I’m a longtime Sebastopol resident, Lone Pine Road area. I’m affiliated with Wine & Water Watch and Save Our Sonoma Neighborhoods and am writing to oppose the new draft ordinance. I do not oppose cannabis per se. Given that County of Sonoma has chosen to ignore the lessons of other jurisdictions, it does not appear that you are taking the apprehensions of residents seriously.
The County has seemingly rolled out the red carpet for cannabis growers but has given residents few if any, options to voice their concerns. My personal concerns are listed as follows:
1. WATER: Sonoma is once again in a drought year. Cannabis is a notoriously water-hungry crop and this year’s levels of precipitation haven’t brought the aquifers up to sustainable levels. Given climate change we must carefully conserve our water use, not encourage it. In addition, “net zero usage” means my neighbor growing cannabis subtracts water from our aquifer, and from me.
2. CRIME AND LACK OF ENFORCEMENT: My neighborhood has been directly affected by cannabis-related crime. In December 2015, my next-door neighbor, who was growing a large number of plants, experienced five armed men in his bedroom in the early morning hours. They stole not only ten pounds of pot but 47 guns.
Last year, a hash grow-house near my home burst into flames, endangering the entire neighborhood in these dry times. To allow ministerial cannabis permits in neighborhoods places all residents at risk. Yes the ones mentioned here were both illegal grow situations but law enforcement and Permit Sonoma do little to enforce those, let alone problems with permitted grows.
3. LIGHT & NOISE POLLUTION: Those of us not farming for a living who reside in rural and semi-rural areas do so largely out of a desire for quiet and for escaping the high illumination levels of city and suburban neighborhoods. Cannabis grows employ 24/7 fans, cameras, lighting and fencing and will alter noise and light levels.
4. EFFECT ON PROPERTY VALUES: Property taxes increase every year and mine will soon catch up to what my home might sell for. A number of real-estate entities have reported on commercial cannabis’ deleterious effects (nearly 10%) on property values.
5. CANNABIS TOURISM: See #3, above. I oppose cannabis tourism in any form.
6. 100 FT PERSONAL RESIDENCE SETBACKS & 10-ACRE MINIMUM PARCEL SIZE: A 1,000-ft setback exists for schools, parks and bike trails. I support the same setback for my home and everywhere else. The County is offering cannabis growers more advantages than residents. 100 feet is nothing! Residents are entitled to “quiet enjoyment of the premises”. The draft ordinance encourages our homes and properties to be inundated with the inescapable reek of pot, as well as the aforementioned light and noise. Personally I have heard from many families who don’t particularly oppose cannabis but who cannot tolerate its smell.
WHAT I DO SUPPORT:
1. 1000-ft setbacks for schools, parks, bike trails, and homes.
2. 20-acre minimum parcel size
3. One-year permits, not 5. In 5 years their operations will have cemented while the County wasn’t paying attention.
4. Stop orders for growers not in compliance
5. Protect home values from declining due to large nearby grows
Finally, you are proposing that we homeowners give up many of the enjoyments and protections of living in this county, and for what? What are we receiving in exchange?
Cannabis is not a necessary ag crop like food. It is a DRUG and should be regulated as such.
Wine & Water Watch Board Member