I have lived in Lompoc since 1975. One of the best things about our community was that we could open our windows in the evening hours to allow fresh, cool evening and nighttime breezes to cool our homes. That era seems to be over for many people in the community.

Two commercial cannabis processing facilities recently began operations in commercial/industrial buildings on West Central Avenue. Noozhawk recently reported that new permit applications include “10 for manufacturing, five for cultivation, seven for processing.”

There are several residential and retail areas to the east of the parcels planned for these new operations.

In the last couple of months, a pungent, skunk-like odor of cannabis has been carried by winds blowing from west-to-east along the Central Avenue corridor.

If the additional manufacturing, cultivation and processing operations are approved and begin operations, these odors will become more frequent and intense if the city doesn’t require and enforce strict odor control requirements.
 
These obnoxious odors occur during the week after normal business hours and on weekends beginning in the early evening (7-8 p.m.), late night (10 p.m.-midnight), and in the very early morning hours. The odor lasts for 30 minutes to several hours and does not appear to be limited to any one day of the week.

Since there are no growing operations west of town, and since the only other cannabis project currently in operation on West Central Avenue consists of sealed and refrigerated cargo containers of packaged products, these odors are most likely coming from the buildings in the 1600 block.

I have submitted several Citizen Concern Forms using the city website, but have received no status or acknowledgement of receipt to date. The sound of silence on this growing public nuisance from the city is deafening.

Several currently serving members of the City Council voted to allow this industry to operate over the objections of many citizens; these folks were especially concerned about the potential for skunk like odors that would be permeating the town.

It seems they were correct; by approving these operations and failing to assure that odors were contained on site the City Council has subjected a large portion of the north end of Lompoc to a significantly altered quality of life. Other projects are in the planning process, so the issue will only get worse unless they take immediate action to remedy the situation.

The city of Lompoc establishes odor control limitations for cultivation within the city limits “Cannabis cultivation as a commercial cannabis activity is permitted in the Industrial (I) and Business Park (BP) zoning districts. Cultivation shall take place within a fully enclosed structure.”

Specially engineered ventilation and air filtering systems are also required to preclude the escape of odors from the facility.
 
However, even though technology exists to retain odors within the building of origin, I can find no specific standard on the city website for controlling odors while processing the harvested product.

Santa Barbara County doesn’t require odor control on properties zoned AG-2; one such growing operation exists less than a mile east of the city and others are planned. So, if the wind blows from the east, we will also be subjected to those skunky odors.

In California a “public nuisance” includes anything thatt± is injurious to health, or offensive to the senses; and these odors are exactly that – “offensive to the senses.”

The people of Carpentaria and Buellton can understand what I am talking about. It took months of legal wrangling and costly legal representation for the people of Carpentaria to get some sort of resolution to their odor problem.
 
I urge city officials to discuss this situation with cannabis manufacturing and processing facility operators, and then hold public hearings to resolve this matter. In my view the only reasonable solution is to provide an engineering/operational control solution that does not allow these odors to escape the processing facility.

— Ron Fink, a Lompoc resident since 1975, is retired from the aerospace industry. He has been following Lompoc politics since 1992, and after serving for 23 years appointed to various Lompoc commissions, retired from public service. The opinions expressed are his own.

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Marcia Heller, Noozhawk Copy Editor | @noozhawknews

— Marcia Heller is a copy editor for Noozhawk. Contact her at mheller@noozhawk.com.