Cannabis Growing Rapidly in Carpinteria

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By Ben Williams, Headmaster of Cate School

If you have driven down Casitas Pass Road near the fruit stand, surely you have noticed the pungent odor of cannabis. On rainy days, the cloud cover persistently traps the smell in Carpinteria — a smell which permeates beyond the “buffer” zone.

Perhaps you are unaware that the County of Santa Barbara recently passed one of the most lenient Commercial Cannabis Ordinances in the State. There are many factors that have kept the majority of our community in the dark. Without a broadly read daily newspaper of record, there are relatively limited means to distribute critically important information about the County’s activities. And, understandably, the historic Thomas Fire and ensuing debris flows have pulled public attention away from other County issues.

While the majority of the population of Santa Barbara County has been justifiably focused on the Thomas Fire, the floods, and the debris flows, the County has been busy signing off on “temporary licenses” for cannabis growers.  As a result, there have been more temporary licenses issued in Carpinteria than any other county (including Humboldt) in the state. We have unwittingly become the Cannabis Capital of California.

While voters in the County largely supported Prop 64, the state law permitting personal and medical cannabis use, our County has gone even further by allowing large-scale commercial cultivation and industrial manufacturing in our own backyard. In contrast, most counties have banned commercial cultivation due to its adverse impacts (including Ventura County); others have imposed reasonable limits on the number of operations (including San Luis Obispo and Los Angeles County). Santa Barbara County is one of the only counties allowing both unlimited cannabis operations and vertical integration, which will allow this drug to be grown, manufactured (using dangerous chemicals), and distributed on agriculturally zoned land.  Say goodbye to our lemons, avocados, and flowers.

We understand that Santa Barbara County is in dire need of funds due to its significant projected budget deficit, which has been exacerbated by the projected shortfall in Montecito property tax revenue. Despite a series of reports from consultants about the limited and widely variable income likely to be derived from cannabis operations, and multiple warnings from law enforcement about the drawbacks of welcoming the industry -- including increased risk to public safety and the presence and influence of organized crime -- the County seems to be banking on cannabis as a means to pay its bills.

That’s a risky gamble, especially when we consider what could be lost in this gambit. Carpinteria is no longer the bucolic town it once was. Major security fences now obscure former flower businesses.  Our air is befouled.  Traffic has increased, and Casitas Pass Road is a virtual parking lot as roads are filled with cars belonging to cannabis employees.  This is just the beginning now that the County has created perhaps the most cannabis-friendly environment in the State. While we commend the County for attempting to address unregulated and illegal cannabis activities, the solution is not to welcome an unlimited number of growers into the County.

We at Cate School have been fighting since this issue was introduced and continue to advocate for strict odor controls on greenhouses and a ban on outdoor cannabis growing in the Coastal Zone. We continue to urge the County Supervisors to protect Carpinteria by adopting caps on the amount of land that can be cultivated in order to protect our unique Valley and coastal resources. We urge you to attend next Tuesday’s hearing in Santa Barbara to express support for reasonable caps on cannabis operations. The Carpinteria community needs to be aware of these new developments in cannabis licensing.

Because the Coastal Commission has not yet approved the County’s Ordinance, there is also still time to contact our Coastal Commissioner and register concern. Our Commissioner is Erik Howell: (415) 904-5202,

Also, while the ordinance is being implemented, you may call the County (Steve Mason at 805-568-2070) to register complaints if you smell cannabis odors, suspect illegal or noncompliant operations, or experience other adverse impacts.

Finally, over the next year, the community should pay attention as new cannabis operations sprout up and comment on the efficacy of the County’s cannabis regulations. Remember, the County may impose additional restrictions on cannabis growers, and thus citizens should use their voices to demand regulations that adequately protect the residents and organizations in our idyllic coastal community.  There is too much at stake here, and we can be distracted no longer.

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Z Mar 15, 2018 08:41 PM
Cannabis Growing Rapidly in Carpinteria

Oh. Woe is us. Boeing, Airbus and cheap jet fuel killed the flower business. We should be thankful that Mexico and Chile aren't seriously into the California marijuana market. Prices have collapsed since legalization and a great deal of efficiency is required to make money farming the stuff. The number of farmers will go down dramatically within a year or two as the market shakes out and initial investments are burned up. In a couple of years you won't notice them.

a-1521142630 Mar 15, 2018 12:37 PM
Cannabis Growing Rapidly in Carpinteria

Perfecting Timing, the County just sent out this alert so everyone who has such strong feelings can attend and report back:
"Next week, the Board of Supervisors to consider:
Cannabis Business Licensing Ordinance
Updates to the Uniform Rules for cannabis operations on Williamson Act contracted land
Options for staff procedures for cannabis permitting and licensing between the effective and operational dates (e.g. Transition Period)
9 a.m. Tuesday, March 20
County Board Hearing Room
105 E. Anapamu St., Fourth Floor, Santa Barbara
Remote testimony available from Santa Maria in the Board of Supervisors hearing room at the Betteravia Government Center, 511 East Lakeside Parkway, Santa Maria.
For upcoming meetings on cannabis, go to "

a-1521138413 Mar 15, 2018 11:26 AM
Cannabis Growing Rapidly in Carpinteria

Pu-lease.... If you're crying about the smell of fresh, unburnt marijuana, I cordially invite you to switch "agricultural smells" with us out in west Goleta when we have our eggy H2S leaks. I'll take the aroma of fresh pot any day over the evenings when the hot fart stink is so bad we can't even open our windows and are embarrassed to invite company over!

