All-time records are being set now in weed plantings everywhere in this county.
This insane response to the Supervisors’ Cannabis Expansion Ordinance is occurring after a finding earlier this year by the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board that Mendocino County was already “inundated” with pot to the degree that watersheds and water sources are being destroyed. There’s no adjective to describe the assault on our resource lands underway now.
For those of you who were here five years ago, you’ll remember I wrote on these pages and said on my KPFN radio show numerous times that many economic regulatory laws, such as cannabis legalization, usually have an un-stated objective.
If there are many people and entities to be regulated, the bureaucrats administering the frameworks, believe smaller is better, more efficient, and guarantees big bucks.
And that’s exactly what’s transpired in Mendocino County with its Cannabis Ordinance.
We now have four Supervisors who think that bigger is better and it’s time for the small fries to transition into other economic endeavors.
That’s what cultivation expansion is all about. It’s also called greed.
Bureaucrats would much rather deal with a small number of large growers than fuss around with thousands of moms and pops who they consider to be annoyances because, well they’re just too damn small, and they take up too much of your time, and you don’t get much in return from them, i.e., revenue.
The Big Guys, on the other hand, are much easier to regulate because they’re “real businesses,” easy to locate, they don’t bitch about fees and taxes, and they are a steady, dependable stream of enhanced revenues, or so say the bureaucrats.
So there’s a meeting and a meshing of minds between the bureaucrats and the corporate growers because they both share the same interests and objectives: Use the Cannabis Ordinance to eliminate the small farmers, and then get on with business as usual.
By the way, Supervisor Ted Williams, unabashed advocate of the Expansion Ordinance, challenged me this week to an “on-air debate’ on the pot issue. I accepted, of course. We need to agree to a date and time, etc. I’ll let you know when everything is firmed up.
Redwood Valley MAC Objects To PG&E Settlement Pork Barrel
The Redwood Valley Municipal Advisory Council recently sent a letter to the Board of Supervisors strenuously objecting to the Board of Supervisors’ plans to spend the approximate $22 million court settlement paid out by PG&E for causing the 2017 wildfires. In political parlance the Supes’ plan is what’s known as pork barrel.
Can’t say I disagree with the RVMAC’s position.
Here are excepts from the letter:
“We, the members of the Redwood Valley MAC, representing the people of Redwood Valley, hope that we can all agree that the PG&E Settlement Funds only came about because Redwood Valley, and to a lesser extent Potter Valley, burned in October 2017. Hundreds of homes were lost. Nine people died. The trauma lives on in our communities.
“We hope that we can all agree that the purpose of the PG&E Settlement Funds is to address the physical and emotional harm caused to these two communities. The only reason the money was sent to the county is that neither Redwood Valley nor Potter Valley are incorporated. We hope that we can all agree that this money should first and foremost address the impacts of that fire to the communities that suffered. Only after those needs are met should the money go to general emergency preparedness for the county, other county priorities, or funding for agencies and organizations that benefit the county at large.
“We hope we can all agree that completely unrelated budget items, and items for which there are other sources of funding, should not come out of the PG&E Settlement Funds. The most egregious example of an unrelated item is Carbon Reduction $1,500,000 (a new line item since the Board discussed this issue publicly, and therefore possibly a violation of the Brown Act). An example of a budget item where other sources of funding are available is Solar Panels and Batteries for Libraries $500,000 which our District 1 Supervisor tells us should be funded by drought emergency monies.
“It is both insult and injury to the people who lost so much in that fire and live with the trauma every day to treat these funds as if they are a windfall to the County. Make no mistake, Redwood Valley and Potter Valley have unmet needs to recover from this tragic disaster caused by PG&E’s negligence. Until Redwood Valley and Potter Valley are made whole, it is inappropriate and unethical to spend these funds elsewhere.”
Here’s a list of proposed funding projects by the RVMAC:
a. Resource Conservation District Mendocino County: Funding to cover property owners’ 50% matching funds requirement for removal of burned/hazardous trees $3,000,000 (in addition to funds already listed for MCRCD) — These dead trees are hazardous tinder for the next fire and they serve as a traumatic reminder of the fire. Fire victims should not have to bear the cost personally and most simply cannot.
b. Redwood Valley Grange: Funding to cover repairs to building and installation of a commercial kitchen $550,000 — The Grange is a critical community resource. It served as an emergency resource center after the 2017 wildfire. It provides space for community meetings and is a place people can go during emergencies to find family members, charge their phones and/or seek other resources. The building is 100 years old and in need of many upgrades. A commercial kitchen will support its ability to serve the community including providing much needed economic opportunity for small food manufacturers.
b. Redwood Valley County Water District: Funding to cover costs of annexing to Russian River Flood Control District $750,000 (in addition to funds already listed for RVCWD) — This is critical for Redwood Valley water security. It should only be funded from PG&E Settlement Funds if another funding source (e.g. Drought Emergency funds) cannot be found.
c. Redwood Valley County Water District: Funding to stabilize district and secure their ability to provide water to Redwood Valley including purchase and installation of water tanks and improvement to the intertie with Willow County Water District $3,000,000 (in addition to funds already listed for RVCWD) — This is critical for Redwood Valley water security and consequently fire safety and reduction of fear/trauma.
Mendocino County Department of Transportation: Roads and Bridges Repair $1,400,318 — Should fund only these Redwood Valley projects with the allocated amount:
Evacuation Needs: Funding to Department of Transportation to provide evacuation egress, specifically:
a. Tomki Road to be passable to Willits: 2 lanes paved areas, bridges, side brush cleared b. Road B: widen 1-way bridge and widen 1-way area
c. East Road, West Road, Laughlin Way: mow brush along roads
d. Road improvements on Road I, Colony Drive, and Road E in Redwood Valley
* * *
I have to say this counter-proposal from the Redwood Valley MAC makes a lot more sense and specifically addresses issues and needs more precisely on-point than the County’s plan.
Let’s see what happens now that the ball is in the Supes’ court.
(Jim Shields is the Mendocino County Observer’s editor and publisher, firstname.lastname@example.org, and is also the long-time district manager of the Laytonville County Water District. Listen to his radio program “This and That” every Saturday at 12 noon on KPFN 105.1 FM, also streamed live: http://www.kpfn.org)