Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Cannabis Enforcement, Climate Change, Water Issues—Highlights from the Redwood Valley MAC Meeting

[Stock image by Monica Huettl]

The Redwood Valley Municipal Advisory Council met on September 13 at the Grange Hall to discuss climate change, water issues, and the results of recent Code Enforcement cannabis sweep.

First District Supervisor Glenn McGourty reported that the recent code enforcement efforts in Redwood Valley caused consternation. At least 50 sites were inspected and “a large percentage of them had something going on.”

Sheriff Matt Kendall said that his office was not involved with the Code Enforcement efforts. The Sheriff’s office goes after criminal violations, whereas Code Enforcement handles regulatory matters. When it comes to illegal cannabis grows, Kendall’s priorities are sites that have human and drug trafficking, violence, trespass grows, and environmental degradation. There were several raids in August where chemicals were found that are banned in this country. When a mouse dies from these chemicals, it triggers a chain reaction, because a bird might eat the mouse, and a bigger animal might eat the bird, causing suffering and death, and toxic poison in the land. More alarming, there have been quite a few cases of cannabis enforcement officers who have developed cancer. Kendall questions whether working to abate these toxic grow sites have caused these cancers in law enforcement personnel. He is working with the Department of Health and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to combat those who bring in chemicals. Additional criminal charges are added when a grower causes environmental degradation. The toxics were found in the northern part of the county, not in Redwood Valley. When it comes to drug trafficking organizations (DTOs), there is a possibility of finding Fentanyl during a cannabis raid. Kendall said, “Some grows require a SWAT team, and some require a Code Enforcement guy with a clipboard.” The Sheriff’s Office has purchased new hybrid vehicles. They aren’t ready to go full electric yet, but Kendall anticipates longer-range EVs will be available in the future.

Alternate Member Marybeth Kelly remarked that she had watched Sheriff Kendall’s interview by Siyamak Khorrami, Chief Editor of The Epoch Times in Southern California and host of California Insider on YouTube. The interview can be viewed here.

A representative from County Code Enforcement was scheduled to be the guest speaker, but was unable to attend. The Board of Supervisors had asked for a report 30 days after the cannabis enforcement sweep through Redwood Valley and the MAC members had been looking forward to hearing about it.

MAC Member Adam Gaska reported that he checked with Code Enforcement and unpermitted hoop houses were found on approximately 20 sites in Redwood Valley, requiring a demolition permit from the County, costing $1,500 for each unpermitted structure.

- Advertisement -

Gaska gave an update on water issues. The County is in the process of obtaining a grant for drought resilience. A group of three entities, the Mendocino County Inland Water and Power Commission, the Round Valley Indian Tribes, and Sonoma Water, have submitted a proposal to PG&E to take over the Potter Valley Project. Most likely this will include the decommissioning of Scott Dam and Lake Pillsbury and most of Cape Horn Dam at the Van Arsdale Reservoir. It will be a lot of work and expense for a newly-formed entity to take over the PVP, and water rates will be going up to pay for it. Gaska, who is running for First District Supervisor, and is President of Board of the Redwood Valley County Water District, wrote a white paper on this subject, explaining the history and details of water use in the Russian River Watershed.

Cathy Monroe, former Chair of the now-dissolved Mendocino County Climate Action Advisory Committee, spoke about climate solutions/actions. The CAAC was one of the committees that the Board of Supervisors recently voted to dissolve. Monroe said that the committee had been set up with too many members drawn from supervisorial districts throughout the County. It was difficult to obtain a quorum under Brown Act regulations once Covid restrictions were lifted that had allowed Zoom meetings, but she and other members plan to stay active in local efforts to combat climate change. Some groups in the county working on climate change include the Grass Roots Initiative on the coast and Climate Action Mendocino, active in Ukiah. The 2022 Inflation Reduction Act offers rebates and tax credits for home energy remodeling and purchase of electric vehicles. California has $290 million available for home clean energy appliances and remodeling. North Coast Opportunities will be seeking a grant to help inform the public when state guidelines are announced. These funds are especially directed for low and moderate income households. Another good source of information is Sonoma Clean Power which offers rebates on appliances, and offers classes at the Advanced Energy Center in Santa Rosa.

