Our meeting with several leaders of the environmental community went very well last week. Members of our Land Use Committee sat down to talk about several issues in the Local Coastal Program Update. While we didn’t expect to have agreement on all the issues we did find common ground on many of them. For example, we both agreed that some additional space should be permitted for processing facilities and retail sales facilities. Originally 5,000 sq. feet was going to be permitted for processing and 500 sq. feet for retail sales on a ranch. At a recent planning commission hearing both sides were cut in half.
Also, the planning commission approved language against our wishes that only allow tours on our ranches to be given by non-profit organizations. This means no rancher can give a tour of their own ranch to school children. We will have the support of the environmental community in fixing this.
Trails on private lands is another major issue of concern that we have the backing of the environmental community. Everyone realizes how important it is to keep the public from walking though our ranches for so many reasons like vandalism, injury, and bio-security just to name a few.
While many issues were discussed it would be difficult to go over them all. But one of the most important things to come from today’s meeting was increased communication and a better understanding of what ranchers go through. It is safe to say that they were surprised at how much work we already do to meet specifications set forth by the Regional Water Quality Control Board. This helped to put their minds somewhat at ease but they still have many concerns when it comes to the Biological Resources section of the LCP. Setbacks from streams, wetlands, and ESHAs will continue to be a major topic of debate.