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Sonoma County Gazette
Penngrove Station by Lyndi Brown

Commercial Cannabis in Penngrove

Feb 3, 2018
by Lyndi Brown


We love our land, sea and sky in Sonoma County. In this months column, Penngroovian Rick Savel reports his view of a meeting with County officials. He promises a follow-up report in the March column. Many thanks to Rick for putting this together.

On January 8th the community held an informational meeting with Supervisor David Rabbitt and staff from the County to discuss concerns about the new Marijuana permitted growing process. In my opinion Supervisor Rabbitt, Capt. Mark Essick of the Sheriff’s Office, Director Tennis Wick, Planning Dept., Ag Commissioner Sue Ostrom and County staff ALL did a very commendable job of this “initial attempt to regulate” a controlled substance for the first time. 

Rabbitt said he lobbied the BOS (Board of Supervisors) to eliminate permitted commercial grows in the following land use categories; 1)RR - Rural Residential; 2) AR - Agriculture and Residential; 3)R-2 (medium density residential) and 4) R-2 (high density residential). Their intention was clearly to NOT issue grow permits anywhere close to housing. The BOS finally agreed to allow permitted grows in; LIA, LEA, and DA land use categories which are usually larger agricultural AG zoned parcels located away from housing areas. 

For enforcement, the County renews or cancels all permits annually. If they have trouble with a facility then fines and/or a complete shutdown may occur, they have the discretion and power to do so. The same annual permit review occurs with the AG commissioner in evaluating groundwater and wastewater management and use. Rabbitt said the County does not recognize or classify this type of permitted growing as an Agricultural use, it is not AG. This all sounded good in theory.

In life we all know whenever a new program or policy is enacted there is always the possibility of un-foreseen consequences falling thru the cracks or people ready to exploit an overlooked loophole... what happened next caused this controversial issue. 

Typically DA (diverse agriculture) zoned parcels are a minimum lot size of 20 acres and usually found in agricultural production surroundings with larger parcels. However, there are a number of existing non-conforming sub-standard size DA parcels scattered throughout the county that were created before General Plan minimum lot size revisions. A controversial proposed commercial grow site in Penngrove is on one of those old non-conforming sub-standard size DA AG parcels of 5.46 acres… however it is bordered by existing RR – Rural Residential homes! 

Rabbitt mentioned that this anomaly of applications on non-conforming sub-standard size AG zoned parcels for permitted commercial grows is also starting to occur in other Supervisorial districts. He said he’d look into the possibility of the BOS issuing an emergency order to suspend the application and having the BOS revisit and review the land use designations and parcel inventory at a more granular level to ensure that these grow operations are not on parcels adjacent to or near residential areas, schoolyards, public parks, etc. Everyone on the panel and most of the audience agreed they would not want a commercial grow facility right next to their home. … to be continued in the March column.  

NOTE: If anyone has concerns or questions about Sonoma County’s new Cannabis permit process or to check the status of a property for compliance please contact the County Cannabis Hot Line at:707-565-2420

Crab Feed Extraordinaire – Feb. 10 Don’t let crab feed season pass you by! This one’s a benefit for the good of the community, put on by Penngrove Social Firemen. Featuring crab, pasta, salad, bread and no-host bar. These volunteers know how to do the crab just right! Doors open 5:45 pm with Dinner served at 7:00 pm. All proceeds support improvements to Penngrove Park and Clubhouse and Park, and the club’s good works for the benefit of the community. Come to the Penngrove Community Clubhouse, 385 Woodward St., Penngrove at the Corner of Oak St. and Woodward. Cost is $ 50, and you’ll want to get your tickets in advance at JavAmore Café, 10101 Main Street. Information, contact 707-794-1516.

Valentines for Seniors by Feb. 9 Last year, I made Valentines with my neighbor kids for the Petaluma People Services Center annual Special Delivery project to deliver handmade Valentines to seniors in the Senior Services Programs. PPSC delivers nutritious meals through the Meals On Wheels Program, and YOUR handmade greeting card can be part of it! Your card must be received by Friday, Feb. 9 at PPSC, 1500 Petaluma Blvd. South, Petaluma, CA 94952.Important guidelines at


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