EXCERPT: CEQA: “The November 18, 2019, letter from Kimberly Burr, Esq., outlines the CEQA issues relative to the County’s proposed hemp ordinance, and why the ordinances must go through the EIR process. The letter outlines the CEQA issues as: 1) preparation of an ordinance is a project under CEQA; 2) potential environmental impacts; 3) production of industrial hemp without protections for impaired watersheds will pose significant environmental impacts.
In the staff report, “staff has determined that the proposed ordinance is categorically exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) under CEQA Guidelines Sections 15307 and 15308 as an action taken to assure the maintenance, restoration, enhancement, and protection of natural resources and the environment.
However, the staff’s determination does not appear to have considered nor address other environmental issues such as water impacts, terrestrial impacts and pollutants. In July 2019, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife published A Review of Potential Impacts of Cannabis Cultivation on Fish and Wildlife Resources. “
No neighborhood nor significant environmental input was included in the Agricultural Commissioner’s Draft Hemp Proposal. The Neighborhood Coalition has major concerns that if adopted, such plan would cause extensive problems for Sonoma County, violating the General Plan including environmental protections and health, safety, peace, comfort and general welfare of residents.
We have carefully analyzed the Agricultural Commissioner’s proposal. The Neighborhood Coalition proposes that hemp cultivation be allowed only in the three Agricultural Zones: DA, LEA, and LIA, where Right to Farm applies. Restrictions should include mandatory BMPs (same as for cannabis) and setbacks of 1,000 feet from private property lines in RR, AR and RRD as well as parks, schools, pre-schools and child care centers. Protections should be provided for the five critical watersheds. Of course, requirements of other ordinances must be followed, including the Right to Farm and Fire Safety Ordinances. Notably, the Right to Farm law only applies in Agriculture Zones, and allows neighbors to declare a hemp operation a nuisance if it were a nuisance from the start. Required setbacks will help protect rights of neighbors and avoid messy and costly situations for all.
Other discussion issues in our proposal are:
Definitions for processing and manufacturing for industrial hemp should be the same as in the cannabis ordinance as the processes are identical, and thus should be regulated the same:
Post-harvest processing: Drying and protection from mold, can be at cultivation site.
Manufacturing: Extraction of CBD oil: the same manufacturing processes as extraction of THC involving solvents (ethanol), CO2, high pressure, heat; industrial process and equipment that belongs in industrial zones.
Enforcement: detection/destruction of cannabis cultivation (>0.3% THC) instead of hemp
- The hemp ordinance will not negatively impact the environment.
- The hemp ordinance will not cause conflicts with rural residents.
- Local farmers will be able to diversify on appropriate parcels.
- Provide a clear, stringent ordinance to ensure that mistakes of the County’s cannabis rollout are not repeated thus resulting in unintended consequences
DISCUSSION OF ZONING ISSUES
ISSUE 1: Industrial Hemp Land Use Compatibility by Zoning District and Right to Farm laws
Industrial hemp has a physical trait, specifically odor, that causes significant concern for the compatibility with residential neighborhoods. Therefore, the county must determine where it may be appropriate to restrict hemp cultivation to address this issue while being in compliance with the Right to Farm laws.
The “Right to Farm” Ordinance applies to only Agricultural Zones [DA (Diverse Agriculture), LIA (Land Intensive Agriculture) and LEA (Land Extensive Agriculture)]. It prevents an agricultural operation on DA, LIA and LEA from being declared a nuisance only if it were not a nuisance at the start. However, per state law any agricultural operation can be declared a nuisance for up to three years after the start of operation if it was a nuisance from the start, as confirmed by County Counsel (Ms. Kuteria: November 21, 2019 public hearing at the Planning Commission).
There is no restriction on declaring any agricultural operation a nuisance at any time if such operation is not on DA, LIA or LEA. Hemp cultivation is a new agricultural operation in Sonoma County; it is important up front to avoid conflicts. It is appropriate for Sonoma County to state where hemp can be grown and under what conditions and where it cannot.
The cultivation, processing (drying, curing) and manufacturing (extraction of CBD oil) of industrial hemp should be considered for what it is: a use and process of identical character, density and intensity to that of commercial cannabis – including water usage, odor, traffic issues and electrical energy usage – but magnified many fold when on a larger scale. The “Right to Farm” law is broad enough for all counties to tailor it to their values and societal priorities.
