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Santa Barbara OKs Medicinal Marijuana Dispensary on De La Vina Street

Some residents and business objected to the proposal, citing crime and parking concerns

Despite objections from some neighbors, the Santa Barbara Planning Commission voted 6-1 Thursday to approve a new medicinal marijuana dispensary at 2609 De La Vina St. Click to view larger
Despite objections from some neighbors, the Santa Barbara Planning Commission voted 6-1 Thursday to approve a new medicinal marijuana dispensary at 2609 De La Vina St. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

The Santa Barbara Planning Commission voted 6-1 Thursday to approve a new medicinal marijuana dispensary.

The operation will open at 2609 De La Vina St., across the street from the Santa Barbara Chicken Ranch and next to Yellow Belly restaurant.

The city’s staff hearing officer approved the dispensary in June, but it was appealed to the Planning Commission by Peter Candy, an attorney representing about 27 people who oppose the dispensary.

“The site lacks adequate parking and it lacks direct access from the parking lot,” Candy said. “It changes the fundamental character of the neighborhood.”

Jay Higgins, citing impact on the neighborhood, was the only commissioner to oppose the project.

“The presence of Kevlar around parts of the inside of the building seems strikingly dangerous to me,” Higgins said.

The dispensary plans 24-hour security and re-enforced walls to guard against potential crime at the all-cash business.

The appellants raised multiple concerns: The back parking lot only has four spaces, which would force people to park in the surrounding residential neighborhood; customers must walk around a corner, past three other businesses, to enter the store; as well as general fears about loitering, illicit drug use and “unsavory people” frequenting the establishment.

A majority of the commission, however, sided with the applicant, Ihab Ghannman.

It was his second attempt to get approval for the dispensary. He modified his project several times, and agreed to increased security, including guards, cameras and steel bars on the windows.

The city allows up to three dispensaries, and this site is the third approved, including one on State Street and another on Milpas Street.

A majority of the commissioners said they had no good reason to deny the project, particularly since the applicant had worked so long, over so many staff meetings, to improve the project. The staff hearing officer and Planning Commission denied a previous version of the project in 2015.

The dispensary also had neighborhood support from the owners of Jedlicka’s Western Wear, which is two doors down.

They own the building and said the that dispensary has paid its rent and that they would make a good tenant.

Josiah Jenkins said that people who are concerned about a negative impact in the neighborhood should “shine the mirror” on themselves.

“Thee 200 block of West Constance is a dump,” Jenkins said. “They need to to take better care of it. If they are worried about the property in the neighborhood, they need to shine the mirror at themselves.”

Jenkins said he is not a fan of smoking “of any kind,” but that dispensaries are legal, so “what the heck.”

“My father did question me,” Josiah said of his father, Si Jenkins.

Commissioner Addison Thompson agreed, saying the security in the neighborhood should be seen as a positive.

“We are going to have a security presence in your neighborhood,” Thompson said. “It should make it better.”

Santa Barbara resident Kathleen Richardson spoke at the meeting and said she would “never” patronize the surrounding businesses if the dispensary gets built.

“I definitely would never go into Jedlicka’s,” she said, adding that she would also refuse The Santa Barbara Chicken Ranch and Yellow Belly.

“I would fear for my safety,” she said. “Surely there has to be an alternative location for a business like this to not expose residents and patrons of businesses.”

The project is appealable to the City Council within 10 days.

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Joshua Molina, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @JECMolina

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