ORCUTT, Calif. - Orcutt residents spoke up in a community feedback meeting about cannabis business licensing in Santa Barbara County Thursday night.
"We're a very family oriented community," said Joe Dana, an Orcutt resident. His sentiment echoed many others about kids and families walking and biking around Old Town Orcutt every day.
Because of this, Dana said "the best locations for a cannabis dispensary are on the periphery of Orcutt."
In January, the Board of Supervisors created a new merit based scoring system for license applicants.
Under the ordinance, community members give input on where cannabis stores are allowed.
Barney Melekian, assistant CEO for the County of Santa Barbara, gave an overview of the licensing criteria and application process before answering questions and hearing public comments in the meeting.
"We are all very aware of the sensitivity and concerns that this issue generates," said Melekian. "Our commitment is to develop a process that is objective and transparent."
The county is asking for feedback on the business application criteria, not on specific applicants or sites.
This comes after controversy this spring when Natural Healing Center, a San Luis Obispo County cannabis business, bought the building where Old Town Market is located. Then the market announced they would be closing their doors.
"Our Old Town Market is the heart of what you see coming into our quaint family town," said Angelina Calahan, an Orcutt resident. "Having a cannabis dispensary would diminish our small community as well as be an eye sore and definitely something we as a small, historic town wouldn't feel pride about."
Advocates for Natural Healing Center said the tax revenue from cannabis shops is an important piece of discussion.
"What I would advocate is that the County Board of Supervisors designate those revenues right here in Orcutt where they will be reinvested and we can make Orcutt a world class place to be," said Joe Armendariz.
Chapter 50 limits the number of cannabis store licenses to one in each community.