Monroe’s son, Ian Monroe, is co-author with Jonathan Koomey, of a textbook “Solving Climate Change a Guide for Learners and Leaders.” The premise of the book is “It’s warming. It’s us. We’re sure. It’s bad. We can fix it.” and we need to hurry! Monroe handed out a checklist from the book, listing things households can do to battle climate change.

Monroe announced that the Russian River Watershed Association has a link to register for the Saturday, September 23 Ukiah Russian River Cleanup from 8:30 am to noon. You can sign up here.

MAC Member Kahli Johnson, an electrical engineer, pointed out that unfortunately, most electricity comes from coal, and there is a lot of work ahead to ensure that we have enough clean electrical energy to power all the electric appliances and cars that we are being urged to use. Communities need to invest in infrastructure to prevent blackouts. Gizmo Henderson said that California has a Clean Energy Transition Plan to transition to clean energy by 2045.

The Grange will hold a Road Cleanup on September 23 at 9:00 am. Vice Chair Jini Reyolds cautioned that she encountered a plastic water bottle bomb on a recent road cleanup. These are a bad idea of a prank that involves putting aluminum foil in plastic bottles which explodes when you pick it up. If you see a plastic bottle with aluminum foil, be careful.

Kelly asked about the Mariposa Swimming Hole, a county-owned property that is up for sale. She said it’s hard to see public lands sold. McGourty said the county is trying to reduce the footprint of county-owned properties because they can’t afford to take care of them.

Member Chris Boyd remarked that she was not happy with the treatment received by members of the public who wanted to speak at Board of Supervisors meetings, specifically having to spend the entire day waiting. This stops many people from speaking at the meetings. McGourty replied that in the future he will attempt to let constituents know the scheduling. The public can leave online comments, viewable by everyone, on specific agenda items for upcoming Board of Supervisors meetings on their agenda and minutes page. The meetings are also recorded live on YouTube. Boyd also commented on the timing of County Counsel’s lengthy memo recommending that county commissions be dissolved, stating that the supervisors and public didn’t have adequate time to review the memo prior to the BOS meeting.

Reynolds announced that the Grange and the Mendocino Women’s Political Caucus will hold an open forum for First District Supervisor Candidates on Thursday, October 12, at 6:30 p.m. The public is invited, and everyone is asked to bring a plate of cookies to share.

- Advertisement -

Kelly reported that the Grange will be hosting a potluck dinner at 5:30 p.m. on September 28 and on the third Thursday of each month. There will be a Halloween Trunk or Treat Event, where community members can bring treats to the Grange parking lot, and the kids can collect candy in a safe location. The 4 H Club would like to hold a haunted house at the Grange as a fundraiser.

As far as development permits, there is still no news on the Redwood Valley School.

State Senator Mike McGuire is looking at increasing the transfer occupancy tax (hotel and Airbnb tax, currently set at 10%, with some lodging owners paying an additional 1% Business Improvement District tax) to help fund the Great Redwood Trail, which will be years in the making.

Chair Reilly announced that there is still one opening on the Board. Applicants are encouraged to attend a MAC meeting, introduce themselves, and apply online. There is also an opening for a secretary.

The Redwood Valley Community Action Plan is on the agenda for approval by the Supervisors at the September 26 meeting. Chair Riley urged Redwood Valley residents to attend if they can, or submit an online comment.

The next Meeting is October 11, 2023, 5:30 p.m. at the Redwood Valley Grange, or via Zoom, and is open to all.

- Advertisement -

Join the Conversation

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

Today's News


News from the Week