The print title of your article “Getting Cannabis Genie Back in Bottle” is misleading. Though the Planning Commission had been asked by the Board of Supervisors to reexamine the permitting of cultivation of cannabis on Ag-1 parcels in the inland portions of Santa Barbara County, this prohibition was rejected by a 3 to 2 vote which was disappointing as there were about 200 letters from county residents asking for this reconsideration.
There was a second vote when the planning commissioners recommended that conditional use permits (CUP) be required for all cannabis cultivation applications in the inland portions of the county. That vote passed 3 to 2 because the commissioners felt that approval of land use permits needs to be site specific. Requiring a CUP requires more investigation on neighborhood compatibility, among other things, versus just handing out a permit ministerially with no public hearing. There was a lot of discussion among the commissioners that cannabis neighbors needed to be notified about cannabis operations in their neighborhood. So when the article states, “The two dissenting commissioners objected not because the new rules were too strenuous but rather because they preferred an outright prohibition,” that is not correct. There were two separate votes.
There was another vote on whether to send a recommendation to the Board that CUPs should also be required the Coastal Zone, not just the inland portions of the county. The commissioners stressed there should be consistency throughout the county.
Some of the frustration with the whole county process is that there is a lot of publicity about raids and crops ruined, but then many of these same operations seem to be back in business and are still in the line-up to get their permits. The fines are so small as to mean nothing — and most residents feel that enforcement of violations (noisy generators, night lights, odors, traffic, parking) is ineffective and feeble. Many worry how bad it will get when all these grows are up and running — with so little enforcement as of now.