Note: the California Department of Public Health and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inform that the use of hemp-derived CBD as a food additive or dietary supplement has not been approved by federal law and is not allowed. The FDA also recently issued a health warning for liver damage, mood changes and gastrointestinal distress with use of CBD. CBD is a pharmaceutical drug regulated by FDA and approved for only one indication, some forms of epilepsy.
- Rural Residential (RR) Zoning District
Rural Residential (RR) zoning district’s stated purpose is to preserve the rural character of these lands best suited for low-density residential development taking precedence over permitted agricultural uses.
Agricultural Commissioner Proposal Policy Option 1: Prohibit industrial hemp cultivation in RR. (Recommended by the Agricultural Commissioner and the Planning Commissioners). This option limits legal agriculture in a zoning district where agriculture is allowed but recognizes the primary use of this land as residential with regard to impacts of industrial hemp odor. SUPPORT
- Agriculture and Residential (AR) Zoning District
Agriculture and Residential (AR) zoning district’s stated purpose is to provide lands for raising crops and farm animals in areas designated primarily for rural residential use. Although this zoning district allows and encourages agriculture, the primary use remains residential.
Agricultural Commissioner Proposal Policy Option 1: Prohibit industrial hemp cultivation in AR. This option recognizes the primary use of this land as residential with regard to impacts of hemp odor and level of commercial activities. SUPPORT
Most homeowners in AR are “gentlemen farmers” or not farmers at all. These small farms do not enjoy the protections in effect on agricultural lands. They contribute to the agricultural production in the county but are primarily for “niche” markets and not large -scale commercial operations. Countywide, 1/3 of the rural residential lands are zoned AR with the remainder zoned RR.
Cultivation in this zone would not align with the prohibition of cannabis cultivation in the cannabis ordinance. As with cannabis, cultivation in this zone would result in conflicts over odor, noise and traffic. In both of these residential zoning districts (RR and AR), residential is designated as the primary use. Agricultural activities are considered secondary uses of the land and as such the policies of the Agricultural Resources Element of the General Plan will not apply. Staff Report-Industrial Hemp 11/21/19, p14
Conflicts in this zone would result in confusion for enforcement. Furthermore, as hemp looks and smells identical to cannabis, public safety concerns are also raised due to burglaries. There are already several instances of criminal activity mistakenly targeting hemp, thinking it was the higher value crop of cannabis. As no public safety or security plan is required, this is yet another reason to prohibit hemp cultivation in AR.
AR is not a “Right To Farm” zone.
- Resources and Rural Development (RRD) Zoning District
Resources and Rural Development (RRD) zoning district’s stated purpose is to provide protection of lands needed for timber production, geothermal production, aggregate resource production, lands needed for protection of watersheds, fish and wildlife habitat, biotic resources, and for agricultural production activities that are not subject to all of the policies contained in the agricultural resources element of the General Plan.
Agricultural Commissioner Proposal Policy Option 1: Prohibit industrial hemp cultivation in RRD. Prohibition avoids the impacts of industrial hemp cultivation in a resource zoning district designated for watershed and timber resource protection. SUPPORT
There is no need to increase agricultural activities especially with such a water and nutrient-intensive crop in this zone which is primarily set aside to protect water and timber resources. Resources to be protected include commercial timber lands, 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. RRD zoning is intended to protect against development and growth on land that is environmentally constrained or lacks public infrastructure and services. The Sonoma County General Plan requires that for rural development (which includes new commercial activities) to occur, public service and infrastructure, public safety, emergency access and response times, and roads are adequate to serve the projected development. The existing General Plan land use plan also uses the Resources and Rural Development (RRD) designation to protect the county’s natural resource lands and allow only very low density residential development.
Furthermore, hemp is a very water intensive crop, at 2 acre-feet water usage per acre of crop, using 4x more water per acre than even vineyards. Most of RRD is located in water scarce zones 3 or 4, and/or watershed protected areas. The Sonoma County General Plan (Water Resources Element Policy WR-2e) requires that discretionary applications in water availability zones 3 and 4 demonstrate via hydrogeologic report that the projected water use will not negatively impact the cumulative development and uses allowed in an area, nor cause or exacerbate an overdraft condition in groundwater basin/sub-basin. In addition, most of these areas are designated as very high or high fire-severity zones and are often accessed by poor roads (dead-end or one-lone) creating significant safety issues for rural residents and fire fighters. Commercial operations cannot be safely implemented in such areas.
