After getting 168 diverse public comments in letters and phone calls, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors Tuesday tabled a vote on commercial cannabis regulations.
The board will continue reading the remaining letters at its hearing scheduled for June 11.
Prior to the extensive public comment, the board heard the Planning Commission’s recommended changes to permitting requirements for commercial cannabis cultivators, as well as the odor control measures that they must enact to curb their impact on urban-rural boundaries.
As the News-Press reported, in July 2019 the board directed its staff to have the Planning Commission come up with recommendations for what these changes should be and ultimately suggested amending the County Land Use and Development Code by requiring conditional use permits for all commercial cannabis operation, regardless of whether they are located in the AG-I or AG-II agricultural zones.
All commercial cannabis operations in the coastal zone would also require a conditional use permit rather than a coastal development permit, though the conditional use permit permit will be appealable to the Coastal Commission.
According to the Planning Commission’s staff report, most commercial cannabis cultivation requires the issuance of a land-use permit.
A presentation delivered by Planning Commission Long Range Planning Division Deputy director Daniel Kelmann explained that conditional use permits allow the decision makers who issue them more discretion than with land use permits, as conditional use permits have more findings that must be met. Also, the Planning Commission is the first and final decision-maker in the issuing of conditional use permits rather than staff.
As for changes to odor control measures, the Planning Commission recommends changing the current standard of odors being detectable in a residential zone to not being “detrimental to the comfort, convenience, general welfare, health, and safety of the neighborhood” and “be compatible with the surrounding area.” According to Mr. Kelmann, this change would take into account wine tasting rooms and residents that aren’t located in residential zones.
In other business, the board unanimously adopted an urgency ordinance allowing the public works director to issue temporary encroachment permits for businesses in public rights-of-way amid the COVID-19 pandemic. They also unanimously voted to suspend zone regulations and permit restrictions on wineries and tasting rooms serving food so long as they are in compliance with state laws regulating retail food and state and local directives on reopening.