Torrey Pines Community Planning Board, local residents condemn proposal for new cannabis business


Torrey Pines Community Planning Board members and local residents shared a litany of concerns they have about another proposed cannabis business along Sorrento Valley Road during an April 8 online meeting of the planning board’s Project Review Committee.

Marijuana grows at an indoor cannabis farm in Gardena, Calif., in 2019.
Marijuana grows at an indoor cannabis farm in Gardena, Calif., in 2019.

The retail cannabis business under consideration, Cookies, would be located at 11330 Sorrento Valley Rd., near three existing cannabis businesses.

The community plan doesn’t prohibit cannabis businesses, but planning board members and residents who spoke during public comment said they don’t fit with the biotech and industrial character of the area. Some said the community plan should be amended to more unequivocally define that character for future projects.

Some residents from the area also said they were worried about the proximity of Cookies to nearby facilities that serve children, such as the Coast Volleyball Club.

“There is no way to accurately measure the negative impacts on youth as marijuana becomes more normalized,” said Becky Rapp, who lives in Rancho Bernardo.

Gina Austin, a managing attorney for Austin Legal Group and the applicant for Cookies, said during the meeting that she’s open to making modifications to alleviate community concerns. She also said she believes that Cookies would be consistent with the community plan, based on guidance from city staff.

Meeting minutes from the community planning board’s March meeting show that board members also thought it was “inequitable” and “bad planning” to have four cannabis businesses so close together. Members of the Project Review Committee brought up the same concerns during last week’s meeting.

The community planning board can take advisory, nonbinding votes on projects within its borders for San Diego City Council members to take into consideration. In this case, a decision on whether to issue a permit will be determined by a city hearing officer on a still to-be-determined date. That decision is appealable to the city’s Planning Commission.

San Diego City Councilman Joe LaCava said in a statement that he is “committed to working with the Planning Board and Sorrento Valley property owners to achieve the goals of the community plan while respecting the underlying zoning regulations.

“The current regulations push cannabis outlets to specific land use zones with strict distance requirements from other uses. In all of District 1 the only locations that meet those strict regulations are in Sorrento Valley, I am open to conversations that would update those restrictions and allow outlets in more conventional retail locations.”

The proposal for Cookies will be discussed again by the full community planning board during its April 15 meeting.