In an attempt to clarify existing policy on large events hosted on agricultural land, SLO County supervisors seem to have set the stage for a new policy that will clearly divide the board and upset an already agitated agricultural community.
The item before county supervisors on Oct. 6 should have been easy enough: Interpret the current policy, which allows events (weddings, for example) to be held on ag land, so long as such events are “temporary and incidental.” County planning commissioners voted unanimously to interpret the policy with clearly defined limits on the size and number of events allowed.
Effectively, nothing should have been changed—a new ordinance on ag events is being developed concurrently but has yet to go before county supervisors for a final vote. The supervisors, however, had starkly different perspectives.
“I would like to see this more industry regulated,” Supervisor Frank Mecham said.
By the end of the day, Mecham was repeatedly yanking off his glasses and rubbing his eyes in frustration.
Dozens of people wearing matching red
T-shirts emblazoned with the message “Seeing Red”—to represent their disdain of being overregulated—arrived at the Oct. 6 meeting. Many argued that agriculture can no longer be a primary source of income these days and, in fact, can only remain viable if events are allowed.
But on a 3-2 vote, the board decided to firmly implement the ag policy and interpret it in such a way so a property owner with an event permit can only be host to a finite number. Supervisors Katcho Achadjian and Frank Mecham voted against the majority opinion, both saying they believed the county was over regulating. ∆