Saturday, September 23, 2023

The Proposed Cannabis Prohibition Zone in Redwood Valley is Voted Down by the Board of Supervisors

Cannabis plans grown in Redwood Valley [Photo by Monica Huetll]

Redwood Valley residents, in an effort to rid their neighborhood of cannabis, grow they characterized as a nuisance, brought forward a proposed Cannabis Prohibition zone. Last week, the Board of Supervisors heard lengthy testimonials from proponents of the prohibition and cannabis farmers that would be affected. Ultimately, the Board would vote 3-2 against the prohibition zone.

On September 7, 2021 a group of neighbors in Redwood Valley filed an Application for a Rezone Request to Establish a Cannabis Prohibition (CP) Combining District. Road D, Colony Drive, Road I and East Road roughly bounded the proposed zone. The proposed CP zone contained three cannabis grows going through the process of obtaining a license.

From statements made by the parties, it appears that the group of neighbors who oppose cannabis grows was not aware that their new neighbors were in the process of applying for growing permits at the time they moved in. Likewise, the growers, Ruben Ruiz, with the two sites on Road D, and Anarbol Lopez with the site on Road E, who spent a small fortune bringing their properties into compliance, crossing all the Ts and dotting all the Is, did not realize that their neighbors were obtaining signatures and putting together an application for the zoning change that would prohibit them from operating.

This all came about because of a provision set forth in County Code Chapter 20.119 that allows a neighborhood to apply for an “opt-out zone,” even though the parcels are zoned for cannabis. The code section reads as follows:

(1) A petition that demonstrates support for the proposed CP district by more than sixty percent (60%) of the affected property owners (as demonstrated by one (1) owner’s signature per legal parcel) within the proposed CP district;

The above language does not require any reasons to be given for the opt-out zone. All that the code needs is 60% of the parcel owners to sign the application to change the zoning. The boundaries of the prohibition zone determine which parcel owners are part of the zone and have standing to sign the petition.

At the May 18 Planning Commission hearing on this matter, Commissioner Diane Weidemann commented that she would prefer that the County require cannabis cultivators to apply for a use permit and do away with the “opt-out” zoning provisions. Under a use permit, neighbors would be notified in advance before the growers commence operations. This would give neighbors a chance to voice objections, and would also give the potential grower an opportunity to choose another piece of land somewhere else if they weren’t up for a battle. The ordinance as written has caused unintended consequences.

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Board of Supervisors Meeting, Agenda Item 4(i) July 25, 2023, Cannabis Prohibition Zone in Redwood Valley

Supervisor Mulheren chaired the discussion on July 25, 2023 and cautioned the audience not to cheer, clap, or boo. If you agree with a speaker, you may wave “jazz hands.” Senior Planner Russ Ford led off by explaining that the Application for CP zone met all the criteria needed to be considered. Julia Krog, Director of Planning and Building, said that Ruiz applied under Phase 1 in 2018, and he is currently allowed to grow cannabis pending final permit issuance by the county. Lopez applied under Phase 3, which means that he is not yet allowed to grow cannabis. Lopez has a longer road to the county permit and doesn’t anticipate being able to grow for possibly two years. There was a prior tenant at his site with an illegal grow that was busted in a dramatic raid with helicopters, causing much consternation among the neighbors. The tenant was evicted, and Lopez complied with Code Enforcement recommendations and applied for a Phase 3 permit for the site. (The Cannabis Ordinance can be found on the County Cannabis Department page.) Ford concluded his remarks by saying that Planning Department staff had no recommendation on the matter for the Board of Supervisors.

The way the county’s cannabis ordinance is written, it was understood by all and confirmed at the May 18 Planning Commission hearing, that if the zoning change were to be approved, the growers would have three years to cease operations. At the board meeting, Deputy County Counsel Matthew Kiedrowski announced that because the growers don’t have a county license, they would have to cease operations immediately. The three-year grace period does not apply to growers who were in the process of getting licensed. This was a surprise to all concerned.

Supervisor Dan Gjerde asked Ford whether the original application boundaries were adjusted after consulting with the planning commission staff. Ford confirmed that the boundaries were adjusted. Ford said there are some “nebulous” definitions of what constitutes a neighborhood, leading to boundary adjustment.

