UNION CITY, Calif. - Residents in Union City are banding together to prevent a cannabis dispensary from taking root in their neighborhood amid fears that the pot shop would bring more traffic, crime and violence to their quiet community.
Embarc Cannabis wants to open a marijuana dispensary at the Cherrywood Center along Decoto Road, but neighborhood organizers have gathered more than 2,000 signatures to snuff out the plan.
"From our bedroom door to this shopping center is 36 feet," said Mike Garcia, whose backyard is directly behind the back wall of the strip mall. "This is just not right. We don’t need this."
Over the objections of neighbors, the city council voted to approve moving forward with the permit process in July. Since then, the fight to stop the plans to open the third recreational pot dispensary in Union City has picked up speed.
Dozens of yard signs are on display along Cherrywood neighborhood streets and outside of homes with the words "no recreational marijuana shops near our kids" and "enough."
"It’s absolutely a bad idea," said resident Lakshmi Pati. "Something happens [there], they can jump into our backyard, so it’s a big, big problem for us."
Residents said that with James Logan High School close by and a senior center down the street, there are increased safety risks that the dispensary could bring to the area.
Several burglaries and break-ins have occurred at Union City’s other two marijuana shops just this year, officials said.
In early July, police said burglars forced their way into FLOR dispensary at Union Landing and shot and wounded a security guard.
Last week, police said five to eight people were seen breaking into the Lemonnade dispensary location. No arrests were made.
The same night, another group of suspects rammed a roll-up door at FLOR, to steal property. Three arrests were made, investigators said.
"That same thing that happened there can happen here," said Garcia. "If they’re shooting are we going to be protected? No way!"
Garcia and his neighbor have been passing out thousands of flyers and encouraging people to sign a petition that asks city council members to deny a permit to Embarc Cannabis.
"They need to understand and listen to the residents," said Gilbert Doe. "We have a lot of young kids. My grandkids come over. We want to feel safe in our own homes."
City council member Jaime Patiño told KTVU Wednesday he voted for the plan to move forward with the permit process. He cited city revenue, local jobs and donations to nonprofits as benefits of the pot shop.
But it’s not a done deal.
A traffic study still must be completed and police are working on an overall safety study of the Decoto Road location.
"We are listening to them, we’re waiting for the reports, we’re doing our due diligence," said Patiño. "If PD does not support the location, then that’s a game-changer. Nothing is set in stone right now."
Those studies are expected in the coming weeks and then the council will have to vote on whether to approve the permit. That may not happen until January, Patiño said.
"We have to make decisions based on the data that’s presented to us, not off emotion," he said.
KTVU has reached out to permit filer with Embarc Cannabis for comment but did not immediately get any response.
"We’re just asking them to move it," said Doe. "Don’t put it in our neighborhood or our backyards."