County finds no reason to object to dispensary on Santa Claus Lane
A cannabis dispensary proposed for Santa Claus Lane in Carpinteria has received Santa Barbara County’s approval despite the nearby location of surfing camps for youths.
In fact, 1st District Supervisor Das Williams sees the business as a positive alternative to the black market.
Roots Cannabis dispensary received a nod of approval from the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors, which denied the appeal of the approval of the proposed business at its Nov. 1 meeting.
Supervisor Bob Nelson made a motion to deny the appeal of the project, make the required findings for approval of the project, determine that the Programmatic Environmental Impact Report is adequate, and grant de novo approval of the project.
“The project was actually appealed to the Coastal Commission,” Travis Seawards, deputy director of Development Review Division for the county Planning and Development Department, told the News-Press. “So Planning & Development takes no further action until that process is completed. We turn over the administrative record to the Coastal Commission, and then they run their process.”
The dispensary is in the district represented by Supervisor Williams, who noted the Coastal Commission typically decides not to hear most of these cases.
“De novo is a new review of a project,” Mr. Seawards said. “The entire project is reviewed, and the action by the decision maker is a standalone decision.The PEIR is a California Environmental Quality Act document completed when the county adopted new ordinances that allowed cannabis cultivation. The PEIR analyzed the new proposed uses, including commercial cannabis cultivation and retail, among other uses.”
The primary issues brought up by the appellant Steven Kent are parking, coastal access and proximity to youth centers — the surfing camps.
The Roots Dispensary site is at 3823 Santa Claus Lane.
Surf Happens, which operates surfing camps for kids at the beach there, is based at 3825 Santa Claus Lane. (Surf Happens declined to comment for this story.)
During its investigation, the county Planning Department has determined that parking is sufficient, coastal access is not impeded and proximity to youth centers is beyond the required 1,000 feet.
Additionally, according to the Planning Department, “surf shops” do not qualify as “youth centers.”
And according to the department’s investigation, the surf camps are 1,580 feet away from the dispensary, which the department says is well beyond the legal distance requirement. The department also noted coastal access is not impacted.
“There were a number of appeal issues raised, none of which I think will be a problem,” Supervisor Das Williams told the News-Press.
“This establishment has more parking than other businesses,” Supervisor Williams said. “It is a better situation and provides more parking than pre-existing businesses have.
“I knew this would be a controversial location,” Supervisor Williams said. “But I wasn’t going to vote ‘no’ because it was controversial. The appeals issues were not significant.
“It was a particularly mean-spirited campaign against the dispensary,” Supervisor Williams said. “I thought it was the wrong way to have a public discussion. For a while I was leaning against, and I would have been easy to convince to vote (‘no’) if there were legitimate issues.”
The proposed location of the Santa Claus Lane dispensary is in the C-1 Zone district. Cannabis retail is principally permitted in the C-1 district.
“At the end of the day this is about zoning, zoning, zoning,” Supervisor Nelson said during the Nov. 1 Board of Supervisors meeting. “And we don’t have a family-friendly zone, in the code, as far as I know,”
The county found the applicant has sufficient parking at 12 spaces in the back parking lot, including one ADA-compliant space.
“The establishment is fully parked, meaning more parking than we would expect of any other business in the area, as well as some informal parking,” Supervisor Williams told the News-Press.
Luis Castaneda, the dispensary’s owner and operational manager, spoke at the Nov. 1 meeting.
“The Roots Carpinteria will be a high performing cannabis retail store that will provide legally sourced and tested cannabis products to meet the medicinal and recreational needs of our customers. The Roots have been in a similar position like this in the past,” he said. “We were dispensary No. 5 to open in Lompoc, but in my opinion, we were the first to do it right. In an extremely competitive market, we consistently remain one of the favorites. But this wasn’t overnight; it took a lot of time and patience.
“Our goal has always been to remove the negative stigma associated with cannabis and show that a dispensary can operate with integrity and be a positive member of the community,” Mr. Castaneda said. “We had to earn our reputation by staying disciplined and staying consistent, and we plan to do the same in Santa Claus Lane.”
The News-Press asked Supervisor Williams what role the tax revenue played in this decision.
“We definitely want to hurt black market. Some did it for the revenue, but that was not my primary reason. The black market continues to thrive in counties and cities where cannabis is not legalized,” he said. “The black market has been hurt in counties where there is legalized cannabis. I could have voted against it in my own district, but even so there would have been other supervisors voting for it.”
During the public comment period at the Board of Supervisor meeting, there were more supporters of the dispensary than opponents by a large margin.
“I think it reflects the mood of the community as a whole. The majority thinks there is a need for legalized cannabis,” said Supervisor Williams. “I want to hurt the black market. It is an evil force in the world. Some are just supportive of legalization. The people against it can be very intense. I don’t think fears will come to pass.”
The News-Press asked Supervisor Williams if the aroma from the dispensary was a concern.
“If it was, it was not one articulated by anyone I can remember. These places discourage people from consuming closely,” he said. “Someone could break the rules and smoke anyway, but they would be actively discouraged anywhere by staff.
“I wish there were more young people in there. The people walking into these places are like baby boomers,” Supervisor Williams said. “Young people are buying black market marijuana, which could be supporting cartels contributing to trafficking. My hope is that young people buy less black market weed and those eligible will buy from a legal dispensary so as not to contribute to a cycle of human pain.”
“I think it is good to get into the bigger issue,” Supervisor Williams said. “For folks like myself that do believe that there are crime issues related to drugs, there is a real policy reason to support legalization, and that is the black market. We have not hurt the black market enough.
“Some cities and counties are not permitting legal dispensaries,” he said. “If people only have the option to buy black market cannabis, that is what they will buy. Legal dispensaries give them a choice to buy legal cannabis, and we can hurt the black market where we can.”