As developers renovate 2441 Mission Street to become a medical marijuana dispensary, planners are questioning whether the location complies with a city code prohibiting pot clubs from operating within 1,000 feet of a school or community center that serves youth under 18 years old.
The dispensary will go before the Planning Commission on Dec. 16, but the zoning administrator is currently analyzing the site to see if a local nonprofit, New Door Ventures, would be defined as a community center.
Krissy Keefer, the artistic director at Dance Mission Theater and longtime Mission resident, is working with the owner of 2441 Mission to open the dispensary. She said that they have not yet decided what do if their permit is denied.
Keefer added that she wants to create a different atmosphere than the other marijuana dispensary on Valencia Street. At present there are five dispensaries in the Mission District (see the map above).
“We want to do something different than what they are doing,” she said. “We want a clean, well-lighted place for medical use.”
Edgar Oropeza, the planner in charge of presenting the findings to the Planning Commission, learned about New Door Ventures after a Mission Loc@l reporter told him about the nonprofit.
Oropeza said that he couldn’t find a site that fit the description when he walked around the neighborhood. The New Door Ventures building, at 3075 21st Street, appears from the outside to be warehouse, but is actually office space and a job-training site for youth from 16 to 24 years old.
“I was paranoid about being caught with my pants down,” he said, referring to his research. “You caught me with my pants down.”
Oropeza also noted that, according to building inspection records, the Planning Department did not sign off on New Door’s conversion from industrial use to office space or recreation center.
It’s unclear if this means the office is illegal, because not all permits are properly filed and further research is needed, Oropeza said.
“This is something we have to present to the zoning administrator.”
Tess Reynolds, the CEO of New Door Ventures, said she would look into finding out if the organization has the right permits and will obtain them if it doesn’t.
Reynolds said the group would oppose the dispensary.
“We wouldn’t be happy with a cannabis club there. We serve youth between 16 and 24, this is a very formative stage in their life to establish success — we don’t need that kind of distraction.”
The Jose Coronado playhouse nearby would also have disqualified the dispensary, but according to the Recreation and Park Department, the clubhouse is closed and therefore doesn’t meet the definition of a community center for youth.
The proposed marijuana dispensary also raises questions about what is considered a community center.
The Planning Department granted a permit to a marijuana dispensary in the Sunset District earlier this year despite the fact that a tutoring center and a day care center were within the 1,000-foot limit.
The Board of Appeals yanked that permit in November, however, partly because the tutoring and day care center were in the perimeter.
New Door Ventures would be considered this kind of center based on the description on its website, but more research is needed, Oropeza said.