CivilEngineer Mar 15, 2018 09:54 AM
Cannabis Growing Rapidly in Carpinteria

Again, the issue is commercial growers with 1000s of plants. Next to schools, businesses, and residences. If the growers don't fix the impacts they are having, they will be put out of business by the feds or state. Each morning when I drive through Carp, I can't believe how bad it reeks. Would be extremely upset if I had to live there.

Factotum Mar 15, 2018 09:46 AM
Cannabis Growing Rapidly in Carpinteria

I suggest Cate get out of its self-imposed ivory tower. Most of these comments and conclusions are embarrassingly clueless. First District voters enthusiastically embraced pro-pot Das Williams as their county supervisor. Where was Cate then? If Cate refuses to read the SB NewsPress, it is no one's fault but their own for not following public engagement on this issue. And total neglect of the county's fiscal mismanagement and partisan political agenda makes one wonder about the value of the Cate curriculum when educating those very persons who will be inheriting this partisan voter created fiscal mess. Welcome to the real world, Cate.

a-1521131699 Mar 15, 2018 09:34 AM
Cannabis Growing Rapidly in Carpinteria

(1) Prepare a map, easy to read (preferably with emojis), mark all “grows” in Carpinteria on map. Make 5,000 copies. (2) Drive to L.A., distribute map widely. (3) Buy popcorn (5) Enjoy the fireworks. (This scenario is going to happen sooner or later, anyway.) Shortcut, do map, do a Youtube video.

Factotum Mar 15, 2018 11:41 AM
Cannabis Growing Rapidly in Carpinteria

The Dutch border city of Maastricht finally had to disallow pot sales to German nationals who were now flooding into their lovely little city on weekends, just across the Dutch-German border. You are not that far wrong.

a-1521133311 Mar 15, 2018 10:01 AM
Cannabis Growing Rapidly in Carpinteria

What "fireworks" are you expecting to see once people in LA know where the Carp grows are? Please don't say you are advocating for any type of property crimes.....

Flicka Mar 15, 2018 09:26 AM
Cannabis Growing Rapidly in Carpinteria

The flower growers in Carpinteria have pretty well had their businesses ruined because of cheaper flowers from countries such as Columbia. The green houses could be torn down, land changed from agriculture to residential and lots and lots of ugly tract houses built. Oh boy, such a choice!

Factotum Mar 15, 2018 09:48 AM
Cannabis Growing Rapidly in Carpinteria

Good place for the 500,000 new homes a year our own local elected representatives, Jackson and Limon ,have imposed on this state

Howard Roark Mar 15, 2018 09:15 AM
Cannabis Growing Rapidly in Carpinteria

Would you like to see Jeff Sessions order the DEA to raid the growers? Would you like to return to the days of mass incarceration for minor drug charges? Would you like to see the medical uses for pot shelved? The voters legalized pot because the closet pot smoking politicians in the pockets of Big Pharma didn't have the guts to.

Channelfog Mar 15, 2018 11:38 AM
Cannabis Growing Rapidly in Carpinteria

Other than increasing profits for alcohol, prescription drug, and incarceration industries, the war on drugs has failed. The cost to tax payers and the human toll have been extraordinarily high. Jeff Sessions is a Fascist dinosaur. Let Freedom ring!

Fitness1 Mar 15, 2018 08:48 AM
Cannabis Growing Rapidly in Carpinteria

I also voted for it but now not so sure. The other day during my lunch break I walked on the beach and came back to work reeking of pot thanks to three separate 'clouds' that I only detected once I was in them! Thankfully, because I usually bike to work & keep a change of clothes & wet wipes there, I was able to clean up before coming into contact with clients. Just as bad as tobacco odor, but don't really know what the answer is.

a-1521153297 Mar 15, 2018 03:34 PM
Cannabis Growing Rapidly in Carpinteria

Prohibition sure as heck was enforced! I dare you to go say that to any of the millions of people incarcerated for marijuana related "crimes." Time to wake up gramps.

Factotum Mar 15, 2018 02:52 PM
Cannabis Growing Rapidly in Carpinteria

Prohibition was never enforced. Apparently you are the one who needs to go back to school on this issue. Colorado is having major problems at many levels after making pot easy to get. Auto accidents, vagrants, young people getting access. Pot, like alcohol, is corrosive and should never be encouraged, let alone celebrated.

Factotum Mar 15, 2018 11:20 AM
Cannabis Growing Rapidly in Carpinteria

The active ingredients of pot have long been available as a dose controlled prescription drug. Pot does not need to be made universally 'legal" for any alleged medical use. Facts always make better arguments ,than sheer anecdote.

