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Duboce neighbors relieved pot store hearing delayed

by Sari Staver

David Troup. Photo: Sari Staver
David Troup. Photo: Sari Staver  

Some residents in Duboce Triangle are relieved that a city hearing for a proposed retail cannabis store in the neighborhood has been delayed.

The proposed shop, the Flore Store, at 258 Noe Street, would be operated by a team headed by Terrance Alan, a gay man who also owns Flore, a cafe located at Castro and Noe, just across the street.

"We were happy to hear that the process has slowed down," said David Troup, a gay man and chair of the Duboce Triangle Neighborhood Association's Land Use Committee, in an interview with the Bay Area Reporter at the DTNA general meeting Monday, June 11.

Troup said the city's delay involves the state's complicated permit and license procedures and, as far as he knew, had nothing to do with the application, per se.

The hearing was scheduled for mid-July but has been postponed, as the B.A.R. reported last week online. A new date should be announced soon, Alan wrote in an email to the B.A.R.

Alan, a longtime cannabis activist, is also the chair of the city's state cannabis legalization task force, which makes recommendations on implementing the new law.

DTNA members are primarily concerned about the retail store being located next to a public park and that it would take a rent-controlled apartment upstairs and make it a "hotel," a term Alan disputed last week.

He told the B.A.R., following the June 4 meeting of the DTNA land use committee, that his ownership group plans for the flat above the store to be an artist-in-residence space.

Troup said that, at the DTNA land use committee meeting in May, Alan told the group he also hoped to open a hotel in an apartment located on the second floor, above the proposed store. After he heard the objections, Alan withdrew the application to open a hotel, Troup said.

When voters approved Proposition 64 in November 2016, the initiative opened the floodgates to new applications for retail cannabis businesses in the city beginning in 2018. The city began accepting applications in May.

The interest from people "reminded me of a (swarm of) locusts," Troup said at the DTNA meeting Monday.

Alan was not at the meeting.

Alan's group has a permit approved by the city, but must secure a change of use application from the planning commission. If that's approved, he would need a license from the state.

In addition to the Flore Store, others have made it known that they are also interested in opening cannabis businesses in the neighborhood, said Troup.

The Castro Merchants business group was expected to hear proposals about Flore Store and another cannabis retail shop at its June meeting but delayed the presentations to a future date. The other proposal is from Ray Connolly, a gay man who had expressed interest in opening a store at 2352 Market Street. The storefront was formerly the home of Worn out West, which closed in February after several decades in the neighborhood.

Connolly and his business partner are apparently now thinking of applying for a permit to open a cannabis location at 3989 17th Street, where the Wild Card was located. The business and the building were listed for sale for $3 million earlier this year. Neither Connolly nor the other man associated with the project returned messages from the B.A.R. seeking comment, and they were not at the DTNA meeting Monday.

The location on Market Street would have been problematic because it is located less than 600 feet from the proposed Flore Store; city regulations require cannabis stores to be located at least 600 feet from other cannabis businesses, said Troup.

Troup said that a number of Duboce Triangle residents had issues with Flore's landlord, J.D. Petras, who also owns the building where the new store would be located. Recently, a number of neighbors complained that, despite frequent complaints, Flore employees often did not lock the front gate to the prep kitchen, located adjacent to 258 Noe, because homeless people had begun to congregate there. The issue has since been resolved.

Petras did not respond to a request for comment.

Troup urged DTNA members who have concerns to stay abreast of the issue through the DTNA website, where the date of the hearing will be announced.

"If you have concerns, please come to the hearing" to testify, he said.

Troup suggested concerned residents should try to convince the city to include whatever requirements they feel the business should meet (operating hours, security, etc.) in their conditional use application.

"In my years as land use chair, I've learned that everything should be in writing on the application. Leaving things to chance does not work," he said.

Troup said that most of the organization's concerns have nothing to do with the store wanting to sell marijuana.

"Most of the concerns are not about cannabis," said Troup. "We want to be sure the business and property owners have high standards."

A number of people testified that the Apothecarium, a medical and recreational marijuana dispensary at 2029 Market Street, has been an excellent neighbor and has been an asset to the neighborhood.

Troup said that when Apothecarium founder Ryan Hudson first discussed the new business with DTNA, he said his goal was to make the dispensary "the Nordstrom of cannabis."

"Flore said they'd like to be the Tiffany" of the industry, Troup said.

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