The Indy recently published a largely fact-challenged opinion piece titled The Color of Money. This continues a pattern of submitting grievances to the county about a cannabis retail project. Given her pride in identifying as a published author, I trust that Jana Zimmer would want to use facts and logical arguments, then use properly arranged arguments to lead to a clear conclusion. Unfortunately, she provides conclusions bereft of facts and fails to develop cogent arguments or conclusions. Instead, the reader is subjected to a series of emotional triggers. Regardless of how you feel about cannabis, this must stop.
The Fix Was In: Wait, what fix? Ms. Zimmer concluded small farmers and people of color would be the beneficiaries of cannabis business licenses post-Prop 64.
The Roots Carpinteria is 30 percent owned by people of color and women, with the only other owners (70 percent) being longtime residents of Toro Canyon and property owners on Santa Claus Lane, Pat and Maire Radis.
She cites the 2020 Grand Jury report as evidence of the “county’s failure” and concludes amendments were to benefit the industry without certification by Coastal Commission.
Fact is, the Coastal Commission did certify the amendments made to the Coastal Zoning ordinance in Santa Barbara County in 2018, including the Coastal Commission’s recommendation that cannabis retail be a principally permitted use in the coastal zone. The county has amended its cannabis ordinances several times since 2018, always acting to restrict or reduce cannabis, not to the benefit of cultivators.
In the 2021 Busy Bee case, Judge Thomas Anderle struck down the legal arguments — and the Grand Jury’s conclusions — proffered by cannabis opponents. He noted that cannabis opponents failed to provide evidence of any massive failure by the county to follow the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act and the Williamson Act. In a scene reminiscent of the Game of Thrones, Anderle stated that the opponents could not prevail because “County and RPI (Reporting Party of Interest) have vastly too many arrows in their quiver, many of which are fatal” to the cannabis opponents’ case.
Visitors: The piece states that 150,000 people a year visit Santa Claus Lane Beach. The fact is that 150,000 a year don’t cross the railroad tracks to access the beach at Santa Claus Lane. After searching all the project documents for the Streetscape and Beach Access project, I could not find a visitor count. Given the family orientation cited frequently, the image of more than 400 people a day, 365 days a year, hauling kids and all the required family beach supplies across currently signal-less railroad tracks, after using all 275 informal parking spots along the entire length of Santa Claus Lane for hours at a time seems fantastical. Much easier family access is available a couple miles away in Carpinteria or at Butterfly Beach.
The Roots Carpinteria has nearly twice the number of required employee and customer parking spaces for all the businesses at their site. No other Santa Claus Lane business can say the same.
Lastly, the author goes completely fact-free. She says Ventura does not allow cannabis retail. They do allow three, with more anticipated in the city’s Coastal Zone. She believes only the cultivators want the store. Cultivators in the Carpinteria Valley sell their product statewide. Over 500 local residents have signed on in support of The Roots. She believes that The Roots will attract people driving on 101 who just need to stop at Santa Claus Lane because they can’t go 20 more minutes to buy weed, all while requiring a huge effort to backtrack through Carpinteria. Does that make sense to anyone else?
Color of Money: I can’t shake the feeling that Ms. Zimmer’s “color of money” comment is a bit too autobiographical. I will note that she seems to have avoided every single public hearing of the Planning Commission, Board of Supervisors, and Coastal Commission. No public comments were attributed to her in the public record between 2016 and 2019. I personally don’t recall her being in the room for any of the cannabis hearings. Is that because she didn’t have a paying client? What color is that money? In her invocation of the Coastal Commission in her last paragraph, is she soliciting clients with standing to pay for her services to lobby the Coastal Commission? What color is that money? She even gets to plug her book in her bio at the end. What color is that money?
I will note that the author’s book and my books (noted below) are available on Amazon. To be clear, if you buy one of mine, I won’t get any money (of any color) since my residuals ended 20 years ago.
Dennis Bozanich is a consultant to The Roots Carpinteria. He was Deputy County Executive Officer for the County of Santa Barbara through 2019 and held similar positions in Alameda and Contra Costa counties over the past two decades. In January 2022, he left the public sector and formed Praxis Public Policy Consultants, LLC. He has co-authored a series of six junior high textbooks for Catholic schools and parishes entitled Living Our Faith.