Goleta to call on Winchester Canyon cannabis farm



Planned pot plantings for Winchester Canyon Road raised objections from the city of Goleta in 2019, as the county finalized its cannabis rules, with the city pleading for a mile between crops and homes. Now that a cannabis farm just outside the city’s borders has received county approval, Goleta has signaled his intention to appeal the project.

The applicant, White Light Cannabis Cultivation, plans to plant 17 acres of cannabis at 222 Winchester Canyon Road, both in nurseries and outdoors. The 349-acre property sits approximately half a mile from the Winchester Canyon and Winchester Commons neighborhoods along the west side of Cathedral Oaks Road, and it has registered cannabis odor complaints in 2019 and 2020. The canyon is also known for the occasional drift of hydrogen sulfide, a gas which is “extremely flammable” and “highly toxic” and whose effects “can occur even at low concentrations,” said Peter Imhof, planning director of the town of Goleta.

Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) has a strong rotten egg smell because of the sulfur it contains. Dangerously, the human nose quickly adapts to the smell, which has resulted in fatalities in industrial refineries from accidental releases. The property held permits related to oil and gas well exploration in the 1980s, and the last high-profile hydrogen sulfide release from Goleta in 2016 was attributed to an agricultural well being drilled in Winchester Canyon. People up to Ellwood Bluffs, about a mile and a half away, got sick and reported headaches and nausea.

Although White Light has offered to add H2S monitors to the cannabis farm, the city believes the monitors are inadequate and that an environmental impact report specific to this property is needed.

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To accommodate the hundreds of ongoing cannabis projects, the county has drafted a Programmatic Environmental Impact Report, or PEIR, to cover them all as it prepares its land use regulations for cannabis, that do not set any buffer between homes and properties zoned AG-II. Imhof observed that the county PEIR considered all AG-II plots to be away from residential uses; However, he said, “this project is next to a large existing residential area.” He added that “continued drought can exacerbate H2S odors with less readily available groundwater and a need to pump from deeper sources and / or for longer periods.”

In addition to the smell of H2S, the project’s odor reduction plan only affects its drying and processing buildings, Imhof said. The odors are also believed to come from sources other than produce, argues the city, as well as nursery and waste storage areas. Traffic impacts were another feature of the project that was not adequately addressed for this area of ​​the PEIR, he said, which only offered a “one size fits all†condition for management. of transport demand.

Discern who owns what is opaque in the world of land use, as partnerships form, dissolve and are frequently renamed. The cannabis applicant for canyon ownership is Winchester LLC, according to County Planning records. The LLC shares an address with Paul Garrett, a name that appears on the property’s permit file dating back to 2003; Garrett is a Temecula-based real estate investor. The claimant, who is locally represented by private developer Jay Higgins, did not respond to requests for comment.

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