Acreage cap set on pot cultivation
The Santa Barbara Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved several amendments to ordinances for licensing of commercial cannabis operations and cannabis businesses, including requirements for odor-control systems and a merit-based application system.
The changes were adopted by a 4-1 vote, with Supervisor Peter Adam dissenting. The amendments included capping countywide cannabis cultivation at 1,761 acres. This total includes Carpinteria, which has capped cannabis cultivation at 186 acres, and the rest of the county, which is now capped at 1,575.
In response to a steady stream of complaints from residents near cannabis farms, supervisors also approved requirements for odor-control systems. Cannabis operations will have to demonstrate the effectiveness of their system during the business license application process.
Supervisors also approved a system in which permit and business applications will be processed together, in an effort to expedite the process.
On a 4-1 vote, the supervisors amended the way applicants are selected for cannabis retail storefront permits, with board Chairman Supervisor Steve Lavagnino dissenting.
The issue was raised due to the cap on storefronts in the county. The city of Santa Barbara has capped its storefronts at three, while the county allows eight dispensaries total. The six community plan areas of Orcutt, Los Alamos, Santa Ynez, the eastern Goleta Valley, Isla Vista/Goleta, and Summerland/Toro Canyon are each allowed one storefront.
Supervisors voted to ask staff to develop a merit-based scoring system for retail cannabis storefronts like the one used by the city of Santa Barbara. Other jurisdictions have used a lottery system.
The supervisors also unanimously denied an appeal of the county’s approval of a Carpinteria Valley cannabis farm at 3561 Foothill Road.
The new farm was appealed by Maureen Claffey of the Concerned Carpinterians community group. The appeal was previously made to the Planning Commission, which rejected it.
The group voiced several complaints, including the lack of environmental research done on the impact of cannabis farms on air quality.
“I don’t know about you, but I’m not really excited to have my child be the guinea pig there,” testified Ms. Claffey.
The group also voiced concerns over the chemical Byers Scientific vapor system used to suppress cannabis odors by a dozen Carpentaria Valley cannabis farms, which is also used in landfills.
The application was submitted by Graham Farrar, CEO of Glass House Farms, which has operated in the Santa Barbara area since 2015. Mr. Farrar’s Coastal Development Permit for a cannabis farm in Carpinteria was the first to be approved by county staff.
While supervisors agreed with the appellants that environmental studies should be made in the future, they pointed out Mr. Farrar had fully complied with county requirements.
“Now you’re the platinum standard. If you turned into a problem this is going to turn into a wreck, so let’s just get it on and see if you can make it happen without having everybody get into a worse situation,” Mr. Adam told Mr. Farrar.
Mr. Farrar told the News-Press that Glass House Farms has a long history of doing things right in Santa Barbara’s cannabis industry, and hopes its victory will be a lesson for other cannabis businesses in the area.
“We’re happy with the result. Both for the safeguards it puts in place for our community as well as for the fact that it shows the industry that someone who wants to follow all the rules can be successful and can be a cannabis farmer here in Santa Barbara County,” Mr. Farrar said.