Chair Melanie Nickel was re-elected in March. It marked the start of her fifth consecutive, three-year term leading the group. Joining Nickel on the community advisory group, which makes land-use recommendations to the city, were elected members Lyle Butler, Tod Howarth, Kristy Swanston, Mike Swanston and Cathy Kenton. Kurt Sullivan was elected group vice chair. Meg Newcomb will serve as MCPG secretary.
Bruce Williams, aide to 2nd District Councilwoman Lorie Zapf, introduced himself as the new city liaison with MCPG. A former community planner with Encanto for eight years, Williams is Zapf’s community rep for both Midway and Mission Beach.
In introducing colleague Bill Carter, San Diego Police Department community services officer David Surwilo noted Carter has lots of past experience working in Ocean Beach and the rest of the Peninsula as well as the Midway area.
“I have worked in internal affairs and in vice operations,” said, Carter, adding “I have a little bit of knowledge in entertainment-type districts,” referring to MCPG’s long-range vision to turn the community, which includes lots of industrial and commercial zoning with pockets of residential, into more of an entertainment destination.
Addressing the recent approval of Midway’s first “legal” medical marijuana dispensary, Surwilo said, “The city is moving in the right direction trying to control that.”
Surwilo said there are still illegal dispensaries out there that the city is trying to crack down on. He urged anyone with information about an illegally operating dispensary to email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Asked about enforcing dispensaries, Surwilo said, “We don’t go in and do raids. It’s not a police matter. It’s a code violation. The way it’s being addressed is it is a civil matter being handled by the City Attorney’s office.”
Midway’s zoning can accommodate medical marijuana dispensaries, which are required to be distanced from youth-oriented facilities like schools, churches and parks as well as one another.
Due to terms of the city’s new medical marijuana dispensary ordinance passed last year, a dozen or more dispensaries have been lining up to apply to be one of four allowed in District 2, some or all of which could be sited in the Midway area.
At MCPG’s April meeting, Jeff Barfield of RBF Consulting, representing a medical marijuana dispensary Patient’s Alternative, proposed at 3571 Pacific Highway, railed against the gridlock which is occurring in the city’s dispensary vetting process.
Barfield argued that his clients were denied proper due process and consideration on the merits of their proposal, simply because they were not the first in line.
He said the city should be choosing between applicants based on the specific merits of their proposals — site access, the appropriateness of the location, whether they have sufficient parking — rather than judging them on how soon they applied in the city’s process.
MCPG will next meet 3 p.m. Wednesday, May 20 at San Diego Community College West City Campus, 3249 Fordham St.