Pacific Beach planners rejected a proposal to locate a legal medical-marijuana dispensary at this location, 4645 De Soto Ave., arguing that such land use at the location was inappropriate.
Photo by Dave Schwab
PLANNERS REJECT DISPENSARY'S APPLICATION FOR LEGAL SITE NORTH OF GARNET AVENUE
Amid a drive to close numerous unlicensed medical marijuana dispensaries in town, Pacific Beach planners gave a thumbs down to a proposal for a new, licensed cooperative just west of Interstate 5, north of Garnet Avenue.
Land-use attorney Gina Austin, representing applicant Mission Bay Cooperative, gave a slideshow presentation Aug. 27 to the Pacific Beach Planning Group (PBPG). In it, she detailed an application for a conditional-use permit (CUP) to convert property at 4645 De Soto Ave. in North Pacific Beach into a marijuana consumer cooperative.
“I realize this is a very sensitive topic but I’m here to discuss the land-use issues today, not the right or wrong of the city passing a (medical-marijuana) ordinance,” said Austin.
“We don’t want to discuss the merits of medical marijuana,” agreed group chairman Brian Curry. “We want to keep it to issues related to land use.”
Austin continued her case.
“We don’t have any significant outstanding issues with the city and the facility would not be within 1,000 feet of any sensitive uses — schools, parks, etc. — which puts us in a unique situation, being one of the few applicants able to say that,” added Austin.
Noting that an existing 2,470-square-foot building on the 0.22-acre site would be converted for use by the cooperative, Austin said plans are to update and renovate the building, put in sidewalk improvements and add new landscape, as well as provide ample parking and security.
The cooperative intends to be open seven days a week between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. and have a minimum of three on-site staff, including a security guard.
“If cooperatives are going to go in somewhere, let’s pick the best locations to put them in,” Austin said. “We believe this is one of the best locations.”
The majority of PBPG planners and local residents attending the meeting saw it differently, however.
PBPG board member and outspoken medical-marijuana opponent Scott Chipman argued the property owner’s business and the purpose for which they intend to use their land can’t be separated.
“This is inappapropriate in that it’s a completely lawless industry that targets youth,” Chipman said. “The district attorney has been trying to close these down,” Chipman said, arguing teen marijuana use is drastically on the rise.
Chipman had other objections.
“There is no primary-caregiver relationship (between cooperatives and patients) as required by California state law,” he said. “We’re not obligated to authorize this business just because the city would authorize it. The regulations the city requires are not strong enough to protect our community.”
Board colleague Paul Falcone disagreed.
“This is exactly what we want in terms of land use, taking down old buildings and adding parking,” Falcone said.
The De Soto cooperative had previously been opposed 8-0 by a PBPG subcommittee. Asked why the project was turned down, subcommittee chairman Curtis Patterson said, “There were a lot of questions regarding supporting another medical-marijuana shop when there are several illegally operating in town already.”
The owner of a storage lot near the proposed medical-marijuana dispensary implored the group not to grant a CUP for the project. She argued that an easement through her property to access the dispensary was never intended for higher traffic volumes and would cause severe disruption to traffic and circulation throughout the entire area.
After lengthy debate, PBPG voted 12-5-2 to deny a CUP for the proposed medical-marijuana dispensary.
SCOFFLAW PROPERTY OWNERS IN PB DRAW FINE OF $120,000
By Staff and contribution
The owners of a Pacific Beach commercial property at 936 Garnet Ave. where marijuana dispensaries have continually operated was ordered to pay $120,000 in civil penalties and $1,800 in investigative costs to the city for violating zoning laws.
In October 2011, the City Attorney’s Code Enforcement Unit filed a civil injunction against the property owners, The Nobel Family Trust, John I. Nobel and Mahin Nobel as trustees; the Abeles Family Trust, David N. Abeles and Melody N. Abeles; and the dispensary operating at 936 Garnet Ave. at the time, Green Earth Management, Inc., that was doing business as Green Earth Herbal Collective.
The dispensary vacated and settled with the city, but the property owners have continued to litigate the matter with the city and lease to marijuana dispensaries. The dispensary Planet Greens currently operates at 936 Garnet Ave.
At a summary judgment hearing on Aug. 29, the Hon. Ronald S. Prager issued a final permanent injunction against each of the defendants for their unlawful conduct, restraining them from unlawfully maintaining a dispensary anywhere in the city and to pay $120,000 in civil penalties and $1,800 in investigative costs to the city.
The City Attorney’s Office has two other dispensary cases pending with the Nobels, which were filed in late 2011, and a number of newer cases.
“Property owners, as well as dispensary operators, need to know they will be held accountable for violating our zoning laws,” said City Attorney Jan Goldsmith. “The City Attorney’s Office will be continuing to shut down dispensaries operating illegally in the city of San Diego.”
In early March 2014, the City Attorney’s Office filed a similar injunction against these same defendants who were leasing to four dispensaries in different suites at another commercial property of theirs at 3045 Rosecrans St.: Greenworks SD, Fresh Alternative Consulting, Green Wellness and SB Health.
The city obtained temporary restraining orders and preliminary injunctions or default judgments against the property owners and all the dispensaries. Notably, Greenworks SD moved to Engineer Road in San Diego where the dispensary caught on fire in July 2014 as a result of the extraction of hash oil on site. The operator was arrested.
The Nobels agreed to issue eviction notices and unlawful detainer actions to the dispensaries currently operating at their properties at: 2603 University Ave., 936 Garnet Ave., 1150 Garnet Ave., 2015 Garnet Ave., 5560 La Jolla Blvd. and 841 Turquoise St. The dispensaries have not vacated at these locations and are litigating the unlawful detainer actions, and the City Attorney is continuing with enforcement action in these cases.
In addition, on March 27 the City Attorney’s Office filed a complaint against the Nobels and the dispensary and operator of PB 45 Cap operating at yet another one of their properties at 4688 Cass St., across from St. Brigid Catholic Church in Pacific Beach. The operator vacated and settled with the city, and on July 18 Prager issued a preliminary injunction against the Nobels as to that property as well.
The City Attorney’s Code Enforcement Unit was established in 1984 to address nuisance properties and code violations throughout San Diego. The unit works in partnership with the City’s Code Enforcement Services Division, the San Diego Police Department and the community to identify and aggressively address code violations and nuisance properties.
Community members can report property violations to the Code Enforcement Services Division at (619) 236-5500.