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The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors will meet Tuesday and hold a hearing on the county’s storefront retail cannabis selection procedures within the unincorporated areas of Santa Barbara County.

The board will receive an update on the timeline for issuing storefront retail licenses and take up a pair of criteria-based score sheets regarding business operations and neighborhood compatibility, according to the staff report.

The board of supervisors is not involved in the review or selection of the applicants.

The board will be asked to approve the two score sheets developed by the County Executive Office, and are based on similar scoring sheets used in the cities of Pasadena and San Luis Obispo, as well as the policy document from Chula Vista. Both score sheets were revised based on feedback received during six virtual meetings held in July, according to the report.

The business operations criteria details the technical data that is required by a county ordinance and is considered quantitative in nature. With three exceptions, each section is scored on a scale of one to five. The exceptions include the overall project description, record of conducting cannabis operations in the county and the site security plan. These three items have a maximum score of 10 points per item, according to the staff report.

The neighborhood compatibility scoring will seek to ensure the retail operation selected fits “seamlessly into the surrounding neighborhood, addresses issues of community concerns and maximizes the benefit to the broader community,” according to the staff report.

Community involvement (35%) is the most heavily weighed section, followed by the observation of the site team (20%), according to the report.

During the July meetings, the county received 370 written comments, including 314 from the Orcutt and Santa Maria areas. The written feedback showed that “an overwhelming majority” of respondents would not like to see a retail storefront in that area, according to the staff report.

Seventeen comments were received in regards to the Toro Canyon and Summerland combined community plan area, while four other areas received five or fewer comments.

Within a survey, respondents were asked to rank a list of concerns. The results showed that inappropriate location (28%) and safety (21%) were the top two concerns. Traffic and Parking (17%), odor (12%) and demand for one available license driving up commercial rent prices (11%) and exterior design (11%) also were among the concerns reflected.

The application submittal period is expected to be determined by early September, during which time an outside consultant would be selected. Subsequent to the 30-day notice period, the application period would be open for seven days.

Under the proposal, the third-party consultant would primarily score the business operations proposals. Applicants scoring 85% or better would be ranked based on the neighborhood compatibility.

“Eligible applicants will then be placed on the preliminary and final ranked storefront retail list. … The applicant receiving the highest ranking in each community plan area will be invited to submit an application for a land use entitlement with the Planning and Development Department,” the staff report reads.

Applicants must complete the land use entitlement application within 90 days, and submit a completed business license application to the County Executive Office. Staff anticipates permit and license approval in early 2021, assuming the original awardees remain in the process and there are no appeals.

In other business, the supervisors will receive a report on a proposed Wine Business Improvement District being developed by the Santa Barbara Vintners Association.

The Santa Barbara Vintners Association has been developing the proposed district, called the Santa Barbara County Wine Preserve, for the past two years. It would include all wine tasting facilities located within the boundaries of the county’s wine region, including all unincorporated areas and cities in the county.

The association expects to raise up to $1.2 million annually based on an assessment of annual wine tasting sales. This would include all items sold in wine tasting rooms, but not any wine club shipments, pickups, event tickets or other purchases through wholesale channels.

All vintners in the county that have wine tasting rooms are eligible to sign the petition in favor of the BID. Businesses paying assessments that constitute more than 50% of the total assessments proposed to be levied must be in favor of formation in order for the BID to move to the supervisors for approval.

The Vintners Association proposes that the county be the lead government agency and for the supervisors to designate the Santa Barbara Vintners as the owners’ association for the BID. If approved, a third party would be responsible for collecting the assessments and remitting them to the owners association.

A map and description of the district is still being developed, along with a district management plan.

The report that will go before the supervisors on Tuesday will provide awareness to the initiative and the county’s proposed involvement.

Also on Tuesday, the supervisors will receive the most recent information on the status of COVID-19 cases and the county’s response to the pandemic.

Tuesday’s meeting, scheduled for 9 a.m., will be televised live on County of Santa Barbara TV channel 20. The meeting can also be streamed on YouTube. The only participation permitted will be virtual due to the coronavirus pandemic.

email: mwhite@newspress.com

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