Council Grants First Permit to Marijuana Company, Puts Retailer On Track to Opening Old Pasadena Store

Published : Tuesday, December 17, 2019 | 6:18 AM

Pasadena's City Council on Monday, Dec. 17, 2019 approved a conditional use permit entitling Harvest of Pasadena to occupy the city's first permitted cannabis retail store, at 169 West Colorado Boulevard in Old Pasadena.

Harvest of Pasadena has become the first of six cannabis license finalists to have its Conditional Use Permit (CUP) approved with finality, putting the retailer on the path to opening a shop on West Colorado Boulevard at Pasadena Avenue.

Following a sometimes contentious four-hour discussion in the 7½ hour meeting, the Pasadena City Council approved the CUP on a 5-2 vote Monday, with Councilmember Victor Gordo and Vice-Mayor Tyron Hampton voting against the permit.

Hampton told the Council before the vote, “This is jacked up!” and said “it’s ridiculous that we are even voting on this.”

Planning Director David Reyes countered, “We think we handled the process fairly. We know there is opposition to the location.”

SweetFlower Pasadena, LLC and The Atrium Group, LLC, which hold two of the six final applications approved for licenses, had filed the appeal against Harvest which until Monday night prevented Harvest from proceeding.

Both of the appellants had argued that Harvest’s proposed location, 169 West Colorado Boulevard in District 3, is in violation of the location requirements of the Pasadena Municipal Code Section 17.50.066 D5, that the CUP application submitted by Harvest of Pasadena was not complete, that the Planning Commission’s decision “was erroneous and based on regulations not lawfully promulgated,” and that the proposed location is not consistent with the General Plan and Old Pasadena Specific Plan, because the property is considered a ‘gateway’.”

Both Sweetflower and Atrium were interested in a District 3 location, but Harvest was awarded the location because its representatives filed its completed application first. Only one cannabis shop is allowed per Council district.

Ben Kimbro, representing Harvest Pasadena, LLC, shown speaking during Monday’s City Council hearing.

Much of the discussion centered around the specific location, with both Atrium and Sweetflower representatives claiming that the location was near a “library,” which would have violated the city’s cannabis municipal code.

The library in question is a small library on the grounds of the Rudolph Steiner Museum on nearby Martin Alley.

The City’s municipal code bars a cannabis retailer closer than 600 feet from “any library,” but City Planning Director David Reyes said that the distinction only applied to libraries in the city’s public library system.

Atrium and Sweetflower disagreed.

Another contentious point was whether the proposed site on the Western edge of Colorado Boulevard was a “gateway” location. The single-user building is on a corner property located at the west end of the Old Pasadena sub-district in the Central District.

While Councilmember Victor Gordo said that the City’s General and specific plans for the site both call the intersection a “gateway” to Old Pasadena, Mayor Terry Tornek did not agree.

Tornek told the Council he saw the intersection not as a gateway to Old Pasadena, but as “an outlier.”

According to the staff report delivered by Planner Guille Nunez and Reyes, the proposed location at the corner of Colorado Boulevard and Pasadena Avenue is the westernmost boundary of Old Pasadena, but it is not a designated “gateway” in the General Plan. Further, said the report, neither the General Plan nor the Central District Specific Plan limit the use of properties within the vicinity of gateway areas.

Added Tornek, “Colorado Boulevard is an adult urban area. There are bars, and restaurants, and a sex shop, it’s not some kid’s theme park.”

Tornek also noted that should the City continue to limit locations, voters would “have a point” for dissatisfaction since they voted for Measure CC last year to allow cannabis locations in the City.

At least a half dozen local residents spoke out against the location.

Erika Foy told the Council, “People are shocked that you are considering this, and the voters did not vote for a measure that would mean you would put a cannabis shop right on Colorado Boulevard.”

Foy added, ‘Use your conscience to vote against this.”

While both Sweetflower and Atrium contended that the location proposed by Harvest “does not comply with the requirements of the General Plan or the Central District Specific Plan,” according to the staff report, Reyes said that the proposed site and application were both in compliance.

Harvest still faces a series of City and state approvals before finally opening its retail location.

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