Carpinteria residents concerned about neighborhood greenhouses
A coalition of residents living in Linden Meadows in Carpinteria is on year three of speaking up about their concerns regarding the odor of cannabis greenhouses adjacent to their neighborhood.
The residents have brought their complaints to the Carpinteria City Council and the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors.
Some have filed lawsuits against the local businesses running the greenhouses.
The businesses include Ever-Bloom, Enigma, Melodious Plots and Saga Farms, which are all owned by the same family, the Van Wingerdens.
Ever-Bloom Inc. declined to comment to the News-Press on the matter.
Meanwhile, the Carpinteria residents have yet to get their requests granted. The neighbors want businesses to find a way to get rid of what the residents call a stench.
The greenhouses in question, some of which are small, “mixed light” greenhouses, sit at 4555, 4587 and 4701 Foothill Road (Ever-Bloom), along with 5601 and 5775 Casitas Pass Road.
Carrie Miles has been a key individual leading the push for odor control, and the resident told the News-Press the smell can be “overwhelming.”
“We feel like we have absolutely no control over what’s going on,” she told the News-Press Monday. “It’s not something you want to smell, and then people are having health issues with it. And there’s, like, nothing we can do.”
Ms. Miles said the owners are attempting to combine the Melodious Plots (which she likes to call “Malodorous Plots”) greenhouses with more greenhouses adjacent to the neighborhood on Sterling Avenue, which currently have lettuce growing in them. She fears the intention is to start growing marijuana in those greenhouses as well.
The smell obviously depends on wind direction and strength, along with harvesting times. A quick Google search yielded that cannabis harvesting can occur at whatever interval the grower prefers. It can take between six to nine weeks after flowering for plants to be ready to be harvested, and some strains may take longer than others.
Lisa Starr and her husband moved to Linden Meadows in November 2020. Mrs. Starr told the News-Press she was not informed prior to moving into the property that the smell of cannabis would be present at times, but if she had been, she would not have wanted to live in the area.
“Every time we looked at this house to buy, it didn’t smell like that. We would not have bought this house,” she said. “If I had known this, there is no way — in big bold letters — no way we would have purchased this house had I smelled those smells when we were looking at it to buy, and it was not disclosed by the seller’s agent.”
Mrs. Starr said she has a serious neurological condition that makes her sensitive to the fragrances the growers use to cover up the smell of cannabis, which in this case, is the Byers odor amelioration system. She said it smells like dryer sheets or laundry detergents, and that it “triggers serious, debilitating migraines.”
“I want to emphasize debilitating,” Mrs. Starr said. “I’m a prisoner of my own home, and there are times that we can smell it inside of our house. So even with doors and windows closed, we smell it in my house.
“And our grave concern is, what kind of environmental impact will this have on birds, small mammals, amphibians, pets, children and the elderly? We are asking for the growers to have more consideration for the citizens of this city. Please don’t put money over compassion.”
Linda Whiston has lived in her Linden Meadows home for nine years, and said her biggest concern is if the odor decreases property values.
“They (the houses) are major life investments, and to have that threatened is to me a very big scare,” she told the News-Press. “I’m retired, I don’t need the property value of my house to go down and be unable to sell it.”
Nanci Robertson has lived on Padaro Lane in Carpinteria since 1976. She said she is allergic to the odor, requiring her to purchase an in-house carbon filter that she runs in her bedroom every night. She also installed double windows, which a couple other residents said they also had to do to try to keep the odor out of their homes.
“It was horribly expensive,” Ms. Robertson told the News-Press. “If I can buy it, why can’t they (the growers) do it?”
She said the odor makes it difficult for her to breathe and causes her heart to race.
Joan Esposito, however, said that with her compromised immune system from four rounds of cancer and allergies, the smell has made her dizzy and given her headaches and nausea.
“It (the odor) will come into the room, wake you up at night, and you can’t catch your breath,” the resident told the News-Press. “This has just been hell up here for three years.”
Ms. Esposito said she had to remove her carpet because of the smell it gave off and install a “very expensive” filtration system in her house. She also said her doctor told her to get a filter in her car as well because the smell infiltrates her vehicle.
She said it even got to the point where she could not invite her grandchildren over because one of them has asthma.
“You feel helpless. You just feel helpless,” she said. “I got a letter from my niece in England and she said, ‘I didn’t want to say anything to you, but the stench in your house is terrible.’ I’ve got a house full of antiques and nice stuff, and I worked on it and I can’t even have people over.”
Lawsuits are ongoing, and requests have been made for landscaping changes, including screening between the greenhouses and the residents. In addition, a few of the residents wanted to make clear that it’s not the concept of marijuana they have a problem with.
It’s just the smell of it.
“I don’t think they (cannabis growers) are evil people,” Mrs. Starr said. “I don’t think marijuana is necessarily a terrible thing … I really fear that this (the odor) is going to change our community in a really negative way. I worry about the elderly especially.
“I feel that not enough consideration has been put to the forefront. We need to be more considerate of each other.”