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Sonoma County Gazette
LETTERS - June 20188
LETTERS - June 2018

June 2018

May 29, 2018


30,000 homes in 5 years?

I read that county planners may ask the BOS to adopt a plan to add 30,000 homes to the cities/county in as little as 5 years. I hope the BOS realize how totally unrealistic this type of plan is and what the potential harm this recklessness will bring to our County.

For simplicity here are just 2 reasons this type of plan is absurd:

Infrastructure:Roads in the cities and county are not in alignment with this type of explosive growth. The narrows south of Petaluma are still at least 2 years from completion. How does anyone expect an addition of 60-80,000 vehicles will be accommodated? Cities and the Counties can barely keep up with current road repair much less additional stress caused by such an influx of vehicles. SMART is doing well but even it’s budget doesn’t include that explosive growth.

Services: Where will the cities and counties come up with the money to build, much less hire, qualified staff for the additional police, fire, emergency etc. services necessary to accommodate such a rapid influx of people? The fires have put a severe strain on our county, not just the burn areas. Building and other costs have skyrocketed in the entire county. Rohnert Park, which is in your district, has had to delay the building of the Westside Fire Department because the cost of the project increased over $1.5 million since the fire rebuild efforts began. The County and Santa Rosa have both had to pare back their budgets because of fire costs. 

One thing that truly bothers me about this plan is that this fast pace of building gives too much discretionary control to one department without providing oversight to make sure decisions are made in the best interest for growth. We are having a difficult time now managing the permit processes. Increasing this problem will acerbate the situation and could likely cause irreparable harm to our cities and counties.

I don’t understand how can anyone possibly believe that building 30,000 homes in 5 years is a good idea. This isn’t Southern California, home of homes. It’s Sonoma County, a beautiful place dedicated to agriculture and open space. We need a common sense approach, not one based on crisis and what is called the “fear trauma approach” to housing.

Christina Meyer, Rohnert Park

Opinionated Columnists

I enjoy your paper, and also the columns from the various communities reporting on issues in their area. However, this week, Joan Polous, ofBodega Bay Beat, found it necessary to shill for her favorite Sheriff’s candidate. I believe this is inappropriate, given that none of the other columnists did so. 

You had an in-depth article comparing the candidates, which was very informative. This article was very appropriate in the position in the paper and the way it was written. 

Are we to find that, as the election draws near, that other columnists decide to use what could be called “the bully pulpit”? That is not the information readers are looking for in Community columns.   

M. Gillean

Our columnists have the right to voice their opinions - it’s part of the privilege of being a volunteer on behalf of their community. Yes, Joan is quite opinionated about many topics!! She has a following and people learn about coastal issues and events they would otherwise not know - so it’s a balance over time.

I don’t ask people/authors to be neutral - it’s not what theGazetteis about. And I appreciate that Joan encourages people to vote!

If you read Immigrant Stories, you can see that Christopher Kerosky encourages people to vote for John Mutz. I encourage people to decide for themselves before I let them know who I support - so thank you for appreciating the forum - I hope you caught the first three Sheriff candidate questions and answers in the April edition. If not, please go online to our website ( to see how they address issues important to our home. ~ Vesta

Counter Opinion to Cell Towers in Sebastopol

Paul-André Schabracq makes false a case for Sebastopol denying 4G and 5G cell towers because “This would increase by several orders of magnitude the community’s exposure to toxic levels of microwave radiation.” He’s got it backwards. More towers means we are all exposed to less EMF.

  Just as everything is a poison with high enough exposures (high water exposure is called drowning), all EMF is deadly with high enough exposures (you would not want to put yourself inside a microwave oven). Which is the biggest source, a cell tower or your phone?

  When you whisper with someone right next to you, sound energy is at its minimum. When someone is far away, you have to yell at each other. The sound level you each hear is still very low but, anyone standing next to you is going to get their ears blasted by your yelling. So too with cell towers and cell phones. Your phone power output is exactly the same as the cell tower it is talking with. You are right next to your phone absorbing its energy which is thousands of times greater than the energy you are getting from the cell tower.

