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SLO County considers changes to cannabis cultivation rules

Posted at 6:07 PM, Nov 08, 2018

Cannabis growing sites are popping up around San Luis Obispo County, but there’s heated discussion about what growers can and can’t do.

Industry workers want to be held to the same standards as any other agricultural farmer.

“Treat the cannabis cultivators as fairly as they treat berry growers or anybody else growing under hoop structures,” said Tony Keith, Green Road owner.

However, some neighbors of existing cannabis sites are concerned for their safety.

“Number one is the smell. Number two is the water. Number three is the traffic and number four is the crime,” said Christina Power, Arroyo Grande resident.

Power is asking for stricter requirements.

“We just feel like we are getting ousted out of our valley,” she said.

The SLO County Planning Commission held a public hearing Thursday to fine-tune the land use ordinance, discussing things like hoop structures, lighting and odor nuisance.

“With working through all these issues is striking that balance of what’s going to allow the cannabis industry to thrive as well as become compatible with the existing community,” said Rob Fitzroy, SLO County Planning and Building Deputy.

One cultivator hopes the county takes all growing techniques into consideration.

“We’d like to see them allow us to build hoop houses the same way berry crops are covered. We’d like them to allow us to do light deprivation, pull black-out tarps to induce flowering,” said Austen Connella, SLO CAL Roots Farm cultivator.

When it comes to cannabis, Connella says change is a constant.

“Things are continuously changing, not only at the state level, but as we are seeing today at the local level,” added Connella. “So it is hard to tell what direction we are going and to make a business plan and model and stick to it.”

The planning commission will hold another hearing on November 16 to review more proposed changes to the ordinance before it goes before the county board of supervisors.