Stricter permits for cannabis operations, county planning commission decides | News

The Santa Barbara County Planning Commission moved forward last week with changes to cannabis licensing in interior unincorporated areas, unanimously supporting the move from a land use license to a conditional use license for new and pending cannabis operations.

If approved by the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, new and pending cannabis operations will need to obtain the more restrictive Conditional Use Permit (CUP), rather than a Land Use Permit (LUP). ).

Seven land use permit applicants are currently going through the appeal process; all other pending cannabis operations are already in the process of getting a CUP, staff said.

The amendment states that certain operations – those adjacent to an existing rural neighborhood or urban rural boundary, are within the Santa Ynez Valley community plan area, or exceed 51% ownership on Ag-2 lots – provide an odor reduction plan. The council first requested information on potential changes to a land use permit in September 2021.

Commissioner John Parke said last week that while he supports the changes, calling them “a pretty smart way to go”, cannabis operators believe the change is unfair.

“Anything that has not yet received its final approval (from the commissions) is going to be subject to this change (…) I hear a lot of cannabis people say it’s unfair, it’s terrible , and they’re right,” he said.

“They’ve done a lot of work in one direction, and now the rules are going to change.”

Planner Corina Venegas explained that moving to a CUP requirement increases the costs of submitting applications and allows for “greater discretion” on the part of commissioners – requiring public hearings for every cannabis application.

For existing cannabis operations that have gone through a LUP process, a CUP would be required for “non-minor” changes, Venegas says. This includes new adverse environmental effects or actions that “significantly deviate” from previously approved operations.

Public commentators have back and forth on the proposed changes, such as land use consultant Jay Higgens, but others, such as commentator Hillary Long, have pressed the planning commission for stricter cannabis restrictions.

Higgens, who worked with cannabis grower Ivan Van Wingerden at Carpinteria, said the move to a CUP is now “grossly unfair to do this to cannabis candidates.”

“My client on appeal has a land use permit on appeal, but it’s only for 5% of the land,” Higgens said. “I’m going to write a book about this process that literally nobody will read, and it’s called ‘Are You Kidding Me?'”

Long, who said she lives in the Second District, said the amendment was not strong enough.

“I’m concerned that the changes currently being proposed don’t go far enough to preserve our quality of life in this county,” Long said. “Why should we make it easier for these candidates to stink up our city?”

The planning commission voted 5-0 to refer the matter to the board of supervisors, with three potential changes for the board to consider. These changes include: the granting of exemptions to the seven applications currently on appeal; remove indoor cultivation and nurseries in manufacturing areas from the CUP requirement; and require odor control plans for all cannabis grow operations

The supervisory board will hear the matter at its meeting on Tuesday.

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