Council tweaks cannabis map, allowing Fantom Flower a chance to bloom

West Hollywood City Council approved a controversial change to the buffer zone keeping cannabis businesses 600 feet away from West Hollywood Park.

City zoning laws prohibit cannabis businesses from operating within 600 feet of so-called “sensitive-use areas” — daycare facilities, youth centers, or schools within a park property. Parks themselves are not considered sensitive-use areas, but Tiny Tots, a daycare center within the park, would.

Developers of a new cannabis lounge, Fantom Flower, had proposed an onsite consumption area on the second floor of the historic commercial building at 8811 Santa Monica Blvd., formerly occupied by Flaming Saddles, where patrons could smoke, vape and ingest edible cannabis products, while a restaurant would occupy the first floor.

Developer Alex Kardos’ fatigue was evident as he pleaded with the council to let the project get back on track.

“Our commitment to the community has not wavered for one minute,” he said. “We are more focused than ever on providing the world a safe and classy business model that will make West Hollywood shine.”

At last month’s Business License Commission meeting, it came to light that city staff had discreetly altered an official map used by the planning department and others to determine valid locations for potential cannabis businesses, apparently for the sole benefit of a single new applicant, Fantom Flower. The commission halted the application and sent it to City Council’s hands to be reviewed.

City staff crafted a workaround to the problem by altering the map, re-centering the park’s buffer zone on the only section of the park that they believed required it — the southern parcel, where the Tiny Tots day care program will operate when it re-opens.

Supporters of Fantom Flower came out in droves.

“This applicant did everything it was expected to do,” said Oren Bitan, an attorney representing the lounge. “It followed every protocol the city presented. “And they are now obligated to a 10-year lease based on the zoning approval of the city.”

Genevieve Morrill of the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce noted that new types of businesses in the Rainbow District helped to diversify its offerings beyond “go-go dancer boy clubs.”

Other cannabis business owners operating in West Hollywood were incensed, claiming the city had unfairly favored Fantom Flower when other businesses were denied the opportunity to open up shop at that location.

“This is about playing by the same rules,” said Jake Stevens. “The map was presented as an official document.”

“This is not about morality,” said Councilmember Sepi Shyne, who was satisfied with city staff’s plan to rectify the problem. She motioned to proceed with city staff’s recommendation — allow the alteration of the map and leave the process of updating the map in staff’s hands, something Mayor Lindsey Horvath was adamant on.

“I am in no way interested in speaking about specific businesses tonight,” she said. “I am interested in making sure we have a clear process to actually address how things move from here. We wanted to make sure this process was about the laws that were set forth not personal relationships (with councilmembers).”

“One of my concerns is that it will change the face of the Rainbow District,” said Councilmember Lauren Meister, once higher-earning cannabis businesses start competing for limited commercial leases held by legacy establishments.

Councilmember John D’Amico also worried the introduction of cannabis dispensaries would have rolling consequences on a larger swath of Santa Monica Blvd., and requested that Shyne add to her motion a provision that city staff perform a study to find out how many cannabis businesses would be appropriate in the Rainbow district, which she accepted.

He acknowledged the industry’s importance to West Hollywood and joined councilmembers in a 5-0 vote approving the motion. The project now returns to the Business License Commission.

“This is an economic engine that has driven important nodes of successful developments in our city,” he said.

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mark feigin
mark feigin
2 months ago

great more creepy people will be coming to weho to buy drugs – amazing how west hollywood has turned into a cesspool – Amsterdam has been limiting drug shops because they create social decay and crime – these democrat idiots do the opposite

Money Power
Money Power
2 months ago

“The money power preys on the nation in times of adversity. It is more despotic than monarchy, more insolvent than autocracy, more selfish than bureaucracy.

It denounces, as public enemies, all who question its methods or throw light upon its crimes.”

Abraham Lincoln spoke these words regarding the nation but it is also applicable to smaller communities such as West Hollywood.

hifi5000
hifi5000
2 months ago

A commenter on here mentioned that the Chamber of Commerce CEO Genevieve Morrill singled out the “go-go dancer boy clubs” that are on Santa Monica Blvd.

All I can say is those “clubs’ were in the city before her and will be in the city after she is gone. She must hate The Abbey!!

Please note the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce web site has a list of places that require inoculation shots before you can enter.

Last edited 2 months ago by hifi5000
JJ1
JJ1
2 months ago
Reply to  hifi5000

She was just pointing out that diversity of our commercial space is a good thing. Calm down.

John Daniel Harrington-Tyrell
John Daniel Harrington-Tyrell
2 months ago

Fantom Flower is not the issue as a business, the Council said yes as they would have beed sued by FF. The issue is why did staff make exceptions? Who is responsible for the exception? Are staff being held accountable?

