The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors will hold a special meeting Tuesday morning to discuss amending ordinances for licensing of commercial cannabis operations and cannabis business licensing fees.
In April 2018, the supervisors adopted Chapter 50 of the Santa Barbara County Code for licensing of commercial cannabis operations. Since June 2018, cannabis operations have been applying for county cannabis land use permits and business licenses. County staff returned to the board with additional amendments in July, according to a staff report.
On July 9 and 16, the board reviewed and considered potential amendments to the code to establish business licensing for cannabis operations in the unincorporated areas of the county.
On July 16, the board conceptually approved limiting cannabis cultivation by capping the number of acres countywide while maintaining the established Carpinteria Agriculture Overlay-based cap of 186 acres. The board directed that the county cultivation cap should be calculated by the same method used in calculating the Carpinteria cap – which is the area used for total cannabis operation proposed in applications submitted to the Planning & Development Department by July 9.
Planning & Development staff reconfirmed the total acreage of all pending cannabis cultivation operations to be approximately 1,264 acres countywide outside the Carpinteria cap area, of which 32 acres have been added as a buffer to address applications in which acreage was potentially misreported, according to a staff report.
In addition, 311 acres outside the Carpinteria had already been approved for permits or been issued permits prior to July 9.
“Added together, that would cap all cannabis cultivation operations countywide outside of the Carpinteria area at 1,575 acres,” the staff report reads. “Adding that to the Carpinteria cap, the total countywide cap would be 1,761 acres.”
Supervisors will be asked to amend the ordinance establishing the cannabis business licensing fee, which was adopted in May 2018.
The proposed amendment includes adding Community Services Department staff to shift the energy conservation plan to the Community Services Department Energy Division, and to establish a cannabis retail storefront pre-qualification application free.
The fee for the pre-qualification retail cannabis application is $100, according to the ordinance.
In addition, the board will discuss the requirements for cannabis storefront retail. The current policy limits the number of storefront retail licenses to eight countywide, with no more than one in each of the six community plan areas and two for unincorporated areas outside of a community plan area.
The cities of Santa Barbara and Goleta conducted an open application for cannabis retail operators that included a criteria-based scoring system to determine who could operate a cannabis business.
Several public comments have been received prior to Tuesday’s meeting, including many Carpinteria residents who are concerned about an overconcentration of cannabis in the rural and urban areas of the city.
“No other place in the state has such a high concentration of indoor growing next to residential areas,” wrote Evan Turpin.
Tracey Athanassiadis, of Carpinteria, wrote that the Carpinteria neighborhood has been “inundated with the contentious odor from cannabis production.”
“We are amazed the growers have been allowed to grow so close to our homes,” she wrote.
Others said the cannabis operations have resulted in odors, air quality and traffic issues, lost views along Foothill Road and a loss of property values.
“There is NO consideration for including a buffer zone for the REAL people who have lived here, most for 30 years or more, and expect to have fresh air, access to their homes, and the rural environment that they are paying exorbitant property taxes for,” wrote Bobbie Offen, who requested the ordinance includes a buffer for residences and a cap on “contiguous cannabis grows.”
Several people who submitted comments prior to the meeting are requesting the county step in to have current greenhouses updated to sealed greenhouses with carbon filters.
The meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. Tuesday at the County Administration Building, 105 E. Anapamu St. in Santa Barbara.