County officials also vote to prohibit commercial cannabis in inland rural neighborhoods
The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to ratify a certification of receipt for $46.1 million in CARES Act funding at its Tuesday meeting.
This will move the federal monies for COVID-19 economic relief from the State of California to Santa Barbara County, funds that will be set aside to assist local residents with lost income, impacted business, and rent.
As per the recommendation of County CEO Mona Miyasato, $200,000 in CARES Act funding is expected to be used for a small business grant program, another $200,000 for an income replacement program, and $2 million for a rental assistance program.
A challenge in the way of making the latter happen is one of timing. The $2 million rental assistance program runs into conflict with the looming July 31 end date for receiving $600 in weekly federal unemployment benefits, particularly because Santa Barbara County extended its eviction moratorium to Sept. 30. During Tuesday’s meeting, 2nd District Supervisor and Board Chair Gregg Hart remarked that it’s down to Congress to ensure that this can happen.
“Hopefully, Congress will act when they need to act very soon to solve all these problems and we will definitely communicate that to Congressman Carbajal and our federal lobbyist, because that’s really what’s starting to drive the concern… The urgency of the matter is the fact that large amounts of federal assistance are about to go away in two weeks,” he said.
The board also voted 4-1 on an ordinance prohibiting commercial cannabis activities within existing developed rural neighborhoods of the county’s inland areas. The ordinance also requires that agricultural lots zoned AG-II get a conditional use permit for projects in which more than 51% of the lot area is used for cultivation. Prior to the ordinance’s adoption, this only required a land use permit.
Additionally, the commercial cannabis ordinance demands cannabis cultivation areas be located a minimum of 50 feet from legal lot lines. It also requires processing activities to be located within an enclosed building that uses the best available technology to control odors.
Third District Supervisor Joan Hartmann was the lone no vote on the cannabis ordinance, believing that the conditional use permit requirement for lots with 51% cultivation areas would do “nothing” in the Santa Rita Hills. Ms. Hartmann remarked that of the 19 commercial cannabis projects proposed in the area, not one has 51% of its parcel dedicated to cultivation and requires a conditional use permit. Nevertheless, the supervisor said the amount of growing there has produced “pervasive” odors.
“The upshot of this is that we have more concentrated cannabis cultivation than in Carpinteria, with absolutely no requirements or prospect of requirements for odor control,” she said.
In other business, the board accepted an update on COVID-19 in Santa Barbara County and unanimously voted to reject all bids for the installation of electric vehicle charging stations at four locations on county property. According to the board letter, the rejection of bids is due to procedural issues and the project will go through re-bidding.