Supervisor Peschong has turned his back on constituents

September 8, 2019

Supervisor John Peschong

Opinion by SLO Cannabis Watch Group

“I fully admit I worked on this ordinance and this is what has come of it, and I am responsible for it. I own this ordinance….” These are the fateful and telling words spoken by County Supervisor John Peschong at a recent cannabis cultivation appeal hearing.

His swing vote denied residents’ impassioned appeals and cast a dark shadow on their tranquil homes and businesses on Airport Road in Paso Robles. We had high hopes the District 1 Supervisor would put children, families and traditional agricultural ahead of any cannabis influence over land use planning. Instead, he turned his back on constituents and approved this pot farm 600 feet from residences.

Neighbors now face stench and security risks no neighborhood in SLO County should have to endure. While the Board of Supervisors gave itself discretionary authority to turn down any pot growing application that was bad for any reason, Peschong, along with supervisors Bruce Gibson and Adam Hill failed to properly exercise this authority. Supervisors Debbie Arnold and Lynn Compton wisely did, and have our gratitude.

SLO County now stands at the precipice of a sad and dangerous paradigm shift for its rural residents and billion dollar traditional farming economy thanks to the misguided and ill-influenced direction of Mr. Peschong and SLO county’s version of the ‘doobie brothers’ – Adam Hill and Bruce Gibson. Their reckless kowtowing to big cannabis and their ‘eminent domain’-style takeover of rural neighborhoods is perhaps motivated by fanciful dreams of being the saviors of county coffers, albeit at the expense of rural homes and traditional agriculture.

Peschong and other supervisors were tempted by pure fiscal folly and his recent ownership claim of the ordinance was mere posturing, a faux display of resolute strength and leadership.

Unfortunately, Mr. Peschong, the appearance of ‘owning’ and taking responsibility doesn’t cut it; true leadership means immediately stopping the permitting process and improving the ordinance in a way that protects residents, grape growers, wineries and anyone within or near unincorporated land. Do this, even if you have to endure the whines of pot farmers who speed-dial your cell phone.

It’s all about land use, however, not ‘reefer madness’ accusations or fiscal fantasy. Simply put, Mr. Peschong, you created and own a bad ordinance, so you should change it. Consider the following:

1: Your ‘sensitive receptors’ clause mandates a minimum 1000 feet property line setback between pot farms and sensitive sites like schools, addiction treatment facilities and others. Why would you possibly think to distance kids and addicts from pot farms??? Hint: with this requirement you fully acknowledge the serious, proximal risks of collocating a noxious drug’s supply chain right next to kids and addicts.

Strange that Mr. Hill declared these concerns ‘speculative’ when he, too, approved the ordinance as is. We digress. Clearly, Mr. Peschong, you must have accidentally forgotten to add personal residences – where kids spend far more of their time – to your list of protected, sensitive sites.

Now, even the Planning Commission has recommended to include residential dwellings in the 1,000 ft. sensitive receptor setback; clearly they get it. The Board of Supervisors needs to vote and approve this before any additional cannabis projects are planned or approved, period.

2: You seem to side with Supervisor Hill – a man reported by some media as bought and paid for by the cannabis industry – when he stated that neighbor and family concerns next door pot farms are speculative.

Appellants of other cannabis projects presented substantial evidence on the ineffectiveness, risks and unknown impacts of spraying perfumy neutralizers around leaky, venting marijuana greenhouses close to residences. Ask the residents of Carpinteria and elsewhere throughout Santa Barbara County, Mr. Peschong. All that neutralizing spray hasn’t fixed their odor and air pollution problems and who knows what other impacts it will have, respiratory or environmental.

Let’s not stop there, though. How about the industrial manufacturing chemicals used to process and extract the THC/CBD from the cannabis? Food for thought: Change the cannabis ordinance for San Luis Obispo County before the use of these unknown and untested chemicals impact our agriculture environment, water aquifers, and our homes and families.

3: Your ordinance is ideal for pot farmers to have free reign and transform our beautiful wine country into the ‘marijuana badlands,’ just like Santa Barbara County. For example, you instituted no density restrictions to limit how many cannabis farms can be permitted in a small area. Some of our friends and families have not one, not two, but three or more neighboring pot farm applications to contend with.

