A remodel of the space at 473 Haight Street where an expansion of popular medical cannabis dispensary SPARC had caused some last-minute controversy among some neighbors can proceed, the Planning Commission determined.
The body unanimously favored SPARC in a Discretionary Review of the remodel, which was launched by neighboring business owner Azam Khan of Love Haight Computers. "I requested a DR on the 400 block," Khan said before the Commission in taped footage, "[and] 16 out of 18 merchants are strongly against this and submitted a letter against this." SPARC meanwhile questioned that so many merchants actually objected, and had hundreds of signatures of support from the neighborhood.
Khan questioned why Planning did not do a discretionary review of the whole project, which is within 1000 feet of a school. Later, a zoning official explained that, because a preceding dispensary in this space, Good Fellows, had its license grandfathered in from a period before a 1000-foot rule had been instated, and that it was now Good Fellows' license that had been transferred to SPARC, such an objection technically didn't apply.
"We are proud to receive unanimous support from the Planning Commission on our dispensary remodel project," SPARC public affairs manager Joel Freston said in a statement to Hoodline.
Leading up to the Planning Commission vote, heated arguments and alleged threats toward SPARC from at least a couple longtime locals created a hostile and contentious atmosphere. Figures like Pierre Pegeron, a co-owner at a nearby business, seemed irked by the irony of installing a mainstream, legal dispensary on a block that has worked to eradicate persistent illegal drug use and violence. SPARC employees claimed a man that may have been Pegeron threatened and intimidated them, which Pegeron denies.
SPARC will now proceed with building out the second location of its operation, once dubbed "the Apple Store of pot dispensaries."