San Leandro may ‘pump the brakes’ on dispensaries, but only after three

SAN LEANDRO CITY COUNCIL |  A third dispensary permit in San Leandro in just over a year was formally approved Monday night, but it may be the last for some time after a councilmember raised the possibility of moratorium on any further dispensaries. The San Leandro City Council moved to schedule later this month a potential moratorium on new permits and land-use decisions.

Councilmember Corina Lopez made the motion to place the moratorium option on the Oct. 17 agenda. Lopez and four others voted affirmatively, Councilmember Jim Prola voted no, while Councilmember Benny Lee abstained. Prola has been the council’s strongest supporter for dispensaries in San Leandro, while Lee questioned the prudence of approving three permits when the initial pair of dispensaries has yet to open.

Lopez’s request for an emergency ordinance, if approved, could result in a 45-day moratorium on new permits and land-use issues related to dispensaries. Later, the council could reassess the situation and choose to extend the moratorium to one year, said City Attorney Richard Pio Roda.

In addition, with the likelihood California voters will approve Proposition 64, the state initiative to legalize cannabis, the entire industry may be changing at a lightning pace. In this case, a moratorium could bridge the gap, said Pio Roda. “It might be a good time to pump the brakes.”

San Leandro’s first dispensary operators, Harborside and the Davis Street Wellness Center, need time to assess their business models and their competition within the city and surrounding areas, said Lopez.

After years of push back, San Leandro city leaders have moved quickly to engage the the growing medical cannabis industry. Harborside, one of the biggest operators in the country, was approved by city council in September 2015. And the Davis Street Wellness Center was given a permit in July. A third operator, based on recent council discussions, is likely to be Oakland operator Blum.

An amendment to the city’s medical cannabis dispensary ordinance was officially approved Monday night to allow for a third permit. A process for formally selecting the third dispensary operator is not finalized. Any moratorium would not affect the third dispensary, said Pio Roda.

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