RIVERSIDE (CNS) – A proposed cannabis outlet planned in the tiny unincorporated community of Coronita was unanimously rejected Tuesday by Riverside County supervisors based on its insufficient parking arrangements and the prospect of it generating traffic hazards at an awkward intersection.
“I have a lot of concerns,” said Supervisor Karen Spiegel, whose Second District includes Coronita, which is largely bounded by the city of Corona. “If we approve this … we could open up a can of worms. This is a very dangerous precedent.”
High Point Cannabis Inc. was seeking a conditional use permit to operate a 1,748-square-foot cannabis store in what was formerly a beauty salon at 646 Paseo Grande. The site is at the intersection of Paseo Grande and Frontage Road, just south of Sixth Street and the Riverside (91) Freeway.
The Corona City Council was opposed to the proposed business due to what Councilman Wes Speake told the board would be inevitable “issues with access and egress.”
“Most people are coming north on Paseo Grande, and there is no access there,” he said. “It’s really a difficult location.”
Several Corona residents spoke to the same topic.
“I don’t think that’s the type of business for that intersection,” Dean Stamp told the board. “It draws too much traffic.”
The main concern was how motorists attempting to enter the 12-vehicle parking lot would accomplish that on Paseo Grande with high traffic flow in both directions. The Corona City Council sent a letter to the board noting that the intersection contains “blind spots” and lacks a crosswalk. With no formal traffic engineering study performed, the council said there were too many what- ifs that hadn’t been addressed.
The other factor not favoring High Point Cannabis was its parking agreement with American Legion Post 742 a quarter-mile away, according to Spiegel.
The post had entered into a $1,000-a-month compact with the marijuana retailer for the use of five parking spaces, reserved for High Point Cannabis’ employees. Post Commander David Brambila praised the applicant for vowing to cover the costs of an expansion of the lot to provide additional space “for our veterans.”
However, Spiegel and Supervisor Kevin Jeffries both flagged the off- site parking arrangement for its tenuous terms — with no period of time guaranteed for High Point Cannabis to use the area — and also worried that it would potentially establish a precedent for future applicants, cannabis retailers and others to request that they, too, be permitted to set up off-site parking facilities. The process could complicate and make otherwise tenable projects too challenging, the supervisors said.
“It’s alarming to me,” Spiegel said. “The donations for the American Legion are wonderful, but that can’t put everybody else in jeopardy.”
The Planning Commission had signed off on the proposed cannabis outlet in October 2021, and the Transportation & Land Management Agency submitted the application to the Board of Supervisors with a recommendation for approval.
The board approved a cannabis operation in Coronita in 2021, and while there were some traffic conflict concerns, there were no parking challenges associated with that store.
Since 2020, the board has granted 23 conditional use permits for cannabis businesses in unincorporated communities, seven of which have opened their doors. In addition to Coronita, operations have been authorized in Bermuda Dunes, East Hemet, Green Acres, Highgrove, Mead Valley, Temescal Valley, Thousand Palms and Winchester.
Under Ordinance No. 348, which contains provisions of the county’s Marijuana Comprehensive Regulatory Framework of 2018, prospective businesses must take a series of steps to be eligible for permits. Safety and health safeguards are part of the regulatory stipulations.
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