You’ve approved over 20 pot farms, Mr. Peschong and now your regulation’s beneficiaries are clamoring to squeak 100 more through the permitting process before we can make any improvements to it. Change Titles 22 and 23 to include, retroactively, density restrictions and prevent the Santa Barbara catastrophe from happening here. This should be done even if it means throwing out 80 percent of the applications and giving back the application fees.

4. You provided us a real sense of ownership and choice in last year’s Measure B-18 where we approved a 4 percent tax on cannabis businesses. But why were the residents of SLO County not allowed to choose whether cannabis cultivation should be allowed in the first place?

Two-thirds of the counties in California said ‘no’ to cannabis cultivators; clearly, the risks weren’t just speculative to them. Proposition 64 said recreational use of pot was allowed. That was a legalization question, not an industrial localization one. Now, many of your own constituents are bearing enormous legal expenses to fight the proliferation of pot farms next door. Simply change the cannabis ordinance to limit cultivation and chemical extraction manufacturing to where it belongs in land use areas like industrial or commercial zoned properties that can be secured – not around residential homes and families.

5. Marijuana and hemp cultivation are so alike, and you wisely passed a temporary moratorium on hemp cultivation permits. But it’s strange that you should direct county planners (a group now enjoying a revolving door of employment with the cannabis industry) to prioritize development of an industrial hemp ordinance aside from marijuana cannabis.

Mr. Peschong, why are you separating these issues when common sense says they need to be resolved simultaneously to protect residents and farmers, and even cannabis cultivators from each other? Hemp is cannabis! It might just be practical to improve and resolve them both and retroactively apply all changes to existing permit applications. Or, at minimum issue a moratorium on new cannabis farms until the Phase 3 cannabis ordinance items can be voted on and the hemp issue resolved.

You have the opportunity to do the right thing Mr. Peschong, for your constituents, traditional agriculture, residences, families, and our wine and tourism businesses. If you really want to own your cannabis ordinance, improve it by removing its irresponsible, preferential treatment of big cannabis and make it retroactively protect us from the horrors befalling our neighboring county to the south. Immediately implement the following for both marijuana and hemp cultivation:

• Include private residences in the local definition of ‘sensitive receptor’. In so doing, they will really – not superficially – protect children and families
• Disallow any outdoor cultivation
• Disallow neutralizing sprays as a means of mitigating odor
• Allow cannabis chemical extraction production only in industrial areas where bright lights, security and traffic are compatible with the surroundings, and water and power utilities are available.

SLO Cannabis Watch Group is a non-partisan affiliation of concerned SLO county citizens who advocate for changes to SLO County Cannabis Ordinances to protect and preserve family-oriented neighborhoods from invasive, undesirable cannabis cultivation, manufacturing, processing, dispensary and transportation operations.

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He is just another politician with his own intrestes at heart not the communities or local families . he would stand quietly as children are abducted by cws . and allow rapest police officers such as mcguire to run our streets abusing families and children .

Kudos to your organization’s attempt to shine a light on proposed cannabis projects in SLO County with the potential to negatively impact neighborhoods. If only you had come along sooner!

Because your involvement is recent, you have no way of knowing that some of your points for changes to the ordinance were included in early drafts! And deleted as the ordinance evolved.

Canopy and density in an area: One of the first drafts had a section describing limitations on indoor and outdoor cannabis cultivations. Canopy size and property line setbacks were a function of acreage (or site size). For example, with outdoor cultivation: 1-5 acre sites would have a canopy of 1.15% of the site size, with a 50’ setback. 5-10 acre sites, a canopy of 1.35% of the site size, and 100’ setback; etc.

And there was section titled “Minimum Separation from Offsite Outdoor Cultivation,” establishing a separation requirement between permitted cultivations and nurseries. 1-5 acre sites would require 1,000’ separation from the nearest property line of another cultivation or nursery. 5-10 acres, 750’ separation. etc. This was deleted in a subsequent draft.

As to the size of cultivations: The original draft ordinance was written to coincide with the state’s maximum cultivation size, which was 1 acre per entity. Small family farmers (each an entity) who came forward to register their cooperatives with the county were given a CCM number. And the supervisors allowed up to 3 acres of outdoor cultivation per properly-sized site, or up to 3 CCMs/site. It was a chance for cooperatives to share in the costs.

