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Pasadena Now

Planning Commissioner, Locals Oppose Cannabis Discussion During Outbreak

In correspondence to the city’s Planning Commission, local residents are questioning why Conditional Use Permits were placed on the agenda during the city’s Safer at Home order when people cannot attend the meeting. The commission was scheduled to vote on Conditional Use Permits for MME Pasadena Retail (MedMen) and Varda (Tony Fong). The vote was cancelled after Sweet Flower, a competing dispensary, sent a letter to city, elected officials and this news outlets pointing out issues inside MedMen, including financial […]

In correspondence to the city’s Planning Commission, local residents are questioning why Conditional Use Permits were placed on the agenda during the city’s Safer at Home order when people cannot attend the meeting.

The commission was scheduled to vote on Conditional Use Permits for MME Pasadena Retail (MedMen) and Varda (Tony Fong).

The vote was cancelled after Sweet Flower, a competing dispensary, sent a letter to city, elected officials and this news outlets pointing out issues inside MedMen, including financial issues and frequent employee turnover.

Commissioner Felicia Williams told Pasadena Now on Wednesday she was glad that the CUP discussions would not take place at the meeting.

“These permits need robust community input, which cannot be accomplished right now,” she said. “Each application has been contentious, costing the city lots of money. Public resources could be better spent on services that benefit the community. With everything that has changed in the past year, perhaps it’s time to redo the process and create one that’s more beneficial for the community.”

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the Planning Commission is the only committee or commission that has been scheduled to meet. Several councilmen have questioned why cannabis is being discussed during the shutdown.

“We were disappointed to learn that the  city is focusing it’s energy and attention on     cannabis  permits during this critical time      in our history,    rather than working to help Pasadena’s citizens and struggling small businesses.

“This is an unsettling and uncertain time, and a time in which people turn towards their leaders for guidance and assistance,” wrote Rick and Megan Foker. “It appears that the businesses getting the guidance and assistance from our city are the hopeful cannabis  retailers — not even yet businesses operating in Pasadena. Is this really the right time to be spending critical resources     debating  cannabis  permits?”

But even if the commission had debated the CUP, it may now have passed.

According to a letter submitted to the official record, the address where MedMen plans to do business, 536 S. Fair Oaks Ave. near Huntington Hospital, and less than 300 feet away from a substance abuse drug recovery center. That would violate the city’s ordinance requiring dispensaries to be at least 600 feet away from schools, recovery centers and churches.

Hospitals are not protected, but the city officials can amend the ordinance.

“It is clear that the Huntington Hospital itself plus its supportive medical offices, clinics and services, are all ‘sensitive

Receptors’ as intended by the applicable Zoning Code requirements limiting the location of a retail cannabis dispensary,” wrote Nina Chomsky. “Why traditional medical services were not included in the sensitive receptor lists, such as Huntington Hospital, is not clear, but, certainly, the City did not intend to facilitate and enable patients having such adjacent ease of access from all the various Huntington operations to a cannabis dispensary which, in effect, would be adjacent to the Hospital and all its related services.”