SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Santa Barbara County’s Planning Commission heard public arguments Wednesday for and against more regulations for the county’s cannabis industry.
On one side, neighbors from the South Coast to the Santa Ynez Valley say nearby cannabis grows are growing more troublesome. They say they are concerned about odor, light and noise pollution from nearby grows, along with the potential for crime to follow the lucrative industry.
“How are you going to make sure that we can walk outside our houses and it’s not gonna smell?” a woman said to farmers in the room.
“There’s places where [cannabis crops] should happen and places that it should not happen,” another neighbor said.
Three new options—introduced by the County Board of Supervisors—would prevent farmers from growing cannabis on certain types of land, including some that are generally closer to where people live.
“Overall, what they’re trying to do is create a little bit more of a buffer around those residential areas,” said Dennis Bozanich, Deputy County Executive Officer for the County.
The County, however, already adopted a full set of cannabis regulations last year. Cannabis farmers that have worked hard and invested their money to meet those regulations are frustrated by the idea of doing that again.
“For the county to come back and change rules after giving us a clear roadmap to success is not only irresponsible, but possibly reprimand-able,” one farmer said at the meeting Wednesday.
With the issue literally hitting close to home, tensions are expected to be high.
“These are people’s property values and their perception of home,” Bozanich said. “And all those things are really key to people’s hearts and their investments, right? And so I think that’s why the land use issues are always a little bit more challenging, and certainly more passion-filled discussions.”
Those passion-filled discussions may not reach a definitive next step anytime soon. A staff report from Wednesday’s meeting gave a rough timeline for the Planning Commission to deliver their recommendations to the Board of Supervisors, saying it would happen this summer or fall.