San Diego’s Community Planning Groups Lobbied by Anti-Weed Group
Apparently, according to the new City of San Diego ordinance passed in March that regulates them, OB, the “Haight-Ashbury of San Diego” can’t have a medical marijuana dispensary. But the community of Midway can have a number.
It’s not just Ocean Beach – as the ordinance severely restricts dispensaries in most communities of San Diego. They are only allowed in a limited number of industrial and commercial zones. They also have to be:
- at least 100 feet away from residential property and
- at least 1,000 feet from schools,
- and facilities focused on youth activities.
That excludes OB – the community that most resembles the “hippie capital” of America, the Haight up in San Francisco. Beginning in 1967, Ocean Beach became synonymous with hippies, pot, rock and roll, – OB became for years the center of the counter-culture for San Diego.
If you were a young person during the late Sixties or early Seventies, you’d go to OB to buy a bag of weed, check out stores selling hippie attire and artifacts – like The Black – , and hopefully find some cool music.
So, it’s with high irony that OB now cannot have a legal dispensary to sell medical herb.
Now, of course, OB is in District 2 of the city council districts. The city’s ordinance restricts the number of dispensaries to no more than four in any council district.
Observers on the issue think there will be fierce competition in District 2, where 18 dispensaries have been proposed, and several have been proposed for the Midway area, in District 2. And the applicants for the dispensaries are being welcomed with open arms – sort of, as the Midway Planning Group has approved each of 12 dispensaries for which they’ve held hearings, but they add several conditions, usually more additional parking.
Of the thirty-six proposed dispensaries, 27 are within three central San Diego neighborhoods: the Midway District near the Sports Arena, Kearny Mesa, and Mira Mesa.
Of the remainder, one is for Mission Valley, 2 near Qualcomm, 5 in southeast San Diego, and one is in the Torrey Pines area.
Sixteen of of the 36 applicants had reached the third stage of approval, with it being possible that the first hearings could start in early September for city authorization.
One factor that has delayed much of the process of opening dispensaries – dispensaries called for in the implementation of a state-wide ballot measure legalizing medical marijuana in 1996, 18 years ago – has been the push-back from local planning groups.
Some of the local community planning committees around San Diego have not been very friendly to the dispensary applicants. The reactions from some of the committees have included, giving tentative approvals with long lists of conditions, outright rejections, or refusing to even schedule hearings in a timely manner. Another tendency is to create criteria for approval that go beyond the city ordinance- such as the issue of how many dispensaries would be allowed in any one business district.
Sometimes, the hearings reportedly devolve into shouting and yelling matches between advocates and opponents. One planning committee voted to oppose a shop because they’re fed up with a number of illegal dispensaries in their neighborhood.
An attorney for six of the 36 dispensary applicants, Lance Rogers, told the U-T:
“Community planning groups aren’t supposed to be about that. These groups are taking very different approaches and there could be problems with some of them legally.”
The process is already complex, costly and time-consuming, Rogers said, and the planning committees have added another element of uncertainty and risk to the process.
The Ocean Beach Planning Board – because there are no applicants for OB – has not recently had to take any stand. In the past, however, it has voiced at least a nonchalant approval for the general idea.
What is known is that an anti-weed organization has lobbied the Committee of Planning Committees as recently as earlier this year in its efforts to instill a modern day “evil weed” attitude among the neighborhood groups.
The anti-marijuana campaign has been headed up by a PB activist by the name of Scott Chipman, who has gained credibility recently by also campaigning against all the alcohol-serving bars, restaurants and stores in Pacific Beach. Scott Chipman is with San Diegans for Responsible Planning.
In fact, in PB, a sub-committee of the local planning group rejected the only proposed dispensary and probably will be defeated again when the full committee meets on August 27th, Brian Curry – the chair – told the U-T. He said:
“There’s considerable opposition when we still have so many illegal dispensaries operating in the area.”
Decisions by local planning groups are advisory in the permit process, as OBceans know so well, but their opinions can be decisive in the final decisions on dispensaries this year by city planning officials or the San Diego Planning Commission.
News Source: U-T San Diego