Santa Barbara County – All The Latest Planning Issues

Santa Barbara County – All The Latest Planning Issues

If you like to dig into the details of what’s happening in Santa Barbara County . It’s all here in the latest report from Santa Ynez Valley News on planning permissions etc

Some of the comments by some commissioners remind us why we wouldn’t do this stuf. for love or money !


The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors didn’t discuss whether steadily increasing cannabis tax revenue should be viewed as one-time or ongoing income, but they did direct staff to come back with options for dealing with several important issues Tuesday.

Supervisors directed the staff to bring back reports on how the county should regulate the emerging hemp industry, how to limit the concentration of cannabis cultivation operations in the Santa Rita Hills area and how to deal with applicants left without permits when the cap on cultivation acreage is reached.

The motion also directed the Planning and Development Department to add another Planning Commission meeting each month if necessary to help move a backlog of cannabis land use permit applications through the process more quickly.

Third District Supervisor Joan Hartmann made the first three requests in her initial motion, and the direction to add Planning Commission meetings was added by 1st District Supervisor Das Williams as part of his second.

But that prompted 2nd District Supervisor Gregg Hart to cast the dissenting vote in the 4-1 decision, saying the motion was “becoming like a Christmas tree” with more and more things being added on.

During a discussion of issues supervisors thought were important to address, Hart said he viewed the report as very positive, noting the board had developed a cannabis regulation plan and should stick to it.

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“I would be very cautious about changing everything and trying to tweak everything,” he said earlier. “I think it’s actually going pretty well right now.”

The next item on the board’s agenda after the cannabis report was the Planning and Development Department Long Range Planning Division’s proposed plan of work for the next three fiscal years.

County Executive Officer Mona Miyasato told the board “the motion is contingent on what you do on the next item.”

The direction to add Planning Commission meetings was suggested by Erin Webber, representing Carpinteria cannabis cultivators, who said growers believe applying for permits and business licenses is getting more difficult and takes a long time.

She said getting through the first phase of a multiphase process can take up to three months.

But Lisa Plowman, director of the Planning and Building Department, said the issue was not so much the number of commission meetings as it was the lack of staff and such factors as applicants changing their proposals and revising their plans.

Fifth District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino said the county should tighten up its processes and not worry about such details as where an employee would park on a cultivation site.

“It’s a really slow grind, and any way we can expedite this [process] without losing oversight is something I’m supportive of,” he said.

Lavagnino also was concerned about not having a policy and procedures for dealing with the consequences of the cultivation acreage cap being something like a game of musical chairs.

Supervisors established a cap of 1,575 acres of cannabis cultivation in the inland and coastal unincorporated areas of the county, and the report noted operations totaling 355 acres have been approved but projects totaling another 2,495 acres are in the application pipeline.

“Obviously, we are way overprescribed of what’s in the pipeline and what we allow,” Lavagnino said. “There are going to be people in that process for months, if not years, with a lot of money invested and are going to run up against, you know, the cap number we’re closing on.”

He noted the cap won’t be reached soon, but he said the county should have a well-thought-out policy and guidelines so it’s clear which applications are moving forward.

“At some point, there’s going to be winners and losers at the end of this thing,” he added.

Hartmann worried about the upcoming issues surrounding commercial hemp and reducing the concentration of cannabis cultivation in the Santa Rita Hills area, one of the premiere wine-producing areas of the county.

She said she and Williams have been working as a committee on potential solutions to the Santa Rita Hills problem.

Williams said some options included reducing the size of the larger operations, which would reduce the nuisance potential, and more equitably distributing acreage in the cap.



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