Pot-apalooza, Weedstock or whatever name a cannabis-themed event might sport won’t be joining the Flower or Spring Arts festivals in Lompoc any time soon.
The Lompoc City Council voted Tuesday night to table the topic of establishing rules for permits to hold cannabis-themed events.
Council members Jeremy Ball, Gilda Cordova and Victor Vega voted for the delay with Mayor Jenelle Osborne and Councilman Dirk Starbuck in dissent.
“It’s not just about covering the gopher holes for an event because the infrastructure needs work,” Vega said, referring to longstand concerns about gopher holes in the city’s parks.
“We need to work on the budgetary issue to fix these things because, if they’re unsafe and they’re being temporarily fixed, I don’t think that’s a standard we want to continue.”
Ball said he favored tabling the item because he wanted to hear how other communities fared with cannabis events to determine the benefits, consequences and other aspects.
“I just haven’t heard the answer clearly tonight delineated that the benefit could outweigh the uncertainty that’s still here,” he said.
Osborne asked that the item return before the end of the year with information from other communities that allow cannabis events.
“I think we need to work on this and get it in place because these events are going to take a year to plan and we want to have the process out there for individuals,” she said.
In a presentation to the council, staff reviewed the three parks possibly suited for cannabis events although each has reasons they might not be the best location.
Ken Adam Park, at Hancock Drive and Highway 1, would need brush to be removed and other maintenance work to help reduce fire danger due to the likelihood of outdoor marijuana smoking. Parking also would be limited, but an agreement with nearby Lompoc Valley Center for Allan Hancock College could solve that problem.
The site could accommodate approximately 600 people.
River Bend Park, at North A Street and McLaughlin Road, has 13 acres of soccer fields and more than sufficient parking that could host an event with thousands of attendees. But it would require traffic to travel through a residential area.
River Park, at Highway 246 and Sweeney Road, has hosted the Santa Barbara County Vintners’ Festival, but has significant gopher holes that would need to be fixed. It has handled events with up to 2,500 attendees.
Staff had suggested allowing only four events a year initially and a requirement for applications to be submitted several months in advance to allow time to review the requests and plans for traffic, security and other needs.
“There’s so many itty bitty requirements that go into ensuring these are safe events,” community development director Christie Alarcon said.
More than one council member expressed displeasure that no one from the cannabis industry attended the meeting.
“If they were here maybe they could enlighten us as to the difference between a wine event and a cannabis event,” Ball said.
Osborne said event planners and those in the cannabis industry support the city creating rules for events.
“I will tell you they’re all very still interested,” Osborne said. “They do see it as a way to give back to the community for being supportive of being a free market and extending the ability to contribute more.”