Good news everyone! Even COVID-19 can't prevent 5th District San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Debbie Arnold from getting up to her old tricks.
In classic Debbie fashion, she hoodwinked her fellow board members into agreeing to last-minute changes on the county's long-awaited hemp ordinance, completely waylaying a year's worth of work and the county's painstaking effort to include stakeholder input from all walks of life. County staff time be damned! Negotiation and compromise from the diverse agricultural community, take a hike! She's too worried about the smell.
So is her compatriot 4th District Supervisor Lynn Compton, who is undoubtedly getting inundated with letters from her loud, cranky constituents in Nipomo shaking their "Get Off My Lawn" fists at the young heathens growing cannabis down the street.
It smells like pot! We can't have the county's byways smelling like a stoner just lit a joint! Where do you think we live? The Edna Valley?
This is a highfalutin place, where SoCal bros can visit to spread coronavirus on the weekends, Central Valley mobbers can trash our beaches, and Bay Area techies can make it rain cash, not grass. This is SLO County wine country, dammit, and we need to smell civilized! Like freshly applied pesticide, car exhaust, and the back of a dive bar! Throw in the aromatic scent of broccoli leftovers rotting in the fields, and we have a full house!
"It's devastating on our traditional agriculture," Compton said. "We have a wine and tourism economy. I don't know why we'd want to jeopardize that."
Yeah, all that high-value cannabis crop would really put a dent into our agricultural and tourism revenue, which we are fully dependent on and is taking a giant hit in this time of corona. We definitely shouldn't diversify our economy.
And hemp? Didn't that used to be illegal? What is this county coming to? I thought this was solid conservative country. We simply can't use our land to grow something that was recently dropped from the federal list of Schedule 1 substances so we could research its benefits! We won't stand for it! Laws be damned.
Meanwhile Arnold is super worried about conflict with existing crops, a concern that doesn't make any actual sense since the county convened a subcommittee to work through the exact conflicts she's referring to. County staff presented an ordinance to the SLO County Board of Supervisors on May 5 that was developed with input from the Agricultural Liaison Advisory Board and members of the hemp, wine, and vegetable industry.
The SLO County Farm Bureau was not happy with Debbie's checkmate move on May 5, which included growing the minimum allowable size of a hemp farm from 5 to 10 acres to 400 acres. That's a hell of a message for the county to send to small farmers. Get out of here!
Now, hemp is essentially banned, Farm Bureau Executive Director Brent Burchett told New Times.
"Why did we even give input if they were going to make this decision all along?" Burchett asked.
What an actual waste of time that nobody involved is ever going to get back.
And 3rd District Supervisor Adam Hill was all in! He's usually all out on Debbie's antics to place overt restrictions on all things cannabis. He usually chastises her and accuses her of devious things. But not this time! Oh no, those Edna Valley winos must have him on speed dial.
Because the odor from that one illegal grow was just killing them all!
The lone standout was 2nd District Supervisor Bruce Gibson, who admonished the board and called the swiftly changed ordinance "an assault on agriculture."
Here, here, Brucey baby. Here, here!
You know who couldn't hoodwink their way out of coronavirus mask? Pismo Beach masktavists. That's right, I said mask-ta-vist. They advocate for everyone to be required to wear a face covering, to prevent spread of the coronavirus.
And Pismo Beach City Councilmember Marcia Guthrie was peeved at her fellow council members on May 5, who just couldn't get it together enough to pass an emergency mask ordinance that would have required essential businesses to mandate both employees and customers to wear face coverings. Non-essential businesses that Gov. Gavin Newsom is hinting at allowing to reopen? Not included for some reason.
Oh, I know. They must be virus free!
I bet Guthrie was wishing she could channel that inner Debbie magic. She's done with all of the lax attitudes from Pismo Beach visitors, which could up the little town of 8,000's population by 100,000 people on any given summer weekend.
And it's already happening. All those tourists streaming into the beach town to stand on sidewalks downtown and wait for their chance at a bread bowl full of chowda!
"The sidewalks as they sit are not big enough for lines for restaurants and for pedestrians that come to our area on a normal summer day," she told the council. "I'm not OK with it, and I just want that to go on the record."
But police don't have the capacity to enforce social distancing as it stands now. How would they enforce a face covering requirement? It would be totally unenforceable, which carries no Debbie magic. At all. Δ
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