Star Report

The Christmas cocoa stand at Recovery Ranch in Santa Ynez was in hot water with code enforcement of the Santa Barbara County Planning and Development department as they were operating a commercial operation in a residential zone, according to county officials.

“We received an anonymous complaint that Recovery Ranch was operating a commercial business in a residential zone, and while we understand they were trying to do something good in the community, we have to follow county code. They have 30 days from receiving their notice of violation which I believe was yesterday, to either cease the operation or have the property rezoned,” said Dr. Glenn Russell, planning director.

The cocoa stand has become a community favorite event as they offered holiday treats and pictures with Santa Claus. The Recovery Ranch is a rehabilitation facility in Santa Ynez for men that struggle with addiction and alcoholism. They come to the ranch to receive treatment and more than just a sober living home, once they graduate the program have job opportunities with several of the businesses created such as Ranch Wash, Ranch Hands, Ranch Outreach and more as they continue their journey in recovery.

There has been an outpouring of support for the holiday activity from many people in the Santa Ynez Valley and surrounding areas.

“So sad that you had to close down. You all bring so much joy and Christmas cheer to the valley every year,” said Cyndy Allen on their Facebook page.

“Having such a wonderful event closed down is heartbreaking. Praying that everything can get resolved and the Cocoa Stand can reopen soon,” wrote¬†Lisa Bondietti.

Russell said they are happy to talk to the Recovery Ranch to help them work through solutions.

“We can work together and help them understand the different kinds of permitting and it’s unfortunate it had to happen but we have to be consistent with county code and enforce it no matter if someone is doing something they feel is good for the community,” Russell said.

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