Hemp looks and smells the same as cannabis, raising public safety concerns due to burglaries. There are already several instances of criminal activity mistakenly targeting hemp, thinking it was the higher value crop of cannabis. As no public safety or security plan is required this is yet another reason to prohibit hemp cultivation in RRD with its remoteness and poor access to law enforcement.
Alternative: Allow existing agriculture to convert to hemp Although we believe hemp cultivation is not appropriate in RRD due to remoteness and access, fire hazard, water scarcity and preservation of resources, if the Board of Supervisors does not wish to totally eliminate RRD, it could consider allowing existing agriculture to convert to hemp cultivation in this zone only if the grow is located in water zones 1 and 2, not in very high and high fire-severity zones, with no grading or tree removal allowed (the latter as recommended by the Agricultural Commissioner) and not accessed by dead-end or one-lane roads unless agriculture is the only use of the road as per the Fire Safety Ordinance.
If this option is chosen, BMP’s and 1,000 foot setbacks to private property lines, parks, schools, and child care facilities, must be mandatory to reduce conflict and enhance compatibility. Best Management Practices must incorporate consideration of surrounding land uses and maintain minimum setbacks in all cases to reduce conflict with rural residents and to provide for compatibility with other cropping systems.
Cultivation should be prohibited in the five critical watersheds regardless of zoning. The five critical watersheds are already impaired and in water deficit situations; therefore, restricting hemp grows in those areas would avoid impacting sensitive habitat for endangered fisheries.
RRD is not a “Right To Farm” zone.
- Agricultural (LIA, LEA, and DA) Zoning Districts
The purpose of an agricultural zoning designation is to protect lands suited for permanent agricultural use. Farmers in these zoning districts are afforded protection by the Sonoma County Right To Farm ordinance when engaged in properly conducted agricultural operations. The Agriculture Department has developed Best Management Practices for cannabis that should apply equally to industrial hemp, which clarify general good farming practice for Sonoma County.
Agricultural Commissioner Proposal Policy Option 4: Allow cultivation with local registration with [recommended] BMPs [we propose mandatory BMPs] and mandatory setbacks. This option adds the restriction of setbacks and provides for more regulatory authority. SUPPORT IF SITE SPECIFIC CONCERNS ARE ADDRESSED including setbacks, water availability and mandatory BMPs.
There are 329,562 acres in these three zones (DA 68.845, LEA 186,462, LIA 74,255) according to the 2020 Draft EIR, Section 4.1 and 4,289 parcels over 10 acres. Only parcels over 10 acres should be considered for hemp cultivation. A ten acre minimum parcel size will align with the Cannabis Ordinance.
BMP’s and setbacks to non-agricultural parcels must be mandatory to protect the environment, reduce conflict and enhance compatibility. A 1,000 feet setback to the property line of neighboring RR, AR and RRD parcels, parks, schools and other sensitive spots would accomplish these goals. Note that setbacks would not be required for agricultural parcels surrounded by other agricultural parcels, rather only for those impacting non-agricultural zoned land.
In addition to the above requirements of mandatory BMPs and setbacks, a ministerial permit process should (a) include specific check-list items as for cannabis ministerial permits to protect the environment and (b) provide department oversight to address site-specific issues concerning odor, noise and traffic to avoid controversy with rural neighbors, parks and other sensitive spots.
Other check list items include:
- Site meets road access requirements in Fire Safety Ordinance
- Not located in very high and high fire-severity zones
- Not in an impaired watershed or in water zones 3 or 4
- No unpermitted tree removal after Dec 20, 2016
- No grading without permit
If indoor or greenhouse/mixed light cultivation is desired, applicants must comply with PRMD requirements as for cannabis, including scrubbers to remove detectable odor from greenhouse and indoor site emissions.
It should be noted that these agricultural parcels are the only zones where the “Right To Farm” is applicable but it is still open to challenge and complaints for the first three years of a new operation such as hemp. However, what is written in Sonoma County’s Right to Farm disclosure as presented in the staff report is wrong vs the Sonoma County Right to Farm Ordinance as it ignores the right to declare an operation a nuisance if it was a nuisance from the start. The California law allows this for up to 3 years. The Sonoma ordinance states:
“No agricultural operation conducted or maintained on agricultural land in a manner consistent with proper and accepted customs and standards, as established and followed by similar agricultural operations in the county, shall be or become a nuisance for purposes of this code or county regulations if it was not a nuisance when it began, provided that such operation complies with the requirements of all applicable federal, state, and county statutes, ordinances, rules, regulations, approvals, and permits. The provisions of this section shall not apply where a nuisance results from the negligent or improper management or operation of an agricultural operation”.
