Three marijuana outlets could land in Sorrento Valley


Three new marijuana dispensaries have been proposed for Sorrento Valley.

Under San Diego City Council’s rule, the number of dispensaries per council district is limited to four, meaning Sorrento Valley could potentially be the home of all four District 1 facilities in about a two-mile stretch. Torrey Holistics is already in operation on 10671 Roselle Street.

The Torrey Pines Community Planning Board, which covers Torrey Pines and Sorrento Valley all the way to the Carroll Canyon intersection, has been responsible for reviewing the applications for marijuana outlets.

Marijuana outlets within the city of San Diego are process 3 Conditional Use Permit (CUP) applications, meaning they do not go before City Council for a decision. Marijuana outlets must go through the CUP process via the city’s Development Services Department, including a hearing officer and a Planning Commission hearing.

The latest project the planning board has reviewed is the proposed second facility, a 5,451-square-foot building located on 10715 Sorrento Valley Road.

A third facility just submitted paperwork to the Torrey Pines board, located at 10150 Sorrento Valley Road, suite 110, at a little over 8,100 square feet, and the fourth proposed location is at 11189 Sorrento Valley Road, a 1,767-square-foot facility very close to where Del Mar Ballet was recently forced to move from due to a zoning violation.

The Torrey Pines Project Review Committee (PRC) held a public meeting on June 20 and voted not to take a formal vote on the 10715 Sorrento Valley Road project as various items needed further clarification.

According to Firouzeh Tirandazi, development project manager for the city of San Diego’s Development Services Department, city staff has completed the review of the project.

Staff determined that the project is exempt from California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and posted the Notice of Right to Appeal the environmental determination. The city clerk’s department received an appeal of the environmental exemption and a public hearing at City Council is tentatively scheduled in September.

“The Torrey Pines Community Planning Board has not provided a vote or recommendation as the latest from this group is that they are awaiting City Council decision on the CEQA appeal before they would place this project on their regular meeting agenda,” Tirandazi said. “Following the City Council hearing regarding the environmental determination, staff will schedule the project for a decision before the hearing officer at a noticed public hearing. The noticed hearing date has not yet been scheduled.”

Marijuana outlets must comply with San Diego Municipal Code, which requires a 1,000-foot separation from public parks, churches, child care centers, playgrounds, libraries, minor-oriented facilities, other medical marijuana consumer cooperatives, residential care facilities and schools. There is also a minimum distance requirement of 100 feet from a residential zone.

Security requirements include interior and exterior lighting, security cameras, alarms and a security guard. The security guard must be licensed by the state and be present on the premises during business hours. Hours of operation are limited from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week.

City Council will be voting on a number of marijuana outlet supply chain issues at its Sept. 11 meeting, including cultivation, distribution, storage, testing and manufacturing. The vote should provide more clarity on the parameters of regulations in San Diego, according to District 1 City Councilmember Barbara Bry.

“With the recent statewide legalization of marijuana, it is our responsibility in local government to regulate every part of the supply chain in order to ensure that consumers have a safe product. We must implement the will of San Diego voters who overwhelmingly turned out to support Proposition 64 and also ensure that public safety personnel has the resources to go after illegal operations,” said Bry in a statement. “By allowing for local government oversight and regulation of cannabis businesses, we can benefit from new jobs and a new source of tax revenue. Prohibiting a complete supply chain would be a missed opportunity to collect much needed revenue for the general fund and could result in an unregulated black market, which threatens public safety and consumer health.”

While the Torrey Pines planning board members did not take a formal vote on the latest proposed marijuana outlet, they did submit comments on the project to the city through Chair Dennis Ridz, strongly stating their concerns.

The planning board asserted its belief that marijuana outlets are not allowed by the Torrey Pines Community Plan as it states as policy that “Development of freestanding retail commercial uses in industrial designated areas shall be restricted to those uses that serve only the immediate Sorrento Valley industrial area.”

“Development Services states that the Medical Marijuana Consumer Cooperatives (MMCC) is not a retail use. Therefore this policy does not apply,” Ridz wrote in the comments to the city. “The Torrey Pines Project Review Committee believes that our community plan has been misinterpreted.”

The applicant Belinda Smith has stated that both medical and retails sales of marijuana will be sold on the premises and that she will apply for a state retail license once it is allowed in January 2018.

“According to the applicant, she will sell to anyone with a physician approved script. Therefore, this facility is serving the general public as a retail operation and not a small consumer cooperative,” the letter states.

The planning board’s comments also shared concerns about safety and adequate parking.

The letter questions the Development Services Department’s position in this case on the City Council policy that marijuana outlets are not to be located within 1,000 feet of youth facilities. City staff requires that a youth facility be the primary business within the building and control 50 percent of the square footage — the planning board argued that this eliminates most Sorrento Valley youth facilities from consideration as none of them control 50 percent of the building they are housed in. At least one youth music program is located just within the 1,000 feet from the proposed marijuana outlet.

“The city also allows MMCCs to be near a business if most surrounding businesses catered to adults. This would allow for a dispensary near a Baskin-Robbins if over half the clients where adults accompanying their children. This approach was applied to a church where its congregation were mostly adults but child care was provided along with bible school,” the letter states. “The PRC firmly believes that these Development Services changes to the City Council policy devalues the lives of our youth and blatantly discriminate against youth orientated organizations.”

Marijuana outlets are also prohibited within 1,000 feet of another such outlet, however, Torrey Holistics is 354 linear feet away from the second proposed site, although they are separated by Sorrento Valley Road, train tracks and a railroad parking lot. The planning board has argued that there is a path of travel between the two sites.