OPINION by JULIE TACKER
Over 10,000 commuters travel Los Osos Valley Road every day. As one who travels that road on a daily basis, to and from my home in Los Osos, I appreciate the beauty of the valley’s patchwork of colors as displayed season by season. I am in awe of its sunlight and shadows and its rich colorful soils, crops and fallows.
For years there has been speculation that, someday, the valley will have houses all the way from San Luis Obispo to Los Osos. However, with years of dedication by various entities and valley farmers to preserve farming in perpetuity, it is highly unlikely houses will mar this beautiful countryside.
But, today, with the onslaught of marijuana and hemp farms lining up to develop in the valley, numerous plastic greenhouses and hoop houses covering acres and acres of the valley are proposed – with some already installed.
The valley’s beauty is at risk of significant blight from these operations.
Recently some have begun the permitting process; others have been built with no regard for our land use laws. As the permits proceed through the county planning department and go before the decision makers, only then the public will have a say in how the projects are ultimately approved.
These plastic structures are scarring the picturesque scenery of the Irish Hills and the majestic Morros.
One particularly shocking hoop house project is built high atop a rocky hill near Chumash Peak. When sunlight hits its sea of plastic the glare illuminates the whole hillside – distracting from this majestic Morro; souring the scenic drive.
Others are proposed just 300 feet from the roadway, proposed mitigation of ugly fencing and screening walls of vegetation. While some “farmers” grow outdoors with miles of white plastic laid on the ground right up to the roadway.
The windscreens and quasi security fencing is visual clutter that the public has had no avenue to speak to.
As these marijuana and hemp cultivation projects make their way through the permitting process, I encourage my fellow commuters to become informed and raise their concerns about the impacts to this scenic valley.
My personal concerns are specific to these projects visual impacts. Your concerns may relate to water use, odors and security.
I look forward to my morning drive to work through the valley, as it inspires a good day and my evening drive home helps to wind down at days end. There’s a sense of respite that takes place when one travels the beautiful Los Osos Valley Road, one that should be preserved for all commuters to enjoy into the future.
Pay close attention to the county’s permitting process, become an “interested party” and comment on the projects impacts by emailing Karen Nall at firstname.lastname@example.org.