Cannabis farm appeal meeting.
Graham Farrar, at podium, and Jared Ficker, right, answer questions about the cannabis cultivation project at Glass House Farms in Carpinteria. Credit: Serena Guentz / Noozhawk photo

The Santa Barbara County Planning Commission voted unanimously Wednesday to deny an appeal against a cannabis cultivation project in the Carpinteria Valley, thus granting approval to the project.

The Concerned Carpinterians group appealed the project at Glass House Farms, owned by Graham Farrar and located at 5601 Casitas Pass Road in Carpinteria, citing concerns related to odor and parking.

Cannabis cultivation farm appeal meeting.
Sandra Weil speaks as she appeals the cannabis cultivation project planned for 5601 Casitas Pass Road in Carpinteria. Credit: Serena Guentz / Noozhawk photo

Sandra Weil, who spoke on behalf of Concerned Carpinterians, said there have been 538 odor complaints related to the cultivation project. However, Farrar said that many of those complaints cannot be verified, with several being the exact same complaint from one person multiple times per day.

“I’ve been before the Board of Supervisors talking about the odors, and we have been told that it really doesn’t affect us,” Weil said. “I am one person who has been affected by it, and I can say that I, today, am representing residents that live nearby this facility and those who live a distance away.”

Weil also spoke of the Benzaco Scientific Odor-Armor 420 vapor-phase systems that the farm, and several other cultivation sites, use for odor control, arguing that the vapor-phase does not work but is instead “emitting another chemical into Carpinteria’s air.”

She also said that Benzaco can cause health issues, such as respiratory issues or headaches, although the staff report for the item said there are “no known potential adverse human health effects associated with the vapor-phase system.”

Farrar said they have proactively updated the odor abatement plan ahead of the appeal hearing to include carbon scrubber technology — a filtration system for cannabis odor control — now, rather than one or two years from now.

“Unfortunately, this appeal has only delayed improvements; however, we did not sit idle during the last 10 months since our project approval,” Glass House Farms’ presentation said Wednesday. “We revised our [odor abatement plan] and will immediately commence implementing this plan, which includes installation of carbon scrubbers within our greenhouses.”

Additionally, according to the applicant’s presentation, the odor abatement plan was “informed by a site-specific air dispersion modeling study,” and the vapor-phase systems is intended as a “backup” system to the carbon scrubbers.

“I am thrilled that Mr. Farrar is going to be using regenerative carbon,” public commenter Gail Herson said. “I’m absolutely celebrating that you all are going to do this. What I want to be sure of is that you’re using enough of them.”

A condition for approval of the project was that the new odor abatement plan would be implemented as soon as reasonably possible, within 12 months of approval.

“I am a person that believes that, just as our 50 different states serve as a laboratory to make our country better, diversity in the way we do things and learn things — because we’re learning a lot in cannabis I think — is good,” Third District Commissioner John Parke said. “So, I support where we’re going here, even though last year’s edition of me might have asked for more.”