After hearing from city staff members Thursday night, the Long Beach Planning Commission instructed them to look at the possibility of expanding where medical marijuana collectives could be located in regards to a new regulation ordinance.
Late last year, the City Council had sent staff back to the drawing board in order to create a new ordinance to regulate medical marijuana collectives in the city. The initial instructions included a limit of two per district, and limited locations only to industrial zones.
During the Planning Commission meeting Thursday night, a majority of the commissioners expressed that they wanted to expand that footprint if at all possible.
“I feel we shouldn’t limit the dispensaries strictly to industrial zones,” Chair Donita Van Horik said. “I think they should be also allowed to operate in busy commercial arterial areas. However, I think they should not be allowed to occupy a commercial area that then backs up to a residential area.”
Such a commercial-near-residential example, she added, would include Bixby Knolls on Atlantic Avenue or Belmont Shore’s Second Street.
Other rules from the first draft of City Ordinance 5.91 included:
• Collectives are required to get a conditional use permit and business permit.
• Collectives must submit an application detailing a security plan, background checks, nuisance abatement measures and record management and retention plans.
• There can be no more than 18 collectives operating total.
• Collectives must be 1,000 feet away from other collectives; 1,000 feet from elementary and junior high schools; 1,000 feet from parks; and 1,500 feet from high schools.
The tricky part with so many standards, staff members said, is when two qualifying collectives would be vying for the same area — for that, staff would institute a points-based system on several varying criteria to determine which collective could move forward. Other issues with industrial-only and keeping away from residential, is there are almost half of the City Council districts that might not qualify for any collectives or cultivations sites, depending on potential buffers and zones.
“We are working on some land use analysis that may lead to some further recommendations where these dispensaries may go if they can’t in the industrial,” Director of Development Services Amy Bodek said.
Much of the new ordinance is modeled after neighboring cities in California and new regulations coming out of Colorado and Washington, Deputy City Attorney Kendra Carney said.
“I believe this ordinance is a lot better than the original ordinance that we had in 2010,” Assistant City Attorney Mike Mais said. “We tried to craft something that deals with problems that come up in a medical marijuana environment.”
The Long Beach Collective Association — a group made up primarily of collective operators that qualified during the initial 2010 laws — had attorney Jina Nam present at the meeting, and she turned in a list of concerns her group had.
“A lot of that did make it into this draft, and lot of it did not,” she said. “It is difficult to say what should be the model regulation.”
Nam said the LBCA was most concerned with keeping collectives in industrial zones only; broad definitions of violations of the law; potential privacy violations; and that there was no priority listed for previously vetted operators from the 2010 regulations.
Commissioners asked city staff to work closely with LBCA, and to include requests by the group when applicable — and then next time to let the Planning Commission know why recommendations were included, or why not. They also directed staff to look into commercial zoning opportunities. City staff said they likely would come back to the Planning Commission later this spring with a more finalized draft to be voted on for recommendation to the City Council.
Jonathan Van Dyke can be reached at [email protected]
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