Application for permit to grow cannabis on the Central Coast dropped


Helios Dayspring grew cannabis on steep slopes in Tepusquet Canyon without proper erosion controls.  That growth seen in 2019 stopped in 2020.

Helios Dayspring grew cannabis on steep slopes in Tepusquet Canyon without proper erosion controls. That growth seen in 2019 stopped in 2020.

A business partner of Helios “Bobby” Dayspring, the San Luis Obispo County marijuana grower who pleaded guilty to charges of bribery and tax fraud last summer, has filed his application for planning permission to grow cannabis on two private properties in Los Padres secluded National Forest east of Santa Maria, county records show.

The two properties — Dayspring owns one and the other jointly with Michael Siegfried of Roseville — are located along an oak-covered ridge east of Tepusquet Canyon, a quaint rural neighborhood of approximately 375 homes.

Siegfried applied for permits to grow 5 acres of cannabis under tires on the properties totaling 160 acres; He proposed employing 60 workers during two seasonal harvests a year.

He took over the permit applications last August and signed them as manager of Depp Mts 3 and 4, a limited liability company with the same business address as the Natural Healing Center, a pot shop that Dayspring opened in Grover Beach.

Siegfried didn’t respond to a request for comment last week, but his withdrawal of the applications appears to mark the end of all efforts to grow cannabis on Dayspring’s land in Santa Barbara County, at least for the foreseeable future. Brand new applicants will have a long wait as the 1,575 acre cap for cannabis cultivation in Santa Barbara County has already been reached.

“This is about as good news as we can expect,” said Dave Clary, who for years led a cannabis “crisis committee” in Tepusquet Canyon with his wife, Lil, and filled “six binders” to track at Daysprings operations.

“Honestly,” Clary said, “Dayspring just kissed everyone. He turned out to be a crook, which surprises no one. We don’t want him around.”

For years, residents had complained about night lights, noisy generators, wrecked trucks, boom boxes, and heavy truck traffic to and from Dayspring’s annexes in the narrow canyon and Los Padres wooded area beyond. Dayspring claimed to have grown medical marijuana in these locations prior to 2016: under the county’s permissive cannabis ordinance, he was allowed to continue cultivation under legal, non-compliant status as long as he applied for permits.

Cultivation of dayspring in Los Padres National Forest has caused a variety of zoning violations that have not been corrected to date, including illegal sorting, illegal trailers, generators and gas tanks, and illegal expansion of cannabis plantings, county records show. Dayspring was also subpoenaed there for state water quality violations, including improper waste disposal and growing marijuana too close to a creek.

At Tepusquet Canyon, where Dayspring was seeking permits for 44 acres of cannabis on four properties, he was similarly subpoenaed for multiple county and state violations.

Its operations in the canyon were suspended in 2020 when the county board of directors banned all cultivation in rural areas. Dayspring’s violations relating to illegal mobile homes, tire houses, generators and fuel tanks in the canyon remain uncorrected to this day, county records show.

Last year, Dayspring’s company, 805 Agricultural Holdings, paid a $40,000 fine to Santa Barbara County and the State Department of Fish and Wildlife for violations of the state Fish and Game Code. These included polluting Tepusquet Creek with diesel fuel, pesticides, fertilizers, and plastic pipes; removing vegetation from the creek; leveling a road and constructing a rime house within the creek; and dumping tires, a TV, and a bed frame near the creek. Dayspring co-owns the property at 1556 Tepusquet Road with Luis Gonzalez and Knut Siegfried.

The California Secretary of State has since suspended 805 farms; State records show that Gonzalez incorporated a company called 805 Ag Holdings with the same address as the Natural Healing Center, the San Luis Obispo Dispensary formerly operated by Dayspring.

On May 27, Dayspring is scheduled to face tax and bribery charges in the US District Court of Los Angeles.

He faces up to 13 years in prison for tax evasion in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties and bribing a San Luis Obispo county supervisor. Court records show that the bribe was $32,000 and that Dayspring must pay $3.4 million to the Internal Revenue Service.

Melinda Burns is an investigative journalist with 40 years of experience covering immigration, water, science and the environment. As a community service, she simultaneously offers her reports to multiple Santa Barbara County publications for free.

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