If you would like to view the documents, photos, maps, and slides used by both sides at this meeting, here is a link to the BOS Agenda page with attached documents, found under agenda item 4(i).

Presentation by Applicants for CP Zone

Photo by Applicants for the CP zone, part of the attachments submitted to Board of Supervisors.

Andy Mattern gave an impassioned speech on behalf of the neighbor group. “We have come here today humbly as warriors, without attorneys, to fight for our quality of life and our longtime heritage in our tight-knit community. We are a mix of many ethnicities. . . . We love and try hard to respect this land of such beauty and bountiful wildlife. . . . We are dedicating this application with all our hard work these past few years, in memory of and in honor of Ulysses Lolonis (note: the Road D sites are located on the former Lolonis vineyards), who was a long-time educator and grape grower in this district. He’s gone now, but we don’t believe he would be happy with the direction our valley is going in, as he was a teacher of young minds. . . . Residential property owners and vineyard owners have been here long before these large-scale cannabis growers who have been allowed within the past five years. . . . In fact, they do not live here, at least within our proposed district. . . . Commercial cannabis is already changing this four-and-a-half mile square section . . . . Growing large-scale cannabis is against our values of not promoting a drug culture. While many of us have voted for medical and recreational marijuana to be grown, we did not vote for so many dispensaries, we did not vote for large, unfriendly hoop houses to be put in close to our residential communities. We certainly did not vote for the well water to be used for such an endeavor when this area is not known for a high-volume well. We did not vote to feel like we are living in an industrial zone. . . . We care about our environment, and it has been proven that hoop houses have harmful effects. Water is a huge concern, as are microplastics and more. All of our concerns are well-documented in our application. We hope to receive a unanimous vote from the five of you today, as we believe we have met and far surpassed all the criteria to satisfy this ordinance which the BOS put in place to protect residents. We have a clear majority of property owners within this district in favor of forming this CP zone. We question, if any of you vote no, what would be your motivating reasons for denying. . . . We worked hard over the past two years and paid a lot of money to bring this application before you. We have also worked hard for decades to pay off our mortgages, and to enjoy our properties, and believe we have as much right, if not more, to say that we do not want these commercial endeavors, whether it’s cannabis growing or pig growing, so close to our residential neighborhoods. . . . I’m asking for your help. I know some of you folks. We’re good citizens, and some of the best people I know live in this valley, and they’re good citizens, and we’re asking for your help. We’ve done everything we can and we have nothing else to work with. We don’t have lawyers, we don’t have that kind of money to do that. We need some help here, folks. Please, hear us. Thank you.”

Frances Owen also presented on behalf of the applicants. Her main points were concerns for water and the environment. She pointed out that Lopez’ property was busted in 2022, “causing a huge disturbance.” Only after he got busted did he apply for the permit. She said vineyard owner Alan Thompson told her that vineyards don’t use a lot of water, evidenced by their ability to survive when the ag water was turned off. Prior to the commercial growth, the only water trucks were from Valley Paving, for road construction. Constant water deliveries to the grow sites are a nuisance to the neighbors. She accused cannabis growers of water thefts. The grow site on Road D drilled well only 300 feet from the neighbors’ residential wells.

Presentation by Cannabis Growers Opposed to CP Zone

Kali Perkins, an attorney with Emerald Law Group, representing Ruiz and Lopez, in opposition to the proposed CP zone, presented facts and statistics on behalf of her clients. Ruiz sources products locally, when possible, to contribute to the economy. He donates to the Redwood Valley Fire Department, and, “he has contributed greatly to the local economy by maintaining a compliant grow, paying all fees and taxes and employing a local workforce.” He is a married father of three children, “and he puts his family’s well-being at the forefront. He would never do anything to risk his family’s safety. His wife, Ruby, is an RN at Kaiser-Permanente in the neonatal intensive care unit, and Ruben previously worked as an office administrator for Stanford University in the School of Medicine’s Department of Pediatric Surgery. If this is passed, he will be forced out of business as cultivation permits are linked to property and not to applicants.” He filed an application to grow in 2017, in the slow slog through Mendocino County’s permitting process. “Ruben has spent in excess of $250,000 to obtain and maintain these two permits and that excludes consultants’ and attorneys’ fees. . . . He follows a strict firearms policy, as all cultivations are required to do by the State of California.” He follows all laws regarding pesticide, water, use of lighting, “and many, many others in order to maintain a compliant grow in today’s regulatory framework. He has never heard his neighbor’s prior complaints during the two years they were working on the CP zone, and contrary to what was stated, they could have easily found his information if they had looked up his address on the DCC and found that it was provisionally licensed.”

