Noozhawk | April 10, 2018 –
he Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors passed a cannabis business license ordinance Tuesday, along with a transition plan to address the gap between when state-issued temporary licenses expire and local regulations go into effect.
The supervisors already adopted a land use ordinance regulating cannabis-related operations; the business license ordinance deals with the permitting process for unincorporated areas.
Tuesday’s 3-2 vote approved the first reading of the ordinance, and final approval will happen at the May 1 meeting.
Supervisors Joan Hartmann, Steve Lavagnino and Das Williams voted for the ordinance, and supervisors Peter Adam and Janet Wolf dissented.
The supervisors included a cultivation ban on outdoor commercial cannabis cultivation in the coastal zone of Santa Barbara County, and a 186-acre cap on indoor or mixed-light cannabis cultivation within the boundaries of the Carpinteria Agricultural Overlay District.
The first of the state temporary licenses issued in Santa Barbara County will expire on May 1, before the county’s regulatory ordinances go into effect, Deputy County Executive Officer Dennis Bozanich said.
Land-use permitting won’t be operational countywide until the treasurer-tax collector successfully opens a bank account for marijuana-related revenues, and the California Coastal Commission needs to certify the coastal zoning ordinance, he said during Tuesday’s meeting.
The supervisors approved a transition plan that includes a consultation process with county staff and cannabis operators, to see if operators would be compliant with county regulations – even ones that are not yet in effect.
If operators would be compliant, the county would “stay silent” on the operator’s application for a state annual license, which makes it likely it would be approved. If the operator would not be compliant, the county would notify the state.
The county would set up consultations with existing and potential cannabis operators, according to the plan approved by the supervisors.
Another issue holding up Santa Barbara County’s regulations is the need for a bank account to handle cannabis-related revenues, including taxes and fees.
County Chief Investment Officer Jennifer Christensen said the county has established an account with a banking institution, but still needs to figure out “how to get the money into the account.”
The Treasurer-Tax Collector’s Office thinks the county will have a system in place by the end of June, she told the supervisors.
County agencies involved in the cannabis permitting and enforcement process include the County Executive Office, Sheriff’s Department, District Attorney’s Office, Planning and Development Department, Public health, Agricultural Commissioner, and the Treasurer-Tax Collector, according to Bozanich.
Santa Barbara County expects up to 200 permit applications in the first year its cannabis ordinances become operational, he said, and that it will need additional staffing to handle the workload.
Sheriff’s Lt. Brian Olmstead said the department has not been doing much cannabis-related enforcement, but will have more options after the county’s ordinances are in effect and the department has more resources.
Both the Sheriff’s Department and Planning & Development Department have received a lot of complaints regarding illegal and noncompliant cannabis operators over the years, staff said.
Residents can report building and zoning code violations to the Planning & Development Department online or through its enforcement hotlines:
» North County: 805.934.6251
» South Coast: 805.568.3558
People can also submit complaints to Sheriff’s Department substations, and they will be referred to the narcotics unit, Olmstead said.
The final approval of the cannabis business license ordinance will be on the May 1 Board of Supervisors meeting agenda, which starts at 9 a.m. at the County Administration Building, 105 E. Anapamu St. in Santa Barbara.