An inside look at a marijuana growing operation
A temporary urgency ordinance that limits the number of marijuana farms in unincorporated areas and requires growers to register their operations with San Luis Obispo County has been extended for a year or until county supervisors adopt a permanent ordinance.
Following a boom of marijuana farms in California Valley, the board in September 2016 adopted an urgency ordinance limiting commercial marijuana grows to those already in the ground as of Aug. 23, 2016, and prohibited those operations from expanding. The measure also required growers to take other measures such as installing fencing, site setbacks from neighboring parcels, posting addresses and requiring cultivation sites to meet applicable building codes.
The ordinance contains exemptions for medical marijuana patients or caregivers who meet certain criteria.
The board extended the temporary rules for an additional 10 months in October 2016, and it was set to expire Sept. 19 before Tuesday’s vote.
According to a county staff report, 455 growers have applied to register with the county, 288 of those in California Valley. Among the others, 89 applicants were in the North County, 48 in the South County and four in San Luis Obispo. The county has approved 335 of those applications.
The board also voted Tuesday to move forward with an amendment to county code that will allow for the issuance of licenses for cannabis businesses. That will also come back before the board for a public hearing Oct. 3.
Since adopting the urgency ordinance, the county has filed civil lawsuits in San Luis Obispo Superior Court against several growers the county says are out of compliance and a “public nuisance” — noting that they are having an adverse impact on water resources, sensitive animal habitat, energy consumption and public safety.