Mayor Darrell Steinberg, cannabis grower Natura spar at Sacramento City Council meeting over workplace violations

Natura's Ori Bytton sparred with Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg during the city council meeting over worker safety issues. | 

After hearing from several employees of cannabis cultivator Natura expressing fear of losing their jobs over the building violations issued by the city of Sacramento, the business owner and Mayor Darrell Steinberg engaged in a sparring match. The verbal exchange between Steinberg and Natura chief operating officer Ori Bytton came during the public comment on non-agenda items at the Tuesday, October 3, city council meeting.

During his comments to the city council, Bytton said seemingly out of nowhere, city inspectors issued safety violations last week. Bytton claimed that approximately 400 employees work in safe spaces. 

"Actually, our workers' comp [payments] dropped significantly because we are a safe place," Bytton said. "What I am asking the city council to do today is to override the decision of Bob Latz, the chief budling inspector."

Bytton added, "Something is rotten in the management of your city."

Steinberg did not take kindly to Bytton's characterization and defended city staff, saying the violations have been ongoing for two years. He also stressed that the safety of Natura employees was of concern.

"I'm frankly concerned about the workers," Steinberg said after hearing a timeline of events according to Bytton. "There are a lot of questions of whether or not you knew of the violation and whether or not you informed your workers because they are the ones who are innocent here." 

After Councilmember Eric Guerra remarks, he asked city staff for a summary of developments.  

City staff said the company has had fire violations since 2020 and has operated on a temporary certificate of occupancy. The mayor and city council said the the TCO, which expired on September 22, should have become a certificate of occupancy years ago. 

When staff was asked how long it might take to be granted a certificate of occupancy based on the current violations, he was told it could take up to the end of December. Staff told Guerra it was unlikely another TCO could be issued. 

The discussion was not on the agenda, and the city council could not take action. It is unknown if the Natura operation was shut down, and the company did not return a message seeking comment.

Natura's operation is located at 8280 Elder Creek Road, in Sacramento City Council District 6.  

Watch the comments from Bytton, Steinberg, and Guerra in the video.  

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