Citizens Planning Association submits this letter to the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission in support of the Seaman appeal of the Nojoqui Farms cannabis cultivation LUP.
Citizens Planning Association, representing residents from throughout Santa Barbara County, has supported sound land use policies on the Central Coast since 1960. CPA has submitted many comments on the inadequacy of the County’s Cannabis land use process dating back to the development of the ordinance. The use of a programmatic EIR to support Land Use Permits is wholly inadequate in most cases, including the one before you today.
In the present case, the Nojoqui Farms project consists of 23 acres of outdoor cultivation under hoops, on a 53 acre parcel immediately adjacent to HWY 101. The parcel was historically planted with organic field crops and oat hay. The project is surrounded by four other cannabis projects or proposals in various stages of permitting. It is noteworthy that in 2019 this project originally proposed 25 acres of cultivation; following the Board of Supervisors LUDC amendment in 2020, it would have required a CUP . Planner notes indicate the planner asked the applicant if he wanted to reduce the cultivation size to under 50%, which he did. That is unfortunate, as a CUP would be a much better vehicle to monitor the impacts of this huge outdoor grow adjacent to Nojoqui Creek, and other important resources.
In addition to the issues raised in the appeal, it is concerning that “7-foot-high no-climb security fencing …. topped with barbed wire 2 ft. in height connected to 8-ft.-high chain-link security fencing that will enclose the nursery area. Security light fixtures will be installed at the access gate, in the parking lot, and on the exterior of the processing building.”
CPA is concerned about the cumulative impacts of the multiple approved and pending large cannabis projects in this scenic rural area along the 101.
Given those concerns, as well as other appeal issues such as conflicts with the potential disruption of surrounding agricultural operations, we urge the Planning Commission to uphold the appeal. We believe the issues raised by the appellant regarding the impacts on Nojoqui Creek, warrant further attention.
Marell Brooks, President, Citizens Planning Association