Events regulation on ag land draws closer



San Luis Obispo County officials continue to debate how they will regulate events held on agricultural land, following two years of discussion. On Aug. 10, SLO County supervisors took a scalpel to the temporary events section of the county’s land-use ordinance. For more than two hours, they attempted to resolve how to regulate such events and prevent farms and ranches from becoming regular concert venues without preventing farmers and ranchers from supplementing income by hosting events.

Through a series of straw votes—several passed by a slim majority comprising supervisors Frank Mecham, Katcho Achadjian, and Adam Hill—the board directed county planners to tweak the existing ordinance and create specific criteria for various event types and sizes.

One sticking point was whether to exempt nonprofit organizations from having to obtain a permit to host events. The supervisors eventually decided to exempt nonprofit events, educational tours, private events, events held on public lands, government-sponsored events, and events with less than 50 people.

They created additional criteria for events that would trigger more intensive county permitting processes. Any property owner wanting to hold 11 to 20 events per year with 151 to 200 people per event must obtain a minor-use permit. Also under the proposed ordinance revisions, conditional use permits will be required for people wanting to host more than 21 events per year with more than 200 attendees.

County planning commissioners first began revising the ordinance after receiving complaints about excessive unpermitted events. The Board of Supervisors first gave its input in January. The latest modifications will go back to the planning commissioners, as well as community advisory groups for additional input. County officials said it would likely take six to eight months to adopt the new regulations. The rules are expected to take effect one year after adoption.

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