San Diego, the only city in the region that has allowed legal marijuana storefronts to open, gave final approval on Thursday to the 16th such business — the first dispensary to be approved since last August.
The new dispensary, which was approved unanimously by the Planning Commission, will be located in a 4,400-square-foot, second-story suite at 2425 Camino Del Rio South, just east of Texas Street and south of Interstate 8.
The commission unanimously rejected on Thursday a second dispensary proposed farther east in Mission Valley at 3456 Camino Del Rio North, between I-8 and the San Diego River near Qualcomm Stadium.
Commissioners said the reason for the rejection was that the site is 150 feet from a planned campus of Audeo charter school, which is affiliated with the San Diego Unified School District.
The two proposed dispensaries are part of a new wave of dispensaries spurred by loosened city regulations and the state’s legalization of recreational marijuana.
The City Council voted this winter to allow dispensaries approved to sell medical marijuana to also begin selling recreational marijuana when the state finalizes regulations for such businesses in late 2017 or early 2018.
Of the 16 dispensaries approved by the city, 10 have opened. The other six — including the one approved on Thursday — must complete tenant improvements and get final OKs from the city on issues like parking lot striping and signage.
The dispensary approved on Thursday was OK’d despite concerns raised by some nearby sensitive uses, including schools and churches.
It is within 1,000 feet of Gateway Christian Church, Our Lady of Peace private high school and two public schools — Warren Walker Middle School and Marjorie Cook Education Center.
The city last year loosened its regulations to allow such businesses within 1,000 feet of sensitive uses if there is a freeway, large wall or some topographical feature in between.
The reasoning is that such barriers impede direct physical access to the dispensaries by children and other users of parks, schools and churches.
Those new rules alleviated concerns related to the nearby schools, but not the church. However, city officials said the church appears to be operating in violation of city codes because officials failed to apply for a change in use from office to place of assembly.
Proponents of the rejected dispensary stressed that the charter school hasn’t yet opened, but the commissioners said it should have been a red flag that the school district owned property within 150 feet of the proposed dispensary site.
© 2017 San Diego Union Tribune, www.sandiegouniontribune.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC
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