There used to be a giant Santa Claus smoking a joint on top of Cafe Flore during the holiday season back in the late 2000s. But Santa may have missed out on the good weed, as the now-renamed Flore received unanimous San Francisco Planning Commission approval Thursday to bring another cannabis dispensary to the Castro.
The dispensary will not be within Flore’s patio cafe and restaurant at Market and Noe Streets, but instead right across the way at 258 Noe Street. The new pot shop will be known as Flore Store, in what is currently a nail salon called Gloss ‘n Glam.
Still, it’s historically fitting that the former Cafe Flore will get dispensary under its name. The bistro played an important but unsung role in the original legalization of medical marijuana in California back in 1996.
“It was Cafe Flore where Dennis Peron and Brownie Mary met and came up with the idea of Prop. 215,” Flore co-owner Terrance Alan told SF Evergreen earlier in the approval process.
But Flore has also has some cannabis-related controversy over the years, notably, when they started serving CBD-infused cocktails, according to an 2017 Eater SF report. That ran afoul of California laws prohibiting alcohol and cannabis products being served under the same roof, and the cafe quietly pulled those drinks from the menu.
Neighbors had additional concerns, and submitted a 12-point list of conditions they wanted the dispensary to meet before receiving Planning Commission approval.
The Flore Store agreed to some of those conditions, conceding that they would never put in an on-site smoking lounge. But the Planning Department balked at some of the neighbors’ other demands, like their request that the dispensary’s signage not contain any reference to marijuana.
“We can limit consumption,” Planning Department manager Delvin Washington told the commission. “We can’t prohibit them to be more restrictive than what our sign code would allow.”
Neighbors remained worried that a dispensary would contribute to crime and vagrancy in the area. “We’ve dealt with years of trouble on that corner,” complained Duboce Triangle Neighborhood Association member Cathy Lew. “It has a long history of being history of being stressed with drug use and undesirable behaviors.”
The dispensary still received unanimous 4-0 approval from the Planning Commission, though that technically was not a unanimous vote. Commissioner Dennis Richards recused himself, noting that he lives within 500 feet of the project, and Commissioner Kathrn Moore was not present.The Flore Store dispensary could still be blocked, if neighbors appeal the decision to the Board of Supervisors, and the supes deny it as they did in 2017 with the Sunset Apothecarium. But that’s a pretty rare circumstance, and the struggling Castro retail landscape might get relief from its chronic problems with this highly anticipated Flore dispensary.