Santa Barbara County Supervisor Das Williams’ comments at the Carpinteria City Council’s special meeting concerning cannabis activity in the Carpinteria Valley on June 17 strike us as an insult to the intelligence and common sense of his constituents. We are weary of hearing him pretend to share our concerns, claiming how he is trying to “make it better” when, in fact, Supervisor Williams created this situation.
Within weeks of taking office in January 2017, Mr. Williams advanced the idea of an ad hoc committee with Supervisor Lavagnino, to draft a cannabis ordinance. He then proposed a registry for self-declared existing growers to be given preference, and establish an unverified baseline which would later be used as justification for the questionable affidavits used to obtain state licenses with no verification of pre-2016 compliance. Those meetings in 2017-18 are easily accessible online, showing Williams aggressively advocating for no limit on state licenses and allowing for the stacking of licenses—in some cases multiple licenses on a single parcel!
Yes, there were preexisting medicinal grows in Santa Barbara County, as in much of the State of California. But after Prop 64, other counties either banned marijuana cultivation or adopted strict policies requiring growers to prove legal nonconforming status of parcels, and compliance with mitigations in order to keep growing and to obtain state licenses. Yet Williams refused to support a Planning Commission recommendation that would have established a process for verification and determination of legal nonconforming status before growers were authorized to obtain state licenses.
We are also troubled by his receipt of $16,500 from members of CARP Growers in 2017-18 at the same time that he cast crucial, favorable votes for them on cannabis cultivation. Indeed, his comments as quoted in the Los Angeles Times on June 15, are damning, such as assuring cannabis lobbyists “don’t worry, I’ll fix it.” Why would Williams tell one major Carpinteria grower “Don’t tell anyone,” if he did not fully realize that what he was doing was dead wrong? His comments, role and conflicts of interest merit an independent inquiry, which we will request from the Board of Supervisors.
We can no longer sit by and allow Williams to confect a false narrative to cover up the leadership role he has played in transforming our once charming, semi-rural coastal community into a “company town” for industrial marijuana production. This has zero to do with our approval of personal adult marijuana use, and we could go on and on countering Williams’ false claims. Instead, we have to spend untold hours working with attorneys and appealing the many dubious permit applications. We all long for Carpinteria’s cannabis nightmare to end, and will do all in our power to ensure that happens.