Cannabis Cultivation in Sonoma County - The Discussion Continues
Many people have weighed in on the decisions surrounding Cannabis cultivation in Sonoma County. Here are some of this month's opinions...
CANNABIS: How Close is Too Close?
AN OPEN LETTER TO THE SONOMA COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
Not many of us in this life have the power and opportunity to safeguard the well-being of thousands of our neighbors.
But, at this moment, you do.
I attended the Planning Commission meeting on June 28th during which changes were recommended to the Cannabis Ordinances Setback Regulations to improve Neighborhood Compatibility.
You now have a complex job on your hands. With respect, let me try to simplify it for you by asking you to keep one thing very clearly in mind:
The vast MAJORITY of residents in Sonoma County DO NOT WANT to live near a commercial cannabis operation.
Many of these residents have lived in the County their whole lives, some families for generations. Suddenly, their quality of life is being compromised by the hazards of commercial cannabis cultivation: significant loss of property value, crime, noise, glare, traffic, noxious odors, massive water use.
Many of these residents have resigned themselves to having a cannabis operation near their homes because of fear of confrontation and reprisal or because they feel powerless in the face of the massive amount of money and influence the cannabis industry brings to its lobbying efforts.
You can protect these residents - and honor the wishes of the majority of your constituents - by making two changes to the Cannabis Ordinances:
10 Acre Minimum Lot Size 1000 feet Setbacks
This would be simple. This would be fair. This would be Neighborhood Compatibility.
Many thanks for your attention, Patrick Ball, Sebastopol
Open letter to Susan Gorin
Prior to the last election for First District Supervisor, I was on a committee of five from the Sonoma County Democratic Club. We interviewed all candidates running for the position. We directly asked Susan Gorin what she thought of marijuana and where she thought it should be cultivated in Sonoma County for commercial businesses. Her reply: she thought it should be grown in industrial, self-contained areas and not in rural residential neighborhoods.
Do your research. Read the paper. Susan Gorin has not kept her campaign promise to our committee as to where commercial marijuana should be cultivated.
Carol Smith, Santa Rosa
Susan Gorin’s Response:
The interview occurred over two years ago when Sonoma County was in very different time and place in our discussions and planning for medical cannabis cultivation and dispensaries - before our County overwhelmingly supported the legalization of adult usage. I did not vote to approve Proposition 64 because I felt our County and the state were not ready for the intense planning to implement this. What we are experiencing now in the County confirms my original opinion.
As the letter writer communicated, at the time “I thought” that cultivation would be most appropriate for industrial areas. And in fact, I voted, along with the Board to exclude commercial cultivation from RR and AR zoning (Rural Residential and Agricultural Residential) where our small lots and close-in neighborhoods exist). And I have vigorously advocated for code enforcement to move a cultivator out of the neighborhood of the letter writer.
Industrial areas for cultivation are the point of agreement for most people in the County. But our industrial areas are limited, and in Sonoma Valley, industrial areas have become the location for wineries and food and beverage processors, and groundwater levels are continuing to decrease through overdrafting of the basin.
Although there are people who live in areas zoned for Agriculture and Resource Districts, for the most part those areas include much-larger acreages; those areas may be appropriate for cultivation with the stringent standards and regulations we approved on a case by case basis. Bringing unpermitted cultivation activities all over the County (and in every zoning) into compliance with permitting and taxation through code enforcement and the penalty relief program is complex and time intensive for Permit Sonoma, but this is moving forward.
The Supervisors will be meeting on August 7 and will once again have an opportunity to review where we are with permitting, relationship of medicinal and adult usage and alignment with state standards in Phase 1. At this time Phase 2 will focus on neighborhood compatibility, over concentration and inclusion/exclusion zones, which is a top priority for me.
I am writing to express my concern about the creation of exclusion zones where cannabis uses are currently allowed. As a compliant cannabis operator in Sonoma County, I have invested tens of thousands of dollars and countless hours to ensure that I fully comply with the guidelines that have been set forth by the County.