By Thomas K. Pendergast
After plans for a medical cannabis dispensary (MCD) on Noriega Street went up in smoke
last month, another MCD proposed for Irving Street has once again sparked
neighborhood opposition in the Sunset District.
On Oct. 3, via a 9-2 vote, the SF Board of Supervisors (BOS) overturned a previous SF
Planning Commission decision to grant a Conditional Use Authorization (CUA) for the
Apothecarium to operate an MCD at the corner of 32nd Avenue and Noriega Street. A
CUA is required for many different kinds of businesses, including MCDs.
Then, on Oct. 12, the Planning Commission granted Barbary Coast Collective approval
to open a location at 2161-2165 Irving St., once again over significant neighborhood
opposition, and, once again, that decision will be appealed to the Board of Supervisors.
A hearing is scheduled for Nov. 14, at 3 p.m., in City Hall, Room 250.
This is the fourth time someone has attempted to open an MCD in the Sunset
District within the last seven years. The first and second times, in 2010 and 2015,
strong opposition came from local neighbors and merchants who were concerned
about things like the MCDs proximity to schools and recreation areas, where children
were likely to be present, and a potential increase in crime.
This time, however, the appellants are not asking for a complete reversal of the
Planning Commission’s decision. Instead, they want the BOS to impose more conditions
before Barbary Coast Collective opens its doors for business.
Flo Kimmerling, vice president of the Mid-Sunset Neighbors’ Association (MSNA), said
the organization’s appeal is based on a consensus amongst its members.
“I haven’t found anyone who lives in the neighborhood who supports the dispensary
with no conditions, which is basically what they got,” Kimmerling said of the Planning
Department decision. “They can be open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.; they can be open seven
days a week; they can apply for a recreational use permit come Jan. 1, when that’s a
possibility; they don’t have to be under the 45-day moratorium; they can deliver
whenever they feel they want to start a delivery service. I mean, that’s basically
the way it is at this second.”
She noted that while many in the community do not want the MCD under any
circumstances, there are those in the neighborhood who are willing to compromise
“There are people who feel that this might be possible, but only with some really
strict conditions,” she explained. “The Planning Commission just gave them the permit
and none of the conditions that we requested or recommended were included. We felt
we didn’t have any choice. We had to appeal it, if only to state, ‘Wait a minute. You don’t
really have anybody in the neighborhood that agrees with the decision you made. But,
there are lots of people willing to compromise and, yes, there are many, many people
who really don’t want to see this here, and don’t feel that there’s a need for it.’”
The conditions for approval Kimmerling laid out in a letter to the Board or Supervisors
include: Restrictions or conditions developed during the current 45-day moratorium on
new MCDs must be retroactive to include the Barbary Coast Collective; because there
is an elementary school four blocks away, the dispensary should not operate on
weekdays before 9 a.m. or between 2:30 and 4 p.m., and they would close every
night at 8 p.m.; no “edible products” that might entice children can be displayed in
the storefront area; adequate security must patrol outside of the premises during
operating hours; they may not expand either the size of the premises or the scope
of the services offered beyond that all owed by the CUA; and there should be
no delivery service component.
During the Oct. 12 Planning Commission hearing, Nancy Tran, of the
Planning Department’s staff, said that although the BOS recently passed an interim
control to impose a 45-day moratorium prohibiting the Planning Commission
from approving any new MCDs, this case is exempt from the ordinance because it
was already calendared for the commission’s review before the supervisors’ vote.
The two spaces toget her total approximately 2 ,600 square-feet, Tran said. It is
within the Irving Street Neighborhood Commercial District . It would be authorizeed for
on-site sales of cannabis products and would not allow on-site medication or cultivation,
nor would delivery services to patients be allowed.
She reported that the SF Planning Department received 89 letters and emails in support
of the MCD, and 369 emails and letters opposing it. The department also received
petitions with 1,400 signatures in support of the MCD, and 3,100 opposed to it.
Planning Department staff recommended that the commission approve the proposal and
grant the CUA. At that same hearing, an attorney for Barbary Coast Collective, Brendan
Hallinan, told the commissioners how they came to choose the Sunset site.
“About three years ago I went to a strategy meeting with the Barbary Coast team,”
Hallinan said. “After polling their members it became clear that they actually
had a lot of members who were westside residents as well as employees . So, we began to
survey both the Sunset and the Richmond districts for locations. The Richmond had an
existing dispensary near Park Presidio Boulevard and also had a very challenging layout.
It was nearly impossible to find a location that wasn’t within 1,000 feet of a school or
recreational facility that served youth.”
Jesse Henry, Barbary Coast Collective’s executive director, said hewas pleased with the
commission’s unanimous vote granting the collective the CUA.
“We are excited to be able to serve those patients who need it, who are in our
collective, that live in the Sunset District,” he said.
Henry anticipated that there would be an appeal of the commission’s decision.
“That’s fine, I mean it’s all part of the process . We feel confident that we can have a very
positive input to that community. I think that our business model will fit in this
community and I think the community just needs to give us time to prove it,” he said.
“We look forward, if it does get appealed, to speaking to the supervisors about what we
want to do out there,” Henry said.