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Costa Mesa commission denies permit for proposed marijuana distribution facility

Costa Mesa commission denies permit for proposed marijuana distribution facility
A worker squeezes a bit of oil from a cannabis bud at a small marijuana farm in Humboldt County in 2016. The Costa Mesa Planning Commission on Monday rejected a proposal for a marijuana distribution facility in a commercial building at 3525 Hyland Ave. (File Photo / Los Angeles Times)

Costa Mesa planning commissioners Monday rejected a proposal for a marijuana distribution facility, citing concerns that the operation wouldn’t be compatible with nearby businesses.

The 3-2 decision to deny a city permit for Triiad is the fourth time in the past month the Planning Commission balked at approving a cannabis facility in a commercial building at 3525 Hyland Ave., north of South Coast Collection.

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Commissioner Jon Zich and Chairman Stephan Andranian dissented in Monday’s vote. The commission’s decision is final unless appealed to the City Council within seven days.

Commissioners have been reluctant to allow cannabis businesses at the proposed site, though it is in the area of the city identified as permissible for marijuana uses under the voter-approved Measure X. The reluctance stems partly from opposition by existing tenants.

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Commissioner Jeffrey Harlan — whose absence from a hearing last week prompted the commission to schedule Monday’s special meeting to decide Triiad’s fate — said he thought it was “telling that there wasn’t a single tenant who offered any sort of support” for the application. He questioned whether the proposal was trying to “fit a square peg into a round hole.”

Triiad proposed using a 2,035-square-foot space in Suite 265 to distribute and transport prepackaged cannabis goods, including wellness products such as balms, oils or lotions, according to planning documents.

Other tenants on the property who turned out to Monday’s meeting steadfastly opposed the idea, saying it would be incompatible with and detrimental to their businesses. They cited concerns about possible odors and said their clients might be uncomfortable doing business near a marijuana facility.

Chris Larocca, one of Triiad’s owners, said during the hearing last week that the facility would contain any odors with air filtration systems.

Harlan, while saying Measure X was intended to create an area “for cannabis industries to take root,” added, “I don’t think the intent was to necessarily displace existing commercial businesses.”

Zich, on the other hand, said he didn’t see a compelling reason to deny the application.

“I still feel that this is an activity that, if one physically observed what was going on, would really be not much different from any other office-type activity,” he said.

Commission Vice Chairman Byron de Arakal said he was troubled by a recent trend in which the commission seemingly is being asked for more leniency on issues such as parking and loading areas to squeeze more cannabis businesses into the Measure X zone.

“It’s just, really, kind of all of a sudden gone from where I thought we had our arms around this, we were controlling it pretty well … to where now all the rules are just kind of unraveling to let this applicant get to where he needs,” de Arakal said.

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