Carpinteria’s latest – and maybe most ambitious – cannabis project earned compliments from members of the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission for its forward-thinking odor management plans, but it was ultimately pushed two weeks to be considered again at the commission’s Sept. 1 meeting.
Cresco Labs’ proposed renovation of a 13.5-acre property just off Foothill Road has been in the works for over two years, and its project planners have tweaked and updated the designs based on community and county staff feedback. The latest changes to the “odor abatement” systems use carbon scrubbers to mitigate the smell and are part of this effort to meet the community group Concerned Carpinterians halfway.
The last-minute changes to the project – submitted the day before the hearings – forced the commission to continue the hearing in two weeks to allow the public and staff to review the updates and offer further comments or criticisms. Commissioner Michael Cooney, who represents the Carpinteria Valley, worried that a full discussion might be wasted if these updates couldn’t be properly considered.
“The gorilla in the room here is that submission on Monday, and we’re kind of dancing around it,” said Cooney. “I’m concerned that we go too far today.”
Cresco Labs was founded in 2013 in Chicago, Illinois, and has grown to become one of the world’s largest cannabis companies, with over 2,700 employees across 10 states including six facilities in California. Sabrina Noah, a senior VP of Cresco that spoke on behalf of the company, along with project director Nathan Eady, said that the company’s vision is to build “the most important cannabis company in the U.S.”
The project aims to replace three existing greenhouses on the property, which has been involved in farming and agriculture since its inception in 1928, and add a new 24,751 square-foot processing facility.
Noah said that the company has been working with community groups and has maintained a “full-time community liaison,” to ensure that the concerns of locals are being heard.
“Over the course of the last two-and-a-half years, conversations with our neighbors have become a daily part of our operational consistency,” Noah said. “We are committed to full-time, real-time communication between residents and neighbors.”
Commissioner Daniel Blough commended the team, and Eady, for their ability to adjust to new information and the voices of residents who pushed for the carbon scrubbers to be the “new norm” of cannabis cultivation.
“We’ve never stopped listening and iterating the project to make it better, and make it more responsive,” Eady said.
Odor is by far the biggest contention of those opposed to this and other cannabis industry projects being considered in Carpinteria. With technology headed toward more efficient methods of odor control in cannabis cultivation, the smell may not be as big of an issue in the future.
For now, at least, odor management continues to be central to these discussions, and to the approval of this and similar projects; both commissioner Cooney and commissioner John Parke were likely to vote against the project had it not been for Cresco agreeing to install carbon scrubbers to replace the Byers vapor spray system currently in place.
All five members of the commission voted to continue the hearing to Sept. 1.