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Sonoma County Gazette
LETTERS - September 2018
LETTERS - September 2018

September 2018

Jul 31, 2018


Car Shows of Summer

Thank you for posting our Vicci Moto Car Show in your newspaper. Our show was a huge success. Over 70 beautiful cars, jeeps, and trucks on display. Several people from the public told me, they found out about our show thru your newspaper. We plan to do this show again next year. Thanks.

President, Wine Country Mopar

Locally-Made Cheese & Farm Stand Guide

Nice job on the cheese article (August Gazette and I’m sure whoever you include, and not include, - you will get a lot of feedback..!

That said -- I did notice you had a couple of Marin Cheesemakers included yet missed one of the great Sonoma Cheesemakers...Valley Ford Cheese(

This small family makes cheese from milk produced from their own herd right here in Sonoma County. And, frankly... about as good as it gets for raw cows milk aged cheeses. On top of that - the family farm was used by Hitchcock and filmed in many scenes of “the Birds.” Thought you should know about this one!

David, Monte Rio

Your Jenner Jottings column

Yes, a very sobering, well-written article in the Gazette this month. I care about everything that you’ve talked about. There’s a lot of algae in my section of the river across from True Value in Guerneville. Also invasive Ludwigia.

With California burning, the tree issue and the PG&E overhead lines that you discuss must be addressed immediately. So, any suggestions of actions? I want to be more than sobered. I want our incredible, volunteer active communities, who love our wonderful towns, to protect them.

Laurie Lippin

Bike Safety in Sonoma

When I read folks boasting about bike safety here I feel we need to take a few steps further in hopes we will get more folks on bikes.

After two very close encounters of being hit by two young cyclists, why not mandate for all of us, that each cyclist have:

• A helmet, regardless of age

• Each bike have some bell on it to let walkers know they may be behind them ( I think a horn may be too loud)

• After a certain hour of the day, every cyclist be mandated to wear some sort of illumination strip.

• As Sonoma grows we should consider more bike lanes for safety and to encourage biking.

I feel this is bike safety at its best!

Joy Bennett

Bodega Bay Beat August

Joan, I attended the Town Hall with Supervisor Hopkins and disagree with the overall mood. This is the second article you have written on the Coastal MAC proposal. It seems you are not in favor of this move as it shows in your writing.

All I ask is you give an UNBIASED account of what goes on at these meetings instead of putting your discouraging spin on this. Yes, there were questions, however the overall mood was more positive than you allude.

What you fail to understand is as an unincorporated town, the MAC is a good way to begin governance and have a vehicle for the county to provide monies for things like tourism impacts, infrastructure, and other projects determined to be important to the communities.

It’s strength in numbers. That’s why our communities need to join together - for the greater good.

The Fire agencies have been dancing for over 4 years to this same tune with no progress. I urge us to come together sooner rather than later so we can begin to make community improvement.

Liz Martin

Voting for Our Parks

Our county regional parks and city parks are important community assets that we should all be willing to support. This is a good plan to see that the parks are cared for now and into the future. If we all pay a small amount, together we can maintain and further develop our park system.

I hope everyone will vote YES! 

Virginia Greenwald

Cannabis in Our Community

Per California State law, under the Bureau of Cannabis Controlcompliant cannabis businesses are required to be registered as limited liability companies. I am one of the operators in the Bennett Valley community, I grew up in Glen Ellen and identify as a third generation Glen Ellen resident. My colleague has been in the Santa Rosa community for 18 years.

We’ve contributed to the Bennett Valley Fire Station this past fall, the local rape crisis center in Santa Rosa and our staff volunteer to support the Sonoma County Regional Parks.

We are cultivating on less than 1 acre of land on a 50-acre parcel. Sonoma County ordinance prohibits us from growing more than 1 acre of medical cannabis. So of the six cannabis farmers that this opinion piece cites, (OPINION - Is Commercial Marijuana Good for Bennett Valley Residents? ) in total, those operators are cultivating less than 10 acres of crop in the middle of 150 acres of grapes.

This crop is not dangerous, it’s the public policies surrounding this crop that have created marginalized communities and unsafe business practices.

When farmers no longer operate in the “black market” they are free to support community projects, be transparent with their neighbors and staff, engage in conventional business practices and seek the support of government agencies.

The ordinance has made it so difficult for mom and pop growers to get on their feet because it is currently overly prohibitive, with a less than 5% enrollment rate of estimated growers.

The majority of small farmers were estimated to be growing in rural agricultural areas. When they were out-zoned in the 2016 BOS decision they were required to secure parcels in zones that met all the water, setback, road access, electrical and building requirements necessary.

Unless you were a small farmer with 2-3 million in the bank, you had to find a private investor to finance the necessary requirements.

The local compliant cannabis industry is failing from over-regulation, which is fueling the black market. If we want to see the black market lose momentum, we need to create sensible cannabis policy that farmers can actually keep up with.

My mother is going thru chemotherapy treatments at the moment and medical cannabis is a huge relief. I would like her to be able to source her medicine from a local complaint farm at a fair market value.

Sonoma County is an agricultural community and the Bennett Valley area plan states that “Agriculture is a vital component of the rural character and shall be encouraged and protected.”

Cannabis is a crop, farming it is agriculture. Cannabis farming aligns with the stated goals and policies of the Bennett Valley Area Plan. Our company has contributed over $50,000 in taxes in Q1-Q4. All of our employees earn more than $16 per hour and full-time employees receive health and dental benefits.

We’ve invested a lot in this community and deserve to have a stable ordinance we can rely on to make good faith investments and capital improvements. Properties that are permit-eligible for cannabis cultivation have seen an increase in value since 2016, based on our experience being in the market for a permit-eligible property around that time.

