Cannabis farms will have to use odor- control systems earlier in the permitting process, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors decided Tuesday after years of nuisance complaints from neighbors of marijuana farms.

That change was one of several the supervisors made to the county’s ordinance governing the commercial cannabis industry.

The board decided to ban cultivation on smaller, inland AG-1-zoned properties, implement a cap on cultivation acreage, and change the administrative process to speed up permitting.

The specific changes approved Tuesday on a 4-1 vote, with Supervisor Peter Adam dissenting, include: capping cultivation at 1,575 acres countywide (outside the 186-acre cap in the Carpinteria Valley); requiring existing cultivators to demonstrate odor-control system effectiveness during the business license application process; and concurrently processing permit and business license applications.

They also voted 4-1, with Supervisor Steve Lavagnino dissenting, to ask staff to develop a merit-based scoring system for cannabis retail storefronts, since the county has a cap on dispensaries.

The city of Santa Barbara, which has a cap of three dispensaries, used a scoring system to pick which applicants to permit, while other jurisdictions have used lotteries.

“The pro to lottery is we’re hands-off; the con is we might not get the operator that we want,” Lavagnino said.

Deputy County Executive Officer Dennis Bozanich noted that the county will dually license any storefront operator to sell medical and adult-use marijuana.

The county’s cap allows eight dispensaries total, with no more than one allowed in each of the six community plan areas of Orcutt, Los Alamos, Santa Ynez, the eastern Goleta Valley, Isla Vista/Goleta, and Summerland/Toro Canyon.

Jay Freeman, a member of the Isla Vista Community Services District board of directors, asked the county to develop a scoring system, rather than a random drawing, for picking storefront operators.

“Basically, a local monopoly is being constructed, and if there is one operator, it becomes very important that you pick a good operator,” he said during Tuesday’s public comment.

Several residents and members of the wine industry on Tuesday asked the supervisors to consider capping cultivation acreage per parcel. The supervisors have asked the Planning Commission to consider how to address cannabis-related agricultural conflicts, such as the pesticide issue with avocado orchards and vineyards.

Appeal of Carpinteria Valley cannabis farm

The supervisors unanimously voted to deny an appeal of a Carpinteria Valley cannabis farm at 3561 Foothill Road.

Applicant Graham Farrar also operates nearby Glass House Farms, which he says has been growing marijuana for about four years.

The new farm was appealed by Maureen Claffey, with the Concerned Carpinterians community group, to the Planning Commission, which denied the appeal, and then to the Board of Supervisors.

Claffey and the group have concerns about the proposed odor-abatement plan for the project, and say the programmatic environmental impact report for cannabis did not address project-specific impacts, including air quality.

There was a lot of discussion about the Byers Scientific vapor phase system that releases chemicals to neutralize the cannabis odors. It’s been used at landfills and is now deployed at a dozen Carpinteria Valley cannabis farms.

The Planning Commission added conditions when it denied the appeal in early June, requiring permit compliance staff to inspect the property’s odor-control system after installation, and quarterly for a year.

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

A stylized hawk's head on a red background

Giana Magnoli, Noozhawk Managing Editor

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at