California City Realtor Mike Strong has seen some tough times in the real estate market this high desert city, especially in the last 8 to 10 years.
“Very slow, very bad real estate market,” said Strong.
But suddenly things are changing almost overnight, it seems. “They’re going to be growing a lot of marijuana out here,” he said.
The city is experiencing a renewed interest in property sales and the driving force behind it is medical marijuana. California City is joining a number of others around the state that are allowing commercial businesses to grow, manufacture and distribute medical cannabis. It is the only city in Kern County to adopt such an ordinance. City leaders approved the move after months of discussion and a survey taken by mayor Jennifer Wood.
The on-line survey found that nearly 75 percent of respondents favored the city allowing commercial medical marijuana growers to set up shop in the city. Facilities can be as large as 22,000 square feet. All of the product is to be grown indoors.
That has set off a new kind of land rush to buy property solely for that purpose. Properties located in the industrial zone the city has designated for growing marijuana are being snatched up.
“With every week that goes by, (properties) double,” said Jane Riding with IMC Real Estate. “Everything we had listed two weeks ago is now sold.”
It doesn’t matter if the property listed has any utilities such as water and power hook ups. Some have no roads but are still being picked up by speculators and marijuana businesses. Sitting at her computer, Riding rattles off a number of properties that have just come on the market. One is 1.1 acres going for $99,500. She spots another that is not smaller than an acre.
“It is .84 of an acre and it’s listed at $100,000,” said Riding. And offers are coming in.
This is part of what city leaders were hoping to see. It will still be months before commercial medical marijuana growers will be up and running as the city has a myriad of regulations that the medical marijuana industry must follow before being allowed to open and operate.
City manager Tom Weil anticipates the city stands to gain between $2 to $3 million a year from the medical marijuana industry. And that’s just for starters.