Yee seeks increased restrictions for dispensaries on Ocean Avenue

Mike Koozmin/2013 S.f. Examiner File photo

Additional restrictions for medical marijuana dispensaries in San Francisco could be added to a half-mile section of Ocean Avenue just three months after identical regulations were adopted for a segment of Mission Street.

Supervisor Norman Yee introduced legislation Tuesday that mirrors the controls Supervisor John Avalos introduced last year to block additional medical marijuana businesses from opening in the neighborhood he represents.

“Hopefully people don’t view this as an anti-dispensary thing,” Yee said Wednesday. “We have some that are serving the neighborhood. We don’t want to end up with a dozen more.”

If a dispensary seeks to open for business within 500 feet of an existing one, the legislation requires a special permit from the Planning Commission, which could be appealed to the Board of Supervisors.

Yee said there are currently two medical marijuana dispensaries on Ocean Avenue, a third has recently filed an application to open and others are probable. Residents, he said, have complained about the possibility of more of these types of businesses. The controls would run along Ocean from Ashton Avenue to the City College campus.

Avalos’ district faced a similar situation last year. At the time, Avalos addressed concerns, saying, “I don’t believe by putting two more MCDs where we already have three MCDs increases access at all.” In response, restrictions were imposed on Mission Street between Alemany Boulevard and the San Mateo County line.

Local medical marijuana advocates have taken issue with increased restrictions, arguing that about 90 percent of The City is already off limits due to the first-ever dispensary regulations passed in 2005. With zoning that prohibits dispensaries from opening within 1,000 feet of schools or recreation centers, the result has been so-called “green zones” where there are high-concentrations of these businesses.

Advocates had also worried the regulations would set a precedent with other supervisors following suit, leading to increased erosion of the already scarce allowable areas. That seems to be happening after Yee’s recent move.

In gaining support for the Mission Street restriction, Avalos also introduced legislation that was approved by the Board of Supervisors requiring the Planning Commission to review the existing dispensary rules. The commission is poised to recommend changes calling for more areas of The City to be opened to dispensaries to prevent overconcentration in certain neighborhoods. The report is due by May.

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