Saturday, December 14, 2019     Volume: 20, Issue: 41
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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on July 17th, 2019, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 20, Issue 20 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 20, Issue 20

County supervisors tighten commercial cannabis ordinances

By Zac Ezzone

Close to a year after its original cannabis ordinances went into effect, Santa Barbara County has made substantial changes to its regulations and is poised to make more. 

At its July 9 meeting, the county Board of Supervisors unanimously approved expanding the noticing requirements for when a commercial cannabis operation application is submitted to the county. 

With this measure, all residents within and adjacent to existing developed rural neighborhoods must be notified if a commercial cannabis application is submitted for a project in the neighborhood, or if the operation would use a roadway that runs through the neighborhood.

Additionally, supervisors approved a motion to ban commercial cannabis operations on parcels of land 20 acres or less in the county’s Agricultural-I zone. This motion also requires commercial cannabis operations on parcels of land greater than 20 acres in the Agricultural-I zone to obtain a conditional use permit, rather than a land use permit. The conditional use permit is more expensive, time consuming, and can be appealed by the public, according to a June 18 staff report. 

More than 200 residents spoke at the meeting, including cannabis growers and their supporters, as well residents who feel cannabis grows have negatively affected their quality of life by creating an increase in crime, odor issues, traffic problems, and other nuisances.

Numerous residents from the Santa Ynez Valley who spoke at the meeting said the valley is made up of small parcels of Agricultural-I land that serve residential, rather than commercial, purposes. Residents were concerned about commercial cannabis being located next to residential properties.

Some growers who spoke at the meeting voiced support for the measures, saying they would weed out illegal cannabis farms. Other growers and cannabis advocates felt that the county was placing unnecessary restrictions on a new and growing industry. 

“I believe that we need to continue to move forward and not put any roadblocks in the paths of farmers or the cannabis industry, which is bringing jobs and revenue to this county,” Lompoc Valley Cannabis Association cofounder Joe Garcia said at the meeting.

At the July 9 meeting, supervisors also began discussing other changes to the county’s cannabis regulations, including capping the number of business licenses the county could allow, as well as capping the total number of acres of cannabis cultivation allowed throughout the county.

This conversation was picked up at the board’s July 16 meeting, where supervisors directed staff to craft an amendment that would cap the number of acres of cannabis cultivation allowed in the county based on the amount of acreage included in all applications as of July 9, which is about 1,400 acres. The board will vote on this amendment at its next meeting.

Supervisors also directed staff and the county Planning Commission to address the existing cannabis odor problems at urban and rural boundaries. This could include creating buffers that require cannabis operations to be a certain distance away from urban areas or requiring different types of growing that allow for more odor control.

—Zac Ezzone




Weekly Poll
What do you think of Santa Maria's decision to approve a public art master plan, without a fee to fund projects?

It's pointless. Why approve a plan without a way to pay for it?
It's great. It would be unfair to add an art fee to development permits.
I'd rather the city focus on issues more important than public art.
The city would feel more vibrant and walkable with additional public art.

| Poll Results