Winery Events and CANNA-TOURISM

Local Activists: CANNA-TOURISM

Sending our position paper on canna-tourism again in light of the  push by BOS to move the Winery Events Ordinance forward during the pandemic. Gore opined at the December 17th BOS meeting that canna-tourism  was already here and needed to be a part of Phase 2. Currently it is prohibited.

To: Niki Berrocal
Cc: Lynda Hopkins; district4

Good morning, Ms. Berrocal,

Attached and pasted below is another neighborhood compatibility issue, “Canna-tourism”, for you to review as you write amendments for the Board of Supervisors to consider as they implement Phase Two of the Cannabis Ordinance.

The Neighborhood Coalition agrees that the tourism industry is important to Sonoma County. Data we have received from Anthony Hakim, the research project coordinator at the SC Economic Development Board, states that tourists spend approximately 6.5% of Sonoma County’s annual GDP. It is significant figure but six other industries generate more value than 6.5% of the GDP. Given the amount of media coverage of tourism, the public may believe tourism is the primary and dominant source of our economy.

The cannabis industry would like to copy the wine industry model, but as the attachment points out, there are many unresolved problems with wine country tourism.  Our resource on this issue is Padi Selwyn of Preserve Rural Sonoma County. R. M. could also give you an idea what it is like to live next to a winery that has a permit for 4 yearly events but exceeded 32 last year. We can provide you with their contact information if you wish to discuss this issue with both.

The “commercialization of ag land” is a conversation the County needs to pursue before embarking down the canna-tourism road.

Name Withheld for privacy

                              Cannabis Tourism – On Site Consumption

Enforce and Retain

County Ordinance No. 6245, Sec.26-88-250 (c) (5)  “Tasting, promotional   activities, and events related to commercial cannabis activities are prohibited”. 

Wine country tourism has caused a great deal of angst among many rural residents.  There are repeated problems with traffic congestion, illegal parking along roadsides, blocking of driveways, loud noises/music, violations of limits on special events, sustainable water issues, etc. 

The county has been unable to resolve these issues either through lack of staff, lack of interest, bias toward the wine industry, inability to monitor compliance with event limits, or failure to levy and collect fines.

Rural residents have been fighting for years to put limits on the number and size of events that wineries can have. The impacts of those events on neighbors can be dreadful. If the cannabis industry gets canna-tourism rolled out it will be a future problem because they are likely to produce the same adverse impacts as the wineries.

Until the county can straighten out the unsolved problems evident with wine tourism, it would be imprudent to consider amending the ordinance.

The problem is not with singular event like the Harvest Fair for the wine industry or the Emerald Cup for the cannabis industry, but the negative impact in the rural areas.