“Anarbol was born and raised in Mendocino County and has lived his entire life here. He owns multiple businesses in town, which benefit our economy and our community. He is also raising a young family in Redwood Valley, and he is a hard-working and law-abiding resident. He has applied for a cultivation permit within the proposed CP zone. He continues investing considerable resources to navigate the long and cumbersome permitting process in Mendocino County. He cannot afford to start the entire permitting process over again at another property if this zone is enacted, and it would effectively put him out of business.” Lopez was never informed about the proposed CP zone, despite the Planning Department having known about it for two years.

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“There was a lot of talk about the difference between vineyards and cannabis. . . . I would note that all three of the affected properties within the CP zone are surrounded by working vineyards. These vineyards cultivate organically in order to not affect the stringent testing that occurs on cannabis flower. If any banned pesticide substances, which are allowed in vineyards, are found on cannabis flowers, then the entire crop cannot be sold and must be destroyed. Vineyards that are not operating organically, which is the vast majority of our vineyards here in Mendocino, rely on greater and more harmful pesticide use compared to cannabis.

Regarding water use, “I would also note, contrary to the statements made by the proponents, there are no wells being used for cultivation here. . . . Again, unfounded fears are being brought forth as a justification to create the CP zone when really the facts aren’t straight. . . . Not to mention, with the close scrutiny of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife required to get a cannabis permit, we would argue that cannabis cultivations result in improvements that would not have otherwise occurred but for there being cannabis present on the land.”

Regarding smell, “The county approved a mitigated negative declaration in 2023 that makes clear that odor is not a nuisance on agriculturally zoned parcels.”

Perkins also questioned the veracity of the signature-gathering process in order to reach the 60% threshold. “Several have sold their homes and moved out of the zone, several have rescinded their support after feeling misled or harassed by proponents, and at least one dead person signed the petition. There is one person who passed away two years before the signatures were collected, and another person died shortly thereafter.” Perkins said the validity and soundness of the petition must be called into question. “These improprieties would likely lead to litigation for the county.”

There are seven licensed sites bordering the proposed CP zone. The impacted properties in the proposed CP zone are Hispanic-owned. Petitioners used unfounded fears to garner support by implying that these were cartel grows, including the vineyard workers who work on the parcels. If the CP zone is passed, “only these two minority operations would be shuttered. These other remaining seven would still be in place just across the street from the zone.”

Perkins provided examples of racist comments attached to the application for CP zone and said that at the Planning meeting, “In fact, the applicant even came up and apologized to one of my clients for those racist comments.”

Below is a map of the proposed CP zone, outlined in purple. The green outlines show legal grows located just outside the proposed CP zone. The yellow outlines show the Ruiz and Lopez properties. The red outlines show all the unlicensed hoop houses visible on satellite. Perkins argued that the many unlicensed grows are most likely responsible for most of the smell and the amount of water trucks.

Slide presented by owners/cultivators, part of the attachments submitted to Board of Supervisors.

(Author’s note and observation. This was not discussed at the meeting. Anyone who has lived in Redwood Valley knows that at certain times of the year, you will smell cannabis the minute you step outside, no matter what part of the valley you live in. This is the Emerald Triangle, after all. As far as water trucks tearing up the road, there are at least two long-established construction companies in the neighborhood, with huge trucks going up and down Colony Drive and Road E, unrelated to cannabis. Road E has been a patchwork of potholes for at least 20 years.)

