The City of Goleta has appealed the County of Santa Barbara’s approval of a cannabis cultivation project located just outside of the City’s limits near the Winchester Canyon Road neighborhood. Santa Barbara County has permit authority over commercial cannabis operations within the County’s unincorporated area and, on September 16, 2021, approved the White Light Cannabis Cultivation Project. The project calls for the development of 17 acres of nursery and outdoor cannabis cultivation, processing and distribution on a property zoned for agricultural use (AG-ll-100) at 222 Winchester Canyon Road, 0.5 miles outside of City limits. The decision comes after the City has repeatedly expressed its concerns about the project and notified the County that the City would appeal the decision if it was approved without addressing the City’s concerns.
Mayor Paula Perotte said, “The County has not addressed our concerns surrounding the project prior to the project being approved. A cannabis cultivation project has no place near a residential neighborhood without adequate safeguards and environmental review.”
The City’s primary concerns relate to hydrogen sulfide (H2S) hazards known to occur in the well water in the area, the lack of an H2S Safety Plan, an inadequate Odor Abatement Plan relating to cannabis odors, and insufficient environmental review as required by the California Environmental Quality Act. More detailed information about these concerns can be found on the City website at https://www.cityofgoleta.org/city-hall/planning-and-environmental-review/county-cannabis-permitting.
The City’s appeal will be heard by the County Planning Commission along with any other appeals at a future date to be determined. The County Planning Commission’s review is de novo, meaning it gets to consider the facts and permit findings anew, without deference to the staff-level decision.