In a 5-0 vote at the Nov. 26 City Council meeting, council members unanimously voted in favor of approving the draft ordinance regulating commercial cannabis regulations citywide.
After adult-use marijuana was legalized state-wide in 2016, the City of Carpinteria implemented a moratorium on commercial cannabis activities in order to research commercial cannabis growing operations and to receive feedback from the community. The moratorium period allowed the City to define regulations that would best fit the community, and required the City to have ordinances on the books before May of 2019, when the moratorium ends.
Approving the draft ordinance does not immediately enact the new regulations, but rather it has passed one more step in the process—the ordinance still must be accepted by the California Coastal Commission.
During the meeting, discussion of the issue included a thorough staff report exploring much of the previous research and community feedback. Many members of the public made comments both in favor and against commercial cannabis operations in Carpinteria.
Some of the main concerns mentioned were the odor, level of noise and extension of the buffer zone (areas within 600 feet of a school, daycare or health facility where commercial marijuana cannot be grown). Other members of the public were concerned about upticks in crime and the effect that cannabis growth will have on Carpinteria.
Community member Maureen Foley Claffey read the letter to the editor she wrote, published in The Washington Post (“A not-so-high opinion of California pot”), which responded to the Oct. 14 Post article, “Room for pot among the pinot,” that examined the cannabis industry in Carpinteria. Claffey stated: “The article omitted local voices for perspectives on the black market growers who popped up over night with no odor control, the lack of enforcement for illegal operations, the armed robberies at local cannabis farms in the past year, the current ‘grow’ operations adjacent to the local high school, or the proliferation of armed guards and barbed-wire fences that have transformed the town into a jail-like landscape.”
Despite these concerns, many in attendance were in favor of regulation, citing the level of control and safety it would provide to the City and legal growers, noting that many of the issues stem from illegal grow operations and not legal and regulated ones. Commercial cannabis grower and local home owner Casey Dalton commented, “I’m a mother and I’m a home owner here, and I get the ‘not in my backyard’ but all I can share with you is that regulation brings safety, and regulation drives out the black market, and regulation is where we need to go.”
Echoing those sentiments, council members voted to move regulation forward in the industrial research park district with an extension of the 600-foot buffer zone. Monday’s vote dealt with land use, while restrictions on the size and number of future commercial cannabis operations will be considered once the City creates a licensing program for these businesses.
South Coast Youth Task Force update
Coordinator Saul Serrano from the South Coast Task Force on Youth Safety gave an update on the important work the Task Force has been doing in Carpinteria and surrounding communities. The Task Force has been working for the last eight years in and around Carpinteria and is composed of 37 members that meet quarterly as well as a Strategy Team and a Service Provider Network that meet more often. The organization’s mission is “to improve and support the safety and quality of life for youth, their families and the community.”
The Task Force began by focusing on youth involvement in gangs and youth already in the system, and the numbers of both have decreased in recent years. Additionally, the number of youth admitted to Juvenile Hall has also decreased over this time span. Serrano noted that between 2016 and 2017 there was an uptick in these numbers, which the Task Force is monitoring, but both gang involvement and levels of incarceration are well below the data from 2009 when the Task Force started its work.
Serrano offered an extensive report on some of the group’s initiatives, including Mental Health Services, Jobs and Job Skills Connection, Mentoring and Expedited Services, Evaluation, 211 Youth Resource Guide, and Service Provider Coordination. He also noted that in the future there will be a spot on their website for public connection—a place where the Task Force will be able to gather information directly from the public.
Winter is coming
During his report, City Manager Dave Durflinger highlighted important seasonal information for residents. In coming weeks, Winter Storm Readiness and Emergency Alert and Preparedness meetings are scheduled and will be open to the public. The first will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 12, at 5:30 p.m. at the Veteran’s Memorial Building. A Spanish-language meeting will be held at St. Joseph’s Church at 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 10. For more information and to view an up-to-date evacuation map, visit readysbc.org/.
In addition to storm preparation, plans to construct the winter berm on the beach are set to commence Dec. 3, with work continuing through Dec. 7. The construction activity will be on the beach between Linden and Ash avenues, and the public is asked to stay away from the active construction zone during this time.