City approves pot dispensary during contentious hearing

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Malibu Collective Caregivers will become the second medical marijuana dispensary in Malibu. However, its hours of operation have been limited.

By Knowles Adkisson / The Malibu Times

After a long debate and a stalemate vote, the Malibu City Council voted 3-1 at its Monday night meeting to approve a conditional use permit for the medical marijuana dispensary, Malibu Collective Caregivers. The dispensary joins PCH Collective as the city’s second medical marijuana dispensary, although the council placed conditions on its hours of operation due to concerns over safety.

The Planning Commission had previously approved the application by Malibu Collective owner James Erickson in February. However, owners of a competing medical marijuana application, Twin Lyons Wellness Center, appealed the approval on the grounds that the Malibu Collective application was insufficient. Due to a city law limiting the number of medical marijuana dispensaries in Malibu to two, the Planning Commission at the same meeting denied the competing application from Twin Lyons as Erickson’s application was approved.

Malibu Collective Caregivers will be located in a 200-square -foot office at 22235 Pacific Coast Highway, behind the restaurant, Giovanni. Due to concerns about a lack of parking in the area, the Planning Commission had stipulated that Malibu Collective see its patients on an appointment only basis to reduce the possibility of increased traffic hazards.

Councilmember Lou La Monte said the concern about parking in the area was real, and that he was surprised the commission approved the application. La Monte also said he distrusted Erickson’s offer to mitigate traffic concerns by making deliveries to patients after 5 p.m.

“This is not safe,” La Monte said. “It’s an accident waiting to happen.”

Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich countered that both city staff and the commission had concluded that the Malibu Collective application met all the city’s requirements for medical marijuana dispensaries.

“It was the first [application] in line, I think they’ve addressed the parking issues by making appointments,” Ulich said.

When Mayor John Sibert indicated his support for Ulich’s position, the council reached a rare 2-2 stalemate, with La Monte and Mayor Pro Tem Laura Rosenthal in opposition. Councilmember Jefferson Wagner had earlier recused himself from the discussion, since the competing application by Krane would have been located in a building owned by Wagner.

When Malibu City Attorney Christi Hogin informed the council that a 2-2 vote would only confirm the Planning Commission’s decision to approve the application, Rosenthal changed her stance in order to place restrictions on the conditional use permit for Malibu Collective.

The council restricted the dispensary’s hours of operation to Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., to limit traffic congestion resulting from the evening arrival of patrons of Giovanni for dinner, and scrapped the plan to make deliveries.

When asked by The Malibu Times at the meeting if he could stay in business with the restrictions, Malibu Collective owner Erickson said, “We’ll see.”