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Sonoma County Gazette
LETTERS - June 20188
LETTERS - June 2018

July 2018

Jun 27, 2018


Cannabis Land Use Ordinance UPDATES

“The Planning Commission held a public hearing on June 7, 2018 to consider amendments to the Cannabis Land Use Ordinance. At the conclusion of the hearing the Commission requested staff to provide clarification and additional research on the proposal.   The Board of Supervisors provided direction to move quickly on amendments to alleviate neighborhood compatibility issues by requiring use permits on smaller rural properties and align with state law where appropriate. Part 2 will include a more thorough review of neighborhood compatibility and other implementation efforts and will include robust outreach, data and mapping analysis, and extensive research by staff”.   

As you will see, there are no immediate changes to improve neighborhood compatibility issues with regard to setbacks, despite multiple neighborhood groups and concerned citizens voicing opinion on the need for increased setbacks. The docs state this will be included in phase 2. This is incredibly disappointing as it was one of the major concerns of all the supervisors and an easy fix. We requested to increase outdoor setbacks to 2,000 feet to a property line (from today’s 100 feet). We can smell our neighbor from 1,100 feet away. WAnd we requested to add an indoor setback for cannabis-use accessory structures (no setback rules exists today). This isn’t included either.

You will see that the recommended changes to the ordinance really fall short of what I recall the board requesting for neighborhood compatibility. Interestingly, it worsens compatibility in Sebastopol zones by reversing the ban in certain AR and RR parcels (Planning Areas 4 and 6 Sebastopol and environs).....and using the current setback regulations ?!?! This seems unfair to the neighborhoods to be singled out and also unfair to the previous growers who were shut down in AR and RR with the 2016 ordinance.

Please help us get the word out. These recommendations are not going to help us at all. We are very disappointed. We recognize the board has the final say and will take public comments on August 7. We still have hope that they will listen to all of their constituents. Right now, the voices of the cannabis industry are loudest.

Many thanks for listening.

Grace Guthrie

Housing Our Families

Affordable house ownership suggestion: LOCALLY FINANCED OWNER OCCUPIED TINY HOMES

I’ve been watching the board of sups meetings and actually spoke at one. I agree that adding lots of standard ADU’s does not necessarily make it easy for young people to own (except when they are children of us old back to the landers and can stay on the land if we build them cottages or convert garages barns etc.—the only way many of them can do it)

But here’s an idea I and some of my West County friends have been exploring: Owner Occupied Tiny Homes and Small Scale Rural Tiny Home Villages Where Young People Can Rent to Own. I’ve got a number of friends who would invest in a project where they finance tiny homes or beautiful house style Park Models that are then made available as a lease option or rent to own basis, either on their own land or in small rural tiny home permaculture village parks.

This allows:

1) young people to put their money into equity on a monthly basis

2) a reasonable return on investment for people like us who need to manage our retirement nest-egg and would love to use it to support the next generation that is currently being driven out by high prices

3) a sense off community—owners could provide shared use infrastructure like community kitchens, meeting spaces, guest rooms, gardens, tools, child care facilities etc (many of us are empty nesters and our houses would make great community spaces for people living in tiny homes.

I think this is not only an invest local solution, but is a good carbon footprint when focused on rural permaculture style living that lots of young poeple want- especially in place like this where it is so easy to grow food and sell to the local farmers market, and “buy local” restaurants like Peter Lowell’s, Backyard, Handline etc.

What do you think? I know you are very vocal and active so I thought it would be worth getting your thoughts on this approach.

You know this is what some of the old guard of back to the landers have been trying to do at Ecotopia and La Tiera and OAEC somewhat under the radar. Maybe now that we have Linda Hopkins and an “outside of the box” thinking board of Sups trying to solve the problem we may have a chance. I personally think its way better than the townhouse condo cheap urban apartment model.

“It makes a village”

Michael Heumann

RP’s New 20-year General Plan: Who will it exclude?

Like many Rohnert Park residents, I have enjoyed the vacant lot on LaBath Street behind Ashley furniture for years. It represented the last little patch of the wild in a city that’s growing in a direction many of us fear is weeding out us local residents.

My dog Jack and I got to know the family of Jack Rabbits that have lived on that patch for countless generations. Every spring they would frolic before breeding then behold, the babies of a new generation would soon arrive. It was our way of enjoying and being a part of nature’s remarkable cycle of life.

This spring there was no joy. A hotel broke ground right around the time those babies were to be born. I wire fence was erected and the ground movers starting destroying their habitat. All I could do was watch in horror as I knew the fate of this last generation. We have not seen our rabbit friends since.

Yesterday, to my horror, I saw one of the jack rabbits exposed, in broad daylight in the middle of the afternoon looking for a way out. He was in the asphalt parking lot in the enclosure. The little rabbit is emaciated and desperate to live. I tried to think of a way to get him but as wild is, it wouldn’t let me approach and it ran back into the empty dried out field they plowed down where there is no food or water left to sustain it. He is trapped with nowhere to go.

