Pot club near wharf faces choppy seas

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A plan to open a medical marijuana club in one of The City’s most popular tourist areas faces an uphill climb, as neighborhood residents and groups are lining up to defeat it.

If approved, the Green Cross club, just blocks from Fisherman’s Wharf at 2701 Leavenworth St., would be the first medical marijuana club to open since The City created a new, more restrictive permitting process last year. At least 30 medical marijuana clubs operate in The City, selling cannabis to people suffering from cancer, AIDS, glaucoma and other illnesses, provided they have a doctor’s prescription and a state-issued identification card. The sale of medical marijuana was approved by California voters under Proposition 215 in 1996, though it remains illegal under federal law.

The Green Cross plan is expected to face strong opposition at a public hearing being held today by the Planning Commission, as community members were meeting Wednesday night to plan presentations urging the commission to keep the club out of the neighborhood.

Representatives from the Fisherman’s Wharf Merchant’s Association are concerned that a pot club is out of place in one of The City’s busiest tourist destinations and could present a bad picture of The City to visitors. That is a concern shared by Ryan Chamberlain of the civic group San Francisco SOS, who lives near the proposed site. He also worries about the traffic congestion resulting fromthe club, which he says would be located at a “tricky intersection.”

“That particular location is troubling for anything that is going to increase traffic and parking,” Chamberlain said.

Other neighborhood groups and residents of the mixed-use neighborhood cited concerns about crime and the club’s proximity to a small park they say is used by children.

Supervisor Aaron Peskin, whose district borders the proposed site, plans to submit a letter to the Planning Commission at the meeting expressing his reservations about the club, according to his aide, David Naylor.

But the owner of the club, Kevin Reed, says he chose the location because of the limits on where a club can open that were created by the new permitting process. One of the major restrictions is that clubs cannot operate within 1,000 feet of an elementary or private school, community clubhouse or neighborhood center, according to the Planning Department.

“If you look at … locations in The City that are potential locations for a dispensary, I would argue there are very few, but this is one of them,” said Dan Snyder of the Planning Department.

Reed, whose first medical marijuana club in Noe Valley closed because of neighbor complaints, has already converted the old restaurant storefront into a posh-looking lounge with no chairs. He has also installed a state-of-the-art security system that he says the San Francisco Police Department has already approved.

The club has to get approval from the Health Department, Police Department and Planning Department before it can open its doors.

The meeting will be held today at 1:30 p.m. in the Commission Chambers, Room 400, at 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place.

sfarooq@examiner.com

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