Friday, October 19 , 2018, 10:08 pm | Fair 67º


Goleta Planning Panel Weighs Recreational and Commercial Marijuana Growth

Commissioners debate whether to allow people to grow pot outdoors

Dr. David Bearman, left, Planning Commission Chair Katie Maynard, and Commissioner Ed Fuller exchange views on marijuana cultivation in the city of Goleta at a meeting Monday night. Click to view larger
Dr. David Bearman, left, Planning Commission Chair Katie Maynard, and Commissioner Ed Fuller exchange views on marijuana cultivation in the city of Goleta at a meeting Monday night. ( Joshua Molina / Noozhawk Photo)

Pot is coming out of the closet — and possibly into the backyard, shopping mall and warehouse.

The city of Goleta took another step toward regulating recreational and commercial growth of marijuana at a workshop Monday evening at City Hall. About 40 people attended the Planning Commission meeting.

Among the issues that Goleta is wrestling with is whether to allow people to grow marijuana outdoors. The new state law that goes into effect on Jan. 1 allows a people to grow up to six marijuana plants for personal use, but cities have the power to force people to grow indoors, instead of outdoors.

“I have the misfortune of living next door to a marijuana greenhouse,” said Goleta resident Mike Miller. “The skunk smell is constant. We get the constant fan noise. There are direct impacts on the neighborhood.”

The committee provided bottled water, granola bars and mixed nuts to those in the audience for the meeting that lasted four hours. 

Goleta dispensary owner Mark Russell, however, urged the commission to allow outdoor marijuana growing.

“Outdoor is a lot less expensive,” Russell said. “It’s also easy to see so you know if someone is getting excessive.”

Two of the commissioners supported outdoor growing.

“An outright ban for outdoor cultivation seems to be undue at this point,” said Commissioner Eric Onnen. He was backed by commissioner Ed Fuller.

“They’re plants, and plants like to live outdoors,” Fuller said. “Outdoors is the best place for plants to grow.”

Commissioner Robert Miller was sympathetic to the residents’ concerns.

Members of the public write down ideas on paper during a workshop about recreational and commercial marijuana growing in the city of Goleta. Click to view larger
Members of the public write down ideas on paper during a workshop about recreational and commercial marijuana growing in the city of Goleta. ( Joshua Molina / Noozhawk Photo)

“I don’t know of other plants that have these noxious smells,” Miller said. “The smell issue concerns me, and I would really like to know more about that.”

Goleta resident Cecilia Brown urged the commission to ban outdoor growth for personal use.

“I don’t feel that neighbors should bear the impact of the these grows as a result of the smell,” Brown said. “With outdoor grows, there are huge impacts. It’s about a neighborhood. It’s about the integrity of a neighborhood. I don’t do things that impact my neighbors and I don’t think they should do things that impact me either.

"I don’t think this is something that should be inflicted on neighbors.”

Deputy Goleta City Attorney Winnie Cai said if Goleta allows outdoor growing, it has the power to require residents to make sure the plants are not visible to the public, place them inside a fenced area and require renters to get permission from property owners before growing.

The commission leaned toward banning commercial cultivation outdoors on agriculture sites.

“I would recommend that we prohibit outdoor and mixed light commercial cultivation,” said Commissioner Katie Maynard.

The other commissioners agreed with her, although Onnen said he was open to it.

“Outdoor mixed-light uses could be a possibility,” Onnen said.

Brown, a member of the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission, strongly urged the city to ban commercial outdoor cultivation. She said the people of Carpinteria are reeling from the impacts.

“Odor, odor, odor, odor, odor. It is horrendous,” Brown said. "It’s awful. They can’t get away from it. You are going to need an odor control plan."

Bishop Ranch is the largest agricultural area.

Homeowner Miller also opposed outdoor growing for businesses.

“That skunk smell is really obnoxious,” Miller said. “To think of this as a full scale grove, that would  be horrible for our community. If you envision letting things go rampant in Goleta, that is the image we would have — ‘Come to Goleta and experience the skunk smell.’”

The commission was more supportive of allowing indoor commercial cultivation, but expressed concerns about the potential impacts on other types of businesses, and creating marijuana strip malls.

“I am concerned particularly about Old Town Goleta,” Maynard said. “We have a lot of small businesses. There’s a strong incentive there to change everything to cannabis and that concerns me. I worry that if cannabis does turn out to be more profitable than other businesses, that it does raise the rent so that other businesses couldn’t be there.”

Russell said he has been growing commercially in the city of Goleta for 13 years.

“Over the past 13 years, the Goleta City Council has gotten exactly zero complaints from our cultivation,” Russell said.

Russell added that industrial areas, and those away from schools and neighborhoods, are perfect for indoor cultivation because they are near other businesses that have odors.

“I am a parent,” Russell said. “I wouldn’t want joints in the sandbox. Living in Goleta for 30 years, it’s all about being a good neighbor.”

The commission also discussed whether to allow marijuana nurseries, distribution, retail storefronts, testing, buffer zones and the permitting process.

The commission will meet again next Monday to take a final vote before the City Council makes the ultimate decision.

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.