Everything changed the day the supervisors decided they ‘meant to allow 3 acres outdoor and 22,000 sq ft indoor per CCM’ (not 1 acre or 1 greenhouse per 1 CCM). That day the CCM became far too valuable for the small family farmer to hold on to, and partnerships/trades/etc. began. And that day the county’s potential acreage for outdoor cannabis cultivation tripled.

Now to your attack on Supervisor Peschong: The Airport Road project is not a “pot farm.” It is a greenhouse, limited to approx. 20,000 sq ft. —-including the indoor cultivation; and harvesting, drying, processing, etc. And it’s situated in a 41-acre vineyard.Furthermore, the project has been conditioned to “operate in a manner that ensures odors associated with cannabis activities are contained on the project site”. If there’s an odor problem —cannabis or masking agent— your recourse is to call cannabis code enforcement. There’s a 3-strike rule, too.

How quickly we forget that Supervisor Peschong went to bat for the neighbors at York Mtn who opposed the proposed 3-acre outdoor/22,000 sq ft indoor cultivation, etc. in their neighborhood. A far more lofty and intrusive “pot farm” than Airport Road’s.

But kudos to your statement: “county planners (a group now enjoying a revolving door of employment with the cannabis industry)” —-You have no idea!!!!!

And to this you could add cannabis consultants. In fact, while you’re at it, look to staff, consultants, and cannabis entrepreneurs who drove the ordinance in this direction…..right under the noses of supervisors.

What this sounds like is a bunch of tight ass vineyard owners that don’t want their profits effected by the more profitable and less dangerous crop, cannabis.

Studies have shown that cannabis cultivation in wine country (both of which thrive in same type of environment) takes labor from vineyards (both are harvested at about the same time), pays laborers better (much better!), is easier to pick (saving the backs of laborers), and produces more income per acre (in Napa that translates to about $1.5M per acre per year for pot to about $55K for vineyards per acre per year).

Also, it’s about the water (or should be!) “…average wine grape vines can appropriate up to 9-12 gallons of water a day in desert regions during the peak season, less where natural rainfall is higher. Depending on the growing methods and location, the winery might also use massive quantities of water in winter for frost protection, which is often not included in “average water use” numbers listed by vineyards. Even minor off season watering takes away from winter and spring filling of local reservoirs.”

“On the other hand, an outdoor cannabis grow will require an average of 6 gallons of water a day per plant over the duration of a 150 day season. Once the growing season is over, though, the flowers are harvested and the plants are destroyed, meaning there is no water use needed in winter to keep the plant alive and avoid damage from frost.” – OC Weed Review

Also considering that it takes three full years after planting for the initial harvest of a grapevine (and upwards of two years to bottle that harvest) compared to the 5 or so months a cannabis plant takes, the bigger profits from pot come quicker than the smaller ones from wine.

It also takes much, much more wine to get that “relaxing buzz” than pot. While it takes about 12 vines to keep the average wino in hootch for a year it only takes about one plant of cannabis to keep the average “Reefer Madness” participant in his or her munchies syndrome.

This ain’t about land usage, water usage, environmental impact, or the rights of property owners that may or may not be impacted by cannabis grows, it’s about the money! It takes less money to produce cannabis, takes less cannabis to produce it’s desired effects while not causing the harm that the evil hootch does…

I guess it’s time to put down the glass and pick up a bowl, whataya say?

It’s just that simple for you, isn’t it. Rationalize placing cannabis manufacturing next to homes and Ag businesses just so people can get their buzz. Narrow-minded. Cannabis is a nuisance crop and a magnet for a lot of other garbage people shouldn’t have to tolerate next to their homes and farms. Key words: nuisance, stench, crime…. maybe those are virtues for you and and your kids, I suppose.

“Cannabis is a nuisance crop and a magnet for a lot of other garbage people shouldn’t have to tolerate next to their homes and farms. Key words: nuisance, stench, crime…. ”

And what, wine isn’t a “nuisance crop”? Tell that to the alcoholic on the street corner, I bet it’s a big nuisance in his or her life!

Stench? Yea, one person’s stench is another’s perfume. I hate the smell and the taste of, or the lack there of, wine and the results that wine brings, especially the frickin’ hangover! The only reason I don’t like the vineyards is due to their tight ass owners who think that water rights start and end with them. I could care less if you, or anyone else for that matter, drink yourself silly on the crap, it’s your body!