Fitness1 Mar 15, 2018 11:11 AM
Cannabis Growing Rapidly in Carpinteria

Well, I lost my best friend at age 32 to cancer and pot was the only thing that alleviated her pain in those last awful months. I personally would rather it be grown legally than in the National Forest by the cartels who tear up native vegetation, divert streams for irrigation and spread swaths of pesticides. Let's not forget the Le Brea fire in '09 started at an illegal pot grow & burned 89K acres. Rangers found an AK-47 at the site. Yeah, not what I want in my National Forest.

Yeti Mar 15, 2018 08:42 AM
Cannabis Growing Rapidly in Carpinteria

Like all political issues, just follow the money. The County of Santa Barbara has chosen to sacrifice Carpinteria for their personal revenue gains. Das Williams is VERY Close with the growers in Carpinteria, he is pushing for lax rules. Most of the politicians are probably in the same boat. All of the over building in Goleta and Santa Barbara and now the extra congestion is just another grab for money by our local politicians. The question is,when are people going to fight and reclaim their communities? Many of the growers are utilizing scrubbers for the exhaust from their operations. The big question IS this a requirement for ALL Growers? IF they are going to permit the growing in a residential area,they they should REQUIRE the air filtration. These operations are located immediately next door to multiple schools and residences. The solution is to either ban it outright or require filtration and elimination of all odors.

Factotum Mar 15, 2018 09:57 AM
Cannabis Growing Rapidly in Carpinteria

The state has recently wiped out all local zoning restrictions regarding housing. The state can trample on you any way they want. Since the state is desperate for pot tax revenues, you can count on them encouraging even pot production and pot tourism anyway they can. Remember this the next time you vote. The state in fact is

pstarSR Mar 15, 2018 08:38 AM
Cannabis Growing Rapidly in Carpinteria

open air greenhouses will have a hard time installing air scrubbers without building sealing structures. some grows are just a canopy. Im sorry the smell has become offensive to some, but I also say growing flowers with manure is offensive but people seemed to accept it, being close to agriculture is part of what carp is. You dont get to choose the agriculture you are near though, I used to work in the valley and a neighboring ranch had cows............WOW cows do NOT smell good. I was building vehicles, so NOT agriculture. But I could not justify complaining about what another property owner choose to do on their property they owned, without realizing that it is personal preference and personal dislikes that make it offensive to me. Im not asking for blind acceptance, but the rush of complaints during the beginning of this legalization process seems more like anti-pot fights rather than anti- smell fights. It was voted and legalized, lets work together to figure out how to make it work for everyone.

Factotum Mar 15, 2018 09:58 AM
Cannabis Growing Rapidly in Carpinteria

Two issues: coming on your own volition to a known nuisance; and have a new nuisance inflicted on you after you are already here.

Roger Mar 15, 2018 08:13 AM
Cannabis Growing Rapidly in Carpinteria

Will I'm sorry I voted for alot of things, and people who end up bought off but that is the way it is they reek of money and are fattened up by greed like little greasy politicians....Bull Manure is a nicer odor than them...Public intoxication of weed now that is a good one just because someone smells like weed lolololololo Where do you go that you cannot smell people reeking of alcohol and urine that odor seems to be in the air more than the otter.

GeneralTree Mar 15, 2018 07:42 AM
Cannabis Growing Rapidly in Carpinteria

So it's ok when Carp smells like flowers but not when it smells like the Cannabis plant? I'd be much more worried about Carp's gang and crime issues.

CoastWatch Mar 15, 2018 07:38 AM
Cannabis Growing Rapidly in Carpinteria

This is an excellent article and points to the limited information and ability for public input within our County system.
There is absolutely NO REASON that growers can not install AIR SCRUBBERS on their greenhouse operations. With the amount of money growers are netting, a scrubber system would be a minimal cost at best.

CoastWatch Mar 15, 2018 11:54 AM
Cannabis Growing Rapidly in Carpinteria

Channelfog, you are clearly , (through the fog) a pot proponent. The least "Pot Incorporated" can do is be a good neighbor. The County will need to step in a regulate (tax them too) the growers to install industrial scrubbers in any commercial grow operation... This is an opportunity for the Pro - Pot activists to stop being so self-serving and greedy and do the right thing.

Channelfog Mar 15, 2018 11:16 AM
Cannabis Growing Rapidly in Carpinteria

Air scrubbers? Since when has agriculture been odor free? I too dislike the chemical/pesticide issue and favor organically grown anything, but again, since when has agriculture in Carp or anywhere else been chemical/pesticide free?

420722 Mar 15, 2018 07:37 AM
Cannabis Growing Rapidly in Carpinteria

At the rate we’re going your school is more likely to have a lock down or a shooting than the potshops or growers are to have ANY type issue. Pot has been growing in carp for a while now and there have not been any problems other than complaints by people that hate it.

Factotum Mar 15, 2018 10:52 AM
Cannabis Growing Rapidly in Carpinteria

Mass shooters show a disturbing history and numbers of psychotropic drugs use. Pay attention to both issues; they are not mutually exclusive.

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