Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Russian River Flow Reduction, Cannabis and Water Hauling, A Local Fire Department BBQ—Highlights of the Redwood Valley MAC Meeting

[Stock image provided by Monica Huettl]

The Redwood Valley Municipal Advisory Council met on June 8, 2022 at 5:00 pm live at the Redwood Valley Grange with a Zoom link as well. The discussion ranged from the effects of the Potter Valley Project on Redwood Valley’s water situation, the priorities of the cannabis subcommittee, and the overgrown vegetation at the Redwood Valley School site.

Sheriff’s Update

Chair Dolly Riley congratulated Mendocino County Sheriff Matt Kendall on his re-election and let him know that the RV MAC appreciated all he does for the community. 

Sheriff Kendall reported that two new hire deputies have graduated from the Police Academy in Windsor. One more new deputy is coming, who has been mentored by Lt. Jason Caudillo. The Sheriff’s office is not able to patrol Redwood Valley as much as they would like because of the volume of drug problems and behavioral health issues around the Motel 6 area, and Brush Street in Ukiah. Lt. Caudillo reported that new apartments in Ukiah specifically intended to provide housing to people with addiction and behavioral health issues are generating a lot of calls to the Sheriff. The homeless camp on Brush Street is generating a high volume of calls. Social workers from four or five agencies regularly visit the camp in an attempt to enroll people in social services, but they don’t have much luck getting people signed up, resulting in more calls to law enforcement. Lt. Caudillo is working with Second District Supervisor Mo Mulheren to clean up this area. Caudillo was quoted $208,000 in fees to clean up the camp because it includes hazardous waste, needles, and human waste. 

Sheriff Kendall reported that so far this year his marijuana eradication team has destroyed approximately 8,000 plants, seized approximately 3,000 processed pounds, and 8 firearms. 

Water Education Standing Subcommittee

This Subcommittee was formed to educate the public about the current water situation and to secure water stability in the future for Redwood Valley. Elizabeth Salomone, District Manager, Russian River Flood Control, attended the meeting at the invitation of Subcommittee members Adam Gaska, Sattie Clark, and Katrina Frey. 

The Subcommittee prepared a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which regulates PG&E’s Potter Valley Project. PG&E has applied for permission to severely reduce the water released from Scott Dam through the Potter Valley tunnel, which flows through Potter Valley into Lake Mendocino and is released to the Russian River. The Subcommittee believes that PG&E is not accounting for all the communities that depend on this water for human health and safety. 

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The environmental group Friends of the Eel River has been campaigning to remove Eel River dams in order to protect the salmon. The local water districts and members of the public have not been as vocal on this issue. It’s time for the communities that depend on this water to make sure that the regulators realize how many people depend on it. 

Salomone said that the Redwood Valley Water District purchases drinking water from the Millview Water District in Ukiah. Ag water is purchased from surplus water of the Russian River Flood Control District. Currently, there is no surplus water to sell to Redwood Valley. She said the Chair of the State Water Board indicated support for the enhanced communication between Russian River stakeholders and PG&E. Salomone met with State Senator Mike McGuire’s Chief of Staff to increase his awareness of our water needs. In the long term, Russian River water users need to take steps to reduce dependence on Eel River transfers. This is because historical transfer amounts are no longer occurring. There is already significantly less water being transferred through the Potter Valley Project due to drought and operational changes by PG&E.

The State Water Resources Control Board is working with Russian River water retailers to support consolidation efforts for small water districts in certain groundwater basins in California (including Ukiah and Redwood Valley). Gaska’s goal is to start the consolidation process, which has been lagging for six years. The state has $1 billion in funds available for this.

Cannabis Policy Subcommittee

Applications for new cannabis permits have declined drastically. This Subcommittee was formed in part to monitor water trucks selling water to cannabis grows. Subcommittee Members Patricia Ris-Yarborough and Sattie Clark have turned their attention to a proposed County Ordinance being considered by the Board of Supervisors to Regulate the Sale and Transport of Groundwater from Private Wells. The purpose of the ordinance is to protect the county’s groundwater resources; avoid adverse effects on neighboring well owners, and limit the environmental impacts of hauling water from private wells. A public meeting to discuss the proposed ordinance is set for July 17 at 3:30 pm at the Willits Environmental Center. If you would like to receive the Zoom link, please contact Ellen Drell (wece@sbcglobal.net) or John Haschak (haschakj@mendocinocounty.org) several days prior to the meeting.

There was a very brief mention of the Cannabis Zoning Exemption (link to the County slide presentation) which allows certain neighborhoods to opt-out of commercial cannabis growing. 

The Board of Supervisors has stated that there aren’t enough cannabis taxes coming in to pay for the enforcement staff. Enforcers are using limited resources to investigate complaints from citizens about illegal grows. 

Fire Safety

Lt. Caudillo said he worked on 3 fire-related calls today, one of which involved a burn pile near Parducci Road that got out of control, resulting in severe injuries to the person who tried to put it out by himself. The wind was blowing in the direction of Redwood Valley and we were lucky that these fires were quickly put out by first responders. Permitted burning is terminated on June 13. 

The Sheriff asked Gaska (who is also a firefighter) if the recent rain helps or hurts us this fire season. Gaska said both, as it will require more mowing because of growth in the dry season, but it also helps the farmers with some additional water. Gaska stressed the importance of mowing early in the morning, having a water source nearby, and a charged cell phone to call 911 right away if a fire starts. Do not mow if the relative humidity is below 20%. Do not leave barbeque grills unattended. 

