Following a court order and upon request, the County Executive Office publishes the nominations and scorecards of the teams that competed for five of the six cannabis dispensaries that will be licensed in the unincorporated Santa Barbara County. in society.
Applicants to the Los Alamos, Santa Ynez, Isla Vista, Eastern Goleta Valley, and Carpinteria Valley dispensaries can now obtain their own final score sheets and their competitors’ preliminary and final score sheets, as well as copies of competitor applications ( with safety information redacted), by emailing Brittany Heaton, the county’s top cannabis analyst, at [email protected].
Members of the public, Heaton said, can request the same information.
Nominations and game sheets for Orcutt will not be released yet, Heaton said. The county’s selection process for a cannabis dispensary has been put on hold, pending the outcome of a trial in Santa Barbara Superior Court.
The release of documents kept secret for months was ordered by Superior Court Judge Colleen Sterne from June 11, in a lawsuit brought against the county by the Natural Healing Center Orcutt 405. The center is the co-owned by Helios Dayspring, a cannabis grower who bought the Old Town Market at 405 East Clark Street in Orcutt last year. He was hoping to sell cannabis there, but the center failed to qualify for the final round of the one-point competition.
On May 21, Sterne issued an interim order confirming the county’s scoring methods for the center, which included a review of the neighborhood’s business operations and compatibility. At the same time, the judge ordered the county to return to the center the tally sheets and applications of all applicants for the cannabis storefront, except Orcutt, and she scheduled another hearing for July 23.
At that hearing, the Natural Healing Center (NHC) again alleges that the county’s rating was “arbitrary and capricious,” this time armed with examples of other applications, said Randy Fox, the center’s attorney. All that the center needs, he said, is one more point.
“We say we belong to the final group,” Fox said. “In my opinion, the county should have published all the requests as soon as they were submitted so that the public would know who had requested; but they didn’t, so we had to go through the legal process to get them. NHC is lucky because they realized what was going on very early on and they took their case to the judge. “
The county’s case, as noted in an April 16 court brief, reads: “There is no factual or legal basis to reassess NHC’s claim and award additional points.”
Demonstration in Los Alamos
Across the county, 22 teams demanded the right to open cannabis dispensaries in unincorporated areas, and eight of the losing candidates, including the Natural Healing Center and Cottonwood Roots in Los Alamos, sent letters of protest. after the county released the preliminary rankings in March, Heaton said. Some have requested copies of their rivals’ candidacies and scoresheets, she said; they were told that “withholding this information is in the public interest” until the final ranking has been released.
“None of the standings changed between the preliminary standings and the final,” Heaton said.
On April 30, the county announced the final ranking of five dispensaries in cannabis.countyofsb.org/retail.sbc. The top-ranked teams have until July 30 to apply for a zoning permit from County Planning and Development.
One team that filed a scoring protest earlier this year was Cottonwood Roots of Los Alamos, a group that enjoyed almost unanimous support from local businesses and handed over 120 signatures on letters of support from business owners and residents. The county assigned a slightly higher overall rating to Haven X LLC, a company with a chain of cannabis dispensaries in Southern California.
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The Cottonwood Roots team filed Public Records Act applications with the county on April 2 and again on June 2, finally getting copies this week of their own final score sheet and the score sheet and of Haven’s request.
Austen Connella, Cottonwood Roots team leader, cannabis grower and member of the Central Coast Cannabis Council, a trade association, said it was frustrating not to have received the documents earlier, during the period of 10 day call, “when we had an opportunity to do something about it.
“It looks like Santa Barbara County has decided to do the majority of the process behind closed doors,” he said. “Los Alamos is so small and so tight-knit, having local operators who are really in tune with the community seemed like the best fit for us.”
Adrienne Veillette, resident of Los Alamos and the team’s community liaison officer, said: “We asked for transparency: I feel these documents are the bare minimum. We still don’t know why we marked what we did.
Recently released scorecards show Cottonwood Roots scored much higher than Haven on neighborhood compatibility and community involvement, but much lower on a site visit.
“This is where the cards fall,” Heaton said. “There has to be a winner, and therefore there was no tie.”
Santa Claus Lane protest
The county held six “virtual” community workshops last July to review the selection criteria for neighborhood compatibility and business operations of future cannabis storefronts. In August, the county supervisory board adopted the criteria.
Before the county ranked candidates for the cannabis showcase, Heaton said, “The public had a lot of opportunities to weigh in. We have posted the names of the candidates online with their addresses, separated by community plan area. They could look at a map online and people could give general feedback on why a location would or wouldn’t be compatible. “
Unlike the city of Santa Barbara, however, the county has not held public hearings in which every applicant for a dispensary (in the case of the city, dispensaries, and manufacturing and distribution centers) has presented its plans, answered questions from county staff and heard from the public.
Now, on Santa Claus Lane, where one of the county’s six dispensaries is offered, business owners are protesting what they see as a deal that was made “out of the public eye.” They want to know how the county determined the “neighborhood compatibility” of a dispensary next to Padaro Beach amid burger restaurants, boutiques, surf shops and kids’ surf camps.
Last year, citing parking congestion and safety concerns, the Morehart Land Co., which owns the Padaro Beach Grill, presented 165 signatures to the County Oversight Board last year on a petition opposing a Cannabis store front on Santa Claus Lane.
“Think of Santa Claus with a joint in his mouth,” one resident wrote on the interactive county map.
And in a letter to the board last year, Steven Kent and Nancy Rikalo, longtime owners of the track’s largest commercial building, asked, “Where would the influx of cannabis consumers park? … We would literally be overwhelmed. The chaos and congestion that this would create is simply not conceivable. “
“The worst place”
Today, on behalf of Kent and Rikalo, Jana Zimmer, senior counsel and former Santa Barbara County deputy councilor, says she has filed three requests for public documents in an attempt to find out how the county determined that Santa Claus Lane was a suitable location for a cannabis showcase but Montecito, Summerland, Vandenberg Village and the Cuyama Valley were not.
The county has considered two applications for cannabis storefronts on Santa Claus Lane. Zimmer said she had requested all documents showing the county had conducted an analysis of the parking lot overflow or the potential impact of a dispensary on public beach access, given the competition for parking .
“This is probably the worst place on the South Coast where they could put one,” Zimmer said. “We asked for documents. We did not get any that were relevant to how the decision was made. It was done completely out of public view in an opaque process. There is no indication that the county has taken into account any of the masses of opposition it has on its record. It’s just ridiculous.
In a public comment at a cannabis hearing on June 22, Zimmer asked the supervisory board to “revoke the site designation”; the supervisors did not respond.
In an interview, Heaton said it wasn’t the board of directors that chose Santa Claus Lane for a cannabis storefront. The cannabis industry, she said, “found what they thought was the best site” in the larger area of Toro Canyon, Summerland and the western Carpinteria Valley, one of the six unincorporated communities chosen by the board of directors for a cannabis dispensary.
The Summerland shopping area is located in the immediate vicinity of a school; no one asked for a cannabis showcase there, Heaton said. Regarding traffic, parking and public beach access on Santa Claus Lane, she said: “Many of these concerns and issues will be addressed in the licensing process.”
Melinda Burns volunteers as a freelance reporter in Santa Barbara as a community service; she offers her reports to several local publications at the same time, free of charge.
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