Sunset district residents have won their fight to prevent a medical marijuana club from opening along Taraval Street.

The Planning Commission approved a permit for the Bay Area Compassion Health Center in May, but it was yanked by the Board of Appeals on Wednesday evening after a room full of residents and Sunset Supervisor Carmen Chu said 2139 Taraval St. is not the place for marijuana.

The board’s decision tests regulations adopted by The City that are meant to ensure a neighborhood’s interests are looked out for. One rule bans the operation of clubs within 1,000 feet of schools or community facilities serving people under 18.

“This is a code-compliant project,” city planner Scott Sanchez said.

But opponents said some businesses, such as a youth tutoring location, that do fall within the 1,000-foot radius should be considered community facilities. And while Lincoln High School is outside the radius, opponents said it is close enough to be considered.

Chu and members of the Appeals Board said the regulations were not clear, but their intent was to keep clubs away from such locations.

Derek St. Pierre, the attorney for the dispensary, said the area is underserved and that the business would fill an empty storefront and improve security, not diminish it. The nearest club is 2.3 miles from the proposed site.

The club has 10 days to request a rehearing of the decision, which St. Pierre said he plans to do.

Chu said she could not imagine there being any new information that would result in a different decision by the board.

In 1996, voters passed Proposition 215, which legalized the cultivation, sale and use of marijuana for those suffering illnesses, infirmity or chronic pain. As a result, an increasing number of marijuana dispensaries began operating in San Francisco, prompting public outcry. The first city regulations for such businesses were adopted in 2005.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

SF Examiner
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