As a resident of this city, I too feel like that jack rabbit. Being displaced by corporate interests for the sake of having a better city at the expense of those already established here? Will RP’s new 20 year general plan take away the Rancho Verde mobile home park, leaving three hundred middle to low income families homeless like those poor jack rabbits? I’m sure there are a thousand people or more living in the park. Like those Jack rabbits, will our families be eradicated too? Will our land be sold to the highest bidder for the sake of having a better money making venture for someone else to enjoy?

Waiting for an answer,

Margaret Cantwell / RP resident


Thank you Margie—very well-expressed letter. My concerns for Rohnert Park mirror your own. It breaks my heart to see our communities turned over to corporate interests. My hope is that our citizens will vigorously participate in the next General Plan update.

Strong leadership

We are very lucky to have Lynda Hopkins leading the west county into a political environment that provides some measure of control and input from full-time residents. For the first time in decades I think there is a future for the lower river and the west county that can be good for everyone. We must resist those moneyed interests of both private and government that see our community as a welfare state that is funded by our tax dollars. These entities created by the BOS to represent our views are exactly what is needed to stop the stream roller of social engineering that has oppressed the area in a serious way for the last 15-20 years. Thank you Lynda for empowering the residents. Thank you Lynda.

Beef Mcwin

This and that

The letter from M. Gillean, entitled “Opinionated Columnists” caught my eye, but, of course, anyone reading “The Gazette” would know how political the whole paper is. Egads, even the Astrological predictions are so anti-Trump, they are laughable and even though I turn to my sign each month I know what to expect! And some columnists are very self-serving - i.e. Christopher Kerosky who specializes in immigration law and seems to only spotlight immigrant success stories.

But I read the Gazette for other reasons - to enjoy special columns - my favorites being “The Night Sky, The Family Pet, the recipe columns which also afford an educational excursion.. I also keep informed as to what is going on in Sonoma County as well as to learn what is going on in the various communities and special people who live there. There is an added plus of finding a competent person for any repairs. There are also special articles which urge one to learn more: the June issue of a Bicycle Backyard Tour and “Take a Walk on the Wild Side about the nursery specializing in carnivorous plants - both fascinating. I even cut out several articles to share with my children.

So read the Gazette and know there will be strong opinions that won’t match your own I’ve lived long enough that I know my world has changed drastically - I don’t have to like it, I frequently don’t, but I try to smile at strangers,regardless of whatever they believe.

Chain vs. Local Pharmacy Pricing

Pharmacy Pricing, in general, is a Tough Pill to Swallow. (June Gazette). Take Humalog for instance, which by the way, the price of this life-sustaining prescription drug has risen 1123% since June 1996. I decided, after reading this article, to reach out to my local ‘Chain Pharmacies’ and my ‘locally-owned small pharmacy’ to compare the price of what they’re charging for Humalog insulin versus the price my husband and I are currently paying out-of-pocket at our local grocery store pharmacy for Humalog insulin. Here’s what I found out: Walgreens - $325.00 (100 units per ml) x 1 vial; Rite Aid - $307.69 (100 units per ml) x 1 vial; CVS - $329.00 (100 units per ml) x 1 vial; Walmart - $647.60 (100 units per ml) x 5 vials; Raley’s - $268.39 (100 units per ml) x 1 vial; locally-owned small pharmacy - $289.00 (100 units per ml) x 1 vial. Like anything else, it pays to shop around for the best price, especially if you’re enrolled in a ‘high deductible’ Prescription Drug Plan.

Melanie Simson Garner

Mark Essick, Sonoma County Sheriff-Elect

I am honored the voters of Sonoma County have elected me to be your next Sonoma County Sheriff-Coroner. I am truly humbled to be entrusted with leading the 650 men and women of the Sheriff’s Office into what I consider to be a bright future for Sonoma County and her 500,000 residents. I am committed to implementing robust community policing, diversity in our hiring and accountability to those we serve. I look forward to working with Sheriff Rob Giordano over the next 6 months to create a seamless leadership transition as I prepare to take office on January 7, 2019.

I commend my opponents Ernesto Olivares and John Mutz for raising important issues about the challenges our community faces now and in the future. I believe we agreed on much more than we disagreed and I look forward to working with their supporters if we truly want to keep Sonoma County a special place to live and work.

The support of my family, friends, and co-workers has been incredible; their support and encouragement from the very beginning is the reason I ran for office. I’ve been genuinely impressed by the hundreds of people I’ve met over the last year for their willingness to get involved in the democratic process, ask tough questions, and work to make their community a better place. I am excited to get to work for the people of Sonoma County.

Mark Essick, Cloverdale

Boots on the ground...

I was blessed to meet so many people during the fire, heart-based hard working people fromCatholic Charities that endured the best and worst of people during ongoing trauma...and they are missed. 