Summary of Public Comments in Support of the CP Zone

Applicants for CP zone comprise 600 people vs. only two cannabis business operators. Here are some of the notable comments that emerged:

  • Please listen to your constituents.
  • I don’t want cannabis next to my property.
  • Can’t stand the wafting of dope while entertaining friends.
  • Legal cannabis hasn’t brought in the money the county was hoping for.
  • Cannabis pollen and mold cause allergies (note, commercial cannabis growers only grow female plants, which do not produce pollen, and they are vigilant against mold, which would destroy the crop.)
  • Growing cannabis next to our property constitutes a “taking.” (Black’s Law Dictionary defines “Take” as “To lay hold of; to gain or receive into possession; to seize; to deprive one of the possession of; to assume ownership. Thus, it is a constitutional provision that a man’s property shall not be taken for public uses without just compensation.” The concept here would apply to the county allowing a business that the neighbors don’t want. They fear that their property values and enjoyment of their property will be reduced, or “taken” by the county.)
  • Hoop houses are ugly, have destroyed the view. It’s like living in an industrial zone.
  • The grape growers have already lost money because some grapes were rejected for smoke taint after the fires. They are afraid their grapes will be contaminated by cannabis smell taint. (note, see rebuttal below).
  • I don’t have air conditioning, and can’t afford it. I can’t open my windows because of the smell of cannabis.
  • I’m afraid to walk on roads because they are in such poor condition.
  • Blamed road condition on cannabis growers.
  • Cannabis is not compatible with food and wine crops.
  • The cannabis industry will take more than they give.
  • Even legal cannabis will bring crime and home invasions. Criminals from the Bay Area will be attracted to the neighborhood.
  • The owners are absent from these two grows.
  • I no longer feel safe in my own home. I can’t host my daughter’s wedding because of the smell and having to look at hoop houses.
  • This creates a high level of stress for the neighbors.
  • My view used to be vineyards, now it’s all hoop houses and a wooden fence.
  • The lavender planted on Road D does not mask the smell of cannabis.
  • This has nothing to do with race, or putting people out of business. It’s about quality of life.
  • I’m afraid of the criminals mistaking my house for a grow, and doing a home invasion.

S\ummary of Public Comments Against the CP Zone

The following arguments were presented by those against the cannabis prohibition zone:

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  • The county cannabis ordinances say that ag zoning is the proper place to grow cannabis.
  • 10,000 square feet of cannabis plants is only a quarter of an acre. These grows are surrounded by acres of vineyards.
  • To install a CP zone and force legal grows out, is unacceptable.
  • There HAS to be a racial component to this.
  • This is county-sponsored NIMBY vigilante-ism.
  • The concerns of the applicants are anecdotal. They do not provide hard evidence of harm they are suffering.
  • The opt-out ordinance should be removed.
  • CP zone after the fact is illegal under California’s right to farm laws.
  • The County will see litigation if they don’t discontinue the CP zones.
  • This deters investment.
  • Wine growers who claim to be here for multiple generations were illegal themselves during Prohibition.
  • CP zone will not stop the smell.
  • I’m a vegetarian. I hate entertaining when I have to smell burning animal flesh from your BBQ.
  • Allowing a CP zone in RR-1 neighborhoods where cannabis is already prohibited, as a “bulwark” against future growth, would be illegal in any other industry.
  • I’m broken-hearted to see where the county is at six years after the ordinance was developed.
  • The neighbors came together and supported each other’s fears instead of educating themselves.
  • Hoop houses are used for growing vegetables and flowers. Commonly used in agriculture.
  • The cannabis applicants have done all the right things legally. To destroy their business is wrong.
  • At least grandfather-in the Ruiz and Lopez sites.
  • The Cannabis Department enticed and implored growers to come down out of the hills to the valley floor.
  • It’s not fair to put college educated, legal growers out of business, when illegal grows are allowed to exist.
  • The complaints by the neighbors sound peculiar, and I’m sure they haven’t been investigated.

Can Grapes be Tainted with Cannabis Odor?

