Friends of Graton Update:
The Board of Supervisors has approved the funding and staffing for Phase 2 of the Cannabis Ordinance, which will consist of an Environmental Impact Report or EIR. The current ordinance will only be in effect until the new one is in place, which could take one to two years. This means that the applications that are already submitted will be considered by the Board of Zoning Adjustments on a case-by-case basis, using the old ordinance. This is problematical because the old ordinance did not consider neighborhood compatibility in any great depth.
If a cannabis operation is coming to a hearing, you will only be notified 10 days in advance and ONLY if you are within 300′ of the property. We know from neighbor complaints about cannabis odor, that it travels well over 300′ and can make some people miserable and allegedly threaten health for those with respiratory illnesses. If the project requires a use permit it will be scheduled to go before the Board of Zoning Adjustments, but you will only be able to get the agenda THREE days before the hearing. You may sign up for BZA agenda notifications here: https://service.govdelivery.com/accounts/CASONOMA/subscriber/new?topic_id=CASONOMA_34
It would serve you well to find out if something is coming to your neighborhood or just if you care about preserving the rural character of Sonoma County or would like agricultural land preserved for food crops not commercial pharmaceuticals or recreational drugs. We will notify you when there is an opportunity to make comment on the EIR scoping process, where neighborhood compatibility will be addressed.
Meanwhile, here is an excellent Letter to the Editor in the Press Democrat concerning Sonoma County’s projection of cannabis revenue and how skewed it is: https://www.pressdemocrat.com/opinion/9696032-181/wednesdays-letters-to-the-editor
Many other states and municipalities are finding cannabis tax revenues overly optimistic and disappointing, yet this argument is used often to offset concerns about the negative impacts of commercial cannabis.
Anna Ransome for Friends of Graton (FOG)
EDITOR: Sonoma County Supervisor James Gore stated during budget hearings that “gambling and cannabis are saving our budget this year” (“County OKs $1.78 billion budget,” Saturday). He pointed to $11 million in revenue from the Graton Resort & Casino over the past seven years and $2.6 million in cannabis revenue over the past three years.
On an annual basis, gambling brought in about $1.6 million and cannabis about $900,000. This revenue accounts for 0.14% of the county’s $1.78 billion budget. Some say that Gore not only seems to be math-challenged, but he also fails to account for the cannabis-related murder investigations and other Sheriff’s Office expenses that gobble up any “surplus” cannabis revenue.
In bringing cannabis production out from the dark shadows, many residents are severely impacted by odor/air quality, scenic corridor horror, traffic, water/aquifer drawdown concerns, environmental concerns, violence concerns and neighborhood incompatibility. Add to this the potential increments of greenhouses, processing barns and ruined visual ridgelines.
These industrial grows belong inside monitored industrial areas — not in any neighborhood.
M. VAS DUPRE