City Tallies 29 Closures of Illegally Operated Marijuana Dispensaries, Two Remain Open

Published : Wednesday, January 8, 2020 | 5:45 AM

Pasadena property owner Ararat Avanesiyan pictured during a Dec. 5, 2019 Code Enforcement Commission hearing. Photo by Eddie Rivera.

A Pasadena property owner is appealing a Code Enforcement Commission panel decision ordering he require a cannabis business to cease operating on property he owns.

In a 2-1 decision last month, the Code Enforcement Commission formally ordered the closure of Kush 20 House, at 1644 East Walnut Street owned by Ararat Avanasiyan and his brother Yeros Avanessian (each spells his last name differently), who was removed from the city’s complaint in December.

Kush 20 House and one other dispensary are the final two dispensaries operating illegally in the city according to Code Compliance Officer Jon Pollard

Pasadena Code Compliance Officer Jon Pollard. Photo by Eddie Rivera

Pollard said Ararat Avanasiyan’s appeal will be heard at the Feb. 6 Code Enforcement Commission meeting.

Neither brother is accused of criminal wrongdoing.

The City has been seeking to close illegally operating dispensaries for several years. At one point there were 29 cannabis dispensaries operating without city approval.

According to Pollard, since 2016, hundreds of citations have been written to illegally operating dispensaries.

“The property owner is strictly liable for the activities and while the City has no evidence that Ararat Avanasiyan is engaged in the sale of cannabis items, as the property owner or the property owner through the LLC, he’s responsible for illegal activity that occurs on the property,” Pollard said.

The code enforcement commission is the quasi-judicial body that has the ability to accept City staff’s recommendations or modify them.

No matter what happens, most likely Kush 420 will be ordered to close.

“In the City of Pasadena many commercial property owners think that it’s okay to lease their properties out to illegal cannabis dispensaries and find out to their chagrin later on that it’s not,” said Pollard. “Only dispensaries that had been approved by the City through the conditional use permit process and commercial cannabis permit process are allowed to operate within the city.”

Only six dispensaries have advanced in the city’s process that allows them to sell cannabis. So far, only Harvest of Pasadena has received a conditional use permit.

. “The City of Pasadena has moved aggressively to close illegal pot dispensaries which have located wherever they wish, in violation of the law, and in proximity to residential neighborhoods, schools and places of worship,” said City spokesperson Lisa Derderian. “Working in a coordinated manner across a number of City departments, including the City Prosecutor’s Office, the Police Department, the Code Enforcement Division, the Planning Department, and the City Attorney’s Office, 29 illegal dispensaries have been permanently shuttered since 2016, with 22 of those closed since August, 2018.”

“There are presently two illegal pot dispensaries operating and efforts are underway to seek their closure. Recognizing the problems that illegal pot dispensaries create for adjoining areas, the City will continue to aggressively protect its residents from all illegal uses.”

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