To the Editor:
Why I Support a Referendum to Repeal the Entire Proposed New Cannabis Cultivation Ordinance, and Not Just the 10 percent.
The rush to adopt the proposed new cannabis cultivation ordinance is about two things – expanding the size and locations of cannabis cultivation in the County, and taking the opportunity to allow this expansion without an environmental impact review. These are the two things that the majority of Mendocino County residents, including myself, adamantly oppose!
The existing cannabis cultivation Ordinance caps cultivation size at 1/4 acre, while the proposed ordinance would allow, at minimum, a 400 percent increase, and far more in Ag and Rangeland zones. The existing Ordinance closed the County’s Rangeland districts to new grows. The proposed ordinance would open an unknown number of acres across this dry and fire-prone landscape to new grows and associated commercial development.
We are in an epic drought. Does it make sense to encourage new non-essential irrigation-dependent agriculture when established farms, ranches, residences and even whole water Districts are experiencing water shortages and beginning to institute rationing? Does it make sense to open the County’s rangelands – the drier, more remote, most fire-prone regions of the County, to commercial cannabis development, which, with the proposed new cannabis facilities ordinance, could include farm tours and events, sales and sampling, and “bud and breakfasts”, as we prepare for one of the driest fire seasons on record? Does it make sense to invite hundreds of new applications while there are still over 200 tax-paying permittees waiting for the County to complete the required paperwork for State licensure under the existing Ordinance, and while hundreds more growers “in the system” continue to operate without County or State licenses because the County has failed either to approve or to deny those applications? Does it make sense to announce that Mendocino County is “open for business” while illegal grows continue to mushroom out of control; while unscrupulous growers chainsaw and bulldoze new grow sites in defiance of current and proposed laws with the knowledge that Mendocino County has little to no enforcement? Isn’t it time to give the sheriff, residents and neighborhoods, and small growers who complied with the law, a break? Those of us who support repeal of the whole Ordinance say, Yes it is!
The existing ordinance is fundamentally sound. It caps existing AND NEW cultivation sites at 1/4 acre. It allows for new (Phase 3) cultivation, but keeps new grows out of the more remote, drier, wildfire prone rangeland zoning district and directs new grows into agricultural zones and industrial and commercial zones as appropriate. Does the existing ordinance need changes? Yes. Ag land soils need special and immediate protection from the proliferation of hoop houses and other semi-industrial cultivation techniques which are inappropriate on valuable agricultural land, as well as protection from sky-rocketing land prices that prevent food farmers and ranchers from buying or keeping agricultural land. We need to phase out the use of hauled water. We need a rigorous analysis of water availability and sustainability at every new site, including on agricultural zoned land. We need a funded and proven enforcement regime.
Some Board members and County staff have been repeating the misstatement for months that the proposed new ordinance is about getting Phase 1 growers (the pre-2016 growers applying for a permit) through the alleged “unworkable,” “broken” permit process of the current ordinance. In reality the existing Ordinance has never been allowed to work. In fact, it has been sabotaged. Why do I say this?
From the very beginning, the CEO expressed disapproval of the vision of a legal cannabis program comprised of many small cultivators that would form the backbone of a new legal cannabis industry in Mendocino County. Instead, the preferred vision was one of large corporate enterprises that would bring in more revenue and presumably be less costly to regulate. As a result, County staff failed to seriously enforce the provisions of the new ordinance. Legitimate applications were accepted but then allowed to languish “in review” for years. Along with serious applicants, hundreds of applications, many in clear violation of the ordinance, were also allowed into the program and to begin operating. Over a thousand incomplete applications have piled up in the County offices. At one point the former Planning Director told the Board it would take staff five hours to even find an application! In May, 2019, the State sent Mendocino County a memo detailing the information it would need from each applicant to issue a State annual license. This memo included a sample document so that each applicant would know exactly how to comply with the State’s request. Mendocino County did not forward or inform applicants of this memo, kept silent, and allowed the clock to keep ticking on the deadline for applicants to supply the needed information to the State. As a result, the serious applicants are now panicked about getting their state licenses, and most still don’t have County permits. Those who never intended to come into compliance with County or State laws continue to operate under what amounts to a “protection racket” of having an application “in review” by the County, and are therefore not a priority for local law enforcement. Despite staff’s claims of State-imposed barriers, there is no evidence that the State ever rejected the permit requirements or the supporting environmental documents of the County’s existing Ordinance. In fact, a July 2020 memo from the State found the “environmental commitments, approvals and required permits” of several County applications to be “sufficiently covered”.
All this plays very well into the hands of staff and advocates of the bigger-is-better proposed new ordinance. Legitimate applicants are being held hostage to support the proposed new ordinance as the only path to a State license.
If the new ordinance were about helping the legitimate applicants get through the system, and about better environmental protections through use permit process, why wouldn’t the Board adopt Supervisor Haschak’s proposal to adopt the new ordinance but without the unpopular expansions? Because the purpose is expansion. And, with the County failing to enforce the environmental and neighborhood protections of the existing ordinance, why should we trust the same County department to protect the environment or the character of our neighborhoods through enforcement of individualized, multi-conditioned use permits? We shouldn’t. That’s why I urge you to join me supporting the referendum to repeal the proposed new ordinance, in its entirety! It’s a Trojan horse – threats disguised as gifts.
HOW ABOUT DESAL?
