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County-Wide Election On Pot Expansion?

Last week, we talked about Supervisor John Haschak joining myself, former Sheriff Tom Allman, and current Sheriff Matt Kendall, plus many others in requesting the Board of Supervisors hold a countywide election if their proposed Phase 3 Cannabis Ordinance includes the 10% cultivation of total parcel acreage and opening up Rangeland to cultivation.

I told you Allman deserves credit for being the first to suggest the election, and I’ve called for it since then, and Kendall joined with his support earlier this year.

On Wednesday, April 7, the Laytonville County Water District Board that I manage, held a special meeting to consider sending a letter to the Supes requesting they hold an election on the two proposals.

On my Saturday radio show on April 3, on KPFN, I had Haschak on and we talked about the election issue and how we believed the other four Supes (Dan Gjerde, Ted Williams, Glenn McGourty, and Maureen Mulheren, who support expanding cultivation with basically no controls and apparently no concerns about the adverse effects it will have on watersheds and water sources. They’ve gone on record touting the super-sized economic cultivation model because of what they believe will be the resulting enhanced revenue streams. 

Haschak said when the Board meets on April 19 to possibly approve the proposed new Cannabis Ordinance, he will request that a county-wide election be held on the 10% rule and opening up range land to cultivation. 

Here’s the letter the Laytonville Water Board approved requesting the election. 

To: The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors

Subject: Voter Election On Proposed Phase Three Cannabis Ordinance Provisions Regarding the 10% Rule and Opening Up Range Land To Cannabis Cultivation

Dear Honorable Supervisors,

Please be advised that the Board of Directors of the Laytonville County Water District (LCWD) met on April 7, 2021 and approved that the following comments and request be made to the Board of Supervisors.

There are two provisions in the Proposed Phase Three Cannabis Ordinance that are of grave concern to most of the residents of Mendocino County.

Those two provisions are:

• The so-called “10% Rule” whereby cannabis cultivation would be allowed on 10% of the total land of a parcel with a minimum size of 10 acres on lands zoned as Agriculture, Upland Residential, or Range Land.

• Currently Range Land, with the exception of a limited number of cultivators granted so-called “Grandfather Rights” under the Phase One Cannabis Ordinance, is off-limits to cannabis cultivation. However, the Proposed Phase Three Ordinance would allow cannabis cultivation to occur on Range Land.

As the Board is well aware, these two proposed rules are opposed by what appears to be an overwhelming majority of Mendocino County residents.

Therefore the LCWD Board of Directors hereby requests that the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors, on its own motion and without a voter petition, submit the above-referenced proposed provisions regarding the “10% Rule” and the opening up of range land to cannabis cultivation found in the proposed Phase Three Cannabis Ordinance, to the voters for final determination.

Thank you for your consideration of this most important matter.


LCWD Board of Directors

DWR: Third Driest Year In State History

While four members of the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors are pushing ahead with a proposed Cannabis Ordinance that will significantly and momentously expand cultivation in a county in its second year of drought conditions, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) declared this week that 2021 as the third-driest water year in state history. 

California’s driest year on record was in 1977, when recorded precipitation was less than 35 percent the average. 

This year rain totals are below 50 percent of average statewide.

DWR reports that the state’s water supply in its major reservoirs are at just 50 percent of overall capacity. 

“There is no doubt California is in a critically dry year. State agencies, water suppliers and Californians are more prepared than ever to adapt to dry conditions and meet the challenges that may be ahead,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “With climate change impacting how precipitation falls in California, ongoing water efficiency and long-term efforts like recycling water, capturing stormwater, and planting water-friendly landscapes are essential to securing California’s water future.”

With dry conditions continuing to impact California’s water supply, DWR recently announced an adjustment to the State Water Project allocation for 2021. The department now expects to deliver 5 percent of requested supplies this year, down from the initial allocation of 10 percent announced in December. 

Newsom Signs $536 Million Firefighting Plan

On a more positive note, Governor Gavin Newsom announced this week he has signed a $536 million funding plan found in new legislation to help improve California’s response to wildfires. 

“With California facing another extremely dry year, it is critical that we get a head start on reducing our fire risk,” Newsom said. “We are doing that by investing more than half a billion dollars on projects and programs that provide improved fire prevention for all parts of California.

Newsom outlined key parts of the plan include such things as greater investments in forest health projects, improvements on defensible space, home hardening against fires, fire prevention grants, and prevention workforce training. The plan includes public and private lands vegetation management, community-focused efforts for prevention and resilience and economic stimulus for the forestry economy.

“Because we know that California’s fires are not limited to forested lands, we have built in attention to all kinds of vulnerable terrain and vegetation, with incentives for prevention that protects larger numbers of residents,” Newsom stated. “The $536 million funding packaging includes $125 million from Greenhouse Gas Reduction Funds and $411 million from the General Fund. We also hope to draw federal disaster prevention grants to match money spent on home hardening.”


  1. John McCowen April 20, 2021

    Jim Shields, you say you and Haschak “…talked about the election issue and how we believed the other four Supes (Dan Gjerde, Ted Williams, Glenn McGourty, and Maureen Mulheren, who support expanding cultivation with basically no controls and apparently no concerns about the adverse effects it will have on watersheds and water sources.”

    I know you’re a smart guy so I don’t see how you are able to say “with basically no controls”.