One of the neighbors who supported the Application for CP Zone said in his supporting letter that he feared not being able to sell his grapes grown near cannabis, as they might be tainted with the odor. Juan Gamino, owner of the property on Road D where Ruiz’ grows are located, submitted a letter to the BOS dated July 10, dispelling this claim. Here is an excerpt from Gamino’s letter:

Posted on the BOS agenda online comments section.

The Supervisors Make a Decision

Mulheren polled the rest of the board.

Glenn McGourty wanted more information. He listed the pros and cons. The growers seem like nice people, but these grows are up against the residential areas. He spoke to a realtor and feels that the growth may impact property values.

Undersheriff Darren Brewster was called to the podium. He said that the Sheriff’s office will focus on 1) trespass grows, 2) grows with violence, 3) grows causing environmental impacts; and 4) Drug Trafficking Organizations. DTOs are mainly few and far between. Legal grows can turn illegal quickly, black market sales, and a DTO can come in. We’ve seen numerous home invasions, all on illegal grows. In the past 15 years, we’ve seen kidnappings, homicides, and major violence. From January 2022 to today, a year and a half, we’ve dealt with 9 cases in Redwood Valley. McGourty asked if any of the home invasions were random, where they went to the wrong house. Brewster said that has happened but does not have any evidence of that happening in the proposed CP zone.

Ted Williams said he was looking for substantial interference on the part of Ruiz and Lopez, but there was no evidence of actual nuisance caused by the growers. Before taking away property rights, get code enforcement out there to clean up. Then check the nuisance value. He asked McGourty whether he felt the grow was a nuisance while he was visiting the site. McGourty said his visit was a snapshot in time and he’s not there all the time.

Gjerde asked how the boundary lines of the CP zone were derived. Because neighbors on over 200 parcels want to stop cannabis, “there is a certain logic.” He continued, “A person’s home is their asset. When a new development occurs adjacent to their property, they’re going to get defensive about it. It’s a new thing. I’m the only person on the board who voted for the original ordinance. In this case, we have a large number of small residential parcels next to large ag parcels. It’s not too surprising.” The people who came to the meeting were speaking in favor of themselves for the CP zone. There were a lot of cannabis industry people who we hear from on every cannabis issue, who do not live in the neighborhood.

John Haschak said, “I’m thinking about how the zone was created. I have a problem when 79% [of the parcels] are already not allowed.” Looking at the map of permitted and unpermitted grows, would stopping these two growers stop the complaints? We need stronger code enforcement and compliance. “If we’re going to have legal cannabis in this county, which we’ve all agreed is going to happen, how do we make that viable?”

Mulheren said, “I’d like to thank everybody who came. . . . I disagree with having combining districts for prohibition. . . . It further divides the community. . . . The goal was to move [the legacy cultivators] out of the hills. . . . I support cannabis and vineyards. If you’re anti-drug culture, then you should be anti-vineyards, because alcohol is a drug. . . . I would vote to deny the cannabis prohibition area.”

Mulheren asked McGourty, as District 1 Supervisor, to make a motion.

McGourty said that he is leaning toward modification. The fact that there is no exit plan for the growers is a lawsuit waiting to happen. This led to a discussion among the Supervisors as to whether the CP zone should be approved with modifications or grandfathering in of these two cultivators. County counsel weighed in, saying that an amendment would need to go back to the planning commission. Gjerde would be in favor of allowing the two cultivators to continue for three years. McGourty seconded that. The discussion turned to when the three-year period would begin, as neither grower has their final county permit. They ultimately decided to just vote on approval or disapproval of the CP zone in its current form.

McGourty and Gjerde voted to approve the CP zone. Haschak, Williams, and Mulheren voted to deny the Application for CP zone.

McGourty said, “we can’t just leave this sitting. We have people who are harmed by illegal grows. The people who put together this application took the trouble and effort.”

Williams moved to direct staff to prioritize code enforcement with the proposed CP zone. Have code enforcement go parcel by parcel to clean up illegal grows prior to October harvest time.

The supervisors voted to have code enforcement direct all available resources to looking for and abating illegal grows and report back to the board in 60 days.

