Cannabis: county records prosecution, license surrendered, plants uprooted

In a report to the county board of supervisors this week, county attorney Michael Ghizzoni described several enforcement actions launched against cannabis farms in the Carpinteria Valley and west of Buellton.

Acting on several odor complaints from residents of Carpinteria, the county has filed a lawsuit against Island View Ranch, the owner of 3376 Foothill Road, and Island Breeze, the operator of a two-acre cannabis “crop”. The lawsuit alleges that the business “constitutes a continuing public nuisance.” | Credit: Courtesy

Speaking at budget hearings on Tuesday, Ghizzoni told the supervisory board that, acting on eight odor complaints from Carpinteria residents, the county filed a lawsuit in Santa Barbara Superior Court on May 21 against Island View Ranch. LLC and Island Breeze Farms LLC – the landowner and operator, respectively, of a two acre cannabis “crop” at 3376 Foothill Road.

The lawsuit alleges the business has been a “continuing public nuisance” since at least March 2019 and should be shut down. This is the county’s first public nuisance lawsuit against a cannabis operation.

Island Breeze, the lawsuit argues, “has not diligently pursued” a zoning permit for more than two years and illegally cultivates and packages commercial cannabis without the proper county and state business licenses. These licenses, he says, can only be granted if a producer is “in the process of complying with local ordinances.”

In another first for the county, Ghizzoni said, the lawsuit also invokes state unfair competition law against a cannabis producer, alleging that Island View and Island Breeze are profiting “to the detriment of the lawful cannabis companies operating. in the county “by misleading the public. and failure to comply with “regulatory security measures”.

Representatives for Island View and Island Breeze could not be reached for comment this week.

Revoked licenses

In a separate case, Sunshine Organics Greens Inc., a 144,000 square foot greenhouse located at 6030 Casitas Pass Road, “surrendered” its 12 provisional state licenses for growing cannabis to the Department of Food and Agriculture. ‘California agriculture on June 7, Ghizzoni told the council.

It was another first, he said; the county previously informed the state agency that Sunshine Organics was not moving quickly with its zoning permit application process. Ghizzoni said the county also told state officials that the landowner had withdrawn permission from Sunshine Organics to grow cannabis there.

County records show Joseph Magazino, the operator of Sunshine Organics, filed a lawsuit last year against Case Van Wingerden, the owner of the property; the lawsuit is due to be tried in Superior Court on June 15.

Illegal expansion

Finally, on June 4, Ghizzoni told the board that the operators of Lion Eye LLC, a 12-acre outdoor cannabis operation located at 7261 Domingos Road west of Buellton, had withdrawn legal action. that they had brought against the county.

Speaking on the case in March, Administrative Judge Eric Sawyer found that Lion Eye owner Elizabeth Story Long and her agent Stacey Wooten had illegally set up 56 creole houses in 2017 and expanded their cultivation of cannabis in a small barn and Quonset hut. , in violation of the county zoning ordinance. From a few hundred marijuana plants in 2015, the operation extended to 8,000 plants.

In 2015, Lion Eye was a small “crop” of medical marijuana. The county allowed Lion Eye to continue as a “legal and illegal” operation after 2015 if it applied for zoning permits and county and state business licenses. Under the county zoning ordinance, “legal and non-compliant” operations cannot be “expanded, expanded or increased” without permission.

In early 2019, the record shows that following a complaint about unauthorized arch structures at Lion Eye, the county planning and development department sent operators a notice of zoning violation and gave them 30 days to remove illegal plantings.

Judge Sawyer said the installation of 56 hoop houses at Lion Eye represented “a significant change in how the premises operate,” noting that plantations “can now extend for much of the year once that the weather has turned cold “. Additionally, he said, testimony in the case confirmed that there were no marijuana plants in the Lion Eye barn or hut in 2015.

The judge upheld a $ 9,500 fine the county imposed on farmers in early 2020 for failing to remove illegal plantings; he said Long and Wooten were jointly responsible for the payment.

During a county inspection on June 2, Ghizzoni said this week that all illegal plantings in Lion Eye have been removed and operators are applying for zoning permits and business licenses.

Melinda Burns volunteers as a freelance reporter in Santa Barbara as a community service; she offers her reports to several local publications at the same time, free of charge.


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