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From the Field: “OPEN LETTER TO THE SONOMA COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS

From the Field: “OPEN LETTER TO THE SONOMA COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS

A recent member submission:

“AN OPEN LETTER TO THE SONOMA COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS

Dear Supervisors,

My wife and I live on a 2.5 acre parcel on a quiet residential street in unincorporated Sebastopol. We have lived here for 25 years. We raised our daughter here. This is a neighborhood filled with children.

Then, last year the owner of an adjoining parcel brought large earthmoving equipment onto their 2+ acre parcel, graded a very large area, and built a massive (2880 square foot) greenhouse for the purpose of commercial cannabis cultivation. All this was done swiftly and illegally. A number of neighbors filed complaints and the building was red-tagged. The owners of the greenhouse are now applying for building permits and a Cannabis Zoning Permit. Based on your recently drafted County Cannabis Ordinances, they could potentially get them.

I respectfully suggest that in approving and implementing many of these Cannabis Ordinances you have violated a public trust. In allowing a large commercial cannabis operation to be built in a neighborhood such as ours, you will have enriched one grower at the expense of the well-being, peace of mind, and security of an entire neighborhood. You will have brought noise, activity, traffic, potential crime, glare, and odor into an otherwise quiet and safe community.

Please consider the ways in which these Ordinances have failed our neighborhood:

• The school bus stops right in front of this Cannabis parcel. There are families with children on both sides and families with children in houses just across the street. The Board of Supervisors specifically said at a December 2016 Board Meeting that they wished to make sure that “children should not be in proximity to or affected by cannabis growing.” Yet, these children will be unprotected.

• All of us in the neighborhood draw our water from wells. Owing to various droughts, none of the neighbors have watered their lawns for years. Now, the new Ordinances will allow cannabis growers to draw massive amounts of water from our common aquifer for their personal profit.

• The loss of property value in our neighborhood will be significant. No prospective buyer will want to live near a cannabis operation. Again, one grower profits, the entire neighborhood suffers.

• Yes, we are in a Diverse Agriculture Zone. But, cannabis is a very different crop from apples or grapes. The County Ordinances require high fencing, video surveillance and extra security measures because of the potential for crime. Commercial cannabis has rightly been banned in Rural Residential Zones. Small DA parcels are every bit as “residential.” Our families and children should be afforded the same protection.

• The neighbors are solidly opposed to this cannabis operation. Yet, according to the Cannabis Ordinance, a Permit can be issued without notifying the neighbors or considering their objections.

I respectfully suggest that no new Cannabis Zoning Permits be issued until the Ordinances are changed to protect neighborhoods such as ours.

Many thanks for your attention.”

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