We continue to read about the impending crisis resulting from drought at the same time that consideration is being given to permitting the growth of cannabis, which requires water on a scale greater than grapes or almonds. I have seen discussions about robbing Peter to pay Paul by shipping water from the north to the Central Valley. I have seen no mention of the obvious solution developed by the Israelis decades ago. We have plenty of sunlight, wave power and even thermal energy if needed. The obvious, but unmentioned, goal ought to be desalinization. Can anyone explain why we do not see this discussed, let alone implemented?
Paul S. Treuhaft
WHY NO WATER INVESTMENT?
Our tech humanity seems to be able to plan, invest in and intend to have a “jump off” space travel base on the moon, where space travel without having to blast through Earth’s atmosphere each trip to the stars can proceed with less destruction to our environment.
Yet living on a mostly saltwater planet, we are unable to have desalination plants cleaning ocean salt water and filling reservoirs for agriculture, communities and industries. Massive amounts of water.
Why is this not a goal? Perhaps because this may cost as much as going to Mars or a high-speed train system. It probably costs too much.
Thinking like that is this planet’s biggest problem. Accepting Wall Street’s and wealth’s philosophy of profit and damn the environment, poor people pay taxes and can clean up after we take the profit. This is draining the life out of the people and economy of the world.
Billions from the government infrastructure fund should put a start on filling reservoirs in California with desalinated ocean water. Global consumption of seawater might even slightly slow the ocean rise and land flooding.
IF DONE CORRECTLY
Regarding “Not keen on green: Organic farm criticized for harming land, "this report did a wonderful job highlighting corporate abuse of the public perception of organic farming, but did not do enough to explore positive alternatives. The ending phrase implies that it is impossible to create large-scale organic farms without causing more environmental damage than conventional farms, yet earlier in the article, it is mentioned that Gunsmoke Farms did not follow either of the management plans provided to it by the USDA and Gary Zimmer. Yes, organic farming is extremely challenging, especially on a large scale, but no style of farming is easy.
Instead of decrying organic farming as an unrealistic marketing ploy, explore the costs and challenges of doing it right. In addition, a comment on why these plans were ignored for the most part would be intriguing. By expanding the article in this way, you show both the difficulty and potential organic/regenerative agriculture holds, while retaining the original expos of corporate faux environmentalism.
Convincing large farms to adopt environmental practices past appearances will require government action, which only happens with public support. People need to know how organic farming can and should work.
In 1949, the Federal Communications Commission adopted the fairness doctrine, which encouraged all holders of broadcast licenses to air possibly controversial issues of public interest and to do so in a manner that would present contrasting views.
The FCC discontinued the requirements of the fairness doctrine in 1987 in the belief that with the increase in the number of broadcast stations, including both radio and television, different outlets would offer contrasting points of view so that all sides of an issue were available in the marketplace of ideas to interested parties.
That rationale might very well be true, but no one at the time could foresee the body politic morphing into partisan tribes with no interest in hearing different sides to an issue, or challenging disinformation.
Proposal: News and opinion programming should never be constrained, but the FCC could require a one-hour program to devote the last 10 minutes to a qualified representative from a recognized group representing a different point of view.
If the viewer will not go to the different point of view, let the different point of view go to the viewer. This requirement works in Australia. We can work out the details.
NO MORE HINT WATER ADS!
I sent this to the CA REPORT about Hint Water. I wish you would too. Thanks.
Dear California Report, I tried hard to contact you many months ago about your program about Boyle Heights, remember that one? My ancestors also settled there, the Jewish immigrants and refugees. There are still old synagogues in Boyle Hts. to this day, aren't there. You only mentioned "Europeans" and this was not correct. I believe that my people (the Jews) were fleeing the pogroms, death camps, WWII, and other atrocities perpetrated upon them around the world, as part of the "divide and rule" and mass genocides that we see today with The Occupied Palestinian People being slaughtered, yes, by "my" people in Israel. The history and story of our world, mass land grabbing, genocide, slavery and all people doing it to all people. What a sorry species we are.
NEW TOPIC OF TODAY: Hint Water. You continue to advertise this EVIL product. It might be delicious, and I read that this is a WOMAN-OWNED business, which of course, I do support. BUT, HINT WATER comes in PLASTIC BOTTLES, which end up in the bellies of Whales, Dolphins, and other wild, beautiful creatures, pollutes our earth, is made from fossil fuels, and is KILLING OUR PLANET and CAUSING MORE CLIMATE CHANGE, as we speak!
I love your show because you are all (well, most of you) intelligent people, so I know that you know all of this. You must have a moral conscience with your Advertising/Underwriting, and STOP ADVERTISING HINT WATER TODAY!! It is immoral and unconscionable of you to do anything less! I know that you all know this.
Please stop advertising HINT WATER in PLASTIC BOTTLES immediately!! The MYTH of "Recycling Plastic" is just a MYTH.
It ends up in landfills, is shipped to Indonesia (using more fossil fuels and causing more GLOBAL WARMING/CLIMATE CHANGE, and even more horrible, in the bodies of our wild, free, going extinct creatures!
Please I beg you Cailfornia Report to have scruples, morals and a conscience, and STOP ADVERTISING HINT WATER TODAY!
I live with only a LAND LINE, so if you wish to talk to me, please PHONE me. I will not get your email for many days, weeks or months.
Thank you for hearing a constant Listener and fan of your show.
Peace, Love and Justice,
DJ SISTER YASMIN
Gualala, CA, 707-884-4703, let ring 5 times, please for voicemail, no computer at home. only a Land Line!!!