Goal is to eliminate or reduce conflict.
ISSUE 2: Post Harvesting Handling (use same definitions as in cannabis ordinance: Processing = drying, curing, trimming; Manufacturing = extraction of cannabinoid (CBD) oil)
The Executive Summary of the 11/21/19 staff report describes non-volatile oil extracting (using CO2 or ethanol) as ‘processing’ and volatile (e.g., butane or propane) oil extraction is described as ‘manufacturing’. Further, the staff report amends “Agricultural processing” in Chapter 26 to now include changing of “agricultural crops to extracted oils”, thus allowing such oil extraction as newly-defined ‘processing’ on the hemp grow site. As the Agricultural Commissioner does not propose to define hemp process and hemp manufacturing in the proposed ordinances, this adds to confusion. More importantly, the Agricultural Commissioner has made major changes in definitions of what processing and manufacturer are relative to cannabis and where they can be conducted. He wants to 1) allow oil extraction using ethanol, a flammable solvent or supercritical CO2 involving high pressure and heat at the cultivation site (what he has redefined as processing, yet it is the identical manufacturing process restricted to industrial zones for cannabis), and furthermore to 2) allow use of the highly explosive volatile solvents butane and propane in industrial zones which what he calls manufacturing (whereas they are completely banned for cannabis).
This approach is wrong and dangerous.
- Use the same definitions as in the Cannabis Ordinance for processing and manufacturing as these activities are identical and should be regulated the same. The only difference is that as FDA prohibits hemp infusion into edibles, that should not be included in the definition of manufacturing. The Agricultural Commissioner’s proposal changed these definitions significantly, such that the true manufacturing process of extracting CBD oil from CBD buds was instead defined as ‘processing’ and allowed wherever cultivation was allowed. That is wrong; extraction of CBD oil involves the still flammable solvent 200 proof ethanol and distillation, or supercritical CO2 involving very high heat and pressure, and complex and expensive machinery requiring an industrial lab setting.Furthermore, a clean-room atmosphere needs to be maintained for producing products that will be used for inhalation. We have seen the fatal consequences in the cannabis industry from inhalation of THC oil that had contaminants. Allowing unregulated manufacturing of CBD oil at the cultivation site could potentially put all of Sonoma County’s CBD in bad light if there were contamination.
Oil extraction is a manufacturing process that belongs in commercial / industrial zones as rightly determined in the cannabis ordinance, not in residential or resource zones, nor even in agricultural zones.
The industry is moving to fewer and much larger centralized manufacturing facilities for extraction of CBD oil. The Agricultural Commissioner asserts that hemp oil extraction activities are similar to ‘processing’ used in the wine and apple industry; however, those wine and apple operations are actually very different and do not constitute industrial manufacturing processes as needed for CBD extraction. CBD extraction also involves chemical conversion via heat of CBD to the decarboxylated from. The investment in machinery to make CBD oil extraction cost-effective and safe is significant ($200,000 – 1 million) and will entail large manufacturing operations. Do we really want our agricultural or AR/RRD zones to become commercial manufacturing zones, often in remote fire-prone areas?
Definitions to align with those in the Cannabis Ordinance should read:
- Process, Processing, or Processes –Hemp: All activities associated with drying, curing, grading, trimming, rolling, storing, packaging, and labeling of non-manufactured hemp.
- Hemp Manufacturing: All aspects of the extraction process, and packaging and labeling processes, including preparing, holding, or storing of hemp products. Manufacturing also includes any preparing, holding, or storing of components and ingredients.
- Allow processing (i.e., drying, curing but not oil extraction) at grow site. As with cannabis centralized processing facilities, require a Minor Use Permit (MUP) for installation of drying facilities for more than 1 acre of hemp, including new electrical load (public fire and safety issues, consistent with cannabis requirements).
- Allow manufacturing (i.e., extraction of CBD oil) only in industrial zones, as with cannabis, with use permit. Ban the solvents more volatile than ethanol as are banned for cannabis.
- Compliance with all appropriate fire codes and permits should be required for all post-harvest activities. Clear definitions of any operational requirement should be clearly stated in the proposed hemp ordinances.
