Pubdate: Fri, 26 Jun 2015
Source: San Diego Union Tribune (CA)
Copyright: 2015 Union-Tribune Publishing Co.
Note: Seldom prints LTEs from outside it's circulation area.
Author: David Garrick


Shops OK'd In Barrio Logan, Kearny Mesa; City's Total Likely to Be 
Between 11 and 14

San Diego - Two medical marijuana dispensaries got final approval 
Thursday from the San Diego Planning Commission, increasing the total 
number of city-approved dispensaries to eight and bringing new 
clarity to the process going forward.

It now appears San Diego will end up with somewhere between 11 and 14 
dispensaries under its medical marijuana ordinance, which the City 
Council adopted in March 2014 after years of wrangling.

That's far less than the maximum of 36 allowed under the ordinance, 
but many more than would have been possible if city officials hadn't 
decided last October to soften a prohibition against opening a 
dispensary within 1,000 feet of a "minor-oriented facility."

On the other hand, the number could have exceeded 20 if not for some 
unanticipated problems and roadblocks, especially some little-known 
parks and open-space areas near proposed dispensaries that have 
derailed those applications.

One of the dispensaries approved Thursday is at 2405 Harbor Drive in 
Barrio Logan, which will make it the first legal dispensary in close 
proximity to downtown San Diego when it opens later this year.

No dispensaries are expected to open directly in downtown, Hillcrest, 
Bankers Hill or Little Italy because the city's regulations limit the 
areas where dispensaries are allowed to light-industrial zones with 
little or no housing.

The other dispensary approved on Thursday is at 5125 Convoy St. in 
Kearny Mesa, the third dispensary approved in City Council District 
6. That sets up a July 9 showdown during which three applicants are 
scheduled to vie for the final available permit in that district.

That showdown was expected to happen Thursday, but the applicants 
agreed to delay the decision two weeks so more members of the 
Planning Commission could be present. Of the commission's seven 
members, only four would have been available to make the decision on Thursday.

The city's cap on dispensaries of four per council district is also 
playing a role in District 8, where the Barrio Logan dispensary was 
the third to be approved.

A fourth dispensary proposed for the district, which would be at 3385 
Sunrise St. in southeastern San Diego, is scheduled for a potential 
July 9 approval.

Planning commissioners raised concerns Thursday about inadequate 
parking at the site, urging the applicant to forge a formal agreement 
for off-site parking with a nearby property owner before the July 9 hearing.

Meanwhile, a dispensary in District 3 was approved Wednesday by the 
city's hearing officer, leaving it one step short of final approval 
by the Planning Commission. That dispensary, the first in District 3 
to get that far in the process, would be at 3703 Camino Del Rio South.

A second dispensary proposed for District 3, which would be at 3455 
Camino Del Rio South, is unlikely to make it through the approval 
process. Edith Gutierrez, a city official overseeing the process, 
said that dispensary is within 1,000 feet of the Indian Hills Open 
Space, which is parkland under the city's ordinance.

All four dispensaries proposed for District 7 have been derailed by 
the nearby presence of the "Mission Valley Riparian Dedicated 
Parkland," a 3.5-acre open space area near Grantville.

In addition, two shops proposed on Pacific Highway in District 2 have 
been blocked by their proximity to a little-known skate park.

The eight city-approved dispensaries so far include two in Kearny 
Mesa, one in Otay Mesa, one in Mira Mesa, one in San Ysidro, one in 
eastern Pacific Beach, one in Barrio Logan and one in the Midway District.

The number will climb to nine when the Planning Commission chooses 
one of the three applicants for the final spot in District 6, and 
then to 10 if the Camino Del Rio South dispensary gets final approval 
as expected.

An 11th dispensary, proposed for Sorrento Valley in District 1, is 
also expected to get approved. Its environmental clearance, which is 
two steps short of final approval, is scheduled for an Aug. 3 City 
Council vote.

Other possibilities include a fourth dispensary in District 8 and two 
applicants seeking the final two spots available in District 2.

Gutierrez said those proposed dispensaries, located at 1028 Buenos 
St. in Linda Vista and 2501 Kettner Blvd. in the Midway District, 
appear to meet all of the city's requirements at this point.

Many fewer dispensaries would have met those requirements if the city 
hadn't softened the "minor-oriented facility" rule last fall that had 
blocked more than a half-dozen applicants.

Applicants were initially disqualified if they were within 1,000 feet 
of any business catering to minors, such as a gymnastics school or 
Boys and Girls Club. But the rule was redefined to allow dispensaries 
near such businesses if those businesses are in a plaza or building 
where something else is considered the primary use.

The July 9 showdown in District 6 could be an opportunity for the 
Planning Commission to act for the first time on their expressed 
desire to give the opinions of residents more weight in the approval 
process. Of the three dispensaries fighting for one spot, two got 
approvals from the local community planning group and one didn't.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom