Recently, hundreds of people from Santa Barbara, Goleta, and beyond signed a petition arguing that unregulated agricultural hoop structures 20-feet-tall or less, usually used for berry crops but now used for cannabis, should be allowed in the Santa Ynez Valley Community Plan’s Design Overlay along our main scenic highways. Farmers have lived in the Design Overlay for years, but suddenly people from out of town and hoop farmers are clamoring to undo its protections?
What people probably don’t know is cannabis farmers are not protected by the Right to Farm Ordinance and that S.B. County is the only county in the state that allows unlimited acreage for cannabis. If the petition signers worry about having enough cannabis, there is already more produced in California than we can consume. Cannabis does not need to be commercially grown everywhere in the county, and the county can lawfully limit where and how it is grown.
If you haven’t read the county’s SYV Community Plan, one of its primary goals is to preserve the valley’s rural character. One of the ways to achieve that goal is to have a design overlay along our scenic highways.
As a renowned tourist destination, it would be foolish to add synthetic, bright white plastic 20-foot-high hoop structures along our scenic highways. Tourism is an important source of income for many businesses. Residents and visitors come to enjoy our rural, not our industrial, character. Within the Santa Ynez Valley Community Plan are two-thirds of the county’s Ag 1 five- and 10-acre parcels. It wasn’t designed for industrial-scale hoop farming. To have so many people outside of the area demanding it here makes me think they don’t know about the policy and goals in the SYVCP and the design overlay, or that it was created by the people who live in the valley, or that it has been county policy for a decade.