Three proposed marijuana businesses ran into a rare roadblock Thursday night when the Costa Mesa Planning Commission denied their applications for city permits.
In each case, commissioners said they felt the locations pitched for the facilities — different suites in an existing building at 3525 Hyland Ave. — are not compatible with the envisioned uses.
Specifically, they said they were concerned that allowing more industrial-type marijuana distribution and manufacturing operations in what is essentially an office building could create problems for the other occupants, such as subjecting them to pungent cannabis odors.
“I can’t say that this will not be detrimental to some of the businesses in the same office park,” said Commissioner Carla Navarro Woods. “Cannabis is legal in our state but, unfortunately, there’s still a really strong social stigma associated with it … and when you’re dealing with, I’d say, more conservative professional services like accounting and real estate and wealth management, it’s very possible that their clients would be turned off by that kind of activity.”
The decision to reject the conditional use permit applications from Shelf Life Inc., Hyland Resources and Hyland Distribution came even though their proposed locations are within Costa Mesa’s Measure X zone — an area north of South Coast Drive and west of Harbor Boulevard where certain marijuana businesses can operate.
Commission Vice Chairman Byron de Arakal suggested it might be beneficial to examine which types of facilities fit best with a cannabis business.
“This is a brand-new industry and I think we need to take some steps to clarify and regulate a little bit more specificallyf,” he said.
All the denials are final unless appealed to the City Council within seven days.
The panel unanimously turned down the permit requests from Hyland Resources and Hyland Distribution, but Commissioner Jon Zich split with his colleagues on Shelf Life’s application.
Zich felt that business — which proposed to distribute pre-packaged cannabis products such as oils, waxes, beverages and rolled joints, according to planning documents — would be “absolutely compatible” with its neighbors.
“It’s a different business, for sure … but if you visit their business, if you walk in their front door, it looks like any other white-collar, office-type activity,” he said.
The news Thursday wasn’t all bad for proposed marijuana businesses.
On a 3-2 vote, with de Arakal and Navarro Woods opposed, the commission granted a conditional use permit for BiosGrove Technology Inc. to distribute cannabis products including vape cartridges, tinctures and edibles out of a 2,631-square-foot space at 3505 Cadillac Ave., Unit M-201.
That decision also can be appealed to the council.
The commission also voted 3-2 — with Zich and Chairman Stephan Andranian dissenting — to delay a decision on a permit application from Aubio Labs LLC for a marijuana manufacturing facility in Unit O-201 at 3505 Cadillac.