County Favors Growers
EDITOR: Much of Sonoma County’s poor implementation of its cannabis program stems from questionable legal decisions. The county counsel’s advice to staff is attorney-client privileged, but the results are obvious. The county allows growers to remain in the permit relief program despite multiple failures to meet its explicit requirements. County counsel essentially asserts that the meaning of a “stop sign” is ambiguous and then reinterprets the ordinance to favor growers over neighbors.
The county has allowed a grow in Bennett Valley since 2017 without a permit or any review under the California Environmental Quality Act. It now concludes that because it is an “existing grow,” CEQA review is never needed. The county won’t analyze the effects on residential safety, property values or endangered species in the Matanzas Creek watershed. You don’t need a law degree to know this is silly.
CEQA’s purpose is to inform agencies and the public about the foreseeable and cumulative environmental effects of projects. The county counsel’s office essentially dares the public to file expensive lawsuits to challenge its preposterous decisions. Why do our supervisors allow such gamesmanship?
We need new leadership in the county counsel’s office that focuses on serving the public interest, not just cannabis cultivators.
CRAIG S. HARRISON