Pubdate: Fri, 10 Jul 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


Planning Group Frustrated With Per-Council-District Limits on Dispensaries

San Diego - Frustration with San Diego's 16-month-old medical 
marijuana ordinance reached a new level on Thursday, with multiple 
members of the Planning Commission requesting a public workshop to 
discuss a series of potential changes.

Those requests came as the commission faced for the first time the 
consequences of the ordinance capping at four the number of 
dispensaries allowed in each City Council district.

The commission on Thursday approved a fourth dispensary in District 
6, which includes Kearny Mesa and Mira Mesa, and then struggled with 
how to handle two additional dispensary applicants within that district.

Those applicants would like to be next in line in case one of the 
four approved dispensaries doesn't open because of unanticipated 
problems, but the ordinance doesn't spell out how the commission can 
accomplish that.

"A key issue for a workshop would be how do we deal with the next in 
line and make sure that everybody keeps their place in line," 
Commissioner Theresa Quiroz said after the meeting. "Can you imagine 
how unfair it would be to make them start over?"

After much debate and input from Deputy City Attorney Shannon Thomas, 
the commission eventually granted a "continuance" to both applicants, 
allowing them to revive their applications if one of the first four 
dispensaries approved for District 6 falls through.

Commissioners said they'd like the ordinance to be clearer on such 
circumstances and many other issues they've dealt with since the 
commission began ruling on dispensary applications in December.

"We have a whole laundry list of things," Commissioner Susan Peerson said.

They include how to weigh input from community planning groups, a 
clearer definition of the "minor-oriented" facilities that 
dispensaries must be at least 1,000 feet away from, and whether 
applicants should be given three years to open after getting final 
approval from the commission.

Commissioner Steven Haase suggested three years might be too long, 
especially when only four dispensaries are allowed per district. The 
first dispensary approved in District 6 - 8888 Clairemont Mesa Blvd. 
- - hasn't obtained a permit four months after getting its final OK on March 12.

A larger issue commissioners may discuss at the workshop is the 
ordinance requiring approval of the first proposed dispensaries to 
make their way through the approval process, regardless of whether 
other proposed dispensaries would be superior in terms of location, 
size or other factors.

Commissioners have complained continually about that 
speed-over-quality approach, and Quiroz said Thursday she considers 
the sixth dispensary in line for District 6, Glass Tek at 9212 Mira 
Este Court, "by far the best" applicant.

"I wish this would have been a beauty contest, because this is the 
one I would have chosen," she said.

But Quiroz said it's probably too late to adjust that approach now, 
suggesting a shift so far along in the process could prompt 
litigation from applicants.

"It's really getting to that point where the workshop wouldn't be too 
helpful on many issues," she said.

Edith Gutierrez, the city official overseeing the approval process, 
said Thursday that the commission has formally requested a workshop 
but that no date has been set. Any changes to the ordinance would 
require council approval.

The Kearny Mesa dispensary approved Thursday brings the citywide 
total to nine, with somewhere between 11 and 14 expected to eventually be OK'd.

The nine approved so far include three in Kearny Mesa and one each in 
Otay Mesa, Mira Mesa, San Ysidro, eastern Pacific Beach, Barrio Logan 
and the Midway District. Only the Otay Mesa dispensary has opened.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom