By Matthew Rodriguez
Pasadena Weekly Deputy Editor
The Pasadena City Council canceled the public hearing of the proposed amendment to the cannabis regulation ordinance
The cancellation came after Councilmember John Kennedy requested to have it tabled in a previous city council meeting. There is no indication of when it will return to the agenda.
The proposed changes would allow up to three cannabis retailers per council district rather than one and decrease the required distance between the stores from 1,000 feet to 450 feet. The amendment would not affect the limitation of six retailers and the zoning restrictions away from schools and churches. City officials believe that the 450-foot distance separation would ensure that the retail establishments would not be in the same immediate area, such as the same block.
Measure CC was passed in 2018 and allowed up to six cannabis retail locations. Six applicants were invited to apply for conditional use permits (CUP); however, only three companies have moved forward to opening or preparing to open their business. Integral and Varda have opened their businesses, and Harvest has yet to open to the public.
The staff report states that only three businesses have moved forward in the process because of the “distance separation requirements” established by the city council and the additional regulation that allowed only one retailer per council district.
The report also shows that three of six applicants applied for District 3, but because Harvest submitted its application first, it was granted the sole location in district three. The CUP applications for SweetFlower and Atrium were not processed because Harvest had already claimed the district.
The city council received nearly 100 letters regarding the proposed changes, most of which were in favor. Many of the correspondence in favor were in the form of letters from residents. Some of those that opposed outlined their fears of increased crime in the area.
“One dispensary per district is enough, let alone potentially three,” wrote Cindy Huynh. “That being said, there would be more potential for robberies, theft, violence, or more. Please consider this when discussing the proposal. We need to do what we can to minimize crime, especially during this current climate with the uptick in violence in Pasadena.”
Other businesses, such as Varda, voiced their opposition to the changes, calling them “unfair and unjust” and saying they would create a concentration of three retailers within 2 miles of each other.
“While we appreciate the impetus behind the proposed amendments, we are also concerned about the fairness of the proposed modifications,” wrote Tony Fong, owner of Varda. “Varda and other existing cannabis retailers within the City fully complied with the more stringent zoning requirements in order to obtain their licenses. … Relaxing the zoning restrictions at this juncture would be unfair and unjust to Varda. Any new retailers will receive an unfair advantage simply because they waited.”