Prohibition Zone Proponents React to the Board’s Ruling

Chris (Wick) Boyd:

First, it wasn’t enough that the Supes didn’t seem to hear us, the local residents; instead paying closer attention to paid legal guns and people from outside Redwood Valley who supported cannabis. On top of that, some of the supervisors, notably Mulheren and Williams, were downright insulting. For example, despite one of the petition’s principals having just explained that she herself is of Latinx descent, Mulheren and others picked up the red herring from the growers’ attorney that we’re a bunch of racists regarding (what turned out to be) several Latinx growers. For myself, I chaired an Affirmative Action Committee for a large public agency in Orange County before Mulheren was even born, and some of us participated actively in civil rights actions from the 60s to the present day. To paint our large group with such a negative broad brush because, apparently, a couple of our group’s protest letters mentioned fear of cartels, is quite a leap. Further, people all over this county sometimes voice some pretty negative comments about persons of color and other minorities; perhaps there are even a few in Mulheren’s district? As I said in my letter, those kinds of comments simply divide and distract from the real issues: that this and prior Boards of Supes have failed to establish appropriate frameworks and regulations that would enable all of us, from growers to anti-pot people, to live harmoniously in this County.

Equally insulting was the comment, I think from Mulheren, that if we didn’t want to experience the negative effects of ag operations, we shouldn’t have bought properties in or near an ag zone. This, despite the fact that most or all of us purchased our properties long before the legalization of cannabis in 2016—for which many of us voted. The Supes could introduce mitigations such as a new Ag zone that would create a mitigation boundary between residences and grows, or the “opt-in” scheme that is used in other counties, and many other ideas could be considered. Instead, they included in the ordinance this particular opt-out zone method, which was approved in 2 other places; then when they get a request for the same, they deny it. The fact that we didn’t ask for this in 2016 is simply because we didn’t know what could happen here; we trusted the county to regulate this new world.

Another claim they made is that pot is just like any old ag operation. As I stated in my letter, and as we all know, it’s not. It attracts crime, even if the legal growers can’t be faulted for the fact that their sites are attractive to criminals: cash, product, weapons, etc. Williams and Mulheren said we had failed to present evidence that we had suffered ill effects. Perhaps they didn’t look at the photos of the view that had been destroyed by high fences and hoop houses; the sorry state of our roads; water thefts, and wells punched within a stone’s throw of residential wells, where no alternative water supply is available, etc.

Multiple supervisors opined about the $200,000 or $250,000 that one of the growers claimed to have spent on his operation so far. Only Gjerde and McGourty seemed interested in the tens of millions of dollars we hundreds of homeowners have invested in our HOMES, which are now less desirable due to this cannabis grows’ adjacency. I shudder to think of the impacts if the entire ag zone around here gets blanketed with pot farms, which these supervisors would have no compunction in allowing. Maybe the lawyers and a couple of the supes care little for the real losses we are suffering and consider the smell of skunk weed a non-issue, but we care. The speakers who were against our petition were, as Gjerde pointed out, the usual gang of paid guns and pot promoters from OUTSIDE our little neighborhood. They don’t care about us. They talked about “redlining” and gerrymandering; great buzzwords but they don’t seem to know what they mean. At the Planning Commission hearing, which I’ll bet only Glenn McGourty listened to, our petitioner explained how the exclusion zone was identified: they started out with some immediate neighbors on Road E; other neighbors heard about it and asked to be included; some neighbors were unapproachable (for whatever reason) and weren’t included; some of the obvious growers live behind barricades and aren’t welcoming, so they weren’t included. In short, these petitioners were volunteers, women, who spent their own time pulling this together in their spare time and were eagerly joined by many of us who have closely observed the changes to our neighborhood since 2016. They had to start somewhere and had to stop somewhere; as it was, it took them over 6 months of knocking on doors and pounding the pavement, because this stupid process was all the BofS gave us as an option to regulate our own neighborhoods, which the County doesn’t want to do. Why? Do they only care about the supposed tax revenue (so far, more than offset by costs) from cannabis? Who receives political contributions for their elections from Canna? Is this another example of the subversion of American democracy by money?

