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Summary of the El Dorado County Cannabis Ordinance Part 2 - Outdoor Activity

The following is a summary of one of the four sections of the ordinance authorizing commercial cannabis activities in El Dorado County.

On July 16, 2019 the El Dorado County Ad-hoc Committee will present the first draft of the commercial cannabis ordinance to the Board Of Supervisors. The following is a summary of the language for the outdoor cannabis activities.

Outdoor Cannabis Activity

This language addresses outdoor and mixed-light commercial cultivation.


Although the voters originally enacted the ordinance through their vote in November of 2018, the Board Of Supervisors has the discretion to regulate uses such as density, intensity, number, proximity, location and environmental standards without the need to obtain further approval.

Cannabis does not fall under the definition of an agricultural crop with respect to the “right to farm” ordinance

This ordinance applies regardless of whether commercial cannabis is cultivated for medical or adult-use purposes.

Limit on the number of commercial cannabis operations

The maximum number of commercial cannabis cultivation operations is limited to 150.

A minimum of 75 are reserved for outdoor or mixed-light less than 10,000 square feet of canopy.

40 of those 75 are reserved for 3,000 square feet AND grown exclusively with natural light AND meets organic certification standards or the substantial equivalent.

Outdoor and Mixed-Light Commercial Cultivation

Permitted Zones

Rural Lands (RL)

Planned Agricultural (PA)

Limited Agricultural (LA)

Agricultural Grazing (AG)

Minimum Site Area

Must meet a minimum of 10 acres

Canopy Coverage

Lots zoned RL with a minimum 10 acres

Premise up to 1.5% of lot

Not to exceed 10,000 square feet of total canopy including any nursery with mature plants

Excluding nursery area with immature plants

Lots zoned AG, LA & PA between 10-14.9 acres

Premise up to 1.5% of lot

Not to exceed .45 acres of total canopy

Excluding nursery area

Lots zoned AG, LA & PA between 15-25 acres

Premise up to 2% of lot

Not to exceed 1.5 acres of total canopy

Excluding nursery area

Lots zoned AG, LA & PA greater than 25 acres

Premise up to 5% of lot

Not to exceed 2.0 acres of total canopy

Excluding nursery area

Cultivation Standards

In addition to any state requirements, commercial cannabis permit owners SHALL comply with the following requirements and if not, enforcement, abatement and revocation is applicable.


Commercial cultivation site SHALL not be located within 1,500feet from a school, school bus stop, place of worship, park, playground, child-care center, youth-oriented facility, pre-school, licensed drug or alcohol recovery facility or licensed sober living facility.

Distance is measured from the nearest point of the property line of the commercial cultivation site to the nearest point of the property line of the impacted property using a direct straight-line measurement.


Minimum of 800 feet from the property line or public right-of-way and at least 300 feet from the upland extent of the riparian vegetation of any watercourse.


Any cannabis odor shall not be equal or greater than a 7 dilution threshold when measured by the County with a field olfactometer at the property line for a minimum of 2 readings, not less than 15 minutes apart, within a 1-hour period.

Odor control measures may be required and may require an additional permit.

Water Source

Water SHALL not be illegally diverted to cultivate commercial cannabis.

Commercial cannabis activity will only be permitted if sufficient evidence demonstrates:

There is adequate water supply in the watershed and water rights to serve the cultivation site, and

All required state permits have been obtained through the State Water Resources Control Board and any other state agency with jurisdiction.

Water Conservation Measures

Cultivation operations SHALL include adequate measures to minimize the use of water at the cultivation site including, but not limited to, underground drip irrigation, soil moisture monitoring, water capture systems, grey water systems, or equally effective water conservation measures.


Cannabis cultivation shall be screened from public view so that no part of the plant can be seen from an adjacent parcel.

Screening can be accomplished by enclosure within a hoop house or fencing of vegetation.

Greenhouse and hoop house are the preferred method of screening.

Security and Wildlife Exclusionary Fencing

The cultivation premises SHALL be secured with a 6-foot high solid wood or chain link wildlife exclusionary fence such as cyclone or field gaming fencing with locked gates built in compliance with building codes.

All gates SHALL remain locked at all times except to provide immediate entry and exit.

A chain link fence is not considered sufficient for screening.

Fencing may not be covered with plastic or cloth except neutral-colored shade cloth may be used on the inside of the fence.

Renewable Energy

Electrical power for outdoor or mixed light cultivation operations, including but not limited to illumination, heating & cooling, water supply and ventilation SHALL be provided by on-grid power with a 100% renewable source, on-site zero net energy renewable source, or with the purchase of carbon offsets of any portion of power not from renewable sources.

Generators may be used as a secondary or back up power source pursuant to a valid permit from the EDC Air Quality Management District.

Impacts from any generator use will be factored into the CEQA analysis and site-specific restrictions and conditions may be imposed to mitigate impacts such as noise.


All lighting, for mixed-light, SHALL be fully contained within structures

Artificial lighting is limited to 6 watts per square foot or less

Security lighting SHALL be motion activated and comply with EDC Outdoor Lighting rules and regulations.

Pesticide Usage

Preference SHALL be given to applicants that maintain organic certification standards or the substantial equivalent

County Agricultural Commissioner determines whether operation satisfies “substantially equivalent organic criteria”

Documentation of all pesticides SHALL be presented annually as a part of the Annual Operating Permit.

Disposal of Waste Material

Cannabis waste SHALL be disposed of in accordance with state regulations

Burning of cannabis waste material is prohibited.

Public Sewer or Sewage Disposal System

Premise SHALL be connected to public sewer system or have a County inspected and approved sewage disposal system.

Recommendation of the Agricultural Commission

Application for Conditional Use Permit must be reviewed and recommendation made by the Agricultural Commission, including any suggested conditions or restrictions, before being considered by the Planning Commission.

Commercial Cannabis Nurseries

Requires a Conditional Use Permit AND Annual Business Operating Permit

Permits dictate maximum square footage allowable for designated areas with only immature plants, seed propagation that may contain mature plants and if there will be research and development conducted that may require a plant to flower.

The county may place restrictions on square footage to maintain consistency with other laws, surrounding commercial uses, and neighborhood compatibility.

This information has been provided by:

Agora C Business Services Law Office of Dale Schafer

To schedule an appointment call (916) 740 - 2141

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