Local Group: Countdown to Hemp hearing meeting Monday January 6th

Today’s Fact: 9 Days Until Hemp Meeting on Monday, January 6th  



The Ag Commissioner MAY adopt, amend or rescind required best management practices. Section 37-6A of the Draft Hemp ordinance/ Required BMP’s

Parallel language on Recommended BMP’s in Section 37-6B of the Draft Hemp ordinance.

 Even if the BMP’s are mandatory the Ag Commissioner can revise or rescind them at will.

Bottom line: BMP’s are totally up to the Ag Commissioner 

Day 10.  Best Management Practices or BMP’s are “recommended” by the Ag Department and are voluntary. BMP’S clarify general good farming practices but they are not mandatory and they cannot be enforced.

BMP’s include recommendations on some of the following types of farming operations: pesticide and fertilizer storage and use, riparian protection, water use and storage, erosion control, soil disturbance, tree trimming, grading and drainage, etc.

If BMPs were MANDATORY the County could track the present and future environmental impacts. CEQA obligates the lead agency to track its environmental impacts.

Mandatory BMPs are particularly important for impaired watersheds and areas that are water scarce.


Day 11. The Ag Zones. The existing General Plan land use plan includes three agricultural land use categories: Land Intensive Agriculture (LIA) 74,255 acres or 7.7%, Land Extensive Agriculture (LEA) 186,462 acres or 19.3%, and Diverse Agriculture (DA) 68,845 acres or 7.1%. 

Total acreage designated as agricultural land use is 326,562 acres or 34.1% of the total acreage in Sonoma County. General Plan  

1,595 of these parcels are over 10 acres. Staff Report File#ORD18-0003, June 7, 2018, page 10 

Designation of parcels was based on multiple considerations, including the parcel size, lack of infrastructure, distance from public services, access, conflicts with resource conservation and production, and topographic and environmental features.

“Right to Farm” applies to Ag zones only but operation can still be declared a nuisance the first three years if a nuisance from the beginning.

The recommendation of the Ag Commissioner provides for no regulatory authority to enforce setbacks to parks, schools or homes in the adjacent non-ag zones. Best Management Practices (BMP’s) for hemp are recommended not mandatory. 

Day 12.  CRITICAL WATERSHEDS. The State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) in collaboration with Fish and Wildlife (CDRW) has attempted to protect fish in five areas of Sonoma County. During the last drought the SWRCB put restrictions on rural residents in regard to water usage from their own wells: no watering of landscaping or vegetable gardens, no car washing and a 25% reduction in domestic use in five critical watersheds. Agriculture is exempt from such curtailments. The Attached map shows the areas which were put on restriction during the drought. They are the critical spawning and rearing reaches of Mark West Creek Watershed, Green Valley Creek Watershed, Dutch Bill Creek Watershed, Mill Creek Watershed and sub-watersheds of these creeks. Curtailment of only rural residents and not agriculture was not adequate to prevent summer die off of fish in these creeks including those planted as part of the Coho restoration program at Warm Springs dam.


Day 13. The land use designation RRD stands for Resources and Rural Development. RRD designation is used to protect the county’s natural resource lands and allows for only very low-density residential development. Resources to be protected include commercial timber land, lands within the Known Geothermal Resource Area (KGRA), lands identified in the County’s Aggregate Resources Management Plan and natural resource lands including watershed, fish and wildlife habitat and other biotic areas. (General Plan)


Development in RRD results in two primary environmental consequences: habitat loss and fragmentation and the degradation of water resources and water quality. RRD lands account for 51% of the total acreage in Sonoma County and contain 492,658 acres much of which is heavily forested and mountainous. (General Plan).


RRD is not a “right to farm” zone.