Supervisors block approval of marijuana collective for Oceano

Board overturns Planning Commission’s OK of the site, saying it is too close to homes

clambert@thetribunenews.comMarch 6, 2012 

County supervisors have shot down what would have been San Luis Obispo County’s first medical marijuana collective since a Morro Bay facility was closed in 2007.

On Tuesday, the county board unanimously reversed a move the Planning Commission made in November to approve a proposal for a collective in Oceano.

Several supervisors commended Tammy Murray’s detailed plans to open Compassionate Cannabis Information Center at 1409 S. Fourth St., with Supervisor Jim Patterson calling the proposal “the best we’ve seen.”

But they took issue with the location and its proximity to nearby homes. The proposed business is in an area that allows light industrial uses, such as mini-storage facilities, but there are also homes behind and next to Murray’s property.

“There are 20 homes on this street with many children and elderly folks, and only one light on the street,” said Oceano resident Barbara Mann, who appealed the Planning Commission’s vote to the Board of Supervisors.

Mann, chairwoman of the Oceano Advisory Council, and several other local residents urged supervisors to halt the project, saying they worried it would attract crime to their small, established neighborhood.

County Sheriff Ian Parkinson also said he was concerned for the safety of nearby residents and would be less worried if the proposal were located in a more industrial location, without homes.

But others, including local medical marijuana advocates and supporters, implored supervisors to give local residents a safe place to access medical cannabis.

“Being able to go to a safe place and get medicine is very important to me,” said Debi Rock, a Los Alamos resident and cancer survivor who suffers from complications related to chemotherapy. “We are no threat to your children.”

Mann had also objected to the Planning Commission’s decision to allow Murray’s project to move forward even though it fell short of the county’s requirements that medical marijuana facilities be at least 1,000 feet from any school, library, playground, recreation or youth center.

Murray’s proposal is 922 feet from Oceano Park, according to county planning staff. However, it is separated by Highway 1 and the railroad tracks and not visible from the park because the highway is 15 to 20 feet higher than Murray’s property.

Planning commissioners had approved the proposal with a unique condition that commissioners review it in two years, and limited the number of car visits to 35 per day.

Murray said she was saddened by Tuesday’s hearing.

“They (supervisors) really did a disservice to the community here,” she said. “People who need medical marijuana will have to turn to street dealers.”

Murray, who owns a similar facility in Goshen, about 40 miles south of Fresno, said she may look outside the county to open a collective instead.

The supervisors’ decision to deny the project falls in line with previous positions they’ve taken on similar proposals.

County planning commissioners have approved plans for a medical marijuana facility twice since the supervisors approved rules allowing them in 2007, in Oceano and Templeton.

But supervisors shot down the Templeton plan, as well as a proposal in 2010 to open a clinic in an industrial park near a gymnastics studio.

Supervisor Bruce Gibson, while voting against this plan, added Tuesday: “We probably should have a permitted medical marijuana dispensary in this county.”

County planning staff had recommended that supervisors deny Mann’s appeal and allow the project to move forward.

Mann also asked for waiver of the $850 appeal fee, but the board did not take action on that request.

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