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Measure Z Implementation

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Vista, CA –Vista voters passed Measure Z at the November 6, 2018 General Election, with 53.81% of voters voting in favor of the measure.  Measure Z was a citizen’s initiative that qualified for the November ballot through the California elections code process.  As required by law, the measure was placed on the ballot exactly as it was written and submitted to the City.  The City was unable to make any changes to the measure presented to the voters, and, now that it has passed, Vista must implement the measure as written.

Measure Z enacted Vista Municipal Code (“VMC”) Chapter 5.94 in its entirety; further references will be to that Chapter.  Several updates to Vista Development Code Title 18, Zoning, have been made, as required by the measure.  VMC § 5.94.170.B states that the City Manager shall promulgate regulations and procedures to implement and administer the Chapter. 


Pursuant to VMC Chapter 5.94, up to eleven (11) medical cannabis storefront retailers may operate in the City of Vista.  Businesses were required to apply through a ministerial process, as described in the Chapter and subsequent regulations circulated by the City Manager.  The following are some of the rules established by the Chapter:

  • Medical cannabis businesses may only be located in Commercial zones (C-1, C-2, and C-3, Research Light Industrial zones (RLI), Mixed Use zones (MU), Industrial Park zones (IP), or Light Manufacturing zones (M-1) as designated in the Vista Municipal Code. Medical cannabis businesses are prohibited in residential zones (R-1, R-1-B, and R-M).
  • Medical cannabis businesses are prohibited within six hundred (600) feet of a pre-existing sensitive use (day care center, school, youth center, playground) pursuant to Health and Safety Code § 11362.768, B&P Code § 26054(b), and Regs § 5026(a).
  • Medical cannabis businesses are prohibited within five hundred (500) feet of any other permitted medical cannabis dispensary. The distance is measured from front door to front door, without regard to intervening structures.
  • The maximum hours of operation for a medical cannabis dispensary shall be daily from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
  • Each medical cannabis dispensary shall have at least one (1) dedicated parking space for every 1,000 square feet of the permitted building. (Note: this requirement is significantly lower than the City’s standard requirement of five dedicated spaces for every 1,000 square feet).  The medical cannabis dispensary must also have shared access to at least one (1) handicap accessible parking space.
  • A 7% tax on gross receipts will be collected from each medical cannabis business and deposited into the City’s general fund.  


Eleven medical cannabis businesses received Notices of Completed Registration which were issued by Vista.  Those businesses are eligible to apply for a license from the California State Bureau of Cannabis Control.  Once a business has received its State license and both a certificate of occupancy and business license from the City, it is eligible to open.  A map of businesses with Notices of Completed Registration and a spreadsheet tracking the progress of these businesses in the licensing process can be found in the “Resources” section below.

Notices of Completed Registration are valid for a period of two years after which they can be renewed for successive two year periods.  If fewer than eleven businesses are approved and operating in the future, the City may take additional applications, but not until early 2021.


Initial estimates were that tax revenue (from the 7% tax on gross receipts) could slightly exceed $1 million annually if all eleven dispensaries are in operation. These funds will be placed in the general fund and may be used for any lawful purpose.


VMC Chapter 5.94 only allows for (up to 11) medical cannabis storefront retailers; no other uses (adult-use cannabis businesses, testing, cultivation, manufacturing, temporary cannabis events, delivery) are permitted.  The City Council adopted a moratorium on other uses while they determine what, if any, changes to the municipal code should be made related to cannabis businesses.



To receive notifications of updates to this webpage or when cannabis related items are on the City Council agenda, please email [email protected] and request to be added to the email distribution list.

Measure Z Implementation: History


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  • Published: 1 year ago on May 13, 2019
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  • Last Modified: May 13, 2019 @ 9:00 pm
  • Filed Under: Local

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