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Saturday, March 23 , 2019, 8:31 pm | A Few Clouds 58º


From Our Inbox: Letters to the Editor for Week Ending March 23, 2018

On behalf of the Santa Barbara Women’s Political Committee, I’m writing to inform the community about two bills sponsored by Rep. Salud Carbajal, D-Santa Barbara, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.

The Gun Violence Restraining Order Act (HR 2598) and Gun Violence Prevention Order Act (S 1212) would codify gun violence restraining orders into federal law, allowing law enforcement or family members to petition the court to prevent individuals shown to be a danger to themselves or others from having access to firearms.

These restraining orders are based on the existing domestic violence protective order process, ensuring due process and the ability to appeal a court order at any time.

Gun violence restraining orders became law in California in 2014 in response to the Isla Vista shooting. Rep. Carbajal and Sen. Feinstein reintroduced this federal legislation in May 2017, on the third anniversary of the shooting.

March for Our Lives is on Saturday. We would like to encourage the community to support our representatives in pursuing a safer country for all. Please contact them to share your support for common-sense gun control, and also share this message with those outside of Santa Barbara County. These bills are making headway in Congress with bipartisan support, so the more constituents who call and urge their representatives to sign on to HR 2598 and S 1212, the better.

Lives are literally at stake. We urge everyone to step up regarding these bills, and also to join our students at the March for Our Lives on March 24.

Catherine Swysen
President, Santa Barbara Women’s Political Committee

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I was happy to see Giana Magnoli’s article, “Santa Barbara County Considering Caps for Cannabis Cultivation.” It was very informative.

Personally, I am very upset with the massive growth of pot being grown in the Carpinteria area. It has become one of the pot capitals of California. Every day I go to town from Shepard Mesa Hill, I smell the “skunk” stench coming from pot-growing greenhouses At night, I can see the greenhouses growing pot, all lit up.

As a long-time resident of the Carpinteria Valley, I am angered and saddened by what is happening. The phrase “money is the root of all evil” comes to mind.

Diana Thorn

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Six weeks after 57 percent of Lompoc voters passed Proposition 64, Lompoc city staff, including then-City Manager Patrick Wiemiller, City Attorney Joe Pannone and both the police chief and former fire chief initiated, drafted or supported a city ordinance to ban adult-use “recreational” cannabis businesses in opposition to the voters’ directive.

Ultimately, the Lompoc City Council rejected the staff ordinance, created an ad-hoc committee that dived into a five-month-long discussion on cannabis, in which not one person in opposition to cannabis participated, concluded by recommending full legalization and regulation.

The response from opposed staff? Fear mongering. The Lompoc city attorney painted a picture to the council of gun battles in the streets of Lompoc should they move toward regulation with the police chief having echoed similar remarks on several occasions.

Then, like a scene out of Reefer Madness, as a result of staff's fear mongering, the churches and opponents of regulation decried that the children would be placed in immediate danger by having easy access to cannabis; as if investors planned to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to become a licensed and permitted business so that they could open their doors to the children on Day One.

When the fear mongering failed and a vote to legalize and regulate cannabis was apparent to pass, the threats began. Before voting to adopt ordinance 1640(17), Mayor Bob Lingl attempted to thwart the council’s vote by threatening that a secret group of angry citizens would meet the very next day to file a referendum and collect 10 percent of voters’ signatures to stall the ordinance and force it to a direct vote by the citizens in November 2018. The council persevered and passed the ordinance.

Of course, the end result was that the referendum was defeated as a result of failing to acquire 10 percent of voters’ signatures after Santa Barbara County election officials tossed out 600 invalid signatures. Cannabis activists and supporters cheered at the announcement; the debate was finally over and a cannabis-friendly ordinance was in effect allowing for business to commence.

But that wasn’t the case. In fact, as of this writing the city has yet to issue even one permit. A buffer zone map created by Pannone, designed to help give an idea of where cannabis business can operate, has become the latest obstacle for business owners. He has declined to identify his markings or why they have been excluded. Additionally, the markings on the map continue to change, leaving investors to scratch their heads and hope that the buildings they lease that are in an approved area today, don’t suddenly become leases to buildings now outside of the approved area due to a change in Pannone’s maps. These changes continue to happen because of his loose interpretation of defining what businesses can be classified as a “youth center,” which is another point of controversy.

As if the obstacles weren’t enough, cannabis business and advocates appear to be victims of discrimination from the city clerk’s office. Lompoc City Clerk Stacy Haddon appears biased and her personal objections seem to be carrying over and affecting her duties to be impartial and balanced.

On March 6, Haddon took it upon herself to provide the public with copies of a letter addressed to the City Council from a dance studio in opposition to nearby cannabis businesses but refused to print and make available a pro-cannabis email to the City Council that specifically requested to be made available for public comment. In fact, the email wasn’t even provided to the council members until after the city attorney instructed her to do so after a complaint.

Perhaps it’s time to revert the city clerk position to an elected office similar to the county clerk-recorder’s position, to ensure that the nonpartisan city clerk’s office remains neutral, objective and impartial.

The problems in Lompoc are not generated from the dais, but rather from some of the city staff who refuse to do their duty by following the directives from the elected policy-makers.

Joe A. Garcia
Lompoc cannabis activist and interim president and founder of the Lompoc Valley Cannabis Coalition

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