San Diego’s first wave of legal marijuana dispensaries will face uncertain futures as soon as next year, when the five-year city operating permits they got in 2015 begin expiring.
City officials say they are unsure what criteria they will use to determine whether to renew the two dozen permits, 13 of which are due to expire next year.
The city could consider complaints from the neighborhood surrounding a dispensary, how often police have been called to the site and if a dispensary has a record of municipal code violations, officials said.
Another factor could be whether circumstances have changed in the area around a dispensary since its initial approval. Is there a new park, church, school or other “sensitive use” facility?
Dispensaries can’t operate within 1,000 feet of sensitive uses.
City officials have said they don’t expect renewals for dispensary permits to be as routine as renewals for most businesses that have conditional use permits.
“This is not your typical extension of time for maybe some other use,” said P.J. Fitzgerald, an assistant deputy director in the city’s Development Services Department.
“It’s a milestone point, where we would take a look at how they’ve been behaving, have they been meeting their requirements and other factors we would need to consider.”
Elyse Lowe, director of development services, said city officials are still determining how the process will work.
“The city is in the process of developing comprehensive interdepartmental procedures to verify/ensure full compliance with all conditions of the permit…” she said by email this week.
Meanwhile, many dispensary operators are also facing potentially sharp rent increases because landlords, who control the operating permits, have become more aware of how lucrative the businesses are.
“The landlords got into it and didn’t really know what