The criminal element, oh my! And what, vineyards aren’t immune to that? Yea, right…

Or how ’bout a good read? “Tangled Vines: Greed, Murder, Obsession, and an Arsonist in the Vineyards of California” – Frances Dinkelspiel

The alcohol industry, which wine is a part of whether you like it or not, is rife with crime, so, don’t get all uppity thinkin’ it ain’t just because it’s wine we’re talkin’ about.

Maybe California should just give the prop 64 users free pot to remove money from the equation and call it what it is, Skunk Weed. Remember, don’t open your windows at night, use your air conditioners and pay the electric bill so your neighbor can loft another at your home.

So, now we replace “Reefer Madness” with the smell? Jeeez! Talk about sour grapes!

It should go w/o saying but to be clear it is not the people that get pols elected it’s the monied interests.

It’s all about land use, not cannabis use.

At the May 2019 SLO County Planning Commission meeting the Planning Commission approved the recommendation to include residential dwellings in the sensitive receptor setback restriction of 1,000 feet. The point was made by the public that residential dwellings should be included in the sensitive receptor ordinance just like schools, elder care facilities, child care etc. are included. As the Planning Commission noted – why would we protect children in schools for 20% of the time and not 100% of the time in their family homes? This is Common Sense.

To date the Board of Supervisors has not included the addition of residential dwellings in the sensitive receptor set back cannabis ordinance amendment for a vote due to politics and Big Cannabis lobbying efforts. This one addition to the county cannabis ordinances would mitigate many of the residential agriculture/neighborhood issues surrounding cannabis project land use in SLO county. Yet the Board of Supervisors pushes this solution off into the Phase 3 ordinance bundle – delaying a decision to benefit Big Cannabis. The excuse is that the SLO County Department of Planning and Building does not have the resources to review Phase 3 ordinance changes and the Hemp moratorium study at the same time. This plays to Big Cannabis interests by significantly delaying the Phase 3 ordinance changes that would protect residential agriculture communities, neighborhoods, homes and families. This is Non-Sense.

Pig farms in SLO county are restricted by ordinance to 1,000 foot set backs in order to mitigate odor and noise from neighboring residential dwellings…

“22.30.100 – Animal Facilities – Specialized

E. Hog ranches. The raising or keeping of more than three sows, a boar and their unweaned litter is subject to the same standards that are required of beef and dairy feedlots by Subsection C. A hog ranch shall be located no closer than one mile from any residential category; and no closer than 1000 feet from any school, or dwelling other than those on the site.”

…so too should cannabis farms.

Common Sense by the Board of Supervisors would have our Supervisors carve out the residential dwelling inclusion from the Phase 3 bundle and vote on the recommendation made by the Planning Commission – NOW. Include residential dwelling units in the “sensitive receptor” definition and site restrictions – do not wait a year or more to include it with the Phase 3 cannabis ordinance changes bundle. No Planning Department resources are required to do this. The Board of Supervisors need to put this on the agenda for a vote. Let the public participate in the hearing and the facts – then vote as the Board of Supervisors. This is Common Sense.

Big Cannabis does not want this because the inclusion of residential dwellings in the sensitive receptor ordinance would limit the number of cannabis project land uses in SLO county. Who does the Board of Supervisors answer to – Big Cannabis interests or the health, safety and well being of SLO County residential agriculture constituents?

Pretty lame arguments here Canni watchdog group. First, use the sun for growing instead of lights. Less draw on limited resources to produce power. More chemicals are used to grow zucchini. Extraction chemicals polluting? Based on what? CO2 is used for extraction, not some kind of dangerous solvent. Try looking into how many pesticides are used for your drug of choice. Please do the research on all the drunks driving our country roads during and after wine crawling.

And the sulphuric acid to clean their, the wineries, irrigation pipes?

Weed is lame

Wow! How long did that take you to come up with? But seriously, just add a word to the end of that and you’d sound like you’re high ass hell on some good kush…

“Weed is lame, Dude!”

Look at what Peschong’s “profession”, if you call it that, is. He is a career paid lobbyist, period. Do you think he cares about constituents? Follow the money.