Quantcast
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Oceanside awards for pot-growing questioned

Four of the five licenses connected to the Mellano family

From Mellano & Company website
From Mellano & Company website

According to a lawsuit filed last week, it can’t hurt to do business in Oceanside if you have ties to a well-connected local family.

“There seems to be a strong nexus between local government and a local landowning family,” says attorney Tamara Leetham of San Diego’s Austin Legal Group. She says she has found a connection to the deeply-rooted Mellano family and the awarding of Oceanside's first-ever marijuana cultivation licenses.

Mellano & Company has been farming since the 1920s and maintains 375 farming acres in San Diego County. The company has traditionally been growing flowers for worldwide distribution. Mike Mellano says that he created Green Venture Farms Inc. as a separate entity that is concerned with cannabis cultivation and will operate on Mellano family property.

The lawsuit alleges that those Mellano connections can be so beneficial that a company that is officially forbidden from doing business in the California got a license to grow pot in Oceanside on Mellano property.

The lawsuit filed July 3 maintains that the city of Oceanside allowed the Mellano family to influence Oceanside’s own cultivation license awarding process. It claims that it is “inherently suspicious” that four of the five licenses given out by Oceanside to cultivate marijuana, are connected to the Mellano family. The suit says two of the firms that successfully applied to get licensed, Green Venture Farms Inc. and Oceanside Craft Farms Inc., are directly controlled by the Mellano family, and two others, White Mountain Farms Inc. and Second Sun Inc., will be doing business on Mellano property. Leetham says all four are part of a “Mellano monopoly.”

Second Sun Inc., is a Delaware Corporation with a San Jose address. It was first allowed to do business in California on October 31, 2016, but at the time the lawsuit was filed the business was suspended from doing business in California according to the Secretary of State’s website.

As of July 12 Second Sun Inc. was listed as a legal entity in California, according to the website. Mark Putney, a partner in Second Sun responded: "What happened was we changed addresses a year ago and it was never updated with the [Secretary of State] so they kept sending the request to update our addresses to the old address. All we had to do was update our address and statement of information."

Attorney Leetham says there were approximately 16 companies that initially filed to get a license to cultivate pot in Oceanside. There was a two-tiered rating system, including a “Phase 2” which awarded a total of 1500 points, and a “Phase 3” which had a maximum of 2500 points. These points were based on criteria including security plans and financial solvency. Leetham says she finds it strange that her firm’s client, Zenleaf LLC of San Diego, actually scored better than most of the four Mellano-connected applicants in Phase 2, but somehow did not make the cut when the five licenses were ultimately awarded in April.

She says the city provided details on the Phase 2 rating process when her firm asked but the city declined to reveal the criteria for Phase 3. “We believe they failed to provide all the public records,” she says. “We also dispute the amount and nature of the redacted records.”

But there’s more. “In April of last year the city issued its own rules that said there could be one cannabis cultivation company per parcel,” says attorney Leetham. “Then four months later they mysteriously changed their own rules so that more than one could exist on the same parcel. That ironically benefited four of the five winners [who will be on Mellano property].”

All of the applicants seeking a license to cultivate pot included facility and business plans. “Three of the four plans for [Mellano-connected] greenhouses appear to be almost identical,” says Leetham.

The Mellano family have been big spenders in Oceanside political campaigns. Mellano family members Michelle Keeler Mellano gave $2000 and Rosemarie Castellano gave $1000 to help elect Christopher Rodriguez to the city council in November. Mike Mellano’s Green Venture Farms gave Rodriguez $1000. Mellano and Company gave $15,166 to defeat the so-called SOAR initiative that would have forced a public vote on any zoning change from agricultural to residential.

When asked if the Austin Law Group has any smoking guns that could directly connect the Mellano family with any decisions that could have been made by city staff or elected officials, Leetham paused and said, “I prefer not to answer that question.” She says the lawsuit does not primarily seek monetary damages but rather is hoping to expand the number of licenses and/or get a full disclosure on how the rating process was conducted.

Calitopia was the fifth successful applicant who can now cultivate marijuana in Oceanside. The lawsuit does not allege that Calitopia is part of the “Mellano monopoly.”

Oceanside City Attorney John Mullen says that Second Sun can not ultimately be in forfeit status: "Neither the state license nor the conditional use permit can be issued unless proof of organizational status is documented. Second Sun has yet to even submit its [conditional use permit] application."

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Gordon Parks’ Batman and Robin crimebusters

The old guard doesn’t cotton to being upstaged by a pair of rookies
Next Article

Disneyland Haunted Mansion technique

Tom Brosseau, Cults, Eddie Vedder, Matte Black, Vokab Kompany
From Mellano & Company website
From Mellano & Company website

According to a lawsuit filed last week, it can’t hurt to do business in Oceanside if you have ties to a well-connected local family.

“There seems to be a strong nexus between local government and a local landowning family,” says attorney Tamara Leetham of San Diego’s Austin Legal Group. She says she has found a connection to the deeply-rooted Mellano family and the awarding of Oceanside's first-ever marijuana cultivation licenses.

