Dear County Supervisors, What are you improving?
The County Supervisors are driving ahead to make Sonoma a major Cannabis producer. The only possible reasons I can fathom for this is that they believe passage of Prop 64 inferred an obligation to legalize pot production or more likely they are attracted to potential revenue.
Either rationale is based on a false premise. Voters approved Prop 64 so their neighbors could light up without fear of prosecution, not so their neighbors could setup a commercial growery outside the bedroom window. A single murder investigation costs $1.5 Million. Pot cultivation as a profit center is a documented loser as are the myriad negative side effects.
So I ask the Board of Supervisors, what do you accomplish for Sonoma County by allowing Pot cultivation? Not – what does it do for the small number of local growers and the out of area speculators who are rampantly acquiring our rural parcels for commercial pot operations – but what are you doing for the rest of us, the vast majority, the 99% of us who pay taxes, who have built a life and are raising a family in rural Sonoma, some whose ancestors came here on wagons? (That’s not rhetoric, we have at least 2 members whose ancestors came here on wagon trains.)
What gets better when Sonoma is a pot growing area? The rural property owners who will be most affected are sparse and under-represented but are not the only ones who will be impacted. The revised ordinance specifically states it doesn’t take up the issue of “preservation of our rural character”. This is telling, as if this was some loose end that didn’t warrant tightening up. The reality is that preservation of our rural character is the whole point. It’s largely what you were hired to do.
The Cannabis ordinance does list as an objective, “Economic vitality of the County” Well, we have a $2.1 Billion tourism industry. Would that exist if Sonoma County looked like Van Nuys? the Central Valley? No. Surveys of tourists reveal that their prime motivation for choosing Sonoma is our unique scenery and rural character. How is that improved by pot grows with their objectionable visual, environmental, sensory and security issues?
Sonoma County has a unique Ag heritage and a unique rural character and it does matter. Other areas, (such as Iowa’s Silos and Smokestacks) have created Heritage Areas to preserve similar agricultural and industrial heritage. And the supervisors of Sonoma County – caretakers of a $2.1 Billion resource – don’t even pay it lip service
So I ask the Board of Supervisors, what are you improving?