Supervisors, Do the Right Thing

I just returned from the August 20 Santa Barbara County Board of
Supervisors meeting at which they were considering the second level of appeal
against a permit for G&K Farm to grow cannabis in Carpinteria. I live very
close to G&k Farm and so had a personal interest in attending. I just have
two comments:

First, I
was saddened by the fact that of the 39 citizens who were allowed to speak,
well more than 50 to 60 percent were employees of cannabis growers in
Carpinteria. In some cases they were on the legal team for G&K. So the
chair of the board rightfully refused to allow those to speak because
presumably they are not residents.
But even among those residents permitted to speak, the vast majority were
employed by the growers. To me this shows that these hearings are probably of not
of much value. How hard is it for employers to get these employees to show up
and speak? On the other hand it takes a great deal of independent concern and
effort for a single citizen to find out where and when the meeting occurs then
to make the effort to come to a supervisors meeting. So I hope the supervisors
consider carefully who they heard from today.

Second, it
seems to me that the fundamental issue is obviously odor. Giving the benefit of
the doubt to G&K Farm, that they are a model of observing all the rules and
regulations, and perhaps they are, the fact remains as one local non-employee
speaker said, “The stench and the odor are still horrible!”

So how can
that be? Either (1) those growers who have
an odor control system in place are not using a good one. (There are many
questions raised about the Byers system.) And therefore these growers should
consider, and the Board of Supervisors should require, the use of closed greenhouses with carbon filtration. Yes,
carbon filtration is expensive, but it would allow the county to actually
enforce its own requirement that the smell not be perceived outside the
boundaries of the property. Or (2) Perhaps the odors we presently are dealing
with come from illegal growers. In that case the county still has a
responsibility to track them down.

But the
bottom line is that these odors are overpowering and create not just a nuisance
as that is defined legally, but genuine discomfort and ill health.

My takeaway
is that if the Board of Supervisors is asking citizens to be patient and wait
until all the growers are permitted so that they can enforce county regulations
regarding odor, at which time the odors will disappear, then that’s not an
unreasonable request. But the problem with it is that should the permits be
granted and the odor controls prove to be ineffective,
what assurance do we have that the supervisors will then force the growers to adopt an improved system like carbon
filtration, or track down all those growers that are growing illegally! What
leverage will citizens have then?

Why not do
the right thing now and require carbon filtration with closed greenhouses! We
all want the industry to thrive! We just don’t want to be driven out of our
homes by the stench and perhaps to an early grave!

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