Who We Are
We are the under-represented residents of rural, unincorporated Sonoma County who have been negatively impacted by the Sonoma County cannabis ordinance.
We are property owners in rural Sonoma County. Some of us have small ranches and farms and many of us just live on residential properties where we cherish the peaceful, rural lifestyle of Sonoma County. Three of us have ancestors who emigrated here on wagon trains.
Read some of the personal stories of how commercial cannabis businesses have negatively impacted some of the people in our group:
These people are surrounded by cannabis growers and their story is harrowing.
These people have to endure a commercial cannabis grow 20 feet from their home.
These people can no longer use their backyard or have barbecues because of the pungent, skunk odor.
These people lost their life savings.
This family lost $100,000 in property value when a cannabis grow moved next door.
These people are deluged with noxious environmental stench from a grow not even that close.
What we aren’t
We are not against the adult use of cannabis. We are not an anti-pot organization. We are against commercial cannabis in residential areas.
We believe that when Sonoma County residents passed Prop 64 to legalize cannabis, they were doing so to allow adults to use cannabis without fear of prosecution. We do not think the intent was to allow cannabis cultivation in rural Sonoma County.
About the Rural Character of Sonoma County
Our farms and pastures and ranches and our Agriculture and quaint rural communities foster a $2+ Billion dollar per year tourist industry. No tourist, ever, reported they visited Sonoma County to see the new Target, or the new lane added to Route 101, or the new housing blowout in Rohnert Park, or the new 10 foot fence on Petaluma Hill Road. Tourists to Sonoma County when polled have said our rural character is what draws them.
Ask your county Supervisor what they are doing to help this $2 Billion tourist industry and preserve that rural character.
Is asking 5000 illegal pot growers to “come out of the shadows” and set up shop in our rural neighborhoods – next to our schools and parks and homes – helping?
Is allowing commercial cannabis businesses to set up in our pristine, bucolic back country roads helping?
Are 8 foot fences, security lighting, guard dogs, alarms, 24 hour operations helping?
Is having industrial level electricity demand and use of chemicals, intense lighting, generators and other infrastructure safe, especially when these businesses are located on narrow, one lane roads in high fire risk areas?
Our rural roads have often been portrayed in Sunset, Travel and Leisure and other magazines. Now ugly, tall fences surround commercial cannabis businesses, ruining the views for many.
Another critically important factor to consider is the significant water consumption of cannabis plants. Consider also the recent drought and the fact that rural residents have wells and that cannabis cultivation draws a tremendous volume of ground water (3-5 gallons per day per plant). Many cannabis grows are one acre in size. That’s a lot of cannabis plants!
These commercial cannabis businesses belong on large lands or in industrial zones in the county, away from residents and placed in areas of where water is more abundant.
We believe these commercial cannabis / industrial operations are better suited to industrial / commercial zoned areas.
SOS Neighborhoods Policy Positions
Save our Sonoma Neighborhoods urges the electorate and the Board of Supervisors to support the following Sonoma County policy changes:
1) Allow indoor commercial cannabis cultivation in industrial zones or at least 600 feet from neighboring homes. The current indoor cultivation setbacks follow the base zone requirements for setbacks to accessory structures. An indoor grow on a DA-zoned parcel currently requires no setback to a property line.
2). Allow outdoor cultivation on large acreage lots (20+ acres) and/or increase setbacks to the property line of neighboring homes to 1000 feet. The current setbacks for outdoor grows (300 feet to neighboring home) are totally inadequate to protect neighbors from noxious odors from cannabis plants.
3) STOP issuing conditional use or ministerial permits in water scarce parts of Sonoma County and on narrow, one-lane and dead end roads.
4) STOP issuing conditional use permits until the Sonoma County Cannabis ordinance is revised to address our concerns. The Board of Supervisors can amend the ordinance to address neighborhood compatibility (community concerns over public health and safety, odor, increased noise, traffic, water use and utility services, and, finally due process).
5) Ban ministerial cannabis cultivation permits. Ministerial permits do now allow due process for residents living next to these businesses. Rural residents demand due process to raise compatibility issues before the County allows a cannabis business to begin next door.
6) Cap the number of commercial cannabis permits. Cannabis permits must be limited to prevent over-concentration and over-supply in the County. In addition to the cumulative environmental impact, this presents a problem for public safety. The county should publish a target number of permits to allow for the proper planning of supporting services. The county should not allow a condition to exist which inadvertently supports growers who supply the black market to other states.
We believe commercial cannabis cultivation does not belong in neighborhoods, regardless of the zoning. It should be relegated to areas of the county where it does not jeopardize the health, welfare, and safety of residents and where it can be properly monitored, regulated and contained by the County.