By Doug Curlee | Editor at Large
At least two — and probably more — marijuana cooperatives are vying to open legal pot dispensaries in the Grantville area. One of them has already shut down its illegal operation after agreeing to do so under the order of the San Diego Superior Court. That one would be Living Green, which we’ve written about before, and likely will again.
The second had also operated illegally in San Diego back in 2009, but shut down voluntarily in order to attempt to gain permission to operate legally. That one would be SDUG, Inc., which currently operates two Bay Area dispensaries in San Francisco and Oakland.
Living Green signed a stipulated agreement with the City Attorney, which had brought them into court over the illegal operation at 4417 Rainier St. in Grantville. Living Green agreed to voluntarily pay heavy fines and fees rather than be ordered to by Judge John Meyer. Living Green further agreed to completely vacate the location and wipe out any trace of their presence there, and to stop any and all advertising anywhere.
And yet, that agreement apparently allows Living Green to continue to pursue legal status in San Diego. Their application is still active with the City.
SDUG brought its proposal to the Navajo Community Planners, Inc. (NCPI) on Feb. 25. Promising to be everything Living Green wasn’t, SDUG President Alicia Barron pointed out their history in San Francisco and Oakland, where the company has never had an instance of criminal activity. She said they’ve never had a police problem.
“In 15 years, we’ve never been closed down by the city or the state. We have very strict security on a 24-hour basis, even though we’re only open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.,” Barron said. “We strictly control who we sell to, and we keep very careful records.”
Barron said the same careful operation would be run here in San Diego, if their application is approved.
She is angling to open in a fairly familiar area. She proposes to open at 4427 Rainier St. — 50 feet from where Living Green just shut down and vacated.
But Barron ran into some tough questions from the NCPI board and the audience. Board member Dan Smith pointed out what he saw as inaccuracies in the application, concerning space, access and parking.
“I just don’t think you have anywhere near enough parking available to you, no matter what agreements you come to with adjoining businesses,” Smith said.
Board member Terry Cords said he is worried about crime and violence problems, and just isn’t sure the facility as planned is up to handling the 75 – 100 patients per day Barron said she’d expect.
It’s been said many times, and will be said again, that the community planning groups are legally only concerned with the land use aspect — that the City Council had long since ruled on the moral questions about legal cannabis.
That may be true legally, but board member Mike McSweeney may have spoken for the majority of the board.
“I just can’t go along with this. I think it’s wrong, I think it’s dangerous. I just don’t want it here,” he said before making a motion to deny approval by the board.
The motion passed 14 – 2.
Community planning groups can offer only advisory opinions to the Planning Commission and City Council. Those two bodies make the legal decisions, and the latter makes the final decisions.
But community planning groups are set up for a reason, and that is to get the feel of the community about issues.
One of the first questions the Planning Commission and the City Council will ask at hearings is, “you were denied approval by your planning group. Why?”
Not easy to answer.
—Contact Doug Curlee at email@example.com.