In the last two weeks, Mendocino County’s Code Enforcement Department has released two public notices describing efforts to enforce cannabis compliance. Code Enforcement Officer Trent Taylor told us the publicity of the department’s labors comes in the wake of the county-wide discussion of the future of cannabis cultivation and the characterization that compliance efforts were slim-to-none.
Providing an overview of Code Enforcement’s approach to cannabis compliance press releases, Officer Taylor explained going forward the public would be informed any time the office cites someone for refusing to comply by issuing a stand-alone press release describing the nature of the non-compliance and the location of the grow site. The public will also be provided a weekly list of all the cultivators that complied with Code Enforcement’s requests.
Just today, Code Enforcement published its list of compliant cannabis growers throughout the county. The press release explained that in the third week of April 2021 Code Enforcement investigated non-permitted commercial cannabis cultivation locations, non-permitted structures, or those lacking a state cultivation license. The press release provided a succinct list of where those cultivation sites were located, when the enforcement action took place, and how many plants were abated.
5/13/21 – 8900 Block of West Road in Redwood Valley – 500 Cannabis plants abated.
5/17/21 – 30200 Block of West highway 20 in Fort Bragg – 810 Cannabis plants abated.
05/19/21 – 10600 Block of Monterey Road in Redwood Valley – 144 Cannabis plants abated.
05/19/21 – 3200 Block of Ridgeview Road in Willits – 96 Cannabis plants abated.
Last Friday, Code Enforcement published one of the stand-alone press releases describing a non-compliant cultivator on the 400 block of Ukiah’s Hardwick Lane. Investigators found the cannabis cultivation was occurring in non-permitted structures without both a County or State cultivation license. The cultivator “refused to abate” 100 cannabis plants resulting in the following Administrative citations:
1.) $260.00 per day for non-permitted structures used for cannabis cultivation.
2.) $2,000.00 per day for violations of the Mendocino County Cannabis Cultivation Ordinance.
3.) A $20,000.00 (onetime) “per plant” penalty for non-permitted commercial cannabis cultivation
Officer Taylor suggested Mendocino County residents take note Code Enforcement has enacted a revamped fine structure with significantly higher fines for non-compliance. The old fines of hundreds of dollars have given way to fines adding up to several thousands of dollars, as per the latest press releases.
Before the COVID-19 enforcement deluge, Officer Taylor said his department was regularly informing the public of cannabis compliance efforts. Officer Taylor explained that since March 2020 Code Enforcement’s main role was investigating COVID-19 compliance concerns throughout the county. “We were just buried,” Officer Taylor said.
Despite COVID-19 compliance taking center stage for the last year, Officer Taylor said cannabis compliance enforcement has sustained eradicating, on average, 15-20,000 plants per year.
One of the barriers to informing the public, according to Officer Taylor, is Code Enforcement’s lack of administrative staff. The composition of these press releases is falling on the shoulders of Code Enforcement Supervisor John Burkes. The editing and dissemination is done by the same staff that is in the field actively enforcing. Officer Taylor said that his office is actively advocating for administrative support and the public should expect more updates on code enforcement efforts.
In the interest of visualizing cannabis compliance vs. non-compliance, we requested Code Enforcement begin to couple their press release with photographs of the grow sites. Officer Taylor said the department is actively working to make that happen.