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SLO OKs cannabis store, hits citywide cap

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The city of San Luis Obispo handed out its third and, for now, final cannabis storefront permit on July 14, with city planning commissioners unanimously approving plans for a dispensary at 3535 South Higuera St., between Prado Road and Granada Drive.

SLOCal Roots received the conditional-use permit and will establish about 2,000 square feet of retail space at the site of a former auto repair shop.

City documents show a phased opening plan, with the dispensary planning to initially open in the property's smaller, 386-square-foot office, before it moves into a larger main building after property improvements are complete.

Founded by Austen Connella, an Atascadero native, SLOCal Roots also cultivates cannabis and has plans for a retail store in Los Alamos, according to its website.

With the approval, SLO hit a citywide cap on dispensary permits, which the City Council set at three in its cannabis ordinance in 2018. The council has not given city staff direction to increase that number, according to officials.

Of the three businesses that have received permits, only Megan's Organic Market—also on South Higuera Street—is up and running. Natural Healing Center, located at the former site of Mission Thrift on Broad Street, has not opened its doors yet.

The SLO Planning Commission received one letter in opposition to the SLOCal Roots dispensary on July 14, from its future neighbor. Property owner Bill Portzel said his building is home to five tenants, including a youth sports center.

"We do not think that a cannabis store at [this] location is wise since we have these children coming and going every day including weekends," his letter read.

City Planner Kyle Bell told commissioners that SLO's cannabis regulations do not have any setback rules for youth sports centers and noted that the dispensary met all of the stipulations of the local ordinance. Δ

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