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Sonoma County Gazette
LETTERS - April 2018
LETTERS - April 2018

about APRIL 2018 articles

Apr 4, 2018


More Shooting in Sonoma

I agree totally with Kathy Byrne about that Wing & Barrel Ranch. OMG that is disgusting and sickening and I hope they are not going to be successful. Would like more information about that. To kill birds and drink OMG and individuals pay $75K to join and organizations $145K, what kind of organizations?? I have an idea of what types and I don't like it. Our own little killing fields in beautiful Sonoma! Please say NO! ~ Judy Mikeska

Cannabis fact-checking

The letters in your April issue illustrate some serious confusion regarding cultivation of cannabis. For example, Rachel Zierdt threw out a figure of her neighbor using 38 million gallons of water a year. You really should be vetting these letters a bit harder before publishing them. That figure is way off. That is using 105,000 gallons a day! In other words, enough to cover an acre with 4 inches of water every single day!!  Not possible.

I run a small family farm outside of Sebastopol. We grow 15 acres of organic vegetables and in total use roughly a few million gallons per year... 
The cannabis ordinance requires copious attention to water resources already, in addition to thorough biotic assessments for potential environmental impact! The standards are very high in Sonoma County already. 
It is silly to talk about illegalizing a crop that was already illegal.  Well, then many illegal operations will simply continue illegally.  The Board of Supervisors have done a great job of making the regulations very restrictive and have set the bar high. Cannabis operations that meet their criteria should be allowed to continue.  The whole point of legalization is to eliminate the criminal element. Cannabis is already a big part of our local economy, like it or not. We need to bring cultivators into compliance to bring the industry into the light, generate jobs and tax revenues, and continue Sonoma County's rich agricultural heritage. Remember, Sonoma County has a Right to Farm Ordinance! This means that you live in an area that has farming, whether or not you like the farmers or the crop.  I understand keeping cannabis out of residential zones, but the Ag zones are zoned that way for a reason. 
After it all, remember: cannabis is a plant. It should never have been illegal in the first place.
Ryan Power, Sebastopol

Cannabis Farms in Rural Neighborhoods - April 10 BOS meeting

The agenda for the upcoming Sonoma County Board of Supervisor's meeting on April 10th has been posted.  If you have not done so, please go online and send your letters to the supervisors via our website!! 

As expected, the Board will be discussing the Cannabis Ordinance in a Study Session beginning at about 1:30pm. The three specific topics being discussed are:

1. Compatibility with neighborhoods
2. Alignment with state regulations, and
3. Adult use (ie, recreational not medical)

The meeting will be held in the Board of Supervisors Chambers:   575 Administration Drive, Room 102A, Santa Rosa

CHANGE STARTS HERE!  Please plan to ATTEND and WEAR RED to identify yourself as a concerned citizen wanting commercial cannabis to be located away from of rural neighborhoods. We suggest you arrive by 1:15pm, as parking can be limited.  Red "SOS Neighborhood" caps are available (suggested but not required donation $10).  If you would like one to be brought to the meeting on your behalf, please reply to this e-mail and we'll make sure to have plenty on hand.

The public is allowed to speak at the meeting following the staff presentation.  If you wish to speak, fill out a yellow speaker card. The cards are located in the back of the room and also on the front left side of the room (next to the ramp). Pick up a card, add your name, the date and "Item 27" on the blank next to Regular Calendar, and return to the container marked "SPEAKER CARDS HERE" in the front left of room. 

PRINT a copy of your talk, it does not need to be identical, and give it to the clerk after speaking so you can get your complaint on the record.  This step is important so you go on written record as to your position. You will have, at the maximum, 3 minutes but expect only 1-2 minutes to speak.  We suggest you practice and time you talk so you know what you can effectively leave out if your speaking time is cut down from 3 to 1-2 minutes.

We hope to see you there.

Sustainability? Fake News?

Thank you for the excellent, balanced April cover story:  “Wine Our Best friend or Worst Enemy?”

When the Sonoma County Winegrowers buy full-page ads in local papers headlined "Love the land and the land loves you", touting their goal of 100% sustainability, one has to wonder. If they love the land so much, why are they using so many harmful chemicals? Sustainability? Sounds like fake news to me.

In 2015, WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) declared glyphosate a “probable carcinogen.” That same year, just over 46 tons—of glyphosate were applied to Sonoma County vineyards. Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup; the most widely sold weed-killer in the world. In 2016, a consensus statement by a group of scientists blamed the heavy and rising usage of glyphosate on endocrine disruption, birth defects, kidney and liver damage, and gastrointestinal health issues. They also found that Monsanto’s “allowable daily intakes” in the US and EU were based on outdated science.

Meanwhile, sales of organic wine are growing, significantly faster than sales of non-organic wine, with each acre yielding about $1500 more for the grapes. If our local wine industry truly wants to be sustainable they will consider your author’s recommendations to move toward biodynamic or organic/pesticide free farming for the health and welfare of everyone, not just business profits.

Jane Colman, Santa Rosa

I would love to know...

The article written by Aleta includes the sentence..."despite how much the wine industry benefits our local economy..."
My question is exactly does the wine industry benefit our economy? Does it pay for our roads that tourists drive and bike all over to taste test? Does it pay for housing for the multitude of service workers behind the scenes...out in the vineyards working under sometimes deplorable conditions? Does it pay for our children's education? Does it pay to keep our waters clean and clear?
As Aleta says, let's address the elephant in the room. It's looming large.
Our county is forever changed. It's lost so much of its charm with the rape of the land, outrageous water usage, continued building of wineries, and more and more venues to 'taste' and be entertained.

I appreciate your article Aleta, thank you. ...and I personally, don't mind demonizing the industry. It's theirs to own.

Jude Mariah

Hi Jude, Thank you for your input on my article in the April issue. I understand your skepticism surrounding the wine industry and the apparent damage it does to our environment. But we also must give credit where it is due. Wine has put Sonoma County on the map as a tourist destination, and whether you think that’s good or bad, it does generate revenue. All those tourists are paying taxes while they’re here, which does contribute towards road improvement, public services, human services, education, and environmental advancements. These tourists are also patronizing other businesses like restaurants, hotels, and shops, most of which are owned by locals and all of whom employ locals. The wine industry itself directly employs 7,830 people in Sonoma County, who make an average of $16.34/hour. There are many ways that we can criticize the wine industry, and many ways in which they can improve their business and farming practices, but to say that they offer no benefit to Sonoma County at all would be inaccurate. My hope is that we can find a balance. Ideally, our place on the map as a wine destination would remain, but in such a way that is environmentally sustainable and not so financially top heavy. Encouraging more winegrowers to become more biodynamic, and supporting the ones who already are, would be the first step in moving the process along towards a more sustainable future. Thank you again for your response. ~ Aleta Parseghian

Grape Cultivation

I wanted to thank you for your well written and researched article on grape cultivation. I've been a local anti-pesticide advocate in Sonoma County for several years (focusing mainly on getting pesticides out of schools and parks) and have started to slowly educate myself on the status quo in grape growing. I went to Pam Strayers talk in Sebastopol a couple weeks ago (perhaps you were there?) and was very glad to see your well-timed article in the Gazette. I've been working on Sonoma County Conservation Action's Toxic Free Future campaign and could see some of those efforts focused on grape growing/worker's rights in the future. I know there are a handful of other nonprofits that would also be interested in working on this issue. Keep me in mind if you decide to pursue this work further.

Thanks again! Megan Kaun



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