Dec 1, 2018
On December 11, the county Board of Supervisors is expected to decide if stand-alone trails in the county parks system will have the same protection as parks from nearby cannabis operations.
Sonoma County Regional Parks, a county department, operates and maintains 57 parks and trails, including 14 miles of bikeway trails connecting Santa Rosa, Sebastopol and Forestville.
The most recently adopted cannabis ordinances require that outdoor cannabis grows and facilities maintain a 1,000-foot setback from parks. This restriction does not currently include bikeways operated by Regional Parks.
The unprotected bikeways include the West County Trail from Sebastopol to Forestville and the Joe Rodota Trail from Santa Rosa to Sebastopol.
The two trails are currently defined as Class I bikeways and as “transportation corridors” because they were primarily funded and developed as “alternate transportation” corridors, with transportation grants from CalTrans and other sources.
An applicant, Jackalope Gardens, is now proposing a 13-acre grow and processing facility next to the West County Trail in Graton. Their initial plan includes an 8-foot security fence with security lighting, a guard station, water storage tanks, a processing facility, an employee building, greenhouses and a 30-car parking lot. Please see Jackalope Gardens Proposed Cannabis Operation in Graton FAQ for Concerned Residents for more information .
The project would replace open fields along the trail, and eliminate scenic views of trees, wetlands and wildlife. Graton residents and trail-users were aghast, and have been emailing, calling and writing Supervisors, imploring them to protect the West County Trail and change its designation from “transportation corridor” to “park.”
For them, the trail is in fact a park, providing an opportunity for old and young to walk, bicycle, skateboard, bird watch, walk dogs and rest on park benches. It’s the only park-like place the town has had for the past 30 years.
At its December 11 meeting, Supervisors are expected to decide if the West County Trail and the Joe Rodota Trail should be included in the setback requirement and if Jackalope Gardens must place its cannabis plants and structures at least 1,000 feet from the trail.
The decision would expand the interpretation of “parks” in the county General Plan, a blueprint for future land use, growth and development. As such, it would also affect future trail corridors.
For instance, Regional Parks has long contemplated bikeways from Petaluma to Sebastopol and from Sonoma Valley to Santa Rosa. With funds from newly approved Measure M, those trails will likely see significant development over the next 10 to 15 years.
The Supervisors’ December 11 meeting begins at 9 a.m. in the Administration Building, Board Hearing Room, 575 Administration Drive, Santa Rosa, CA.
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