Supervisor Das Williams, the architect and driver of Santa Barbara County’s Cannabis Ordinance, is now protesting that he was merely an incidental player. Now, that’s rich!
The record shows, however, that despite pleas from fellow supervisors and constituents for a decent interval while Santa Barbara buried its dead last year, Williams wanted a cannabis vote ASAP. Multiple sources affirm that he refused to postpone the key cannabis vote beyond February 6, 2018 — when many in his 1st District were either evacuated or reeling in shock. “Due to the … evacuation notices for the Carpinteria Thomas Fire burn area, we request the Board continue the item so that the public may be present to provide input,” wrote one Carpinteria Valley Association director. Throughout the month, then-supervisor Janet Wolf, Cate School, the City of Carpinteria and others would also ask for postponements. (All documents are available through the Public Records Act; also, see Board of Supervisors meeting of January 23, 2019: https://youtu.be/VEKItFssGtw?t=10568.)
And it is hard to recall any Central Coast politician letting loose such vitriol on a constituent in the Independent, especially a supervisor who has his own bully pulpit and PR apparatus to say whatever he wants anytime — while making a taxpayer-paid hefty six-figure salary.
I’m told, however, I should not have been surprised. There was Williams’s televised attack on another constituent who dared to criticize his central role in pushing for cannabis. Or his campaign tactics against Janet Wolf and Susan Jordan — forging new lows in county politics.
For the record, credit for Supervisor Williams being dubbed half of the Doobie Brothers (with colleague Supervisor Steve Lavagnino) goes to Kelsey Brugger, formerly of the Independent, who saw this train coming long before me. As for Lavagnino, I’ll let his constituents speak for themselves.
Sadly, Williams still doesn’t grasp that his Cannabis Ordinance — a larded-up gift to the cannabis industry (we hear of Carp nurseries that now lease their land for up to $50,000 per month per acre of greenhouses) — is the most devastating legislation since the supervisors voted for offshore oil drilling in the 1960s. Nor can he blame the state of California as no other county in the state has refused to put limits on cannabis grows — nor hands out temporary licenses for free.
I can’t say when the cannabis “oil spill” is coming, but we all know that the damage is growing exponentially. Consider how it came to be that Carpinteria High School is virtually surrounded by cannabis nurseries — not by 1,000 feet as mandated by sensible federal law — and urged by Wolf, Carp’s school superintendent (memorialized in two letters in 2017), environmental activists, and residents — but by a mere 600 feet. Bad odors and cannabis by-products, say students and teachers, often fill the grounds and classrooms, especially in the morning.
Lacking the time or space to correct every line, here are the supervisor’s whoppers: While Humboldt County has recently been catching up a bit, as of May 16, 2019, Santa Barbara County has authorized the state to issue an astounding total of 3,316 cannabis licenses as opposed to Humboldt’s 2,356. That not a difference of 12. Need I add that Santa Barbara County leads all counties in the state (with just 2 percent of the population) and currently holds 42 percent of all provisional licenses in the state (good for a full year). Another detail omitted: Humboldt County allows just 6 acres per cannabis license but Williams pushed for no limits here in S.B.. Hence, S.B. has pot grows of 70 to 100 acres, upending the lives of so many and damaging our lucrative wine and avocado industries.
And as recently pointed out in a brief by counsel for the Santa Barbara Coalition for Responsible Cannabis and submitted to the Coastal Commission, Williams and the Board of Supervisors could take action tomorrow to direct all legal non-conforming cannabis operations to be investigated and shut down if they lied on affidavits or expanded their operations — as we know many have.
The unavoidable fact is that Das Williams is the face of Santa Barbara County cannabis — revered (and well-rewarded) by pot growers and rebuked by many residents, farmers, and vintners who say they have been thrown under the bus.
I’m delighted to hear reports that he is now willing to listen to critics and not just industry-packed “ad hoc committees” — a development, if true, that is long overdue.
Put me down as willing and available!
Yet, it’s curious that he would liken our cannabis nightmare to a sitcom.
So we’re wondering what the punch line is … because we’re not laughing yet.
P.S. My print and online Voices have the same content except for cuts as mandated by print space limits.