By Bill Hendrickson
Eagle Rock is about to get a third cannabis store – and that has ticked off the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council.
At a meeting on Feb. 1, the ERNC was upset that they had only found out about the new shop from billboards in Eagle Rock and word of mouth.
That would never happen if a liquor store was opening in town because city regulations require advance notice of liquor license applications and prior outreach by applicants to Neighborhood Councils in the areas where the wish to open.
But those regulations don’t apply to cannabis, a situation that is “flatly unacceptable,” according a letter from the ERNC, dated Feb. 3, to Mayor Eric Garcetti, City Councilmember Kevin de León and other elected and appointed officials in L.A.
The letter calls on city leaders to regulate cannabis the same way liquor is regulated. “There is no reason that regulated cannabis businesses undergo less scrutiny and required outreach than liquor stores,” says the letter, adding: “The City of Los Angeles already has a robust permitting and enforcement system for liquor and it is long past time that cannabis be folded into that system.”
The ERNC voted unanimously to send the letter, which is signed by ERNC President Richard Loew.
A big concern of the ERNC is that L.A.’s rules on cannabis are weaker than the rules in neighboring Glendale and Pasadena, an imbalance that creates an incentive to locate cannabis shops in Eagle Rock. The letter cites data from the State Department of Cannabis Control showing that Eagle Rock, with three licensed cannabis shops, has one shop for every 10,893 local residents, while Pasadena and Glendale, with a combined two cannabis shops, have one shop for every 167,621 residents. “Absent evidence that Eagle Rockers are consuming 15-times the cannabis of our neighbors, this is a strong indicator that our community is getting significant ‘spill-over’ from the neighboring municipalities,” says the letter.
The Boulevard Sentinel dropped in at the new cannabis store, Velvet, at 1118 Colorado Blvd, which is set to open in the spring, and asked Velvet President Matt Morea about neighborhood outreach. Morea said that he thought his interactions with the city’s Department of Cannabis Regulation were the appropriate neighborhood outreach. He said he had no problem with neighborhood outreach; that he intends for his store to be good neighbor; and has plans to give back literally to the neighborhood through providing some funding for local nonprofit entities.
In its letter to city leaders, the ERNC notes that ‘spill over’ cannabis stores in Eagle Rock “may not necessarily be a blighting issue, but it’s definitely one that must be discussed in public and one that the City of Los Angeles’ departments should be actively engaging with the Neighborhood Councils on.”
The letter also states that the ERNC demand for better regulation of cannabis should not be taken to mean that it opposes the legal adult use of cannabis or the emerging adult-use recreational cannabis industry in L.A. “writ large.”
“What we are all loudly asking is that the City of Los Angeles effectively and efficiently regulate cannabis by using the tools it already has,” the letter says in conclusion.
This story has been corrected to state that the Velvet store location is on the SE corner of Colorado Blvd at Genevieve Ave.