I took a couple of photos of the mass of cots and a few shots of people’s dogs but I respected their privacy even when privacy was what a lot of those folks missed the most. One shell shocked woman sat at the edge of her cot holding her daughter very closely and very tightly. This woman had what appeared to be half her normal make up on, her nails were impeccably done, her luggage beside her matched, but so did the family that only had a few garbage bags filled with what they could grab before being evacuated. 

Red Cross Volunteers all seemed to know each other, even though their homes were states away from each other, even though this was their second or third shifts with little to no sleep, and even then they were sleeping on the same cots as we were but they were holed up in some church somewhere. 

By the end of my stay most people (of the 45 left) knew most of the staff’s first names, they ours, had exchanged email addresses and some are engaged in further developing friendships via email. It was basically the run of the mill fabulously caring exercise and what lines were drawn disappeared rapidly. Their smiling faces rest comfortably within my memories.

Good Folks, Marcos

False Information on Cellphone Towersin Sebastopol(and elsewhere too)

Kee Nethery’s column in last month’s edition deserves a reply. I appreciate his interest in the rollout of 4G/5G cellphone technology, since this new technology needs more public discussion. He is right in stating that the further away from the nearest cellphone tower the stronger the microwave signal required to use a cellphone.

His error is stating that “more towers means we are exposed to less EMF”. The new 4G (4th Generation) cell towers are proposed to be located closer to each other, at approximately 250 feet apart. The small cell tower in front of your home would be the biggest source of radio frequency (RF) microwave radiation exposure because you can never turn it off. It’s effects are cumulative over time. You can, however, choose to turn off your cellphone to mitigate microwave radiation exposure. Mr. Nethery’s statement that our cellphone power output is the same as the cell tower with which it is communicating is also correct. Because you are right next to your cellphone absorbing its energy – you are absorbing thousands of times greater than the energy than you’re getting from the cell tower.

Another misstatement is ‘A little EMF sprinkled on you constantly from a cell tower is comparable to a little water sprinkled on you constantly, your body handles it just fine”. Consider the following:

• The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified low-level Radio Frequency Radiation (RF) as a potential 2B carcinogen and specified that the use of mobile phones could lead to specific forms of brain tumors. More recently the $25 million National Toxicology Program concluded that radio frequency radiation of the type currently used by cell phones can cause cancer.

• Many studies have associated low-level RFR exposure with a litany of health effects, including: DNA single and double-strand breaks (which leads to cancer); oxidative damage (which leads to tissue deterioration and premature ageing); disruption of cell metabolism; increased blood-brain barrier permeability; melatonin reduction (leading to insomnia and increasing cancer risks); disruption of brain glucose metabolism; and generation of stress proteins (leading to myriad diseases). There is no safe exposure level for to RF microwave radiation. 

• The 4G cellphones required increased bandwidth receiving, so they developed “smart antennas” - a series of 4 antennas in a single phone handset to facilitate receiving and sending a pulsed, data-modulated RF microwave radiation. This is like the equivalent of having four cell phones in one device rather than one.

• The new 5G technology utilizes higher-frequency millimeter wave (MMW) bands, which give off the same dose of radiation as airport scanners. Adoption of 5G will mean more signals carrying more energy through the high-frequency spectrum, with more transmitters located closer to people’s homes and workplaces–basically a lot more (and more potent) RFR flying around us. The effects of 5G microwave radiation exposure on public health has not been examined. It is necessary to take the precautionary approach and determine it’s potential impacts on human health and the environment before permitting such a massive rollout of this technology.

The planned proliferation of 4G/5G cellphone technology by the telecommunication industry is a complicated issue which cannot be fully explained in a brief newspaper article. We should encourage more ongoing and reliable information about the effects of this technology being discussed in the news media and other public forums. 

In the interim, please consider using an air-tube vs. a wired headphone to your cellphone; when in use keep your cellphone away from your body; text more, talk less; call only when the signal is strong; do not store phone in your pocket or under you pillow because when a phone is on and not in use, it still sends out an intermittent signal to connect with nearby cell phone towers, which means radiation exposure continues to occur. 

Paul-André Schabracq is an environmental planner who uses his cellphone only when it is really necessary.

THANK YOU from Friends of Fife Creek

We appreciate our awesome community for supporting our Give Back Tuesday at The Rainbow Bar and Finraiser at West Sonoma Inn and Spa. Look for more details on both events outcome and funds raised in August issue of Sonoma County Gazette.

We need Volunteers Thursdays 11am to 2 pm (often later) Meet in the Woods Resort Parking lot 4th Street Guerneville . Wear sturdy gardening gear. We provide Gloves, tools, water and snacks/lunch . Any Questions call 707-484-8767 speak to Vira Fauss aka; Project Manager aka; The California Mermaid ®

We are non-profit sponsored by Community Clean Water Institute and always in need of monetary donations.

Blessings, Vira Fauss


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