BERKELEY (CBS SF) — Some Berkeley parents are tired of marijuana ‘contact’ fumes wafting into their yards from a nearby pot club.
They want the city to do something about the 40 Acres Collective, operating out of a building on San Pablo Avenue.
Now, the neighbors may have found an ally in their fight. The City of Berkeley has been trying to shut it down for years.
Christopher Smith, the owner of ’40 Acres’ insists what he’s doing is legal and the City of Berkeley is out to get him.
“I reached out to neighbors on numerous occasions,” said Smith.
Still, neighbors are annoyed when Smith’s customers routinely spill into their neighborhood. They say they bring pot and a number of other problems with them.
“We go into the front yard, it smells like marijuana,” said one neighbor. “Where are going to take our kids to play?”
At a recent community meeting, one-by-one, neighbors painted a picture of lawlessness as customers walk around outside.
“This is a party zone,” said Carol Dennis. “You’ll see people dancing on top of their cars, openly drug dealing.”
At the end of the community meeting, the Berkeley Zoning Board officially declared 40 Acres a public nuisance. Christopher Smith the owner of the pot club was surprised. He looked noticeably upset as neighbors railed against his business and customers.
“I didn’t even hear about that,” Smith told them, at one point. “We need to talk.”
Smith believes issues with neighbors can be worked out. “I don’t want my guests affecting my neighbors,” said Smith.
Smith said he’s been at odds with the city for 5 years and thinks he’s being unfairly targeted.
The City of Berkeley insists Smith is operating in violation of city code, by having a collective in a commercial space. City officials say that’s illegal, and they don’t like the scale of the 40 Acres Collective, which has some 7000 members.
Smith insists, “I’m only in violation of these laws after I was here.”
That doesn’t matter as far as the City of Berkeley is concerned. Officials insist Smith is still breaking the law so ’40 Acres’ time may be running out.
Next month, Berkeley’s City Council will decide on the zoning and nuisance recommendations.
Meantime, Smith said if they try to shut him down, he will probably appeal.
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