Supervisors Weigh Chinatown Dispensary Ban

New legislation introduced earlier this month at the Board of Supervisors aims to prohibit new cannabis dispensaries from opening in Chinatown.

The legislation—introduced by District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskin on April 3rd—goes before a board committee today, according to a report in the Examiner. It's co-sponsored by Sandra Lee Fewer, Katy Tang, Jane Kim and London Breed.

Last November, Peskin told the Examiner that he supported a ban on new dispensaries in the area because residents can easily purchase cannabis elsewhere in the city.

Photo: Anthony G. Reyes/Flickr

When asked via email last November if he supported a moratorium, Peskin's response was, "NO," but a potential ban on cannabis dispensaries in Chinatown has always been a consideration, said legislative aide Sunny Angulo this week via email. 

"Supervisor Peskin actually said at the time that the initial legislation was passed that he 'reserved the right to revisit carving Chinatown out,'" she said. "Since then, community members have come back to us and requested just that." 

It appears the impetus for the legislation stems from a letter sent to the Board on April 2nd from the Community Tenants Association (CTA) president Wing Hoo Leung, urging members to exempt "all Chinatown mix-used districts...from the permissive cannabis regulations adopted last year." 

Citing a changing neighborhood, density issues and "extreme gentrification and displacement pressures," Leung said permitting retail cannabis in the neighborhood would exacerbate residents' ongoing concerns.

Photo: The Green Cross/Yelp

The potential for commercial landlords to "hold out on renting vacant commercial space and, in some instances, to raise the rents of existing community-serving retail space" is another factor, said Leung. 

Additionally, because Chinatown is the most densely populated neighborhood in the city, second-hand smoke continues to be an issue as many families and seniors live in single-room occupancy hotels (SROs), he said. 

Chinatown Community Development Center community planning manager Roy Chan told Hoodline via telephone that "formerly as an organization, we haven't come to the conclusion of a position" on the proposed Chinatown dispensary ban.

"But we share those same concerns that CTA has about a mismatch with our small business and cultural economy by introducing a business that may serve someone with a higher income," he said.

While there don't appear to be any proposed dispensaries slated for Chinatown, "what would be unthinkable a few years ago, is not out of the realm of possibility today," said Chan.

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