In 10-1 Vote, Supervisors Approve Sunset's Only Cannabis Dispensary

In 10-1 Vote, Supervisors Approve Sunset's Only Cannabis DispensaryApproved location for Barbary Coast dispensary at 2161-2165 Irving St. | Photo: Google
Nathan Falstreau
Published on December 06, 2017

Last night, the Board of Supervisors rejected two appeals filed with the Planning Commission that sought to block a medical cannabis dispensary (MCD) from opening on Irving Street between 21st and 22nd Avenues.

As a result, Barbary Coast Collective will become the only MCD to operate in the Sunset district. 

One of the appeals, filed by the Mid-Sunset Neighborhood Association, asked the Board to consider requiring Barbary Coast to close at midday and in afternoons when children may be more likely to be passing through the area.

Another appeal asked the Board to restrict the location to medical sales only, even after recreational adult use is permitted after January 1st.

However, Supervisors passed new rules last week allowing MCDs to temporarily sell recreational marijuana as they apply for new adult use permits. The Board approved a 45-day moratorium on new MCD applications in September as new regulations were finalized for dispensaries hoping to sell marijuana for recreational use.

Barbary Coast's menu. | Photo: Kevin J./Yelp

Salvatore Alioto, the former owner of Sal's Pizza, was the second appellant representing area merchants who said he understood the need for people to use cannabis, but didn't believe the business was a good fit for Irving Street. 

Residents who spoke in support of the appeal were most concerned about children being exposed to marijuana products and potential second-hand smoke, but one speaker accused the Board of accepting favors from the cannabis industry, including money, deals and agreements.

"There is no benefit, or need for the Sunset district to have a dispensary," the commenter said. "And we don’t want it. But you have voted for the proverbial fat cats. Shame on you."

While the Barbary Coast application originally stated that the business would allow consumption on-site, Jesse Henry, the collective's executive director, said the space was too small to allow it. The MCD plans to install ventilation and and odor abatement equipment to reduce the smell of marijuana outside the storefront.

District 4 Supervisor Katy Tang—who represents the neighborhood—requested that the business allow on-site use, which would require additional approvals from the Department of Health.

Photo: Barbary Coast/Yelp

“I would like the project sponsors to actually offer smoking on site because I don’t want people walking around,” said Tang.

Brendan Hallinan, the attorney representing Barbary Coast, told the Board that his clients wanted to locate to a part of town where "there is a clear need for the community after surveying clients and customers." He also noted "a significant amount of vacant storefronts in the corridor" as another reason for choosing the location.

There are currently 897 people who are already Barbary Coast members who also live in the Sunset District, Henry noted. 

Seeking to be a part of the community, Hallinan also stated there would be preferential hiring for area residents as well as bilingual and senior support, along with educational programing. 

"We want to offer a positive example of what a good, clean business could look like," Henry said. "Crime has been reduced due to increased security in the area connected to the business at our Mission Street location."

Henry also pointed to his due diligence in going beyond the minimum required for notifying neighborhood residents.

"We held 18 open house community meetings in the evenings, mornings, and afternoons," he said. "A Cantonese interpreter was also provided. We also sent additional notifications to neighbors within a 500-foot radius of the proposed MCD, more than what was required of us." 

Barbary Coast budtender. | Photo: Melinda R./Yelp

The Irving Street Barbary Coast location will not have signage other than the address, and will staff security to ensure no one under 21 is allowed inside. Security will also patrol within a 500-foot radius to prevent customers from consuming cannabis on the street. 

Tang amended the business' hours of operation during a one-year trial from 9am–9pm. 

Ultimately, the Board decided in a 10-1 vote to reject the appeal. Tang was the dissenting vote, noting that despite her personal preferences, she had to respect the fact that a majority of her constituents who opposed the dispensary.

Tang added that the Sunset cannot move forward into the future without a dispensary and said she was confident that the Barbary Coast representatives would be good stewards of the community.

“If we’re going to have a dispensary in the Sunset District, I want it to be run by good operators. I do believe that is the case here," she said. 

Although Barbary Coast will be the only MCD to operate in the Sunset, it won't be the first; in 2005, Medicinal Resource Center, formerly located at 445 Judah St., was raided by the federal Drug Enforcement Agency. The location is now the site of martial arts studio World Muay Thai Team USA.