April Letters to the Editor

Sonoma Strong for everyone

I was saddened to read about the Sheriff ’s reaction to a request to join in a fund raiser for Latinix residents who needed help during one of our many fire disasters. I see nothing wrong with helping a group that may need a bit more help than more privileged people. I am shocked to learn that the slogan “Sonoma Strong” is interpreted by some as supporting systemic racism. I never thought of it that way but then I am not a victim of pernicious racism as many of my fellow citizens are. We must respect the worth and dignity of all.

The Sheriff ’s office should embrace all segments of our society and learn that helping one part of us is helping all of us. Also, it does not matter when we moved into the County, we all contribute.

This snobbishness has to cease.

Linda Robinett Sebastopol, CA

Continued vaccine conversations

I thank you Gazette for keeping a balanced attitude as we struggle to seek the truth about vaccines and covid. It is good to keep in mind that there is not one science.Especially in the area of health care, there are many valid scientific pathways; acupuncture, ayurvedic, chiropractic, shamanism, homeopathy, massage, diet, exercise, meditation, flower essences, herbology...There is not one science. At its best , science is an ongoing inquiry of observation, thought and research , that leads us to a deeper understanding of life.

There are many troubling issues with vaccines , past and present. To know this , all one has to do is inquire. You may not want to inquire, but do not fault others for doing so. Please do not disparage others for thinking thoughts, different from your own.

There is NOT one science, that is the truth.

Theresa R Melia Graton

Proposed cannabis regs ‘cookie cutter’ approach

There is a reason that of 58 California counties only 15 allow outdoor commercial cannabis.

Impacts on neighborhoods are just too severe to offset with any mitigations.

Sonoma County started out with a use permit process, which is what is required by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) but is now attempting to go to a ministerial process to accommodate the cannabis industry demands. This is applying a cookie cutter approach to land use. Our county is too diverse to assume all parcels are so much alike that you can apply the same imaginary checkbox solution to each one. Other counties have tried this scheme but have had to return to use permits, after years of wasted time and lawsuits.

This attempt to bypass CEQA law will not succeed, but our County officials surge blindly ahead. Meanwhile the failed Penalty Relief Program allows those who broke the law and avoided taxes for years to continue

to operate and even expand without consequences.

The commercial cannabis rollout is a failure and the only way forward is to abandon the 2/16/21 Draft Ordinance and go back to amending the previous ordinance so that the scuttled neighborhood compatibility phase will finally be fulfilled.

Marcy Meadows Graton

More inclusive spaces, please!

Thank you so much for creating this meaningful learning and connecting opportunity. I hope there will be more in the future!

With gratitude, Saskia Garcia

What about neighbor inputs?

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors in their original 2016 cannabis ordinance promised that cannabis growing “would not be detrimental to health, safety, welfare or materially injurious to properties or improvements in the vicinity.” This is being sidelined in the new draft ordinance proposals. Gone will be any ability for neighbors to have input into permits.

The cannabis industry successfully lobbied for a much easier permitting process. In the draft ordinance cannabis, permitting will now be directed by the Ag Commissioner instead of a more rigorous process with Permit Sonoma.

65,000 acres will be open to cannabis growing, eclipsing wine grapes at 60,000 acres.

Little is being done to check environmental impacts. Water usage, estimated to be at least seven times that of the wine industry, is not being addressed. Nothing is being done to insure that smells caused by growing the plants will be monitored and mitigated.

Grows are allowed a mere 300 feet from neighboring structures.

If this new ordinance is allowed to go into effect in its current reiteration, the rural character that we love in Sonoma County will vanish.

Let the Board of Supervisors know that this is not the correct direction for Sonoma County.

Chris Stover Sebastopol, CA

Looking to the next steps

Thank you so much to you and the organizers Amie – passionate experience and look forward hearing next steps. Also, in alignment with the topics discussed that night was our annual violence prevention seminar: Deconstructing Race & Racism with Dr. Washington.

Thank you again, Jason Carter

Pay attention to Roseland University Prep

Dear Editor & People of Roseland, I am extremely saddened to hear what’s going on in the Roseland School District. When I volunteered at Roseland University Prep High School (RUP) with the Quilt club, never did it cross my mind that there were severe problems in that school district. It breaks my heart to see all the allegations on Facebook from previous students & multiple generations in which they stated that they encountered some sort of “racism, harassment, discrimination, or favoritism” during their time in the Roseland School District.

I really hope the School Board along with administrators work together to address these problems. Though, based on last week’s school board meeting it was heartbreaking to see no permanent solution or light at the end of the tunnel.

The people, students and families of Roseland should not be going through these injustices. I am confident that students will bring the positive changes the Roseland School District needs.

