Supervisors also deny appeal for cannabis use permit in Penman Springs, Paso Robles

SLO COUNTY — The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors met for its regular meeting Tuesday, May 3, with two hearings — considering an appeal to extend the Cambria Christmas Market temporary event permit and another appeal for a minor use permit for an outdoor cannabis cultivation canopy outside of Paso Robles.

Supervisors denied an appeal to challenge the permit for the Cambria Christmas Market, allowing the event to continue in 2022 and 2023. 

Inspired by German and Austrian Christmas markets, the event began in 2011 at the Cambria Pines Lodge. It features over 2 million lights with vendor booths, food, and drinks. 

Getting through this together, Paso Robles

Due to COVID-19 regulations, the market was open only to hotel and restaurant guests in 2020 and 2021. The market was planned to return to regular operations in 2021 but was halted due to an appeal filed against the market. 

Leading the appeal, Claudia Harmen Worthen, Russel Read, and Mark Hough argued the market creates congestion in Cambria, making it difficult for people to get back to their homes. 

The 2022 Cambria Christmas Market is scheduled to take place from Nov. 25 through Dec. 31. More information about the event is expected to be released on the market’s website in July.

The second hearing of Tuesday’s meeting was an appeal submitted by Christina Maldonado for the approval of a minor use permit for SLO BF Inc. The approved permit establishes a multi-phased project which includes 2.63 acres of outdoor cannabis cultivation canopy, 22,000 square feet (SF) of indoor cannabis cultivation canopy, 10,800 SF of indoor ancillary nursery, 6,000 SF of ancillary indoor cannabis processing, and approximately 25,000 SF of related site improvements. 

The site in question is located at 1255 Penman Springs Road, approximately 1.25 miles east of Paso Robles. 

Residents of the Penman Springs area argued the cannabis site would bring a strong, disagreeable smell to the area, and the area is already suffering from a lack of available water. 

District 1 Supervisor John Peschong gave his support for the project. He advised neighbors in Penman Springs that if violations are made, they can reach out to supervisors and use the process set up by the county.

“The county has a number of rules and regulations that we set up to make sure it does not burden you or your families or your property,” said Peschong.

However, he added, “Your property rights end where your property line ends.”

The project lies within the boundaries of Peschong’s District 1 and District 5, which is represented by Supervisor Debbie Arnold.

Arnold disagreed with Peschong saying the project does not fit in with the Penman Springs area. She brought up the supervisors had agreed to approve cannabis projects on a case-by-case basis.

Depletion of groundwater was another concern for Arnold as some neighbors in Penman Springs have reported their wells are going dry. As a result, Arnold declared she does not support the project in Penman Springs. 

District 3 Supervisor Dawn Ortiz-Legg expressed her support for the project. She mentioned the county is missing out on a significant amount of funds because it’s not approving more cannabis projects. However, she wants residents in Penman Springs to know they want to keep these cannabis projects accountable for following county regulations.

District 4 Supervisor Lynn Compton disagreed with Ortiz-Legg’s opinion that the county should approve all cannabis projects to receive more county funds. However, she “cautiously” agreed to support the Penman Springs project.

The motion to deny the appeal was approved with a 4-1 vote, Arnold voting no. 

The next SLO County Supervisors meeting is scheduled for May 17.