Unregulated industries are dangerous, period. Which is why voters want to see this crop legalized and taken out of the hands of criminals. Sensible, workable policy is key to this recipe for regulation.

If neighbors are vigilant they will be unconsciously working to fuel the black market and dismiss the good faith efforts complaint operators have been making.

We are your community members too and most of us grew up alongside ya’ll. We have the same goals; keeping our communities safe, our natural resources preserved and our neighbors happy.

Forcing this crop to be grown indoors increases our reliance on greenhouses gases and is a mark of the past, when the crop was pushed underground and out of view. Greenhouse and outdoor growing are more sustainable and cost-effective ways of growing this plant.

Shivawn Brady

Cell Towers

On May 15th Sprint Telecommunications company applied for and now has been approved for a permit to increase the radiation by adding antennas to the cell tower in downtown Sebastopol. 

This greatly concerns me, first of all, because many people including myself are negatively impacted by the effects of the radio frequency in the downtown area as well as other areas within proximity to cell towers. Some with more extreme negative health effects can no longer live in their homes. They sleep in their cars and others must flee the city altogether to reside in the wilderness. Increasing the levels of radiation of the tower would only make Sebastopol more unsafe and unlivable than it already is for a growing number of people in our community. I’m also concerned that a decision was made to approve Sprint’s plans to move forward to increase levels of RF in Sebastopol without public notification or without a public hearing for a topic of this importance. 

Peer-reviewed published science shows that cell tower radiation (as well as other wireless radiation emitting devices) is harmful to the environment and can cause: sleep problems, heart arrhythmias, anxiety, irritability, headaches, ringing in the ears and cancer just to name a few.

We, the people are up against a wireless industry motivated by money who want us to believe we need better cell phone coverage. Local (Sebastopol) cell coverage studies have shown the contrary. The industry wants us to think we need to be able to stream videos where ever we are. And this is done at the expense of our health, safety and constitutional rights. 

I can only hope people will pause to take this issue seriously and come to recognize a growing public health crisis in our midst.


Margy Stewart

Danger of Glyphosate

The guilty verdict in the Monsanto case is a heads up for Sonoma County where thirty-seven tons of glyphosate were used on Sonoma County farms in 2016. (

The prosecution revealed that Monsanto’s internal company documents proved “ that Monsanto has known for decades that glyphosate and specifically Roundup could cause cancer.”

The same week, federal appeals court ordered the ban of widely used farm pesticide chlorpyrifos, citing long-standing evidence that even secondary exposure can harm children.Pesticide residues that parents unwittingly carry home on their clothes, tools, and skin can be culprits in damaging health.

Over 100 schools in Sonoma County are within 1/4 mile of a farm that uses pesticides.The majority of these farms are vineyards, which is worrisome because 98% of the vineyards in Sonoma County are treated with synthetic pesticides.

Though the Sonoma County Winegrowers Association has a goal of certifying all vineyards as “Sonoma Sustainable” by 2019, certification does not require vineyards to reduce pesticide use.

Compounds that include chlorpyrifos and glyphosate are commonly used locally. We call upon our local ag community to put our community’s health and safety over profits for true sustainability. 

Palm Drive Healthcare District Changes

The voters passed Measure F in 2000 to continue to provide acute care (not LTAC), an emergency department (not simple urgent care) AND other medical services. AAMG and the District have agreed to terminate the ER and Acute care completely violating and obliterating the original intent of the district and its taxpayer support.

Sonoma West Medical Facility doesn’t have a problem with this?

It is no longer your attractive little community hospital. Ambulances will be required to bypass (most of them do so anyway) this shell of a hospital (unless they are going to pick someone up to take them to a real hospital).

The plan is to severely cut payroll - meaning either all staff takes a large cut in pay (not going to happen) or a good portion of the staff is laid off (the more likely scenario).

They are already operating with minimal staffing requirements. There must be a method to your madness - it’s just too bad that madness is going to affect a lot of good people waiting for settlement of an existing bankruptcy and future generations who are going to be paying the cost of the District’s bad fiscal decisions long after we’re all dead and gone and the hospital has itself turned to dust!

Barbara Decarly

Immigrant Family Reunification

The Press Democrat ran an article on Friday, August 3, showing how the Trump administration is dragging its feet on immigrant family reunification.

Redwood Forest Friends Meeting, a Quaker congregation in Santa Rosa, is unequivocally opposed to such inhumane governmental actions. 

Another recent article described an encounter between a man in Roseland, and ICE officials who were driving unmarked vehicles with no license plates. 

As a congregation, we unite behind the following statement, and we encourage others in Sonoma County to join us in opposing continued militarized actions in our community:

Molly Bishop, Clerk of Redwood Forest Friends Meeting

Minute 2018-7-1: Redwood Forest Friends Meeting opposes not only the immoral and illegal confinement and separation and of children from their families at the border, but also the on-going traumatizing deportations by ICE that separate parents from their families in our own communities.

We unite with Friends Committee on National Legislation in stating: “This unconscionable policy traumatizes parents and children alike, and expands criminalization of asylum seekers who are seeking refuge. Families belong together. Asylum seekers should not be detained. We strongly urge that Congress use their power to increase oversight of existing immigration and border enforcement and stop funding forcible separation that can do irreparable harm to young families.”

We endorse immediate action to reunite parents and children that have been separated, and to facilitate communication between parents in custody and their children until they are reunited.

We commit ourselves to support, and increase our participation, in the current immigration rights and Sanctuary movement, with actions such as: writing letters to local newspapers and Congress people; going to local meetings developing Sanctuary plans; signing up for an accompaniment team or to be a legal observer with Sonoma County Rapid Response Network; joining Comité VIDA; joining vigils at W. Contra Costa County Detention Center.




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