We are the under-represented citizens of rural, unincorporated Sonoma County communities impacted by the recently introduced County cannabis ordinance. Our farms and pastures and our Agriculture and 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 on out of the woods and setup shop in our rural neighborhoods – next to our schools and parks and homes – helping?
Is allowing commercial pot labs to setup 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 chemical use, intense lighting, generators and other infrastructure loading on our tiny, sometimes one lane roads helping keep people safe in terms of emergency response and fire risk?
In light of the crime wave near pot farms, with 5 families tragically invaded in the past 2 months, is bringing them into residential areas in the interests of the residents of Sonoma County?
Our back roads have often been portrayed on Sunset, Travel and Leisure and other magazines. Do you think the commercial pot farming operations are going to increase or decrease that coverage? Take a minute. 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).
Is bringing them into residential areas fair to these residents?
We say not. We believe these industrial operations are better suited to industrial / commercial zoned areas.
SOS Neighborhoods Policy Positions
Listed in priority order, Save our Sonoma Neighborhoods urges the electorate and the Board of Supervisors to support the following Sonoma County policy changes:
1) All commercial marijuana cultivation should be restricted to industrial zoning or other comparable centralized zones only. Commercial marijuana cultivation does not belong in neighborhoods, regardless of their zoning. It should be relegated to industrial-zoned or similar areas where it does not jeopardize the health general welfare, and safety of residents and can be properly monitored, regulated and contained by the County.
2) The County must immediately STOP issuing marijuana permits until the Sonoma County Ordinance is revised. The current Ordinance is fatally flawed, and the county must stop issuing new permits until the Supervisors can amend it to reflect community concerns over due process, water use, utility services, odor, public health and safety. Issuing more permits exacerbates these problems and creates vested interest among marijuana growers in conflict to incumbent interest of County residents.
3) Ministerial marijuana cultivation permits should not be allowed. The community demands due process to raise compatibility issues before the County, without a public ballot or a hearing process, determines whether a commercial marijuana grow is compatible with a neighborhood and surrounding environment.
4) The County must cap the number of marijuana cultivation permits issued. Marijuana permits must be limited to prevent concentration and oversupply in the County. In addition to the cumulative environmental impact, this presents a problem for public safety. The county should have published target of permits and supply 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 and should avoid becoming a target for federal enforcement activities.
5) Disband the Cannabis Advisory Group (CAG). The current Cannabis Advisory Group (CAG) is so biased towards promoting marijuana operations that its recommendations lack credibility and cannot be allowed to continue. Many members have conflicts of interest from their pending cultivation applications, or their representation of cultivators as lawyers or consultants. Their conflicts of interest violate the public trust by making self-serving recommendations and are an embarrassment to good government. If the supervisors need an advisory group, it should be reconstituted to have equal representation from citizens who are not in the marijuana industry.
6) Sonoma County taxpayers should not be asked to subsidize the Marijuana industry through land conservation property tax relief. The state of California stopped Williamson Act subvention payments to counties in 2010 placing the entire burden on Sonoma County taxpayers. We believe that it is inappropriate to force Sonoma County property taxpayers, who have not voted, to subsidize marijuana operations.