LAKEPORT— The Lake County Board of Supervisors held their weekly meeting Tuesday at the Lakeport Courthouse and online via zoom. This week’s agenda included presentations from Community Development considering amendments to the commercial cannabis ordinance, the county’s clean water and storm water management programs and also the Community Development Block Grants funding availability for small businesses.
Community Development Director Mary Darby and other staff members presented a proposal to add Article 73 to Chapter 21 of the Lake Zoning Ordinance to increase efficiency in commercial cannabis permitting and operations. Currently the County has 110 approved cannabis permits and 135 pending applications for projects from under an acre to over 100 acres with a countless number of un-permitted operations. Officials noted that as a result, the county can’t progress forward properly without addressing their current situation.
The proposal includes several changes such as introducing checklists for applicants to submit all of their documents easily, time limits for abandoned applications, increasing daily fees for un-permitted sites, streamlining modifications to permits without re-application, creating a task force, and the termination of early activation.
“We’re proposing to make it more user friendly, easier to read, and more comprehensive” Darby noted in explaining how they created the amendment. “This has been a huge task,” she said. “We have been through the existing ordinance as well as the proposed revised ordinance and the way we came up with our revisions, what you see what we’re proposing currently, is based on recommendations and inputs that we have been receiving overall from all stakeholders.” The Department scheduled workshops this week in the Courthouse Chambers in Lakeport as well as initiated a community outreach featuring a three-week public comment period which started this week.
The proposal was well received by both the public and the board, who all agreed the formation of a task force was most important. Supervisor Jessica Pyska said she would like to see round table discussions with the industry, with staff and with the board, to address a lot of the topics that have been brought up. Jennifer Smith with the Lake County Cannabis Alliance expressed her gratitude and also agreed a task force is needed, while dually voicing concern explaining, “Acreage caps only hurt the local industry. If there aren’t acreage caps across the state, we’re only damaging the farmers here and limiting our resources here.” The proposal will be revisited July 12, and the formation of a task force will begin at the next meeting.
Jeff Lucas, Lake County’s Community Development Block Grant Consultant, presented to the board regarding available funding for local small businesses. Lucas explained there is $1.5 million available in low interest loans for small businesses that meet their national objectives, providing local jobs and benefiting low income housing or people. Lucas said, “Right now we have funding through CDGB and we’re conducting workshops for low interest business loan programs where we have 1 percent loans in the range from $35,000 to $350,000 dollars.” The board’s response appeared hesitant with District 1 Supervisor Moke Simon inquiring about public response to the workshops and applications as he noted that they can be long and off-putting. Lucas replied “Our experience over the last 30 years with these programs here and elsewhere is it’s mostly the individuals that went through the program that tell the business next door or on Main Street that these guys will walk you through, it works pretty well.”
Angela De Palma-Dow with the Lake County Department of Water Resources presented on the current status and next steps for the Lake County Clean Water Program and Storm Water Management. De Palma-Dow reviewed their recent activity, funds that have been acquired and plans for increasing their staff and completing two plans necessary for state compliance, the Low Income Development Planning document and Storm Water Resources Plan.
Following District 5 Supervisor Pyska’s concern for storm water damage to roads, specifically noting the Cobb Mountain area, District 2 Supervisor Bruno Sabatier commented, “Flooding of the area ruins the roads and so repair of the roads, hopefully, we can combine those two things together with the Clean Water Act and the road construction to make sure these roads last.” De Palma-Dow said, “The Federal Infrastructure Bill does include and recognize this. Those things are paired and there are provisions in there for storm water improvements and water quality improvements that can coincide with building out general or traditional road infrastructure.” District 4 Supervisor Tina Scott expressed her gratitude. “Thank you for always being available to answer questions and give presentations and educate our public.” More information on the Clean Water Program can be found on the Lake County Water Resources Facebook page.
Minutes, agendas and video can all be found on the Lake County Website lakecounty.ca.gov as well as their Facebook page.