On Setbacks: A Proposal

On Setbacks: A Proposal

 I submit my proposal to you to implement proper cannabis property setbacks in order to achieve your stated objectives to improve cannabis/neighborhood compatibility. Such setbacks changes are not included in any Phase 1 recommendations I’ve seen, and that would be a missed opportunity to make significant strides toward neighborhood compatibility — today.

This map of does not demonstrate any sort of cannabis/neighborhood compatibility. All of us who circle the cannabis business purchased our homes before the state’s and county’s laws changed. We did not choose to live next to a cannabis business.

Map of cannabis operator , Unincorporated Sebastopol

Phase 1 Proposal — Setbacks

Extend the setbacks in Phase 1; do not delay until Phase 2.


Why do setbacks matter?

  • 77%of Sonoma County residents want setbacks to be at least 5,200 feet due to safety
  • 71%of Sonoma County residents want setbacks so far away, they said “not in my backyard”

(From a Press Democrat poll http://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/8366486-181/press-democrat-poll-finds-sharp )

Yet, Sonoma County “Staff” continuously ignores all five supervisors’ public comments to improve neighborhood compatibility, of which setbacks play a key policy tool.

If over 70% of those polled stated twice they don’t want cannabis in their neighborhood, I’d like to propose the following setbacks for consideration in Phase 1 of the Board of Supervisors’ cannabis ordinance changes.


Setbacks Proposed Changes in Phase 1 Current Ordinance

(Dec 2016)



2,000 feet to the property line of a bordering “impacted neighbor” 300 feet from an occupied house

1,000 feet to a school or sensitive area

100 feet from its property line



500 feet to the property line of a bordering “impacted neighbor” None specified. It defers to its base zone

So, for DA zone:

· 10 feet from a house

· 10 feet from a school classroom

· 10 feet from a business building





  • An outdoor cannabis cultivation canopy, mixed light, greenhouses, hoop-rings, hot houses, etc and all the outdoor classification and activity use permutations
  • Need a comprehensive definition to avoid loopholes. For example, do not erase ‘Greenhouses’ from the ordinance like Staff is doing. Throw a tarp over a greenhouse and it becomes “indoor”.



  • Nursery, drying, cultivation, processing, permanent structure and all the indoor classification and activity use permutations
  • Includes areas surrounding the structures for the benefit of the indoor operations (sheds, storage, supply chain activities, employee break areas, extra bathrooms, cleaning equipment and its activities)
  • Need a comprehensive definition to avoid loopholes. And 500’ isn’t really that much when considering lots of outside activities occur — trucks, deliveries, cleaning. Noise travels.


Measurement practice

The distance measured in a straight line from the closest edge of the structure or canopy to all property lines


Impacted Neighbor

Anyone who owns, uses, or occupies property within the setback limitations who raises an objection to the cannabis operation


Examples of an impacted neighbor

  • A park — city, county, state, national
  • School, college
  • Residence
  • Business
  • Bus stop
  • Church
  • Non-profit place of business
  • Public road
  • Open space reserve



Starting Aug 7

  1. Residents will live in peace knowing if a grower can or cannot suddenly appear in their neighborhood
  2. Growers will no longer invest in properties that might be prohibited 12-18 months later in Phase 2
  3. Residents who live next to a cannabis operation will finally have recourse to remove growers who currently impact their well-being (odor, ensured family safety, reduced traffic through their private roads, secured property value)
  4. The County removes interpretive language which a resident painstakingly is forced to prove through elongated hearings that odors invade their yards or homes; that their property value has decreased because of the short distance to a grow, etc.
  5. The County doesn’t have to fund staff to visit properties who complain about security cameras peering into yards, light pollution at night; fencing doesn’t match the neighborhood surroundings, and other problems with having a grow smack in the middle of a neighborhood
  6. The County doesn’t have to fund staff to argue with residences to define, outline, and enforce what residences should tolerate by being next door to or 600 feet from a cannabis cultivation business
  7. The County actually moves in a positive direction to mitigate the risk of collateral damage from a cannabis business being raided in an armed conflict



By deciding these setbacks in Phase 1, the county will save money, time, and resources by avoiding inevitable battles in 12-18 months when Phase 2 prohibits growers who established in parcels then-deemed not compatible with its neighborhood location. We already know the legal representation by growers is extremely powerful and influential. Avoiding setbacks changes in Phase 1 and facing growers’ legal battles in 12-18 months will not be favorable to neighborhoods today nor in Phase 2.


Setbacks changes today could make a significant step to solve numerous neighborhood compatibility problems…today.


Example diagram of new setbacks


Justification for the setbacks changes

Today’s 300-foot outdoor setback is too short; and today’s non-existent indoor setback is unacceptable.


Below are examples of real cannabis business’ impact on neighboring properties. This is proof that today residences suffer from odor, noise.


(1) Indoor: noise & odor impact


(2) Mixed Light cannabis operation


(3) Hoop-ring structures


Petaluma: Old Adobe Road & Herrerias Way

3062 Adobe Rd

Petaluma, CA 94954


The red boxes mark areas where I’ve smelled cannabis (I visited on July 18)


Press Democrat Poll Math Explained


Safety I would feel safe with a legal outdoor cannabis farm one acre or less in size
46% Don’t feel safe…does not want pot growing anywhere near them 77%
31% feel safe not adjacent but within a mile (so between 0 and 5,000 feet away)
19% feel safe with it next door
3% Don’t know
1% Prefer not to say
Safety – Over 65
8% Feel safe with it next door
61% Uncomfortable with it “within any proximity” of their home.
Location (where should it be grown)
36% Outside, but only in agriculture areas 71%
23% Warehouses (only? or in addition to?)
22% Anywhere outside
12% None, prohibit all cultivation in Sonoma County
6% Don’t know
1% Prefer not to say
40% No effect on crime
18% Decrease crime
35% increase crime


Consideration for Phase 2

Implement flexible setback policy to allow reduced setbacks for those situations where the “impacted neighbor” could conditionally accept the reduced setbacks. Situations could be discussed and properly vetted to protect the neighboring property owners and future property owners upon sale. Once such situation: all impacted parties agreed (conditionally) for a grower to encroach on a setback. For example, see the diagram below.

Leave a Reply