Cathy Monroe of the Mendocino County Climate Action Advisory Committee said that even string trimmers can overheat when trimming thick vegetation, such as vetch. Monroe also mentioned that she recently toured the Redwood Valley Outdoor Education Project with a forester and they noticed that many of the Douglas Fir trees are in distress and dying due to the drought. 

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Sheilah Rogers met with Emily Tecchio of the Mendocino Firesafe Council regarding ingress and egress on our roads during emergencies. Community members are welcome to contact Emily to be part of the conversation about this issue.

Travis Killmer reported that the County was awarded $1.9 million for a CEQA analysis for Black Bart Trail and enough funds to support 450 community chipper days across the county for the next three years.

Gizmo Henderson reported on his Firesafe booth at the Anderson Valley Brewing competition, where he spoke to PG&E reps and contractors who are working in the area. He pointed out that the tow chains on the contractor’s truck were in violation of the vehicle code and could cause sparks. He had prepared laminated posters on this very subject for his booth. Henderson will set up the informational Firesafe booth at the upcoming music festival at Black Oak Ranch in Laytonville.

Board Member Chris Boyd (also on the board of the Fire Department) reported that the Redwood Valley-Calpella Fire Department’s Fund Raising BBQ is going to be in person this year on July 16 (it was drive-through pickup only last year). This is their major fundraiser, so please support it. 

The Fire Department invites residents to attend their next board meeting on June 16, at 6:00 pm to discuss the need for funding. They need increased funds over the next few years to maintain the current condition.

Martha Barra commented that she attended the most recent Board of Supervisors Meeting where a proposed sales tax to fund fire safety county-wide was discussed. The current Measure B sales tax will reduce by a percentage this year, and because people are already accustomed to paying this sales tax, the percentage that is sunsetting is being considered for a ballot measure for fire safety. A proposed ballot measure needs to be submitted by August. (Note, the library supporters are also preparing a ballot measure directing this sales tax percentage toward library funding).

Redwood Valley School Grounds

Riley read a letter the RV MAC intends to send to the Ukiah Unified School District regarding the abandoned elementary school grounds. The RV MAC would like to the School District to donate the tennis courts and the soccer field to the County Parks and Recreation Department. No additional water development would be needed for these two items. Barra asked whether Parks and Rec would accept this property. Riley replied that the Board of Supervisors could direct Parks and Rec on this issue. Riley’s letter was unanimously approved by the board.

Henderson commented that the overgrown vegetation on the school grounds is visible to all while driving along School Way, the main street into Redwood Valley. Individual property owners have been directed for years by the Fire Department to control brush on their property, meanwhile, the School District is not taking care of the overgrowth on its property. Board Member Marybeth Kelly said she has sent photos and a request to abate the overgrowth to the School District, but the brush is still not abated. The School District main number is (707) 472-5000 and the maintenance and operations department number is (707) 472-5080 if citizens want to lodge a request.

Grange Update

 Board Member Jini Reynolds reported that the election on Tuesday, June 7, was the first time in several years that the polling place was not held at the Grange. It was held at the new Behavioral Health Training Center on East Road. 

There will be a flea market at the Grange on Saturday, June 11. Tables for sellers are $25. 

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The Grange will have a float in the Black Bart Parade starting at 11:00 am on July 2. From 4 to 7 pm there will be a concert at the Grange with food, beverages, and cookies for sale. 

The remodeling project to bring the Grange kitchen up to commercial code is ongoing.

Development Review Standing Subcommittee

 Members are Kelly, Reynolds, Ris-Yarborough. There were no new building permits to discuss at this meeting. Ris-Yarborough questioned whether the logging equipment and animal cages on School Way near the river were a commercial operation. This is a question for the County Planning and Building Department. There is no new information on the application for a gas station on Highway 101/North State Street shopping center. Students from Eagle Peak Middle School may be asked to paint murals on the side of the Redwood Valley shopping center, where the former doughnut shop was located.

Equipment for Zoom Meetings

Reynolds reported that the RV MAC has hired Mendocino College Student Jose Saldona, on a part-time basis. Saldona operated the Zoom equipment for this meeting and will recommend equipment to be purchased to upgrade the quality of the Zoom calls. Peter Reynolds was also working on the tech equipment. 

Next Meeting

There will not be a meeting in July. The next RV MAC meeting is set for 5:00 pm August 10, 2022 at the Grange, and is open to all.

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  1. “Board Member Marybeth Kelly said she has sent photos and a request to abate the overgrowth to the School District, but the brush is still not abated.”

    Maybe if you guys went after the school district With the same force that you guys go after cannabis Growers, the school district would probably get the hint. Once they see the MCSO task force raid the school with their guns drawn with their skid steer mower to cut the grass like they do the greenhouses, they might understand.

    Funny how the law only applies their aggression to way they want to apply it instead of everywhere like they should.

    • This article is an update on the RVMAC (Redwood Valley Municipal Advisory Council) and it “interfacing” with county & state agencies.

      The RVMAC wants the School District to mow the grass at the abandonded school.

      The first step to making a relevant comment is to read the article.
      2nd would be to comprehend what’s read.
      These 2 steps will help you not get whipped up into a frenzy of falsehoods.
      Then maybe there will be a sensical response.

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

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