Parking concerns, traffic safety issues, and the lyrics to Cypress Hill’s “Dr. Greenthumb” were included in an appeal to overturn the Santa Barbara County planning director’s approval of the site for an upcoming cannabis dispensary in Orcutt.
The appeal was submitted by a group of unnamed homeowners in the Cimarron Estates, a neighborhood near the Orcutt Hills Plaza, where California-based cannabis retail chain Dr. Greenthumb’s plans to open a new storefront.
Members of the county Planning Commission discussed the appeal during their Aug. 10 meeting. County Planner Rey Harmon led a presentation on the issues addressed in the appeal, which county staff found to be “without merit,” according to the staff report.
One of the primary issues in the appeal is related to parking, which was echoed during public comment at the Aug. 10 meeting by a handful of Orcutt locals, including Cimarron Estates resident Torey Winn.
Winn said she fears that customers of Dr. Greenthumb’s will inevitably park their cars in front of her home and other houses in the Cimarron Estates.
“I know it’s easy for the applicant to say that parking won’t be an issue, but what measures are in place to ensure that? It’s one thing to have control over the employees, but our biggest concern is about the patrons,” Winn said. “How will they be kept from infiltrating our neighborhood?”
During her presentation, Harmon said that 60 parking spaces will be available for Dr. Greenthumb’s customers to use, which is 27 more spaces than required by the land use and development code.
“Planning division staff looked at this project and had no concerns and found that the parking is adequate,” Harmon said. “From a planning perspective, parking and traffic is not a concern.”
During public comment, Cimarron Estates resident Edward San Jose said he wasn’t opposed to a cannabis storefront opening in town, but he’s concerned with traffic safety in the area that surrounds the site. San Jose said that he constantly sees drivers cross the double yellow lines to make an illegal left turn into the Orcutt Hills Plaza, which he argued will worsen once Dr. Greenthumb’s opens.
Planning Commissioner Laura M. Bridley addressed this concern later during the meeting, and argued that the illegal left turn issue would remain regardless of what businesses operate in the plaza. She suggested that concerned residents in the area should reach out to Gary Smart, Santa Barbara County traffic engineer.
“I appreciate what all the neighbors are saying, but if it was Rincon Brewery or a really popular burger spot that could move in there, they might have even worse situations,” Bridley said.
The appeal was ultimately denied after a 4-1 vote, with Planning Commissioner Vincent Martinez dissenting. Martinez said he felt there was information lacking from the staff report regarding traffic analysis.