Navajo Community Planners voted unanimously on December 15 to recommend denial of a conditional-use permit for Living Green, a medical marijuana cooperative currently operating in a 2844 square-foot, two-story building on the 4400 block of Rainier Avenue in Grantville.
"We are supposed to be the eyes and ears of the community," said planning-group chair Matt Adams. The issue is "not just boxes checked" when applicants meet permit requirements. "They have been operating illegally. The biggest box they can't check is being a good neighbor."
Before voting, the planning group reviewed documents that included a December 9 City of San Diego notice of violation directed to property owner Bradley Brown and Living Green agent for service Cary Weaver. The notice ordered the business to "immediately cease" dispensary use and vacate the site.
Furthermore, John Pilch of the San Carlos Area Council spoke about city attorney Jan Goldsmith's case against the dispensary, and Michael Nolin talked about the application to open SDUG, a dispensary in the building located next to Living Green.
No one from Living Green was at the meeting. However, representatives attended the November 17 meeting, and land-use attorney Robin Madaffer gave a presentation about Living Green. At that time, Navajo Planners voted to postpone a vote until December because the group had not received the third cycles-issue report, a city development-services document listing permit issues to be addressed.
Madaffer, the wife of former District 7 councilman Jim Madaffer, spoke with her clients and said they would return in December. I contacted Robin Madaffer on December 16, leaving a message asking why no one from the dispensary was at the meeting. She had not called back by presstime.
Grantville, which is in District 7, is located north of Interstate 8 at the Fairmount Avenue exit. Future applicants could face another challenge since the city is working on the Grantville focused plan amendment to Navajo's community plan. The amendment includes land on both sides of Fairmount and Mission Gorge Road, along with Friars Road from Fairmount to the four corners of Zion Avenue and Mission Gorge Road. Proposed amendment modifications include changing industrial zoning to mixed commercial-residential use. If approved, dispensaries would be prohibited.
Navajo Planners' December 15 action was the group's first vote on a dispensary. Before planners discussed the permit, the subject of dispensaries came up during the public comment portion of the meeting.
Nolin, CEO of Boss Enterprises medical cannabis consulting firm, referred to a December 15 e-mail he sent to Adams. Nolin, also the founder of the Green Door dispensary in San Francisco, said a San Diego Green Door operated at 4427 Rainier from 2009-2011 when dispensaries were legal, and "stopped doing business" when they weren't. He said SDUG is "the same group, different owners." Nolin noted in the e-mail that 4417 Rainier (Living Green) was operating illegally.
The city's civil complaint filed November 14, 2014 alleged that Brown, Weaver, and "DOES 1-50" violated zoning laws by maintaining or operating a dispensary. "Factual allegations" included the September 24, 2014 undercover purchase by a San Diego police detective who "bought wax [concentrated cannabis] and received a free THC-cookie and pre-rolled marijuana cigarette for being a first-time 'patient.' "
The complaint asked the Superior Court to grant a preliminary injunction, permanent injunction, and civil penalty of $2500 per day "for each and every [municipal code] violation."
Pilch told Navajo Planners that Living Green attorney Jeff Lake filed for recusals, and the city's complaint was "now on Judge Number Four."
Goldsmith spokesman Gerry Braun said in December 16 e-mail, "There have been a number of challenges by defense counsel to the judges, and the matter has been taken off calendar a number of times. In response, the city attorney’s office is seeking a writ with the Court of Appeal so that the case can be immediately heard."