Subject: Bennett Valley Marijuana Update, April 4, 2020
These updates are sent to individuals who have signed the petition to ban commercial marijuana cultivation in Bennett Valley and who have provided an email address. If you know someone who wishes to be added, please ask them to sign the petition.
- CalFire to Decide Access Road Issues on April 7-8.
On April 7-8, the CalFire Board of Forestry (BOF) is scheduled to decide whether to certify the Sonoma County Fire Safety Ordinance as meeting or exceeding the CalFire SRA Fire-Safe Regulations. On the basis of the attached staff reports, it seems very unlikely that the BOF will certify the county’s ordinance. If it does not, the CalFire regulations will apply in most of Sonoma County, including Bennett Valley.
The CalFire regulations require long, dead-end roads to be at least 20 feet wide when they serve commercial developments. Their purpose is to ensure safe, concurrent evacuation in the urban-wildland interface. The county contends that all roads built before 1991, virtually all of rural Sonoma County, are exempt from the CalFire requirements. This interpretation will likely end, and will affect conditional use permits for cannabis projects on such roads.
The access roads to the four pending marijuana projects in Bennett Valley—4050 Grange Road, 4065 Grange Road, 3700 Matanzas Creek Lane, and 3803 Matanzas Creek Lane—are only 10-12 feet in width. For 20 months we have been telling the county that the CalFire regulations preclude it from issuing permits on those roads unless they are substantially improved.
It would be helpful to have some Bennett Valley residents call in to the virtual BOF meetings. You don’t necessarily have to speak. The meeting on Tuesday, April 7, at 8:30 am seems to be the more important one. To “attend” via teleconferencing, visit the Board of Forestry’s homepage that morning:
the Board’s Website (http://bof.fire.ca.gov).
where there is a Webinar link. The page will refresh and show a link and you can join the Webinar directly from there.
- Proposed Marijuana Dispensary and Consumption Lounge Near Bennett Valley Shopping Center.
As we have reported, a Marin County resident has applied for a permit for a marijuana dispensary, delivery service, and consumption lounge at 2300 Bethards Drive (at Yulupa Avenue), adjacent to the Bennett Valley Shopping Center. Operations would be from 8 am – 10 pm daily. Because few, if any, consumption lounges are permitted in the North Bay, traffic may increase near the shopping center, including on Bennett Valley Road. Driver impairment is an issue, and neither the Santa Rosa Police Department nor the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office have a test for driving under the influence of cannabis.
The owner’s other dispensary, Alternatives dispensary in downtown Santa Rosa, was the site of an armed robbery in its parking lot. There is strong local opposition because the site is very close to family homes with children as well as schools and day care centers. There is also some opposition from commercial enterprises in the Bennett Valley Shopping Center who are concerned that this project would degrade the character of the area and harm business.
A group called Protect Our Neighborhoods 2020 has formed to lead the opposition, and you should sign its petition that opposes this project. The website at the link at “petition” contains all necessary information. You may also object (File No. PRJ19-047) to Susie Murray, Santa Rosa Senior Planner (707-543-4348; SMurray@srcity.org) and District 2 Santa Rosa City Council Member John Sawyer (JSawyer@SRCity.org).
- Marijuana Crime in Bennett Valley.
Because of rumors of burglaries at cannabis grows on Matanzas Creek Lane and Wellspring Road, we asked the sheriff’s office for a summary of recent crime reports. During the eight months from late July 2019 to late March 2020, the sheriff’s office reports the following:
- 3803 Matanzas Creek Lane (ongoing grow): burglary or grand theft (Oct. 18, Oct 29, and March 26)
- 3700 Matanzas Creek Lane (proposed grow): identity theft (Oct. 10); disturbance (Dec. 30)
- 3575 Matanzas Creek Lane (former grow): suspicious circumstances (Sept. 26)
- 2274 Wellspring Road (ongoing grow): trespass (July 31 and November 20)
County officials have little concern about subjecting Bennett Valley and other neighborhoods to the crime associated with marijuana grows.
Name withheld for privacy