Mellano & Company has been farming since the 1920s and maintains 375 farming acres in San Diego County. The company has traditionally been growing flowers for worldwide distribution. Mike Mellano says that he created Green Venture Farms Inc. as a separate entity that is concerned with cannabis cultivation and will operate on Mellano family property.

The lawsuit alleges that those Mellano connections can be so beneficial that a company that is officially forbidden from doing business in the California got a license to grow pot in Oceanside on Mellano property.

The lawsuit filed July 3 maintains that the city of Oceanside allowed the Mellano family to influence Oceanside’s own cultivation license awarding process. It claims that it is “inherently suspicious” that four of the five licenses given out by Oceanside to cultivate marijuana, are connected to the Mellano family. The suit says two of the firms that successfully applied to get licensed, Green Venture Farms Inc. and Oceanside Craft Farms Inc., are directly controlled by the Mellano family, and two others, White Mountain Farms Inc. and Second Sun Inc., will be doing business on Mellano property. Leetham says all four are part of a “Mellano monopoly.”

Second Sun Inc., is a Delaware Corporation with a San Jose address. It was first allowed to do business in California on October 31, 2016, but at the time the lawsuit was filed the business was suspended from doing business in California according to the Secretary of State’s website.

As of July 12 Second Sun Inc. was listed as a legal entity in California, according to the website. Mark Putney, a partner in Second Sun responded: "What happened was we changed addresses a year ago and it was never updated with the [Secretary of State] so they kept sending the request to update our addresses to the old address. All we had to do was update our address and statement of information."

Attorney Leetham says there were approximately 16 companies that initially filed to get a license to cultivate pot in Oceanside. There was a two-tiered rating system, including a “Phase 2” which awarded a total of 1500 points, and a “Phase 3” which had a maximum of 2500 points. These points were based on criteria including security plans and financial solvency. Leetham says she finds it strange that her firm’s client, Zenleaf LLC of San Diego, actually scored better than most of the four Mellano-connected applicants in Phase 2, but somehow did not make the cut when the five licenses were ultimately awarded in April.

She says the city provided details on the Phase 2 rating process when her firm asked but the city declined to reveal the criteria for Phase 3. “We believe they failed to provide all the public records,” she says. “We also dispute the amount and nature of the redacted records.”

But there’s more. “In April of last year the city issued its own rules that said there could be one cannabis cultivation company per parcel,” says attorney Leetham. “Then four months later they mysteriously changed their own rules so that more than one could exist on the same parcel. That ironically benefited four of the five winners [who will be on Mellano property].”

All of the applicants seeking a license to cultivate pot included facility and business plans. “Three of the four plans for [Mellano-connected] greenhouses appear to be almost identical,” says Leetham.

The Mellano family have been big spenders in Oceanside political campaigns. Mellano family members Michelle Keeler Mellano gave $2000 and Rosemarie Castellano gave $1000 to help elect Christopher Rodriguez to the city council in November. Mike Mellano’s Green Venture Farms gave Rodriguez $1000. Mellano and Company gave $15,166 to defeat the so-called SOAR initiative that would have forced a public vote on any zoning change from agricultural to residential.

When asked if the Austin Law Group has any smoking guns that could directly connect the Mellano family with any decisions that could have been made by city staff or elected officials, Leetham paused and said, “I prefer not to answer that question.” She says the lawsuit does not primarily seek monetary damages but rather is hoping to expand the number of licenses and/or get a full disclosure on how the rating process was conducted.

Calitopia was the fifth successful applicant who can now cultivate marijuana in Oceanside. The lawsuit does not allege that Calitopia is part of the “Mellano monopoly.”

Oceanside City Attorney John Mullen says that Second Sun can not ultimately be in forfeit status: "Neither the state license nor the conditional use permit can be issued unless proof of organizational status is documented. Second Sun has yet to even submit its [conditional use permit] application."

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Death, destruction and rebuilding in La Mesa

“I don’t feel the pull of pure chaos myself, because I’ve worked to build a life.”
Next Article

Gordon Parks’ Batman and Robin crimebusters

The old guard doesn’t cotton to being upstaged by a pair of rookies
Comments
4

Here Oceanside goes again! Corruption, insider deals, and pay-to-play abound. So what's new? Well, the stakes for these licenses could be huge. Or maybe not. It's not clear just how lucrative cannabis can be. With all the competition from Mexico and from No Cal, it might not be that good a deal.

Oh, and the newcomer Chris Rodriguez is on the recipient list from this grower complex. He seems to have mastered, early on, the skill of raking in dough from those he is supposed to evaluate and govern. Now, ol' Jerry Kern isn't looking so bad, is he? It's all what you compare and when you compare it. Sigh.

July 9, 2019

So....why do we need to have the growers licensed in the first place?

July 10, 2019

tax money

July 12, 2019
This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.
July 16, 2019

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer News — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close