  Don’t take my word for it, test it yourself. Stand someplace with full signal strength, and make a five minute call. Notice what percentage of your battery was used up. Go out into the woods where your signal strength is its absolute minimum, and make another 5 minute call. Compare how much battery was used. All that energy used by your phone in the woods went through your body. You get a higher EMF exposure when you use your phone far away from a cell tower.

  Paul-André got it wrong. To reduce the EMF you receive from your phone, you want more cell towers around town, not less. 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. Your phone trying to reach a far away cell tower is exactly like a person right next to your ear yelling at someone far away. It’ll hurt. More towers means lower power exposure from your cell phone.

Kee Nethery

Silent Fireworks

Any large celebration that involves fireworks is fun, but while we enjoy the sounds and sights of colourful explosions overhead, our animals feel very differently.

The explosions caused by fireworks have been known to give some domestic pets heart problems, nausea, tremors, debilitating fears and light-headedness. We all know that animals have far more sensitive hearing so you won’t be surprised to read that firework displays can leave pets with “acoustic stress”.

During firework displays animals are often confused as to where the loud noises are coming from which makes them run frantically away. Unfortunately, this sometimes results in them being hit by a car. Other animals may be too close to the explosion and receive burns or eye damage as a result. If you keep chickens, you might find that they produce fewer eggs after a firework display.

People of the town of Collecchio in the province of Parma in Italy are doing something about it. The local government has introduced new legislation forcing citizens to use silent fireworks as a way of respecting the animals and reducing the stress caused them.

The company, Setti Fireworks make fireworks which produce a spectacular light show but without the deafening sounds normally associated with a firework display. They design their fireworks to fit the venue and event that they will be used for.

Katy Byrne, MFT, Sonoma

CANNABIS - How Did We Get Here?

I have met Alexa (Alexa Rae Wall, author of Cannabis article, May 2018 Gazette)at a CAG meeting. She is a convincing representative for the cannabis industry. However, I believe that she takes liberties with her statements in the article you published recently.

I Googled Luma California and it says it is “closed”. She claims that the growers will have meters on their water supply...but there is no explanation of how this will be controlled and how much water is allowed for how much production...that is a big issue.

She told me once that they would be recycling the water usage; but doesn’t speak to that in the article. I actually suggested that she write an article for theGazette explaining how that would work. She states that the California water resource board will be monitoring usage..and that growers will have to report to them about their usage: who will confirm or deny the accuracy of this? Who will pay for all of this oversight? I don’t see that they are paying for the water, so I seriously doubt anything will come of that.

Alexa questions the accuracy of information being put forth by people who are objecting (mostly due to locations) , but doesn’t give any specifics. I know, for a certainty, that one person who has written about the amount of water required got her information from a cannabis industry spokesperson.

Alexa seems to think that Environmental Policies will protect the fish and wildlife, but doesn’t address the millions of dollars spent by Fish and Wildlife, to protect certain species of fish in one of the areas where neighbors are fighting cannabis operations which will adversely affect the species. She also didn’t address the comments from neighbors about the issues they are already facing with traffic, smells, and other indignities.

One farmer I talked with at a Groundwater committee meeting told me that because of the amount of water required to grow cannabis, food farmers will be forced out of the marketplace as water is metered. He previously received recycled water on its way to the Geysers, but now is being charged for it.

So, dear Vesta, I believe that you owe it to the residents of this county to do a better job of reporting the other side of the cannabis story.

Thank you, as usual, for your attention to such matters.

Charlene Stone, Fifth district

I can answer the water-usage part because it’s part of the Basin Plan that makes it mandatory that all wells be monitored and that agricultural wells have meters so the county and state can control what is pulled from the groundwater system. Private wells are more challenging to monitor.

Wells are all connected to underground aquifers and the state is monitoring water use to keep them from running too deep and/or dry.

Personally, I am grateful that recycled water is being sold instead of given away. It costs a small fortune to clean and local wastewater facilities need the income to keep ratepayers protected from costs they cannot afford.

I did give Alexa a serious word count limit so there is no way she could cover all topics. This is an on-going conversation and since I have given a lot of space to irate neighbors, it was time to give space to a grower.

I want to present both sides to this story. The previous issues of theGazettehave a LOT of input from neighbors. You can go online to read them if you don’t have a previous issue on hand.