Sincerely, J. Burlingham

Homeowners: Beware of cannabis

Dear Sonoma County Homeowners: Please be aware a cannabis ordinance is now out for public review and would allow cannabis cultivation on Agricultural properties adjacent to residential homes. There would be no notice or opportunity to review a proposal and it’s impacts on your residential property and quality of life. There are rural residential communities and neighborhoods across the County mobilizing to propose reasonable standards be included in the Ordinance. We need your help to make this happen. Please get involved and join us in protecting neighborhoods.

Outdoor and hoop house cannabis cultivation will be a ministerial permit which means it is allowed in Agricultural zone districts without public hearing or environmental review on parcels 10 acres or more.

Setbacks for a cultivation area are only a minimum of 300 feet from a residence on an adjoining parcel, not the property line. The hours of operation allowed are 7 days per week, 24 hours a day with deliveries and shipping and outdoor processing allowed from 8 am to 5 pm. There can be multiple tenants on the property.

There are requirements for lighting, security, fencing, screening, dust control, odor, energy Use, noise limits, waste management, water run-off and ground water use. The long list of requirements show the magnitude of impacts possible from this use.

Imagine security fencing along your property line and cannabis operations 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 300 feet from your home.

The ordinance would allow cultural events, special events, tours, tasting and similar activities.

The homeowner groups involved support a minimum 1000-foot setback around unincorporated communities and residential neighborhoods adjacent to Agricultural zoned lands.

A 1000-foot setback is currently required around other sensitive uses such as schools, treatment centers and parks. Please visit this website to see how your specific property would be impacted.

www.itstoomuchcannabis. com The Sonoma County Supervisors are tentatively scheduled to hold public hearings on Tuesday, April 13th 2021. Please ask for your Supervisor’s vote to protect your residential quality of life.

Dick and Vi Strain

Consider reviewing low-cost options

I drool when I read the restaurant reviews. But can’t afford hardly anything. It would be a great benefit to senior and low income residents if your Gazette included a list of stores and restaurants with senior discount days (day of week indicated) and/or restaurants with some healthy dishes under $10, like salads instead of fries (or who might offer them on request).

Cathleen Caffrey

Publisher’s note: The food critics and I have talked and we *love* this idea.

Are there any Sonoma County senior residents who also have a penchant for food writing and reviewing?

Let me know! Email me at editor@sonomacountygazette.com.

The medicine we have to offer

Dear Editor,

Thank you and thanks to the panelists for their thoughtful, beautiful and deeply felt words. I was particularly moved by Isoke’s message of bringing our individual medicine into the world to share with others. I am an older white woman who, until recently, admittedly thought that most racism was a thing of the past and what remnants of it that still remained were largely carried out in the “fringes” of our society, Not until the Black Lives Matter movement became an everyday topic did I begin to take a closer look. I am appalled that so many people are still fighting for basic rights, respect, and equality.

My question or comment is regarding that personal medicine that Isoke mentioned. (Pardon me if I got the name wrong; I took some quick notes but might not have gotten it all down accurately). I often question what qualities and gifts I can bring to my loved ones, my community, and the larger collective world. I have found myself waking up and thinking “what is the medicine I wish to show the world today?” However, as the descendent of mostly European ancestors who bought or claimed, and cultivated land that had been stolen from native Americans, I feel I don’t really have the right to appropriate that word or that concept. But it is a beautiful and magical image, that of a human person offering their own unique self as “medicine” to the world. I would be very interested to hear your, or other panelists, comments on this.

Christine Montalto

More, please!

Ana suggested we e-mail you and let you know if we want more of what just happened last night with the Breaking Barriers presentation. So that’s what I’m doing.

Also, can you let me know how to access the recording for last night’s event? Thank you for the part you played in making this precious moment possible.

Laurie Lynn Hogan Epic Trail Challenge

Publisher’s Note: The full recording of the Gazette’s first community conversation panel can be found on the Sonoma County Gazette YouTube page! Don’t miss it!

Lack of planning?

Dear Editor: Sonoma County wants to be a mecca for outdoor cannabis cultivation, boasting that people prefer Sonoma County weed because of soil and climate. Yet they bring in external soil, discard spent soil, and shield plants from our natural climate in hoop houses or greenhouses. The proposed new ordinance will attract big players from out of state. Do we want 20+ acre mega grows like in Santa Barbara and Humboldt Counties, outcompeting our local growers?

No other Bay Area county allows outdoor cannabis cultivation for good reasons. Odor can drift thousands of feet, impacting wineries and requiring neighbors to remain indoors with windows closed. 24/7 commercial activity with many workers further destroys neighborhoods, and fields of white plastic hoop houses mar our hillsides. This is in addition to huge negative environmental impacts of extensive water and electrical usage, and increased traffic and people in high fire prone areas.

Our county can do much better in revising its cannabis ordinance to streamline for local growers, protect residents, environment and visual impacts, by conducting a proper EIR to determine suitable areas and conditions for responsibly growing cannabis. Yet our Planning Commissioners want to accept this new ordinance acknowledging that environmental review is lacking.

Deborah Eppstein

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