, a fivefold increase to its total footprint.

Approval of a major expansion of the Kings Garden marijuana grow operation on land inside the Palm Springs city limits nearly hit a solar snag Wednesday night.

The Palm Springs Planning Commission, in considering approval of a permit for a 175,000-square-foot expansion of the cultivation operation on 19th Avenue, debated whether to require Kings Garden’s owners to place solar panels on the property as a condition of that approval. They retreated from that position, however, after a company executive, pressed for a commitment to install solar panels, could only agree to exploring the option.

“Will I be willing to look into it? Absolutely, without a doubt,” Gary LaSalle, vice president of operations at Kings Garden, told commissioners. “I just don’t know how the economics will work out. … There’s a lot of legwork that needs to go into that before I can give you a yes or no.”

LaSalle knows a few things about that legwork. Prior to joining Kings Garden, the largest marijuana cultivator in the Coachella Valley, he owned LaSalle Solar Systems in Cathedral City for more than a decade. While he remains a proponent of the technology, he explained Wednesday evening that even if he were to cover all available space at the operation’s 9.4-acre lot with solar panels, the power produced would only be a fraction of what the larger facility would need.

“Can we put it on the roof? That’s not an option,” he said, as equipment required to operate the business, such as that used to eliminate odors, needs to be placed on the roof. “Can we put it in parking lots and on carport roofs? I can take a look.

“But you’re talking about $2 million to offset five percent of your energy use. It’s tough to squeeze.”

In the end, councilmembers voted 4-2 to move the project forward. They had earlier voted unanimously to merge six parcels at the property east of Interstate 10 into one — also a requirement to begin construction.

Related news: The city is hoping to help operations much smaller than Kings Garden enter the retail marijuana business in town, thanks to nearly $870,000 in state grant money. Applications for the city’s Equity Business Program were expected to open June 1. That opening came a bit later than expected, but as of last week it is in full swing. Interested parties who meet income requirements and other requirements can get more information on the city website here.

Any retail marijuana business that opens in Palm Springs will have plenty of company. As previously reported in The Post, two dozen dispensaries currently operate in the city, including a dozen along a three-mile stretch of Palm Canyon Drive. Unlike other cities in the state, Palm Springs does not appear to have placed a cap on the number of cannabis licenses it will issue. There is currently one license per every 2,100 residents — a higher density than any other city in California that allows retail marijuana sales.

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APPEALS RULINGS: The Palm Springs Administrative Appeals Board on Tuesday upheld a citation and ban levied against a condominium owner who failed to license his unit as a vacation rental, and also voted to lower a fine levied against a local restaurant accused of violating social distancing regulations during the battle against COVID-19. The Board unanimously upheld the fine of $5,000 against the condo owner at Smoke Tree Racquet Club, 1650 E. Palm Canyon Dr., and also banned the owner from operating a vacation rental in the future. City code enforcement officers had cited the owner last fall after booking a rental at the condo online and finding it was not licensed. An appeal of a $5,000 fine against the owner of Kaiser Grille, 205 S. Palm Canyon Dr., was lowered to $1,000. Code enforcement officers found unlawful indoor dining and failure to comply with physical distancing requirements in the outdoor dining areas at the restaurant in February. The appeal of $40,000 in fines levied against the owner of Hair of the Dog, 555 S. Palm Canyon Drive, was delayed until a later meeting of the Board.

MUSEUM LEADERSHIP: The Palm Springs Art Museum has a new executive director/CEO. Adam Lerner, who previously held a similar title at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, will officially start work in Palm Springs on July 15, museum officials announced Wednesday. “I am looking forward to building on the success of my predecessors, and cultivating a dynamic and inclusive institution that is relevant not only to the art world but also to everyone who lives in the Coachella Valley,” Lerner said in a statement. Lerner replaces Louis Grachos, who resigned in March after heading the museum for a nearly two-year run. Grachos returned to Santa Fe as executive director of the contemporary arts organization SITE Santa Fe, which he led from 1996 to 2003.

SPEAKER SERIES: The United Nations Association of the Coachella Valley continues its series of speaker events, presenting Climate Crisis: Global and Local Perspectives at 4 PM June 29. Tanja Srebotnjak, the Director of the Zilkha Center for Environmental Initiatives at Williams College, and Patrick Evans, the morning and noon meteorologist at KESQ News Channel 3 and Host of Eye on the Desert, are scheduled to participate. The event will be held over Zoom. Registration is available here. After Srebotnjak and Evans speak, there will be a 30-minute question and answer session.


MIZELL EVENTS: The Mizell Center, 480 S. Sunrise Way, holds multiple events today, including an in-person Alzheimer’s support group. A complete schedule of today’s events, including how to register for both in-person and online attendance, can be found here.

FOOD AVAILABLE: FIND Food Bank distributes food in the city today at two locations. A mobile market will be set up at the James O. Jessie Desert Highlands Unity Center, 480 W. Tramview Rd., from 4 PM to 6 PM. Food is also available at the community food bank, 610 S. Belardo Road, between 5 PM and 7 PM. That location is open every Thursday. A complete calendar of food distribution in the community is available here.

FREE MUSEUM ADMISSION: The Palm Springs Art Museum offers free admission from 5 PM to 7 PM this evening. Tickets are required and can be obtained here.

CITY COUNCIL: The Palm Springs City Council holds its regular meeting tonight at 5:30 PM. Information on viewing the meeting online, as well as an agenda, can be found here.


Want to know what’s happening in your city and at agencies that make decisions affecting your neighborhood? The following links should help:

City of Palm Springs calendar of events

Palm Springs Library calendar of events

Palm Springs Unified School District calendar

Mizell Center calendar of events

Desert Water Agency calendar

ONE-PS calendar of events

Police reports | Submit a police report

Code compliance reports | Report a code violation

Current road projects and closures

Currently active development projects

FIND Food Bank mobile market schedule

Palm Springs Disposal pickup schedule

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