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Patrolling the Great Redwood Trail, Digging New Wells, and Fire Prevention—Highlights from the Redwood Valley MAC Meeting

The Redwood Valley Municipal Advisory Council met on May 11, 2022 at 5:00 pm at the Redwood Valley Grange. Topics addressed ranged from a soon-to-be-developed section of the Great Redwood Trail, the drilling of new wells in the valley, and the effects of Mendocino County’s shifting landscape of cannabis policy on Redwood Valley residents. 

Update from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office

Lt. Jason Caudillo provided the Sheriff’s report (Sheriff Matt Kendall was unable to attend as it was his birthday). Caudillo noted that residents need to be aware of the Great Redwood Trail expansion from Hopland to Redwood Valley. Currently, a one-mile section of the trail near Brush Street takes up significant department resources due to addicts in homeless camps along the trail who refuse treatment. 

Lieutenant Caudillo questioned whether the department would have enough manpower to patrol the length of the trail, especially in sections where there is no road access. Funds will have to be found in the budget to purchase side-by-side vehicles and expand the Search and Rescue team. He urged Redwood Valley residents to be aware of changes that the trail may bring.

MAC member Adam Gaska commented that his property is adjacent to the trail that he is a first responder with the Redwood Valley-Calpella Fire Department and he has discussed trail safety issues with his neighbors.

Gizmo Henderson pointed out that in Santa Rosa, the police patrol the river trail with e-bikes. Supervisor Glenn McGourty said that the trail along the railroad tracks would be beneficial for bike riders in Hopland, as riding along Old River Road in Hopland is hazardous.

MAC member Chris Boyd inquired whether the trail was a state or county entity, or whether individual towns along the trail would be responsible for safety patrol. She suggested Assembly Member Jim Woods may be able to provide clarification.

MAC member Mary Beth Kelly inquired about the status of a possible Sheriff substation in an outbuilding at the new Behavioral Health Training Center. Caudillo reported that there was extensive damage from a prior water pipe leak and said Sheriff Kendall could provide more information. McGourty said the building is intended to be used for either law enforcement or emergency responders.

Water Issues

MAC member Sattie Clark said we need information about the drilling of new wells and well owners who sell water. Currently, whoever takes the water first gets it. Water trucks are used by more than cannabis growers. The construction and logging industries use water trucks. Ag water was cut off last year, it may not be back this year. Clark invited Sean White, Director of Water Resources at the City of Ukiah to speak at the June 8 MAC meeting. Boyd urged the council members to familiarize themselves with the Redwood Valley Water District. Gaska said he has been attending the meetings and is developing expertise on water issues. The MAC members are committed to working with the water district and educating residents about the complex issues of water rights.

Henderson asked McGourty about the Potter Valley diversion tunnel that provides water to Potter Valley, Lake Mendocino, and downstream to the Russian River. McGourty said that currently, only one-third of the usual amount of water is coming through due to equipment failure. The state has the cash to devote to the development of water sources and he will work on securing funds for Mendocino County.

The MAC members voted to create a water subcommittee with Gaska, Clark, and Katrina Frey as members.

Cannabis Policy

The county has a new Cannabis Department, it is no longer part of Planning and Building Services. The members discussed an application to double an existing permitted cannabis business on Webb Ranch Road, from 5,000 square feet to 10,000 square feet. Kelly received the information and a comment form from the Cannabis Department. The MAC members had several unanswered questions regarding the water source for the expansion and the size of the project. The MAC will submit its non-approval to Cannabis Department via an online comment form. The MAC members encouraged future cannabis applicants to attend MAC meetings to provide information about proposed projects.

Redwood Valley School Building

Riley offered an update on the Redwood Valley School. Community members recall that the tennis courts were supposed to be granted to the public for use in perpetuity and Riley sent a letter of inquiry to the School District. The School District replied that she was misinformed and Riley has followed up with a Freedom of Information Act Request to attempt to locate the document containing the original grant. There was no discussion of the potential buyer or redevelopment of the school property.

Fire Prevention. Henderson works with the Firesafe Council. He will staff an information booth at the upcoming Anderson Valley Brew Fest and other festivals this Summer. He designed several posters and freeway signage regarding the fire danger of dragging trailer chains. He pointed out that the poor state of our county roads could cause sparks from trailer chains that are fine on a smooth road, but could spark when hitting a pothole. Emergency sirens, telecommunications and emergency radios were discussed. We need a failsafe in case one method of alerting the public fails (such as the telephone outage in Ft. Bragg yesterday). Clarification is needed as to who is responsible for alerting the public of fire: the Sheriff, the Fire Department or the Office of Emergency Services.

Public Comment

Riley commented as a member of the public about the petition drive to add a measure to the November 2022 ballot to keep libraries open. Riley said that prior to Measure A passing in 2011, the library was open only two days per week.

Kelly commented that Sonoma Clean Power (source of PG&E power for Mendocino County) has an opening on their Community Advisory Committee.

Reynolds commented on a newly-funded program at Mendocino College to connect students of computer technology with employers who need technical help, helmed by Pamela Heston Bechtol, Assistant Director of Employer Programs. Reynolds will be meeting with Bechtol to find students to help with technical needs for the Grange facilities and the MAC website. The members voted to pay a MAC secretary and a website editor $22 per hour for each part-time position.

Grange Building Updates

The MAC received a $10,000 grant and gave over half of the grant funds to the Grange for HVAC upgrades to the building because the Grange is the social locus of Redwood Valley. The MAC will support the Black Bart Parade on July 2, with a dinner and concert at the Grange after the parade and afternoon activities. 

Community Development and Design

Martha Barra requested that the planter in the Redwood Valley Market parking lot be redesigned to include irrigation, or if that is not possible xeriscaping. Reynolds said she would inquire of Bechtol whether college students from the Art and Agriculture Departments may be interested in working on the redesign.

Community Action Plan

Boyd provided a report on the Community Action Plan and Review which was previously submitted to the county Planning and Building department. P&B provided comments and a revision is in process. The revisions will be posted on the MAC website for public comment before being resubmitted to P&B.

Next Meeting

The next MAC meeting is set for June 8, 2022, at the Grange, and is open to all. Here is a link to the Redwood Valley MAC website, including the names of the MAC members and

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1 COMMENT

  1. Is it legal for a neighbor in 2022 to drill
    and put in a well that takes our aquifer water ? Neighbor is about 300 feet directly above and inline with our well. We have had our well ( only water resource ) for 50 years. Neighbor has Redwood Valley water and now has put in a well and is taking our only water resource. Neighbor has 1 acre parcel, we have 4 acres. Our well has gone dry 2X since he put his well in . This doesn’t seem legal ?!🥵 @Adam Gaska

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Monica Huettl
Monica Huettl
Mendocino County Resident, Annoying Horse Girl.

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