Proposed Medical Cannabis Nursery in Dogpatch Blocked

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Last summer, Dogpatch Neighborhood Association (DNA) member, Constans Channon, and Friends of Potrero Hill (FOPH), an organization located at 1060a Tennessee Street, formally requested that the City’s Board of Appeals (BoA) halt development of a proposed medical cannabis nursery, to be sited at 1025 Tennessee Street, currently a one story, 9,550 square foot warehouse. As a result of their intervention, the Department of Building Inspection (DBI) suspended a permit application, filed by Potrero Nuevo Ventures, LLC (PNV), to modify the industrial space.  BoA will hold a hearing on November 8 to consider the matter. 

According to Jared Doumani, DNA treasurer, following Channon’s and FOPH’s entreaties, PNV representative Robert Watson attended a DNA meeting to discuss concerns that nursery operations would trigger unpleasant noise and smells. “A number of the neighbors really felt that the facility was a bad idea for a number of reasons,” said Doumani. “There’s one particular grow house in the neighborhood, at 1405 Indiana Street, that has a very strong odor…members expressed concerns about safety too. The property is near two preschools, La Scuola and Friends of Potrero Hill Nursery School.”  The facility would also be located within 1,000 feet of a private elementary school, AltSchool Dogpatch.

Doumani said that PNV has been receptive to addressing DNA members’ concerns, but that it’d be challenging to ensure the operation would effectively control its sounds and scents.  “It came down to, were we going to be able to regulate odor and noise. In July 2017, it became clear that we were not going to be able to enforce [any standards]. The City is working on regulations for cannabis cultivation facilities, but doesn’t have them in place yet. So then we said, without controls, we’re not in favor of this. We have to oppose this,” said Doumani.

According to Doumani, Channon’s BoA submission emerged from conversations among DNA members about the proposed nursery. Channon and FOPH are represented by San Francisco-based attorney, Charmaine Yu, of Coblentz Patch Duffy & Bass LLP. Yu is a Dogpatch resident and former DNA member.

According to Cynthia Goldstein, BoA executive director, Channon and FOPH’s requests identified the proposed nursery’s proximity to two preschools as a key issue. The submissions also raised concerns about the grow house’s potential to engender unpleasant smells, loud noise, and increased truck traffic. And the appellants are unhappy that the property’s owner, the Pine Family Revocable Trust, based in Hillsborough, California, had evicted seven long-term production, distribution and repair (PDR) businesses.

The Department of Planning considers the nursery to be an agricultural, rather than PDR, business. Since 1025 Tennessee Street is located in an urban mixed-use zone, agrarian use of the property is allowed.

Last March, Pine Family Revocable Trust evicted Victorian Replicas, an importer of Victorian replica furniture, A. Henry Woodworking, a woodworking company, Superplush Suspension, a motorcycle suspension tuner, Park View Construction, a general contractor, Barker & Holman, a general contractor, A. Shine, a shoeshine business, and Persnickety Painters, a painting company formerly owned by Doumani.

“I ended up shutting down the business,” said Doumani. “It was a confluence of events. The location was very convenient for me. I live just up the street. I’ve been looking for four to six months for space to relocate into.”

According to Doumani, the Department of Public Health (DPH) provided a spreadsheet to DNA of proposed medical cannabis dispensary-connected grow houses in the City, which listed the 1025 Tennessee Street facility and existing nurseries at 1405 Tennessee Street, 669 Mississippi Street, 1425 Tennessee Street, and 1233 Connecticut Street. The DPH document doesn’t specify the dispensaries to which the nurseries are attached.

Channon and FOPH are required to submit more detailed statements explaining their concerns by October 21 under the BoA hearing schedule. Prior to the complaints, PNV had received the necessary permits to develop the property.  DPH approved the nursery last April; the San Francisco Fire Department did so in May, as did DBI. DBI’s permit allowed PNV to construct an interior wall.

Prior to its initial approval, DBI received complaints that construction and roofing work was occurring without a permit, exposing adjacent properties to asbestos and lead paint, matters that were resolved by the issuance of a permit and DBI communication to PNV about its lead abatement and dust mitigation responsibilities.

If ultimately approved, the nursery won’t include a medical cannabis dispensary, contain any hazardous materials, or process marijuana post-harvest.

Yu, Friends of Potrero Hill Nursery School, DPH, La Scuola International School, Alt School Dogpatch, the Potrero Dogpatch Merchants Association, and Dogpatch Business Association didn’t respond to requests from the View for comment.  Cameron Chernoff, an Upper Haight artist, founder of Mystic Eye Studio, and PNV chief executive officer, similarly didn’t respond to inquiries from the View.

Although the proposed Tennessee Street project wouldn’t serve as a dispensary, it’s unknown how a recently adopted municipal moratorium on such facilities might impact the nursery.