Carpenteria is a charming coastal community peppered with antique stores, mom-and-pop shops and gourmet cafes. But with an onslaught of marijuana cultivations, some say the southern Santa Barbara County community stinks, literally.
After multiple nurseries switched from growing ornamental flowers to propagating higher-priced cannabis crops, residents complained about a thick, skunk-like smell that is especially pungent in the evenings and at night.
“Carpinteria is no longer the bucolic town it once was,” said Ben Williams, headmaster of Cate School. “Our air is befouled. Traffic has increased, and Casitas Pass Road is a virtual parking lot as roads are filled with cars belonging to cannabis employees. This is just the beginning now that the county has created perhaps the most cannabis-friendly environment in the state.”
After passing some of the most liberal cannabis regulations in California, Santa Barbara County has granted approximately 800 marijuana cultivation licenses, more than anywhere else in the state. And of those permitted grows, about two-thirds are located in Carpenteria and Lompoc.
In February, Santa Barbara County enacted marijuana regulations requiring growers to submit odor abatement plans. In addition, the California Coastal Commission is expected to review coastal marijuana regulations which could also require odor mitigation.
Many residents worry the stench will impact property values and their quality of life. They hope growers will either install odor control systems or face having their marijuana cultivation businesses shut down.