With the county’s two-year moratorium on new medical marijuana storefronts soon to expire, Planning and Development staffers held a public workshop this week to unveil their current zoning proposal for where exactly any would-be cannabis club storefronts could open in the future. Interestingly enough, despite the lawsuit-filled controversy that followed the City of Santa Barbara during and after its efforts to craft a similar policy in recent years, the county’s workshop late Monday afternoon featured an audience of only three (this reporter included) and virtually zero public input.
Specifically, the proposal — which, up until this point, was cobbled together after input from the Sheriff’s Department, Environmental Health, County Counsel, and others — calls for dispensary storefronts to be allowed only in areas already zoned for general commercial business that have a minimum buffer of 1,000 feet between them and any school, park, or daycare center. Further buffer requirements include a 300-foot minimum from any residential zone, a 100-foot minimum distance from any legal dwelling, and a 1,500-foot minimum between any club and any other cannabis storefront. According to county staff, after running these requirements through current maps, only seven potential sites exist within the county, including spots in Vandenberg Village, eastern Goleta, the unincorporated west end of Santa Barbara, New Cuyama, and Orcutt. As for existing clubs that predate the moratorium, there is no proposed “grandfather” language, and, as such, each storefront will have to apply for legal nonconforming status on an individual basis with county planners.
The matter is scheduled for further discussion and a possible vote at the County Planning Commission on September 7.