ISSUE 3: Other Policy Issues
- CEQA and Environmental Compliance
The November 18, 2019, letter from Kimberly Burr, Esq., outlines the CEQA issues relative to the County’s proposed hemp ordinance, and why the ordinances must go through the EIR process. The letter outlines the CEQA issues as: 1) preparation of an ordinance is a project under CEQA; 2) potential environmental impacts; 3) production of industrial hemp without protections for impaired watersheds will pose significant environmental impacts.
In the staff report, “staff has determined that the proposed ordinance is categorically exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) under CEQA Guidelines Sections 15307 and 15308 as an action taken to assure the maintenance, restoration, enhancement, and protection of natural resources and the environment. Further, the staff report indicates “the proposed ordinance is further exempt under CEQA Guidelines section 15061(b)(3) because it can be seen with certainty that the project will have no significant effect on the environment.” The staff determination in its report identified restrictions of growing in residential zones, setbacks, control pollen drift, restrict tree removal and grading and undescribed “effective oversight and enforcement” as support for the County’s CEQA categorical exemptions.
However, the staff’s determination does not appear to have considered nor address other environmental issues such as water impacts, terrestrial impacts and pollutants. In July 2019, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife published A Review of Potential Impacts of Cannabis Cultivation on Fish and Wildlife Resources. The publication provides a “synthesis of the available scientific literature on potential impacts of cannabis cultivation on fish, wildlife, and associated ecosystems. As defined by the California Department of Food and Agriculture, cannabis (marijuana) cultivation refers to “…any activity involving the planting, growing, harvesting, drying, curing, grading, or trimming of cannabis.” The review focuses on outdoor cultivation of cannabis, including greenhouse cultivation.”
It should be noted that for a CEQA categorical exemption that assures maintenance, restoration, enhancement, and protection of natural resources, the CEQA guidelines cite wildlife preservation activities of the Department of Fish and Wildlife as an example. A hemp grow is not nor does it resemble a wildlife preservation area.
The proposed ordinance does not state how historic, archeological or Native American resources would be protected. Nor it is clear that the proposed ordinance satisfies the fire safety components of CEQA.
Additionally, if the BMPs are only recommended and NOT MANDATORY, the county cannot measure direct nor cumulative impacts to the environment, as required by Public Resources Code Section 21083(b), and verify the asserted CEQA categorical exemptions of CEQA guideline sections 15307, 15308 and 15601(b)(3). Any BMPs, or other mechanisms used by the County, should include measurable outcomes so that the County can track and evaluate the past, current and future cumulative impacts, as required by CEQA.
The staff report does not provide an Application Checklist so the public cannot see how the hemp grows will be evaluated by the Agricultural Commissioner. Is it proposed to be same or similar to its Medical Cannabis Cultivation Zoning Permit Application? Note the additional check-list items proposed under ISSUE #1, D above.
Will there be a limit on the acreage for each cultivation application, and on cumulative cultivation for Sonoma County? For a water intensive crop this is critical.
Based on the staff report to the Planning Commission, it does not appear, or is unclear how, the proposed hemp enforcement ordinances conform to current state law as well as SB 153 (Ch. 838, Statutes of 2019, discussed below). While county staff asserts that the ordinances are meant to be read along with state law, the ordinances do not, at a minimum, reference state law concerning the enforcement to ensure that there is no more than 0.3% THC in hemp plants. This will likely lead to confusion and misinterpretation on the part of both the applicant and the public.
Additionally, the ordinance includes an option to THC test a grow prior to the state-required pre-harvest testing (30 days before harvest). The state mandates that in order to be industrial hemp, THC levels must be equal to or less than 0.3%. In the County’s optional pre-harvest testing ordinance, if THC levels are 5.0% or above, then the grow will be handled as an unpermitted cannabis violation. However, state law requires any hemp crop that tests, after its first test, over 1% to begin destruction within 48 hours. A hemp crop that tests over 0.3% but does not exceed 1% after its second test, destruction must begin as soon as possible but within 45 days. The ordinance, as written, does not acknowledge this portion of state law. This portion of the ordinance is vague and poorly written thus leading to much interpretation.
There are several problems with this approach:
- What happens to a crop whose THC level is between 0.3% and 5.0%? The proposed ordinance is silent. As described above, under the state’s mandated testing laws and regulations, such a grow would be an illegal hemp crop and should be destroyed. However, since the County’s proposed action is outside of state law, it is not clear what would be the disposition of such a crop. Further, current hemp state laws do not give local governments any authority to work outside the current state legal structure.
