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We're not the morality police, but...

Navajo Community Planners vote to not recommend medical pot facility

Chris Varond, Alicia Darrow, Ted Griswold, Moffitt Timlake, and David Hardy (seated, foreground)
  • Chris Varond, Alicia Darrow, Ted Griswold, Moffitt Timlake, and David Hardy (seated, foreground)

After nearly 90 minutes discussing the topic, Navajo Community Planners, Inc., on February 25, voted 14-2 against a motion to recommend that the City of San Diego approve a conditional use permit for SDUG, Inc., to operate a medical marijuana dispensary on the 4400 block of Rainier Avenue. The applicant wants to do business in the location where Green Door Collective was open from 2009–2011.

Planning group members David Hardy and Dan Smith voted in favor of the motion, which included conditions added by planners' amendments. The motion directed the applicant to adhere to the city's parking-space requirement. It also incorporated planner Marilyn Reed's proposal to reduce business hours and Smith's amendment to include a 415-square-foot area in the size of the business.

Hardy said in an interview after the meeting, "The motion met the land-use requirement for the dispensary. I felt it was a strong motion." Smith, who owns property in Grantville, declined to comment.

Before the vote, planners heard from building owner Moffitt Timlake, applicant Alicia Darrow, land-use attorney Ted Griswold (who represents the property owner and applicant), and architect Chris Varond.  Not present was Michael Nolin, who spoke to the planning group on December 15, 2014.

Nolin founded the San Francisco Green Door and is CEO of Boss Enterprises medical cannabis consulting firm. He said the San Diego Green Door operated when dispensaries were legal and "stopped doing business" when they weren't. SDUG is "the same group, different owners," he told planners.

At the February meeting, Darrow said, "We were here before; we didn't have any incidents." She said the business would have 24-hour onsite security, with two guards during business hours and security measures that include two cameras. The city ordinance allows dispensaries to operate until 9 p.m.; Darrow agreed to close at 7 p.m. on Sunday and at 8 p.m. other days.

Timlake, owner of the building since 2005, vouched for the previous tenant. "I would've kicked them out if there were any problems. I was operating my business, had employees, and there was plenty of parking."

The city's February 10 development-services department's cycle-issues report stated that although "the minimum parking requirement for the proposed 2329-square-foot project is 12 spaces," a minimum of 11 spaces is required for the 3390-square-foot office building. The report stated the overall requirement is 23 spaces, and the applicant was directed to "demonstrate how the parking requirement for all the uses on the project site will be satisfied, including any other off-site uses."

Timlake said SDUG's dispensary would be the only business in the building. With just one tenant, the 13 spaces onsite were more than the amount required by the city.

If the landlord decides to "lease or occupy the other spaces in the building," the landlord will be responsible for acquiring additional spaces from the McDonald's restaurant (located on the 6300 block of Mission Gorge Road), according to a statement on the dispensary site plan. Timlake and Griswold  confirmed that arrangement. The attorney said Timlake preferred not to pay to lease offsite parking until needed.

Navajo Planner Terry Cords mentioned the fast-food restaurant, saying he was concerned because the dispensary was a cash-business. "It's next door to McDonald's, and near the medical facility I use [Kaiser medical offices on the 4400 block of Vandever Avenue] and the [I-8] freeway. It bothers me that there's a potential for crime and violence."

Planner Mike McSweeney said although the planning group deals with land-use issues, he "emotionally struggled" because he has a 17-and a-half-year-old son. "We're not the morality police, but [marijuana] is so easily abused."

Planning group chairman Matt Adams said, "We are a planning group of volunteers. The City of San Diego already debated this issue." He said the planning group was looking at rules established by the city; he then called for the vote at 9:40 p.m.

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