The Farmacy, a medical marijuana dispensary looking to move in to a storefront along the 700 block of Chapala Street, cleared a major hurdle towards becoming a reality this week despite continued controversy swirling around them and the medical marijuana issue at large.
On Wednesday morning, October 7, Susan Reardon, a hearing officer with the Santa Barbara City Planning Department, gave the club’s unique cannabis and wellness-center hybrid business model the green light to do business, wedged between two popular eateries and beneath 29 residential apartments, on the street level of the mixed use Paseo Chapala building.
Knowingly making her ruling at a time when the City’s Ordinance Committee actively grapples with revising Santa Barbara’s medical marijuana laws, Reardon opined, “I have an existing ordinance right now and I have procedures that we follow:And this application meets those requirements.”
Reardon granted approval of The Farmacy’s plan with the condition that the business either, as suggested by the Santa Barbara Police Department, install security cameras in the parking lot that it shares with the apartment buildings, or add a third security guard to their existing security plan, with the specific task of patrolling the lot during business hours.
Her ruling is sure to be appealed to the Planning Commission by critics of the plan, specifically the residents of Paseo Chapala who have been outspoken in their reluctance to have a cannabis club as their downstairs neighbor-though it should be noted that a representative for the commercial tenants of Paseo Chapala, which include Esau’s Restaurant and Silvergreens, spoke in support of the club on Wednesday.
That is, if it even gets as far as the Planning Commission. The building’s homeowners association is already on the record as being against installing security cameras in the parking area and, according to Residents Association President John Campanella, cameras cannot be added without their approval. “More than anything, we did not move into a high security building and we don’t want to live in one now,” explained apartment owner Geoff Roland. Providing even more explicit indication of a likely appeal, or the neighbors’ refusal to allow installation of the needed cameras, Campanella told city staff during the hearing, “Denial of this plan is extremely important to the 29 families living in the building.”