The Santa Barbara County Planning Commission delayed a decision Wednesday on how to address odor and other issues related to the budding cannabis industry.
In a public hearing, officials listened to both cannabis growers and their neighbors discuss the issues.
Primarily, neighbors talked about odor control, and cannabis growers talked about the permitting process.
These have been ongoing issues in Santa Barbara County, especially in Carpinteria.
Cannabis business owners want to streamline the permitting process. A few owners talked about being in the permitting process for more than a year.
They would like to pause any amendments to the ordinances or grandfather in any businesses already in the permit pipeline.
Amy Steinfeld, a land and water use attorney representing cannabis growers, said that cannabis growers are "asking that the county take a step back, and spend resources in ensuring that all the cannabis applicants who are in the queue actually get permitted in a timely manner." In doing so, it would make it easier to comply with the ordinance.
Amendments may cause growers to spend more money. Several growers talked about spending hundreds of thousands of dollars already to meet ordinance requirements.
"To get through this process, it requires hiring land use planners, land use attorneys, biologists, hydrologists, geologists, architects, and a whole host of other folks to help you comply with the county ordinance," said Steinfeld.
But some neighbors want amendments regarding odor control. They would like changes to greenhouse design or mandatory carbon filtration to stop odor.
One person said they installed their own carbon filtration system in their home because of the smell from a neighboring cannabis grower.
Renee O'Neill, a fire advocate for the community of Tepusquet, said that her family is experiencing other issues as a result of legal non-conforming growers.
She said her 73-year-old husband was just diagnosed with asthma. "We attribute that to the traffic 53 feet from our front door, 24/7 during the growing season and the dust that their machines raise."
O'Neill said their rural road is now seeing much more traffic from the cannabis growers, and that her road has had four truck accidents since they started growing.
The commissioners said that too much was talked about to make a concrete plan today. They plan to meet again next week after they spend more time researching and thinking about the issues discussed today.
They said they want to look at how to address legal grows not following rules without impacting businesses that already spent a lot of money to comply with ordinances.
Lastly, they want to look at licensing and permitting so that it is faster and easier.