There are several misleading claims in Ron Ferraro’s April 28 op-ed, Cultivating Cannabis in Sonoma County. The public hearing process is not normally a three to five year process. If the county and the industry had not brazenly decided on cannabis regulations without listening to or responding to neighborhood concerns, cannabis applications would have moved much more quickly through the system.
Regardless, a discretionary process is required by state law and is the only way to address impacts on different parcels with different characteristics. As far as the ministerial permitting, which is ongoing and without neighborhood notification, a review of permit data will show that it is taking only 8-12 weeks.
I doubt anyone considers the 65,000 potential new acres a “limited amount of potential available acreage” as Ferraro claims. His assertion that “many local ranchers” want to diversify by adding cannabis, could further inflate this available acreage figure.
Ferraro, a cannabis industry representative, would like cannabis to be permitted in all water zones, though the Planning Commission recommended excluding water-scarce zones 3 and 4. Does anyone in those zones want cannabis to drain our ground water and dry up our residential wells? We are in a drought emergency in Sonoma County of unknown duration and severity.
Hoop houses and the ordinance language written to regulate them are a true boondoggle. These structures are supposed to be “temporary” but the proposed new ordinance would now allow electrical, plumbing and mechanical components. Sounds pretty permanent. There is no definition to describe exactly what these have become. Their temporary nature likely refers to tearing off the heavy plastic every six months, though this is not described as required in the draft ordinance. Where does all that plastic go? It will fill up the dump and raise our dump fees.
Where does the ordinance mention that hoop houses “have to be elegant, aesthetically pleasing or well-built?” A drive through other counties would disprove that. They do not always have to be “screened” either, only along public rights-of-way and then only with fencing that leaves the white tops gleaming in the sun. Aesthetics are barely addressed in the Mitigated Negative Declaration that serves as the environmental document for the ordinance revision.
If you have concerns about commercial cannabis appearing next to your residence or dotting our hills and valleys, then you can email the Board of Supervisors in advance of the May 18 public meeting on the draft cannabis ordinance. Everything you need to know is accessible at this link: https://sonomacounty.ca.gov/Cannabis/Legislative-Updates/County-Ordinances/
BOS addresses are available here: https://sonomacounty.ca.gov/Board-of-Supervisors/Contact-Board-of-Supervisors/
Anna Ransome is a resident of Graton.