Observer
Observer
2 months ago

Unfortunately, staff will probably not be held accountable, despite their outrageous financial compensation. Council will circle the wagons to protect them. Lauren Meister asked John Leonard why it took so many years to rectify the map. He had no reasonable answer.

Word Salad
Word Salad
2 months ago
Reply to  Observer

Think you are right about that. Staff are protected by managers, which is undoubtedly how so many confounding things occur that don’t make a bit of sense. Meister is the only question asker that works through logic.

Jonathan Simmons
Jonathan Simmons
2 months ago
Reply to  Observer

They always are, and the City (or its insurance carriers) have paid MILLIONS to legally represent & to protect City Workers AND City Council Members, even for acts of moral perpitude.

hifi5000
hifi5000
2 months ago

I noticed council member Shyne introduced a motion to allow the Fantom Flower issue to go forward before all the council members and staff had a chance to speak.Mayor Pro Tem Meister objected saying there needed to be more discussion by all the council members before a vote was taken.She did not like the motion introduced that would preclude any discussion and she told that to Shyne. Shyne backed down and Mayor Pro Tem Meister came up with some arguments about why this whole process shouldn’t have gone forward with the questionable map. D’Amico chimed in with his views about… Read more »

Observer
Observer
2 months ago
Reply to  hifi5000

Meister seems to be the only reasonable, thoughtful and sane person on the Council. She, unlike others, diligently does her homework

JJ1
JJ1
2 months ago
Reply to  Observer

True.

TomSmart
TomSmart
2 months ago

Genevieve Morrill showed her true self by singling out “go-go dancer boy clubs.” Aren’t these businesses too? Aren’t some of them Chamber members?? Seems she has a real issue with these establishments.

Steve Martin
Steve Martin
2 months ago
Reply to  TomSmart

I think there is a good argument that those “go-go boys” who were dismissively belittled seem to be responsible for the ongoing success of the “Rainbow District”, including attracting a flood of hetrosexuals and anchoring all sorts of related restaurants and businesses.

Joshua88
Joshua88
2 months ago

“Genevieve Morrill of the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce noted that new types of businesses in the Rainbow District helped to diversify its offerings…”

Unless it is Cookies?

:dpb
:dpb
2 months ago

This is ridicules. City clerks alter the zoning map and the mayor isn’t interested… it’s not about morality? How about lawfulness. How about fair business, citizen safety and public trust.
Add to that a Rainbow district with cannabis consumption locations, bars, pedestrians, cars, increased valet stations and traffic. Disaster. Accidents waiting to happen. This council is altering the landscape of West Hollywood without a care for consequence.

Fil
Fil
2 months ago
Reply to  :dpb

Are you saying the city clerk is the one who altered the map?

:dpb
:dpb
2 months ago
Reply to  Fil

Clerks, workers, personnel in the City of West Hollywood. Personal un-authorized to change the map.

Last edited 2 months ago by :dpb
JJ1
JJ1
2 months ago
Reply to  :dpb

I wanted to smack that perpetual smirk off Erickson’s face. And Shyne’s head nodding every time she agreed with a speaker. Those two have been the worst addition to our governing body. Bravo to Meister for asking tough questions to staff. She’s the only one on the City Council that’s really looking out for the residents of West Hollywood. I also agree with her that a motion shouldn’t be put forward before everyone on the council can ask questions. How do you put forward a motion when you don’t even know what your fellow council members are thinking or want… Read more »

JJ1
JJ1
2 months ago

We should be learning a lesson from Amsterdam. They’ve been there and done that. And now they realize maybe it wasn’t the way to go.
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.cnn.com/travel/amp/amsterdam-wants-rowdy-tourists-to-stay-away/index.html

Ryan Touche
Ryan Touche
2 months ago
Reply to  JJ1

It’s a simple solution, have a buffer from each business. There should be a buffer Of 1000 to 2000 feet away from each other.

outraged
outraged
2 months ago

There are way too many cannabis dealers on Santa Monica Blvd. There’s no reason to add another one other than greed and corruption.

JJ1
JJ1
2 months ago
Reply to  outraged

Yup.

Too much smoke
Too much smoke
2 months ago
Reply to  outraged

Or crowd them into the same block or two and let them smoke each other out.

C.R.
C.R.
2 months ago
Reply to  outraged

Where is the nearest cannabis lounge space from the corner of Santa Monica Blvd and Larrabee? I’m not aware of any near there on Santa Monica Blvd. I’m looking forward to partaking in the wares of the future Fantom Flower business during a night out and wish them lots of success.

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