Please feel free to use this as a template for your own letter….
Subject: PHASE 2 – NEIGHBORHOOD COMPATIBIITY ISSUES
Good morning, Ms. Berrocal,
Attached and pasted below is another neighborhood compatibility issue, “exclusion zones for environmentally unsuitable areas” for your review as you write the amendments for Phase 2.
Exclusion Zones for Environmentally Unsuitable Areas
Since the initial steps were taken by the County to begin to regulate the legal cannabis industry in 2016, two serious issues have come to be of paramount importance.
1. First is the formal recognition that the sustainability of water resources in California must be recognized and addressed.
2. Second is the reality of the new wildfire environment in California.
For these reasons it is time to revisit the use of County Determined Exclusion Zones, including but not limited to the cannabis industry. The usual and proper way to proceed is to identify suitable sites for projects rather than areas where there may be problems. Nevertheless, areas that are not environmentally suitable can be identified and protected if designated as exclusion zones.
In Phase 2 amendments should identify such zones based on a consideration of availability of water resources, biotic impact, high wildfire risk areas, and adequate roads.
The public should be allowed to submit suggestions for review in Phase 2.
Currently Lake, Mendocino, and Trinity Counties have exclusion zones.
Water Sustainability and Biotic Impacts
The State recognizes that water resources are currently under stress and increasingly imperiled by climate change. This prompted the passage of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. It is clearly incumbent on county government to be particularly conservative in approving new land uses in already water stressed areas. Focus needs to be on watershed areas recognized by Federal, State, or Local government bodies as critical habitat and are impacted and have been identified as needing special treatment.
The Mark West Water and Palmer Creek Water sheds are examples of areas that are prime candidates for Exclusion Zoning.
A piecemeal approach to approving /denying water intensive uses is not a rational nor logical approach in the current environment. The designation of Exclusion Zone concept is a particularly attractive option in order to ensure enforcement of the following State Regulation, “Food and Agriculture Cannabis Cultivation Program, Section § 8216.”
License Issuance in an Impacted Watershed.
If the State Water ResourcesControl Board or the Department of Fish and Wildlife finds, based on substantial evidence, notifies the department in writing that cannabis cultivation is causing significant adverse impacts on the environment in a watershed or other geographical areas pursuant to section 26069, subdivision (c)(1), of the Business and Professions Code, the department shall not issue new licenses or increase the total number of plant identifiers within that watershed or area while the moratorium is in effect.
The New Wildfire Environment Due to Climate Change
Adequate road egress and evacuation routes must be available to accommodate any increase in commercial or residential development in rural areas. Commercial cannabis operation applications should not be accepted in areas in the county that are served by inadequate roads that do not provide access to emergency fire equipment and civilian evacuation concurrently, and do not allow unobstructed traffic circulation during a wildfire emergency. It should be recognized that in such areas new commercial development is inappropriate and unsafe. State Fire State Road Standards should be applied to all cannabis applications. (See our position under the neighborhood compatibility topic, “fire safe roads”).