Name: Karen Nall
Job: Senior planner
Organization: San Luis Obispo County Planning and Building Department What she said then:
In 2005, San Luis Obispo County began working on an agricultural tourism project that sought to update rules for temporary events, lodging, recreation and other activities on rural land.
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In June 2010, the Follow-Up File reported that the county was still working on revisions to the temporary events ordinance. The Planning Commission had handed the matter back to the Board of Supervisors for better direction on the ordinance’s goals, said Karen Nall, the senior planner overseeing the project.
“We had an ag tourism package of other things we wanted to address: bed-and-breakfasts, roadside stands, olive oil processing and tasting,” she said last year. “We splintered off events and it’s taken so much time we haven’t gotten back to other things.”
The Planning and Building Department worked with local agricultural, residential and environmental groups in crafting the event ordinance. It addresses about 20 areas including traffic, noise, lighting, dust and parking related to events.
It seeks to create more standardized rules and a simpler process for agriculturists planning a few events each year.
What they say now:
The Planning Commission continues to wrestle with the event ordinance details. On Thursday, it will review the most recent proposed changes and invite the public to weigh in again.
As proposed, planning staff have crafted an ordinance that creates a tiered system of review that would apply to weddings, fundraisers or other events held at non-winery agricultural sites.
“Once the Planning Commission makes their recommendation, the recommended ordinance will go to the Board of Supervisors for final action,” Nall said recently. “The Coastal Zone Land Use Ordinance changes will need to go onto the Coastal Commission for final action.”
In meetings on March 31 and June 9, commissioners considered a variety of opinions about impacts on neighbors, soil and roads, as well as expectations for safety.
“This ordinance is trying to address a huge range of events,” said commissioner Carlyn Christianson on June 9. “The idea, for me at least, is to take each one of these sections and look at it as though it was going to be a huge event versus a little event and make sure it makes sense under all circumstances.”
As proposed, it would create a “ministerial permit” to allow rural landowners a low-cost, over-the-counter option for fewer than 12 events a year.
But they must also meet requirements related to road access, size, amplified sound, parking and other conditions. If not, they can apply for a more expensive minor use permit or a conditional use permit and have a hearing.
Nonprofit events were also a concern for the Board of Supervisors.
“Currently, the temporary event ordinance exempts nonprofit events,” said Nall in March. “It still has impacts so (the board) wanted the nonprofit events to be treated similarly to other events.”
One of the changes to be considered Thursday is language limiting nonprofits to groups registered under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. That would exempt political organizations.
For an over-the-counter permit, sites that only have nonprofit events would be limited to three one-day celebrations a year. If they attract more than 175 people, there would be limits on parking and a requirement to shuttle guests from urban or village areas.