Upper Haight's first cannabis dispensary expected to win approval tomorrow

Tomorrow, February 14, the Planning Commission is expected to approve the first-ever recreational cannabis dispensary in the Upper Haight.

Slated for 1685 Haight St., currently home to publisher Silver Sprocket, the dispensary is owned by the Cole Ashbury Group, comprised of partners Shawn Richard, Conor Johnston, and John Delaplane. Delaplane and Richard are neighborhood residents, while Johnston is a former legislative aide to Mayor London Breed in her days as District 5 Supervisor.

According to a draft motion on file with the city, the Planning Commission is expected to approve the dispensary's conditional use application tomorrow, clearing the final regulatory hurdle for Cole Ashbury Group to move forward.

The 1,250-square-foot Silver Sprocket storefront falls into a new slice of legally compliant territory for dispensaries, following a 2017 rewrite of San Francisco's cannabis zoning laws.

Last year, three applicants vied for retail storefronts in this new "green zone," and Cole Ashbury Group was chosen as the sole applicant to move forward with the process. In order to meet city requirements, the group had to clear a long list of subsequent hurdles, including hosting community meetings and committing to a good neighbor policy and a community benefit agreement.

Neighbors appear to have been largely supportive. The city received 96 form letters in support of the dispensary and 14 general letters in support, five of them from Upper Haight merchants.

The draft motion encourages Planning to approve the Cole Ashbury Group's proposal, noting that it meets all city requirements. It "will complement the mix of goods and services currently available" in the Haight, the report notes, "and contribute to the economic vitality of the neighborhood."

Other key factors for approval mentioned include the high transit accessibility of the Haight, the large number of retail vacancies on upper Haight Street, and the fact that the proposal is for retail sales only, with no on-site smoking or vaping. Given the dispensary's small size, it adds, it shouldn't have an outsize effect on parking or traffic. 

Christian Averill, who works with Shaun Richard at San Francisco Equity Group, said that once the project clears Planning, it's full steam ahead.

"After that," he said, "it's just the regular stuff that goes into getting a business open." They don't have an estimated opening date yet, but they're hoping to move fast.

If the dispensary is approved tomorrow, the city will continue to hear appeals from neighborhood locals through March 14.

Appeals need to be made to the Board of Supervisors; there are no official appeals forms, but District 5 Supervisor Vallie Brown's office can be reached at (415) 554-7630.

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