- The County does not identify its testing protocols for the testing process described in Section 1 above. Further, the proposed hemp ordinances do not even reference the state testing procedures. State regulations for THC testing of hemp are very prescriptive. Without such identifiable protocols, this could lead to challenges and litigation.
- Potential lack of rigorous enforcement. Another big issue for enforcement is to ensure that a hemp grower does not intentionally camouflage cannabis plants amongst the hemp plants. Random sampling might pick up this occasionally, but it is not possible to rigorously enforce and would require increased manpower. This will support more black market cannabis and deprive the county of tax revenue.
SB 153, effective January 2020, would revise the cultivation, testing and enforcement of industrial hemp to conform to a new federally-required state plan per the 2018 federal Farm Bill. The state plan is required to be submitted to the USDA by May 2020. Among other things, once the state plan is approved by USDA, the bill requires a robust enforcement role for the secretary of CDFA rather than leaving it to the agricultural commissioners. Additionally, any hemp violations would be reported to the State Attorney General and U.S. Attorney General. Based on the staff report to the Planning Commission, it does not appear, or is unclear how, the proposed enforcement ordinances conform to the requirements of SB 153. The staff report did not acknowledge this portion of SB 153, and may require further conforming action to the state plan.
Under “Prior Violations”, the definition/explanation for unpermitted commercial cannabis violation is unclear, in terms of purpose, what it means and how it is supposed to be implemented.
- Staffing and Budgeting
It is difficult to tell if the $900 fee is the fee required in state law or a supplement to the $900 state fee – in other words, is the applicant paying $900 or $1800. It sounds like over and above. Given what was presented in the staff report, it does not appear that the revenues collected will cover the full costs, including County Counsel, of the hemp ordinance program. Clarity on “who is paying for what” would be for the benefit of the applicant as well as the public.
The staffing analysis appears incomplete as it lacks any quantitative details on workload (except for County Counsel) and costs of $26,461 may be understated. As an example, the analysis does not mention the cost of testing which is the responsibility of the Ag Commissioner or a third party contract by the Commissioner. Nor does the analysis address potential changes due to SB 153 or state plan or federal rules. No information is provided about the County’s assertion of how it will achieve a robust enforcement effort.
Another area that may require additional workload may be for the evaluation of hydrogeologic reports if hemp cultivation is allowed in water zones 3 and 4, or in critical watersheds, particularly if the hemp grows are anticipated to be larger than cannabis grows thus requiring a larger volume of water. It does not appear that the Agricultural Dept. has the expertise to perform the required analysis; therefore, it would appear that they would rely on the hydrologist in PRMD, whose workload should also be evaluated. There is no directive either in the staff report nor the proposed ordinance to have PRMD involved in any hydrogeologic analyses.
- Hemp Ordinance Implementation Premature
This ordinance appears premature. There are significant changes anticipated at the federal level which then will trigger conforming actions by the state followed by local governments.
In October 31, 2019, the USDA released its interim final rule for regulations establishing a domestic hemp production program. The public comment period just completed December 30, 2019. At this time, it is unclear when the final rule will be issued. Some issues of concern focus around how to stay under the 0.3% threshold, the 15-day harvest test, how to dispose of “hot hemp”. Further, there may be consideration by FDA to allow CBD extracted from hemp to be included in edibles; however, it is currently against federal law.
The federal rules require submittal of a state plan to be approved by the USDA. SB 153 requires California to submit its plan before the end of May 2020. It is unclear how long it will take to get federal approval, but once approved, it may trigger the need to conform state laws and/or regulations with the plan. As an example, SB 153 already contains provisions that will change enforcement responsibilities from the Agricultural Commissioners to the Secretary of Food and Agriculture, which in turn will impact the County’s enforcement ordinances.
Additionally, CDFA has yet to promulgate permanent registration and testing regulations. As mentioned above, elements of the state’s plan may need to be included. Current regulations are interim, effective through June 2020. By that time, CDFA must complete its permanent regulatory package.
The staff report to the BOS indicates that, in addition to 64.5 hours already spent to date, County Counsel anticipates another 84 hours workload until the end of the fiscal year to develop and implement the ordinance. The staff report does not indicate what County Counsel will be working on but given that it exceeds the 64.5 hours spent to date, they must be anticipating some significant changes.