Letters to the editor

Cannabis draft ordinance not as promised

The Cannabis Draft Ordinance is contrary to what the public was told and promised coming out of public hearings from the first amendment back in 2019. Namely, the first amendment was a temporary patch, didn’t cover neighborhood concerns and promised that phase 2 would primarily address neighborhood compatibility issues via an open meeting and outreach process. Supervisor Hopkins stated “… The second set of amendments, … will focus on neighborhood compatibility ... I remain committed to prioritizing the neighborhood compatibility phase of the cannabis ordinance ...” There has been no public outreach over the last two years and nothing in the proposed draft increases neighborhood protections. The same parcel size and setbacks remain. This ordinance would allow a business to manufacture a product that requires 24/7 security to be within 100 feet of a neighbor’s property. How is allowing a product, any product, that requires around the clock security, ever compatible with a neighborhood of families? The ordinance provides 1000-foot setback for “sensitive uses” like schools and parks. But when your spouse and children come home only 100 feet is provided. Your family counts less at home?

Bill Krawetz


Beautiful Sonoma County at risk

When I think of Sonoma County, I think of a picturesque drive through the countryside, through fields with cattle, orchards and wine grapes, trees and mountains surrounding me. The vistas are so wonderful, and are the attractor to a dynamic tourism industry.

All of this is in jeopardy if our supervisors vote for the new cannabis draft ordinance as it currently stands. It allows plastic hoop houses on up to 65,000 acres littering our scenic countryside. The requirement of security fencing to screen the operation from view means additional acreage will be covered by eight-foot-high screened metal fences. Imagine cruising a country road looking at acre after acre of visually intrusive screened fences, and stopping at a winery for a wine tasting or a picnic on a hill and looking out at a landscape of commercial fences.

The draft ordinance admits that “the high value of the crop creates the need for solid fencing, screening which may affect scenic views." Our rural open-space character will be impacted with industrial development that looks like mini-storage facilities with plastic hoop houses, security fencing, cameras and lights.

There has to be a better way.

Gail Frederickson

Santa Rosa

Water woes 

Given the drought we are in, we wonder how the board of supervisors can even contemplate a cannabis ordinance opening up even more acreage to cannabis cultivation than is currently planted to wine grapes.  According to a study from Napa County, cannabis uses over six times more water compared to vineyards. This year in Santa Rosa where we live we have received only a little over 50% of average rainfall. Our reservoirs are low and farmers in south county are already trucking water.  Residents wells are going dry in the Two Rock area.  Residents are being told to limit water use. Protecting our water resources which we all value should be the number one goal of the board of supervisors. It is key to our future.                   

Marvin and Pat Mai

Santa Rosa 

Health, safety and the cannabis ordinance

We, the residents of Bloomfield, are extremely concerned about the eminent health and safety violations posed by the major revisions to the Commercial Cannabis Cultivation Ordinance of 2018, to our town, as well as other residential communities in Sonoma County.

If any changes are to be made to the ordinance, they must be considered on an individual permit basis; accompanied by a full environmental impact report. Our town has 424 inhabitants. The proposed grow abuts the backyard of 14 families and a historical Pioneer cemetery. It would be an 80-acre, full time, commercial operation in the center of our town. Should that be allowed to take place?

Cannabis is nothing like any other agricultural endeavor. The perpetual odor, the crime it brings, the health issues, the infrastructure overload, the pesticide pollution, wildlife displacement and environmental damage, to name a few items, makes such enterprise in the midst of a residential community, prohibitive.

We are in the midst of a drought and live in a zone 3, marginal ground water area.

Marta and David May


(1) comment


One aspect of the new cannabis debate that I have not read much about are the financial implications and impacts of the ordinance. A recent Press Democrat article said that 1 acre of cannabis will yield $1,000,000 in revenues. If this is correct, then the ordinance will surely have financial implications. How much tax revenue will it generate? What will it do to land prices? Will the landscape become more militarized because of the need for security around grows? Will it just be rich, white guys that benefit from this new law or will there programs to make sure the POC, women, agricultural workers and others traditionally marginalized by historic systems of racism and sexism are included in this new economic landscape and wealth? Is tax revenue that is generated earmarked for public schools, roads, parks and other community benefit? How does this new ordinance work to provide the most benefit to the most people? If this does yield a huge increase in tax revenue, it new revenue should be part of the discussion and debate along with water and existing homeowners' quality of life. Set backs should surely be much more that 100 feet.; 1000 feet set backs seem to reflect impacts of odor and security implied by outdoor grows. Are there ways to recycle water so there is less impact on aquifers and common ground water? If growers are making significant profit, then they have more economic space for environmental and social mitigation. It seems that there should be much more discussion and fine tuning of this ordinance in order so that all members of the community can benefit not just those wanting to turn a profit without concern for the health and well-being of community at large. It seems that cannabis could be an opportunity to shape an industry with an eye toward environmental and social justice rather than following the status quo of a powerful, monied industry overriding the concerns of the people.

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