Here’s one article going back to last year: - and more: - There are more. The LETTERS and OPED section is FULL of letters from neighbors!

The Cannabis Ordinance went in for a re-write and is back for the next round of pubic input. I’m sure you’ll be a voice on this issue as we bring cannabis out of prohibition. ~ Vesta


I took out a handkerchief as I read what Alexa Rae Wall had to say. It almost brought me to was quite a fairy tale to me.

I have met Alexa and heard her during CAG meetings (Cannabis Advisory Group) which is advising the supervisors...To say that the group is unbalanced ((16 cannabis industry representatives vs. 2 neighborhood representatives) is an understatement and this inbalance is having CAG believing that their word is what the county needs. Her article is well written but filled with some faulty reasoning and inaccuracies...

To say that the Board of Supervisors decided to remove RR and AR zones after pressure from “a surprisingly few neighborhood representatives” is inaccurate. What was surprising ???? that the BOs removed the areas from pot growing???....or that there was any pressure??? ...or that there were just a few representatives???

Truth is that although 60% of people in the county voted to legalize the USE of pot. It doesn’t mean that those same 60% don’t mind it being grown next door to them. The supervisors heard that the representatives were speaking for the majority. I think the truth is that there was a lot of pressure.......neighbors may have tolerated 25 plants being grown not because they loved it, but that there was no enforcement or that the 25 plants were not all encompassing.....

What the cannabis industry is asking is not 25 plants. Please ask Alexa how many plants she is applying to grow. She is correct that the bad name that the industry has gotten is in large part because of illegal grows. I believe that the cannabis industry would be better off trying to help or stop those illegal other words, clean up their own....not point fingers at residents and make them the “bad guys.” What is bad is that currently many residents are subjected to the smelly crop accompanied by tall unsightly walls, noisy cars coming and going on small lanes at all hours of the night, lights shining all night, criminal element causing safety issues...these are documented facts.

I do understand the frustration that the growers must be having trying to comply and become legal. They have what I would characterize as a moving target....but that is because I believe that the county marched out the ordinance that has many flaws...the main one to me is that there is no limit to the number of permits they will accept.

Why not do what one county has done?....only allow 10 permits and see how things go before allowing a flood of permits. As far as the economy of the county feeling the pressure of lack of permitting. Grow tomatoes while this is being sorted out. Get another job.....probably not as lucrative is the answer. As to whether the county has failed the farmers.....we all need to agree that cannabis is not a usual the county has only failed its cannabis farmers....150+ of them while protecting the rights of the nearly 500,000 residents.

Rachel Zierdt

Thank you for your response to Alexa’s article. I wanted a Cannabis industry side to the story since I have published so many articles and OpEds/letters from neighbors of growers. I do believe this will all be sorted out, but that it’s not an easy path. Until the Feds legalize this valuable crop, there will be issues no matter what. But the more growers who take the legal path, the better we will all be. ~ Vesta

Dark Money

In today’s episode of Antiestablishmentariansm (yes, its a word, look it up) we’re going to talk a little bit about dark money. That’s a term that I think might have a few definitions. To me, that term refers to the money received by a politician, that influences that politician to vote against the best wishes of hers or his constituency.

Now, I’ll give you some examples: when our Congress voted to sanction Iran, last year, despite Iranian compliance with the nuclear deal, dark money likely “bought” that vote. In 2011, Congressman Thompson voted to prohibit the EPA from protecting our waterways from pesticides. That vote was likely bought by money from wineries. And when the Congressman voted against protecting our shores from offshore drilling in 2008, it was probably due to all the oil money he was taking.

So, when Mr. Thompson says that he will support something like single-payer health care during Republican control of both houses, after many years of being against it, a quick look over his donation records ( show so many insurance and pharmaceutical donations, it’ll take a while to read. You have to question the honesty of that support.

Jason Kishineff

Sheriff Candidates

For the first time ever, I have agreed to publicly endorse a candidate, and it was an easy call:John Mutz for Sonoma County Sheriff.

I believe there is a clear and urgent need for meaningful new leadership in that department, and to succeed, it’s going to have to come from outside the local law enforcement establishment.

If you’re on the fence about this race, take a closer look, and I hope/expect you’ll agree. Transparency must be more than a campaign cliche, and only John has already demonstrated he can, and will, walk the talk.