People often wonder why Americans are so angry. I believe in thinking globally and acting locally. But if our local efforts to stop deleterious impacts like Dollar General and Big Canna are thwarted, despite what we, the local people, want and believe, it causes frustration and anger. There ARE feasible solutions to these cannabis matters. They take some creativity and hard work. But that’s the JOB of elected officials. Failing that, we do our best to make things work. The two women who led this effort deserve praise for their good citizenship and dedication to their local community. Instead, they, like the rest of us, had our intelligence and our motives smeared by paid lawyers, special interests, and a couple of supervisors who I hope will be voted out of office.

So those are a few of my thoughts. I believe in government, and regulations for the common good. I believe in democracy. But what we saw yesterday wasn’t that.

Patricia Ris-Yarbrough:

After all, was said and done, I felt betrayed by the BOS. It’s remarkable that none of the other supervisors came to talk with us at the MAC, before making their decision. McGourty is kind and thoughtful but cannot stand up to the opposition.

Nobody made a point about ‘looking up’. There’s a huge difference in climatological and environmental stressors between 2017 and 2023, and we’re just continuing to pretend the sky is not falling.

I thought that Supervisor Mulheren gave the lawyer of the cannabis farmers an unfair chance for a retort, which was inappropriate in my view. This happened even before all the public was done commenting. Also, allegations of signature tampering, redlining, gerrymandering and racism were made, which is such a cheap shot and with the retort above, turned the meeting into a court scene. No protection for the people, it was not even allowed to even boo or protest.

It also should also have been made clear by the chair that she was a paid representative, not a member of the public.

It was an unfair, skewed, misleading and very disappointing performance of all. The people have not been heard and the bullies won. The only upside is the expedited eradication of illegal cannabis farms that remain around the proposed zone. I just hope it’s not the mom and pop farms that will suffer now.

Andy Mattern:

We were never given notice when the growers applied for a license. There’s a culture that we’ve all cultivated in our valley. When Dollar General tried to put a store in Redwood Valley, we fought them off. We suffered from the fires, and recovered together. After the fires we had a saying, “We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.” I felt Kali Perkins wasn’t looking at our culture very deeply. I have a neighbor up the street from me. He builds pump stations for the grape growers. Last year he said, I need to drill a deep well so I can protect my grapes. He talked to other neighbors, who were worried about their shallow wells, and he decided not to drill his well, to avoid the chance of having their wells run dry. That’s our culture. My fear is that law enforcement is not going to clean up the neighborhood.

Dolly Riley:

The growers seem to be polite decent people with good intentions, and I sympathize with the residents that must put up with the odor and traffic issues of cannabis. The water usage is more serious and another story that I will continue to follow, as should any current and upcoming first district supervisor.

Attorney Kali Perkins on Claims Cannabis Growers Are Draining Local Wells

As we stated numerous times during our presentation, which the proponents have consistently and conveniently ignored, there is NO well used for cannabis irrigation on Road D. It is only a residential/domestic well. Redwood Valley Ag water is used for cannabis cultivation.

Post-Hearing Remarks from Supervisor Mo Mulheren

It was hard to disagree with people I’ve known for decades. At the end of the day, the community has spoken that they want cannabis in ag zones. That’s why I voted the way that I voted. I do think that everybody had time to be heard.

Links and Documents

Here is a link to the Recording of the July 25 BOS meeting, and the agenda for the meeting, where you can find all documents and letters submitted by both sides. Here is a link to the previous MendoFever.com article on the Proposed CP Zone Hearing at the Planning Commission.

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  1. Valid issues; but both camps have some dishonest players in their camps. Nimbys in one corner who would block any development (including even in city boundaries) and Cannabis growers (former / current illicit players) in drug trade. Many legal farm operators have illegal farms (on a larger scale) which drain extensive amounts of water/ cause noteworthy environmental damage. If Redwood Valley, would incorporate into a city district this could clear up the boundary issues and the BOS would have no say on what the new city can do within its own boundaries.

  2. People seem to be stuck on “grapes are good cannabis is bad”. If you live where agriculture is prevalent and it’s zoned for agriculture, you as a home owner adjacent to a farm have no right to decide what the farmer grows.

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

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