COMPLAINT RECENTLY FILED WITH THE SONOMA COUNTY GRAND JURY
After reading it and noting the striking similarities between the rollout of the cannabis program in SB and here in Sonoma, a formal complaint was recently lodged with the Sonoma County Grand Jury against the Cannabis Ad Hoc (Gore and Hopkins) and the Cannabis Program Manager (Berrocal) on the grounds they have violated two of the three main goals in their charter:
- protecting and ensuring the interests of all residents,
- protecting the environment. Dropping CEQA and the project wide EIR in favor of making all future cannabis applications ministerial. This pivot was announced on December 17, 2019.
The 26 page Grand Jury Report from Santa Barbara is well worth reading. Note the similarities with the Penalty Relief Pogram.
The Charter of the SC Cannabis Ad Hoc is copied below.
The 2017 Charter of the Cannabis Ad Hoc states: The primary purpose of the Ad Hoc is to ensure the successful implementation of the County Cannabis Program that enables and incentivizes the industry to come into compliance while ensuring the interests of all residents and the environment are protected.
Santa Barbara Grand Jury EXCERPT:
OBSERVATIONS AND ANALYSIS
The investigation was undertaken to examine various issues and the actions that were taken by the Board in the process of creating the ordinances. These issues include the following:
1. Ad Hoc Committee – The use of an Ad Hoc Sub Committee that was not open to the public and not subject to the Ralph M. Brown Act (Brown Act). 2
2. Robust Cannabis Industry – The approval of the primary objective of the Cannabis Ordinance Project to be the development of a robust and economically viable legal cannabis industry.
3. Access Granted To the Cannabis Industry – The granting, by the Board, of nearly unfettered access to cannabis growers and cannabis industry representatives during the creation of the ordinances.
2 The Ralph M. Brown Act, codified as California Government Code 54950 et seq.
4. Significant and Unavoidable Environmental Impacts.
5. Rejection by the Board of Environmentally Superior Alternatives – The rejection of Project
Alternatives including the Environmentally Superior Alternative of Reduced Registrants.
6. “Skunky” Smell – The allowance of unpermitted operators to continue to operate with no
effective odor control in place.
7. Impact on Agriculture – The failure to consider the impacts of cannabis cultivation on traditional
agriculture knowing the State of California requirement of testing for pesticides on cannabis.
8. Legal Non-Conforming Status.
9. Affidavit System – The employment of an unverified affidavit system to qualify growers as legal non-conforming and the failure to determine the scope of the claimed qualifying use.
10. Taxation – Santa Barbara County was one of only a few counties within the State that did not tax cannabis cultivation on a square footage basis. In addition, the Santa Barbara County TreasurerTax Collector, an elected position, was excluded from the creation of the tax portion of the License ordinance. Also, the allowance for cannabis acreage far exceeded the demand in California.
11. Statement of Overriding Considerations.
12. The Interference with the Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District – The Santa
Barbara County Chief Executive Office’s (CEO) staff and P&D staff interceded and revised the Cannabis Air Quality Advisory issued by the Air Pollution Control District (APCD), an
13. Ethics – The acceptance of campaign contributions by Board members at or near the time the donor had a matter pending a decision before the Board.
Ad Hoc Committee On February 14, 2017, the Board voted to establish an Ad Hoc Sub Committee (Ad Hoc) consisting of two Supervisors. The stated purpose was to review and create regulations for adult use and cannabis cultivation in the County.3
The Ad Hoc was created as a body not subject to the Brown Act and not
open to the public.
The Board decision not to have open meetings on the ordinances created issues. One issue was the lack of transparency that inevitably results when the public is excluded from the process, especially on such a controversial matter as cannabis. In contrast, the 2015 Board, which included some current Board members, voted to create an Ad Hoc Sub Committee, subject to the Brown Act and open to the public, to engage in discussions with the Santa Ynez Valley Band of Chumash Indians regarding similarly controversial land use issues.
Of concern to the Jury was the fact that agendas were not prepared and minutes were not taken for the Ad Hoc meetings. The Jury learned that notes and minutes were not prepared in order to avoid any Public Records Act Requests for such documents. The lack of a paper trail does not fit with the concept of open government which seeks input from all interests. This unchecked process led to an imbalanced perspective.
3) February 14, 2017 Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors meeting “Board Letter”