From Lynda Hopkins, Supervisor 5th District:
In the middle of October, our office learned of a use permit application for a proposed cannabis cultivation site on Railroad Street in Graton. The Board of Supervisors, during a public hearing on amendments to the county’s cannabis ordinance, heard from a lot of concerned Graton neighbors and surrounding community members about this particular application. Concerns ranged from proposed size of the site, to location next to the West County Trail and incompatibility with the area’s open meadows.
It is important to note that the application is in the very early phase of the use permit application process. At this early phase, a staff recommendation has not been issued, nor will it be issued until the public has time to provide input on the project.
While I cannot take a formal position for or against a project that might ultimately come before the Board of Supervisors – doing so is illegal and would demonstrate prejudice at a future hearing – please know that, as a matter of policy, I am personally concerned about any cannabis operation in such close proximity to the West County Trail, which is part of our Regional Parks network.
We currently have, in our cannabis ordinance, a 1,000-foot property line setback from parks. The spirit of this rule is designed to keep cannabis cultivation away from public uses, with the idea that families and residents of all ages have a right to enjoy public property without being exposed to cannabis cultivation and any offsite impacts that might arise from it.
Our cannabis ordinance did not specify that the trail system was included in our parks definition. After research, staff concluded that Chapter 20 of the county code, which defines parks to include “all land or water owned, leased, managed or controlled by the Sonoma County park system,”would apply to our Regional Parks managed trails.
As such, on Tuesday, Dec. 11, we will bring to the Board of Supervisors a resolution that interprets public parks in the zoning code to include Class I trails that are owned and operated by Regional Parks. The resolution will mean that cannabis applications will be subject to the 1,000-foot setback from all county parks — including the West County and Joe Rodota trails (unless an exception is granted when it is determined by the decision-making body that an equivalent separation