CPA Supports Yet Another Cannabis Appeal, this time in Carpinteria (Cate School)

Dear Santa Barbara County Planning Commission) Chair Cooney and Commissioners:

Citizens Planning Association has expressed repeated concerns about the inadequate protections and safeguards that the County’s uniquely permissive Cannabis ordinance affords to local residents. These impacts throughout the County are further exacerbated by the limited protections provided by simple Land Use Permits or, in the present matter, a Coastal Development Permit.

The project currently before you, an appeal by Cate School and Paul Ekstrom of the 4532 Foothill project adjacent to Carpinteria High School, illustrates the limited protections. The project includes almost a quarter-million Square Feet of cultivation within greenhouses. Appeal issues include inconsistency with 750’ setback; inadequate odor abatement; health impacts from vapor phase system, and cannabis odors, among others. Our letter focuses on the inadequate buffer to sensitive receptors.

In the present matter, the closest impacts are felt by students, teachers and staff at Carpinteria High School. Portions of the project are well within the already de minimus 750’ buffer to the High School. That minimum buffer was further lessened by the unique definition of premises” offered during the ordinance adoption at the Board of Supervisors in 2018; that is, instead of measuring from property line to property line, some of the growers surrounding the HS successfully advocated to define the buffer as from property line to premises.

This unfortunate change further circumvents the intent of protecting sensitive receptors, such as school students, from the impacts. Staff goes even further in the present matter, to allow the growers to maximize this already limited buffer by asserting that some of the plants on premises [connected by blue line in graphic from County GIS cannabis map] will be ‘nursery’ and less odorous and separated by ‘a sign’: A portion of Greenhouse C (11,569 sf) and of Greenhouse B (16,413 sf) are located within the 750-foot cultivation area setback from sensitive receptors. These areas will be used for nursery only, and signage will be located inside the greenhouses delineating the sensitive receptor setback boundary.” [P&D Staff report, Pg. 9]

Issues of odor impacts and the inadequate ability of the County to effectively monitor compliance certainly characterizes dozens of appeals of cannabis projects. In this case, we urge the Planning Commission to exercise whatever discretion you have over the conditions. CPA believes that the CDP finding #3, 3.The subject property and development on the property is in compliance with all laws, rules, and regulations pertaining to zoning uses, subdivisions, setbacks, “ cannot reasonably or rationally be made with the present set of facts and conditions. We urge you to support the appeal.


Marell Brooks, President
Citizens Planning Association