FOG Update #14

For those who were unable to attend the Supervisor’s hearing on Tuesday, we are posting the gist of FOG’s presentation so that our position on the trails/parks issue is clear. I spoke for Friends of Graton and Friends of Atascadero Wetlands and the Supervisors agreed to allow a little extra time and asked for supporters of our position to stand. “My husband and I have lived on our property for 31 years at the end of Railroad Street, adjacent to the West County Trail. The railroad tracks were still in place when we moved to Graton. When a trail was proposed for the right-of-way we were supportive, in large part because the trail would be overseen by Regional Parks and would be administered and maintained in a responsible way. We also publicly supported Measure M and we understand that some of the taxes generated by that measure will be used to maintain these trails. We were told by Regional Parks that we wrote the only letter in support of funding for constructing the West County Trail, so we were taken aback to find out that some people at the County considered this trail and the Joe Rodota Trail not to be parks under the new Cannabis Ordinance, while all other trails are considered parks. The General Plan, the overarching law for land use in our county, states under County Municipal Code Article II that “Park means all land or water owned, leased, managed, or controlled by the Sonoma County park system.” Under this provision, the West County Trail and Joe Rodota Trail are parks because they are managed and controlled by the Sonoma County park system. However, we are here today to determine whether these two trails will slip through the cracks. All other trails in the Sonoma County park system are considered parks and are protected by the 1000′ setback. What we are requesting is not a whole new change in policy but a recognition that these trails are no different than other trails and serve the same function. The Municipal Code definition should be applied equally to all trails and not exclude any. Considering the trail solely a transportation corridor is inaccurate, and anyone standing by the trail on any day could see that the majority of users are not commuting to work. Most are there to enjoy nature, to socialize, to walk their dogs and to get exercise. The trail is used by all ages and has been the only park available in the Graton area. Graton residents and trail users feel strongly about this: we have discussed this issue with hundreds of people who agree that this County needs to protect the West County and Joe Rodota Trails. The properties along the trail to the south of us provide one the loveliest uninterrupted vistas of the Atascadero Wetlands, lands that the Board permanently protected with a Biotic Habitat zoning overlay in 2016. Friends of Atascadero Wetlands initiated that process and our group is grateful that the Board recognized the unique, sensitive and irreplaceable natural resources along the creek. We urge the Board to clarify the current cannabis ordinance and designate Joe Rodota and West County trails as parks with all the protections that parks status confers in the cannabis regulations. Every other trail in the Regional Parks system is designated a park and enjoys the setback. This designation will make the law consistent, treat all trails with the same protections and is rational.” Anna Ransome for Friends of Graton (FOG)