Yolo Board of Supervisors approve cannabis land use ordinance

cannabis bud / marihuana plants
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The Yolo Board of Supervisors received the revised Cannabis Land Use Ordinance (CLUO) for discussion, public comment and board vote at their Sept. 14 meeting.

The CLUO contains regulatory requirements for permitting cannabis activities through land use, zoning, development and addresses operational activities, authorized zone locations, overconcentration controls and buffers from identified land uses.

Years in the making, Chief Assistant Director of Community Services Leslie Lindbo explained that the CLUO is not the end of the process, but marks the beginning of implementation. Thanking supervisors and staff for their guidance, she called the effort a “careful and thoughtful process. The result, she said, “is a really great cannabis land use ordinance.”

Under the CLUO, each cannabis business will be required to apply for a use permit and undergo a rigorous public process and individual site-specific environmental analysis and creates a countywide cap of 49 cultivation licenses and 65 conditional use licenses.

Lindbo said staff has been positioned and streamlining tools put in place in the application process, but cautioned, “it won’t be fast and it won’t be easy.”

“We’re ready to dive into work with the cannabis businesses, the public, the ag commissioner, Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, the farm bureau, neighbors and other stakeholders,” said Lindbo and encouraged the board to adopt the CLUO so the transition can start as soon as possible.

Contract Planner Heidi Tschudin presented a slideshow of revisions that were incorporated into the CLUO during its drafting. Some key changes clarified the transition procedures, the permit application process and integrating the Agricultural Commissioner into the process.

Board Chair and District 4 Supervisor Jim Provenza opened the meeting to public comment. A dozen individuals took advantage of the two minutes provided to each to comment. The comments were split down the middle in support and opposed.

Opposition referred to an unpleasant smell of cannabis, crime associated with cannabis cultivation and feelings that the CLUO represents the cannabis growers, not Yolo County. One speaker said they felt the process “was rigged from the start.”

A number of supporters thanked board members and staff for what was characterized as a “thankless job.” One speaker with a pending application said she was grateful for the opportunity to run a business and become a responsible cultivator in Yolo County.

Once public comments were taken, supervisors performed some housekeeping to finalize the CLUO and discussed among themselves the journey to reach the point of adopting the CLUO.

District 1 Supervisor Oscar Villegas said that at end of the day, they met their goal in putting together a land use ordinance that gives everyone a fair playing field and is a model for other counties.

District 2 Supervisor Don Saylor said there are pieces of the CLUO that everyone will like and pieces that everyone can dislike, but felt they had balanced the interests of all the parties and advanced the will of the people.

District 3 Supervisor Gary Sandy said he would like to see all grows be in indoor facilities.

“I don’t think it’s been a perfect process – I don’t think it would have been possible to have a perfect process. I think we’re all doing the best we can with what we have to work with,” Sandy said. “So, for that reason, I will vote with the majority because we have to move forward and see what happens.”

Provenza, said, “It’s clearly a compromise and no one got what they wanted.”

Provenza said there were changes he would like to have made, like increasing distances from grows to residences and moving toward indoor grows. Provenza said, “it takes three votes and when you don’t have three votes, you move on the best you can.”

District 5 Supervisor Angel Barajas said the process resulted in requiring larger buffers, addressed overconcentration issues, mitigation of generator and lighting use at night and created a rigorous and fair use permit process that will generate revenue to provide better services in Yolo County.

The board unanimously adopted the CLUO, certified the Final Environmental Impact Report and took several other actions to amend the General Plan and Zoning Regulations to comport to the CLUO. The CLUO will become effective on Oct. 14.

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