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Cannabis retail storefront applicant scoresheets OK’d by Santa Barbara County supervisors
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Cannabis retail storefront applicant scoresheets OK’d by Santa Barbara County supervisors

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Two scoresheets that will be used to decide which individuals or companies will get to apply for six cannabis retail storefront permits were approved Tuesday by the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors after increasing the weight given to the onsite parking and traffic plans.

Supervisors voted 4-1, with 1st District Supervisor Das Williams dissenting, to approve the business operations and neighborhood compatibility scoresheets with the parking plan increased from 10% to 15% of the score and the odor control plan reduced from 10% to 5%.

Fourth District Supervisor Peter Adam made the motion to approve the scoresheets with the shift in weighting from odor control to parking after 3rd District Supervisor Joan Hartmann questioned whether odor was even a problem in retail sales and 5th District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino said parking was a bigger issue.

“There’s nothing that can get a community upset quicker than parking,” Lavagnino said.

Williams said he would second the motion if the site visit was reduced from 20% to 15% and the community involvement portion was raised from 35% to 40% of the total score.

But Lavagnino said he didn’t want to rewrite the whole scoresheet and thought the shift in weighting from odor to parking was a simple solution to an imbalance, so he seconded the motion, and Williams ultimately voted “no.”

The board adopted the scoresheets after hearing from about a dozen members of the public, all but one of whom opposed the process of selecting where cannabis retail stores would be located and most of whom objected to the potential for a store along Santa Claus Lane between Carpinteria and Summerland.

They predicted an influx of criminal elements, the loss of tourism and the complete death of the Santa Claus Lane businesses if a cannabis retail store were allowed to open there.

“I have heard some of this dialogue and some of these fears before,” Williams said. “I do think there are some preconceptions people have that are wrong.”

But he also said he would not vote to locate a store in Santa Claus Lane unless there was a huge shift in public opinion.

Only Devin Wardlow, director of public affairs for Coastal Dispensary, supported the scoresheets, but even she thought some of the weight should be taken from the odor control plan, although she wanted it applied to a new category she called a “history of community support.”

“I like the plan that we have,” Lavagnino said after hearing public comments. “There is no perfect solution. I understand there are places these stores will work and places they will not work. I think we have a great tool before us to weed out and find the best location that works for everybody.”

Then he corrected himself and said no plan would make everybody happy, but he agreed with Adam’s assertion that it would zero in on “the least worst” site.

He pointed out that the residents of Orcutt had said emphatically they do not want a cannabis retail store in Old Town, and that would be factored into the selection process.

Steven Yee, fiscal and policy analyst for the County Executive Office, said with the scoresheets adopted, the county will probably issue a notice that applications are available for cannabis retail store permits in six community plan areas — Orcutt, Los Alamos, Santa Ynez Valley, Isla Vista, Eastern Goleta Valley and the combined Toro Canyon and Summerland communities.

Applications will be accepted for a seven-day period starting 30 days after the notice is issued, Yee said.

The business operations plan will be evaluated by the county’s business licensing team as well as a yet-to-be-chosen independent third party, with the county team’s score weighted at 25% and the third-party score weighted at 75%.

Only businesses with an aggregate score of 85% will move on to the next phase, when their neighborhood compatibility plans will be evaluated and scored by a committee consisting of an assistant county executive officer and two senior staff members.

Yee said the applicant that ranks highest in each community plan area will then have 90 days to submit a permit application and business license application.

If an applicant is disqualified or fails to obtain a use permit and business license, the applicant who placed second in scoring for that community plan area will be able to submit permit and license applications.

Yee said he expects the first permits and licenses to be issued next spring.

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