Bruce Robinson, Forestville


Change is Essential

As I get closer to sending in my ballot, I feel more certain that the candidate I’d like to see go on to the November election for SHERIFF isJOHN MUTZ.

We can count on Mark Essick surviving the primaries because he’s part of the established/known office and has wide-spread support. But I want to see the conversation continue rather than just end with a majority in June. This is an IMPORTANT CONVERSATION about how we want this office to evolve from Sheriff Freitas’ agenda to a more community-based agenda.

All 3 candidates say they seek this change, but the one candidate who has spent the last decades helping effect change is John Mutz. He’s trained and experienced in the process. He knows how to bring people to consensus. He has the maturity and experience to LISTEN well, which is an essential component of working with people who don’t agree with each other.

For people who don’t know yet who he is and what he stands for, may I recommend you go to his website to learn more: JOHN MUTZ FOR SONOMA SHERIFF:

And PLEASE read all the Sheriff Candidate questions and answers in the April and May editions of theGazette.They are online 

We NEED John Mutz as our Sheriff

Vesta Copestakes, Forestville


Truly Inspiring Leader

We are so excited to have met and now to support a truly inspiring leader! This dynamite candidate will be on our June 5th ballot running for a most important position, that of Sonoma County Sheriff. 

We are so moved by his sincerity and professionalism, and his commitment to all the people of Sonoma County - both those in the department and the community at large. He will promote a refreshing approach to dealing with the many challenges facing o

ur Justice System in the years to come. John Mutz is a team player who listens to the concerns of the public about law enforcement and will ensure that the outcomes are fair to all. He can bring change which may be necessary in the department and he will encourage staff and community members to work together bringing creative ideas to resolve conflicts and make us all proud! We know he is the man to for the job. 

PLEASE VOTE FOR JOHN MUTZ  as our next  Sonoma County Sheriff. He will not disappoint us!!

Bob Gillen, Retired, 23 year Sonoma County Chief Probation Officer

Heidi Gillen , 40 year resident of Sonoma County & state and local Legislative Aide


Vote for change on June 5th ~ John Mutz for Sheriff

For the first time in more than two decades, we the people of Sonoma County have a real choice for sheriff. Not just of three experienced candidates, but also of the kind of law enforcement we want for our county.

If you believe, as we do, that the relationship between law enforcement and the communities it serves is broken and that respect for all must be restored, the best choice is John Mutz.

We did not arrive at this conclusion easily. Our Sonoma County Democratic Clubs and the Sonoma County Democratic Party devoted many hours to promoting and hosting forums on the Sheriff’s race, and interviewing and comparing the candidates. All have impressive resumes. All are aware of the challenges that lie ahead.

But only John Mutz has a track record of actually creating the change we need, of succeeding in the worst of circumstances. He was an LAPD station commander in 1992 when riots broke out following the beating of Rodney King. He was able to mediate between cops and communities, to defuse tensions and rebuild trust, and thereafter dedicated himself to bringing forward new initiatives in community-based policing, both in LA and nationwide.

He has an impressive list of endorsements, from members of law enforcement and local elected officials to well-respected community leaders, including our local Democratic Party, the Latino Political Action Committee of Sonoma County, the Press-Democrat, the Argus-Courier, as well  as other local news, community, and labor organizations.

It’s hard to overstate the importance of this choice. The sheriff leads our county’s largest law enforcement agency (responsible for 1,550 square miles, two city police departments, 600 employees and two jails) and is likely to be at the forefront of federal immigration challenges. 

We have a unique opportunity to bring 21st century, community-based policing to Sonoma County, evolving from a warrior to a guardian mentality, ensuring that each and every resident is treated with respect. It won’t come our way again soon. 

Vote for change on June 5th. Vote for John Mutz.

Sandy Reynolds, President, Santa Rosa Democratic Club

Therese Horsting, Michele Larkey, Co-Chairs Democratic Club of Southern Sonoma County

Tom Amato, President Oakmont Democratic Club

Rick Massell, President , Windsor/North County Democratic Club

Beth Hadley, President , Sonoma Valley Democratic Club

Caroline Banuelos, President Sonoma County Latino Democratic Club




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