What’s on the Agenda for tomorrow at the Board of Supervisors (BOS) is not who is for or against cannabis — the question is if Sonoma County will have a good or bad policy on where cannabis is grown.
We urge Supervisors to reject the new Chapter 38. It’s bad for the environment and it’s especially bad policy in a drought. It was written without adequate public input during a pandemic, and it should be confined to the ash heap of history.
But the status quo is not acceptable either. We all agree on that. Instead of this uninformed and half-baked Chapter 38, fix the regulations so they meet basic neighborhood compatibility standards.
Specifically, when we call in, we need to demand that the Board of Supervisors:
- Invest in a full Programmatic Environmental Impact Report (EIR) to determine suitable areas for future grows.
- Limit permit approvals during a state-declared drought to applicants that grow cannabis only using dry farming techniques.
- Increase setbacks to 1,000 feet from outdoor and hoop house cultivation to the property line for all residences, schools, childcare facilities and parks.
- For indoor cultivation, increase setbacks to 300 feet minimum to the property line.
- Ban all cannabis cultivation in Community Separators.
- Require cannabis processing in facilities in commercial and industrial zones only.
- Prohibit cannabis events near homes and in agricultural or resource zones.
- Require posting of a $50,000 mitigation bond upon issuance of each permit.
- Limit these ministerial permits to small, local growers as was intended — imposing a requirement for in-county residents to own at least 51%.
- Change the initial permit period to one year, to match the State and test this new policy.
As our elected Supervisors consider the proposed cannabis ordinance tomorrow, we urge you to join this meeting and make your voice heard! Feel free to speak on any of the points above or add your own concerns at this meeting:
Sonoma County BOS considers the Proposed Cannabis Ordinance
Tuesday, May 18 at 8:30 AM
Click here to access the agenda, Zoom link and guidelines for public comment
You can voice your concerns directly to the Supervisors during this virtual meeting. Please click here to find instructions on how to make a public comment live on Zoom or by voicemail.
Some cannabis supporters have called an environmental review a “delaying tactic.” Setting aside how insulting that is, an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) has been fundamental land use policy in California for decades. Supervisors should not be surprised that it’s necessary here too. An EIR is the right way to change cannabis policy, and it should have been done five years ago. If it had been, Sonoma County would not be in this mess right now.
In the end, ALL of this depends on effective permitting and enforcement. It is not possible to support small growers trying to follow the law, or shut down illegal grows or scofflaws, if the County does not put serious resources behind hiring staff for permitting and enforcement. The County must solve this problem.