THE PRESS DEMOCRAT | December 11, 2018, 8:31PM
The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved a setback requirement governing cannabis operations near county bike and pedestrian trails, further limiting areas where marijuana can be cultivated.
The move came before an overflow crowd amid opposition from a proposed west county cannabis business and advocates who say it creates additional confusion and excessive regulation for marijuana proprietors.
Some residents who live near the trails or use them described the move as one that protects those public spaces as parks.
Supervisors’ unanimous vote made that policy official when it comes to buffers between county trails and pot businesses. The county now will require 1,000-foot setbacks from such trails. Exceptions are granted on a case-by-case basis.
Supervisors set the rules about public parks in October, when it became clear that setbacks required between cannabis operations and parks didn’t apply to the county’s trail system for bicyclists and pedestrians.
“This is not an actual change to the ordinance, if it were it would go through a much longer process,” Supervisor Lynda Hopkins said. “This is the first time we’ve had an opportunity to affirm that we do in fact have a majority of the board supporting that parks are trails.”
Lawyers representing Jack Buck, who applied for a cannabis farm near a portion of the West County Regional Trail in Graton, made a public call for Hopkins to recuse herself. They accused her of bias based on her family’s ties to a wine company and of previous coordination with opponents to the project, claims that Hopkins has rejected.
Caryl Hart, a longtime parks advocate and the former director of Sonoma County Regional Parks, said those bike paths are “linear parks.”
“Every single use is consistent with the use of all the other regional parks,” she said.