An Unfair and Forced Choice

Objections to Cannabis Retail at Santa Claus Lane

I don’t know why no one seems to see why this “forced choice” between Summerland and Santa Claus Lane as locations for a cannabis retail outlet is unfair. It arises only because both of the larger adjacent communities, Carpinteria and Montecito, have their own independent governance structures which can speak with more voice and create zoning regulations that forbid cannabis operations. So when the South County looks for a site, it focuses on the weak, less influential “communities.”

The only oversight/governance structure we can appeal to is one person, Mr. Das Williams. In my opinion, and it seems the S.B. Grand Jury agrees, he has already decided he is “all in” for the cannabis industry without regard to the impact on our community. So, we are effectively locked out of the kind of self-governance efforts made by the communities of Carpinteria and Montecito. It’s a shame!

Given that we are caught in this “vise,” and assuming, despite Barney Melekian’s answer to Mark Brickley, that one retail outlet will be allowed in the Montecito, Summerland, Toro Canyon, Carpinteria area, I want to strongly urge that it be allowed in Summerland rather than Santa Claus Lane. I hate to be forced to choose at all, and know my friends in Summerland will (and should!) push back. But surely the “Scorecard” must make it the top priority to have the smallest impact on the community. It’s almost a simple law of physics that a given change will have a smaller effect on a smaller location.

Summerland is not large; but by comparison with Santa Claus, it is. So a cannabis retail outlet would have a much larger proportional impact there. Santa Claus Lane is perhaps the worst possible location for a number of reasons that I am sure many many others have pointed out.

Traffic and Parking Congestion: Santa Claus Lane is only a single, narrow street.

That street, for many, is perceived as the extended on ramp for US101 south. So many people are impatient to zoom through at speed to get on the highway.

It is constantly lined with parked cars, on both sides, from the highway entrance back to and through the Padaro underpass, often bumper to bumper, beginning in April right through November. This further narrows an already narrow “street/on ramp.”

It is the site for headquarters for a major highway construction project that has lasted and will continue for several years. This draws even more traffic.

The existing retail shops, the construction HQ, and the beach traffic often do U-turns, in the face of impatient “on-ramp drivers.” This slows traffic and creates a hazard for collisions. Adding a cannabis outlet will only increase this as many from the north will want to return the way they came.

Children: Whether or not the Surf School is considered a “registered school,” it attracts dozens and dozens of young children daily for an extended season. I assume the intention of the regulations buffering daycare and schools is to reduce the proximity and/or access of cannabis growth and sales to young children. Surely, with literally hundreds of young people coming regularly for at least half the year to this exact same narrow strip, the spirit of the buffer rule should apply.

And the same applies to the Padaro Grill. This is one of the most popular places for families to come in our area. It has outside picnic benches and sand play areas even for babies. It caters to children. Putting a cannabis retail store next door makes no sense. One might say, well there is no odor from the stores. Maybe not, but the rules for getting the license to operate include security systems, fences, etc. Does that sound like the kind of place we want within yards of babies and 2-year-old children playing in the sand?

The beaches themselves are steps away. They are loaded with children and even with unattended teens. Yes, I know the rules would not allow underage teens to buy cannabis themselves. But since when has that stopped them from getting someone else to buy alcohol for them? The proximity and a beach full of older strangers who can never be tied to these teens, in my opinion, makes the likelihood of teens on the beach have ready access to cannabis very high.

Beaches: Smoking is not allowed on beaches in our county. So with a retail outlet virtually on the beach, won’t this make it much more likely that it will be used on the beach? Yes, this applies in Summerland, too, but of Montecito, Carpinteria, Summerland, Santa Claus Lane, none is as close to the beach as Santa Claus.

So I urge that no retail outlet be permitted in our tiny area of Toro Canyon and Summerland at all!

But if there must be one, please please do not let it happen on Santa Claus Lane!

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