Get ready for a 2016 San Francisco zeitgeist bombshell:
The Bernal Heights Cooperative, a marijuana dispensary currently located at 33 29th Street near Mission, is being evicted from its present location. Apparently, the building was recently sold to a developer who plans to open a more high-end (not a pun), luxury dispensary on the site. That means the Bernal Heights Cooperative must now find a new home, and they’ve located one: 3183 Mission Street, the storefront around the corner near the intersection with Valencia that was, until last September, home to San Francisco’s last gun shop.
Let that sink in for a moment: A local marijuana dispensary is being evicted by an upscale rival, so the dispensary hopes to move into the home of a nationally famous former gun shop instead.
As it happens, despite some favorable reviews, there’s been much disarray at Bernal Heights Cooperative in recent weeks. An email sent to cooperative members tells a tale of financial impropriety and management turmoil:
You are receiving this email as a member of Bernal Heights Cooperative. As the oldest operating in San Francisco, Bernal Heights Collective has built a legacy as a community institution that provides safe and affordable access to medical cannabis for all patients. This legacy is being threatened (click here to learn more and to sign our petition to the city), so we are calling on our members to vote toward securing our future in San Francisco.
The details of the vote are as follows:
In February, Nathan DeSomber and Johnny Batista were removed from the board of the Bernal Heights Cooperative for breaches of their fiduciary duties to the collective.
Nathan DeSomber diverted in excess of $30,000 to himself and his friends. Johnny Batista failed to pay the cooperative’s tax liabilities for many years, resulting in debts of hundreds of thousands of dollars to the cooperative. Johnny also falsified W2’s for cooperative members so that he could profit at their expense.
We need our members to vote on our actions.
If you support the removal of Nathan DeSomber and Johnny Batista, please click yes.
In order for our actions to be considered valid, we need 51% of the affirmative voters to vote yes. You must cast your vote by (four full days from when sent).
Bernal Heights Cooperative
Apart from the awkward change of management, relocating to the site of the former High Bridge Arms (also not a pun) is a critical part of the Bernal Heights Cooperative’s recovery plan. But to do that, Bernal Heights Cooperative must transfer its permits to operate a dispensary at the new address. And to do that, Bernal Heights Cooperative is organizing a grassroots petition campaign.
At savebernalheights.org, the Bernal Heights Cooperative calls upon members to sign a petition addressed to D9 Supervisor David Campos, to allow the relocation of the dispensary to the former High Bridge storefront. Here’s the text:
City Hall Office of San Francisco Supervisors
1 Dr. Canton B. Goodlelt Place, Room 244 San Francisco, CA 94102-4689 David.firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Supervisor Campos,
Thank you for your leadership on behalf of our community. I am writing concerning the transfer of a Medical Cannabis Dispensary, Bernal Heights Collective, from 33 29th Street, to 3183 Mission Street in District 9. Such an action would continue to allow law- abiding medical marijuana patients and their primary caregivers, in District 9, to receive their medicine in a safe and convenient location and in accordance with state and local laws. This is something that District 9 has benefited from for 10 years, and something District 9 deserves to retain.
I understand that there is a transfer application for Bernal Heights Collective to be relocated nearby to 3183 Mission, near Valencia Ave. I understand this is due to the fact that a real estate developer has purchased the building at 33 29th street and is evicting Bernal Heights Collective effective March 18th, 2016. I understand the intention of that developer is to open a dispensary called ‘Harvest’ that is focused on “luxury” amenities with a “private cannabis social club”. The eviction of Bernal Heights Collective would negatively impact patients who rely on safe access to affordable medical cannabis in a comfortable neighborhood setting.
I am opposed to losing access to a well-regarded neighborhood, district, and San Francisco institution for safe and affordable access to medical cannabis. Bernal Heights Collective has become part of the fabric of Bernal Heights by way of its commitment to patients, and the community. Medical cannabis patients in District 9 deserve equal access to medical cannabis.
I hope that you feel this way as well and will do everything in your power to protect District 9 medical cannabis patients who have come to trust Bernal Heights Collective as their source of safe and affordable medical cannabis.
Naturally, there’s a video to support the lobbying campaign as well:
As you’ve no doubt noticed, this is a story that weaves together several of the most of the most contentious strands in contemporary political discourse: displacement, local business, gentrification, marijuana legalization, and gun regulation. It will be fascinating to see what happens next.
But for now, a concerned Bernal neighbor summarizes the local angle:
The crux of the matter seems to be whether the city would permit so many dispensaries within a small area. If the letter is to be believed, this would lead to three dispensaries in Bernal/La Lengua— the relocated Bernal Heights Collective, a new upscale shop called Harvest in the old BHC location, plus Herbal Mission at Mission and Precita
IMAGE: Former High Bridge Arms sign, by Telstar Logistics