The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday will decide whether to create an ordinance requiring industrial hemp growers in unincorporated areas to obtain permits from the county, and to establish cultivation standards.
Supervisors will also decide whether to allow industrial hemp cultivation in certain zoning districts with a land-use permit.
The county adopted a moratorium on new industrial hemp growing in November 2020, after people living near a handful of East Contra Costa industrial grow sites complained about odor, lights, and other factors.
Supervisors have since extended the moratorium twice, with the current ban in place until Sept. 30. County staff has since worked with state and federal officials to develop regulations for the county.
Growing hemp commercially has been legal in Contra Costa since 2018, when the first five growers were permitted. Hemp has many commercial uses, including food, clothing, medicine, building materials, and more. But neighbors soon complained they weren't warned hemp growers were coming to the area and that growers were violating permitting conditions.
Supervisors will discuss creating a new zoning ordinance that new permits may only be issued for cultivation in an agricultural zoning district located with the boundaries of the East Contra Costa Irrigation District, the Byron-Bethany Irrigation District or the East Contra Costa County Groundwater Subbasin.
The ordinance would also establish various requirements and standards for indoor and outdoor cultivation.
Land-use permits would be good for five years and could be renewed if the permit holder complies with regulations and applies while the permit is still in effect. The renewed permit would last until it's revoked.
The ordinance wouldn't allow for industrial hemp to be cultivated within, or within one mile, of the county's urban limit line. The minimum lot size for outdoor cultivation would be five acres. Indoor facilities would have to comply with rules regarding other structures. Other conditions of approval will include security plans, shielded lighting, and odor control.
The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors meets virtually Tuesday (July 27) at 9 a.m. and can be found at www.contracosta.ca.gov.