Opening a new store, building a backyard deck, erecting a skyscraper -- getting stuff built in San Francisco, known to wonks as "the planning process," is nothing if not participatory.
Residents, merchants, and even neighborhood regulars who live elsewhere are welcome to challenge development projects, many of which have been derailed, altered, or abandoned over the years following public input.
This public process has proven not quite sufficient for a group of property owners in the Mission District. They've asked the federal Justice Department to shut down the Morado Collective -- a dispensary proposed for a property owned by Gus Murad (of Medjool fame) on the 2500 block of Mission Street -- provided that the Planning Commission even approve the dispensary's permit at a hearing today.
Why would neighbors go to the feds to kibosh a new business? Owners of "white-linen" restaurants and other family-friendly businesses feel a pot club would hurt their bottom lines -- and they think it's the only way their wishes can be respected and the club nipped in the bud.
A group of Latino LGBT and HIV/AIDS activists are behind the Morado Collecive, which would occupy a few hundred square feet of space in the restaurant/hostel/bar complex at 2520 Mission. And so is Murad, who achieved a level of fame for his rooftop bar at Medjool -- where, it turned out, planning commissioners partied on the very deck that violated city zoning code.
That's all behind him. Murad is not involved with the pot club, the would-be operators told the SF Examiner in the spring, but he paid the permit application fee, and is still the landlord, according to records.
A few months ago, the area already had one pot club -- Shambhala Healing Center, which shut down at the end of June under pressure from U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag.
The property owners who make up the Mission Miracle Mile Business Improvement District didn't like Shambhala -- and they really don't like Morado Collective.
The owners voted in June to oppose the dispensary -- and on July 3, local realtor James Nunemacher, the BID's president, went further, penning a letter to Haag "seeking the federal government to close this facility should it open."
"We look to your office to practice judicial consistency in this matter since earlier this year your office took actions to close the medical cannabis dispensary at 2441 Mission St. on the grounds that it is in too close in proximity to youth-serving institutions," the letter reads (page 29 on your PDF). "Such an establishment, even if it lawful by federal law, is incompatible with the family shopping that predominates the immediate area in the daytime and the dining/entertainment venues that are active in the evening."
Nunemacher, a realtor with Vanguard SF, did not return a telephone call or an e-mail seeking comment. It's worth mentioning that he was at one point friendly enough with Murad, a former Small Business Commission member, to attend Murad's wedding in Morocco, as you will see in these photos.