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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Pot Permit Goes to First Qualified Applicant

• Only One Allowed

BY BILL KOENEKER


The Malibu Planning Commission last week, on a 3-2 vote with Commissioners Joan House and Roohi Stack dissenting, granted a permit for the operation of one more medical marijuana dispensary.
At the same time, the commission tentatively turned down another applicant who sought a permit at another location. The city’s ordinance only allows two operating pot pharmacies in the city. Currently PCH Collective has the other permit.
At the beginning of the meeting, when the staff report was being presented to the commission, Planner Ha Ly amended her statements that were in the original staff report and said the city attorney’s office had determined that the permit would be granted on a first-come, first-served basis.
Initially, she had told the applicants the situation was much like when the commission heard from two applicants, who were vying for one permit for the farmers market at the same location. The commission held hearings for both applicants and then decided to grant the permit to one of the applicants.
However, Assistant City Attorney Greg Kovacevich said the farmers market hearings were very different than what was before the commission now.
He noted that there was only one more permit allowed for a marijuana dispensary. Unlike the farmers market where there is no such limitation of only one or two permits allowed.
He also said what was dissimilar is that the applicants for the farmers market both chose the same location, whereas the applicants for a dispensary were proposing two different locations.
“You can’t approve both. There is no more than two permitted,” he said.
Commissioners were informed by a spokesperson for Twin Lyons Wellness Center, the losing applicant, they would have proceeded very differently if they had that information. The spokesperson said he could not recall if they had been informed about the first come first served basis.
When the panelists deliberated on the first application sought by Malibu Collective Caregivers, whose application was deemed complete weeks before Twin Lyons, House wanted more information about how the two businesses could maintain a nonprofit status, which is required by state law and how that can be verified.
House objected to how the parking requirements were determined for the applications.
She said she could not support it because the uses are not retail. “It is a medical use,” she said.
She was able to garner one other vote for her position. “I agree with Commissioner House. I cannot support it,” said Stack.
The commission spent more time going over the conditions of the application.
When the dust settled, the permit for Caregivers was approved, and the planning panel turned to the second application.
The staff recommended the commission deny the second application if it approved the first one and the city attorney’s office opined the planning panel could not approve another permit.
The commission still conducted a full public hearing.
That was after Chair John Mazza wanted to make certain what were the options of the second applicant after the last permit was approved.
Kovacevich said the application could be withdrawn. The applicant could go forward or ask for a continuance of the item to see if the prior applicant gets appealed.
After more than another hour of testimony and deliberations, the commission ultimately agreed to deny the permit and directed the staff to bring back a resolution denying the request for the operation of a third medical marijuana dispensary.
The matter has been scheduled for the next hearing of the planning commission on March 1 when the resolution denying the permit can be formally voted on.

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