    Even if you haven’t read Chapter 22.18, the proposed land use permit system, you probably know that every permit application will be subject to site specific environmental review. Which requires an Initial Study and Environmental checklist that evaluates 18 categories of potential environmental impacts with multiple issues in each area. The staff report then gets circulated to about two dozen State and local agencies for comment. Then the neighbors are notified of the date and time of a Public Hearing where they and everyone else may voice their concerns. Then the Planning Commission can approve the project, deny it outright or approve it with additional conditions to further mitigate environmental or neighborhood concerns. If anyone is dissatisfied with the decision they have a right of appeal followed by a right to challenge it in court. No controls? None of these protections exist in the current dysfunctional ordinance.

    It’s interesting that your buddy Haschak gets credit for being such a champion for the environment. Are you aware he is also the strongest voice against effective oversight and enforcement? He blocked consideration of effective enforcement for a year. He reluctantly voted in favor of it on April 12 but tried to undo it on April 19.

    Instead of trying to cleanup the current pool of applicants and see who can get through it and obtain a State Annual license (staff and Ted say probably 10% or fewer will succeed) Haschak wants to open up the current failed program to what he says are 8,000 growers who did not apply for a permit when they had a chance to do so. Think about that for a second.

    There are currently 1,100 people stuck in a system that is not working and Haschak wants to open it up to another 8,000 applicants? Knowing that 90% will fail. But he frets about the burden on staff if Chapter 22.18 is approved. It seems clear he is only trying to buy time for people who are not able to get legal. And not at all interested in a creating a workable system. Like the saying goes, I hear the bell but it don’t ring true.

  2. Lisa Sacks April 20, 2021

    Mr McGowan, I have not seen any indication that the county will provide employees for the oversight you speak of. It is because of this that I am not in agreement with expansion on any marijuana grow.

    I believe in success based growth. The simple fact is that there is NO team working for the county of Mendocino who is equipped nor who wants to do the oversite work or the paper work. With out teams of people who will go out to each location to assess and enforce the regulations, THIS PLAN IS WRONG MINDED

    • Rye N Flint April 20, 2021

      RE: “Mr McGowan, I have not seen any indication that the county will provide employees for the oversight you speak of.”

      BINGO! You hit the nail right on the head! Never do we have over-staffing problems. Look at our current deficit in Admin, Planning, and Env. Health Staff. It’s really sad we can’t keep qualified long term people. Only the ones that found a house 10 years ago seem to be the employees that stay for 25% less pay than surrounding counties.

  3. Take it to the peoples vote April 20, 2021

    BOS is for their pockets. Not the people. John you must have some lobbying kick back out of this too. Its obvious. And none of you accept the blame. You just tried to turn it on the growers. You guys are truly pathetic clowns. Did out of State interest build Sparetime Supply or Big Daddy grow shop or any of the other major growing stores? no it was the illegal cannabis that built business in Mendocino. And now you’re going against everybody else to build funds in your pockets. So shameful. Especially with the lack of knowledge.
    Only idiots would say we need to compete with the outside markets. And then shoot themselves in the foot by saying no hoop houses. Well idiots of the BOS. How you going to compete? Instead of throwing all Farmers into the generic Market we could have held out and created a boutique small Farm Craft Heritage style County. But for all you guys with no skin in the game it’s easier to try and cash out during the green Rush you guys are absolutely pathetic!

    • Kirk Vodopals April 20, 2021

      Cut poor Ted and the rest some slack. They’re trying their best to tell all the “mom-and-pops” that there will never be any enforcement against them so keep trucking that water, pulling those tarps and lighting up the night, cuz nobody is going to stop your “heritage culture”. Out of the other side of their mouths they are telling the big boys “please come in and get permitted so we can finally fill up the County coffers and maybe get a few more Sheriff deputies to help fight the cartels in Covelo.”

    • Someone April 21, 2021

      I couldn’t agree with you more! We were the first to get state licensed 3 years ago, and we were exempt, we had Everything! But because of people like this, we have since had to surrender our hard earned licenses and walk away. Not to mention the 2017 north bay fires, then the 2018 fires, robberies and illegal raids. Where were all the agencies that were supposed to work with us? The cannabis industry is a big fat joke!

  4. Rye N Flint April 20, 2021

    Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. Light Dep. Short for light deprivation. Mentioned for a few minutes by Kristen, the new Cannabis program manager. It is the current reason for the majority of the “lit-up” greenhouses blighting our landscape, which is the part that was missed in the planning meeting. This tech is currently being passed off by legal, illegal, and every grower in between as a type of “outdoor” cultivation technique, WHICH IT IS NOT. It requires that you deprive the plant of light, inducing flowering early, by covering the greenhouse with a black plastic cover. This can be done with technology that doesn’t require you to hire more skilled labor. Instead of working on cultivating genetics, like autoflower, to accomplish the same goal of a steady year round supply, or at least multiple smaller plant harvests per year, growers of all kinds are throwing up thousands of square feet of plastic hoophouses under the guise of “outdoor cultivation”, a separate category on cannabis permits, let me remind you.

    Growers in Mendo are shooting themselves in the foot by creating the very problems they preach to dislike. Is Philip Morris responsible for the drop in prices, or is it the self induced mono-culture of Mendo grow bros “blowing it up” with their now infamous grow dozers? Want to get permitted, but still submitting 14 “ag exempt” greenhouse permits? yeah… good luck with that “Small farm”.

    Hey actual outdoor growers! Research Auto-flower genetics (Cannabis ruderalis hybrids) instead of automated greenhouses.

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