People fed up with commercial cannabis grows in rural neighborhoods — and the smell, chemicals, lights and traffic they say comes with them — will take their case to the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors on August 7.
“The current cannabis ordinance does not protect rural neighborhoods and the environment,” said Craig Harrison, of Save Our Sonoma Neighborhoods. Members of the group call for changes that “support our safety and security.”
SOSN describes itself as a non-partisan group of hundreds of Sonoma County citizens and community leaders. The group is unhappy with Supervisor Susan Gorin, who despite her implied support as as a member of the County Board’s Ad Hoc Committee on Cannabis, “has done nothing to protect neighborhoods.”
The SOSN was formed by residents such as many in Bennett Valley who say a rogue grower was operating a five-greenhouse farm without a permit. They said the operation violated environmental and planning laws, and was illegally located on a ridge line adjacent to a regional park. Responding to the complaints, County officials agreed the farm lacked a legal use permit, but allowed it to keep operating for six months while the proper approval was secured.
“All activities on this property are in compliance with county law and are on public record,” the owner, Kathy Klein, told The Sun. “I have followed the law to the letter, am following permitting per the penalty relief act and am engaging in a legal activity voted on by the public.”
Harrison said his group is not calling for prohibition of weed farms, but protective steps such as as 1,000-foot setbacks and a community voice in the decision-making process.
“Who wants to smell the odor of cannabis plants or worry about safety while walking in a park? Who wants to see Sonoma Mountain lined with ugly security fences to prevent criminals from stealing high-valued cannabis plants?”
The place for Cannabis operations is in industrial zones where they can be properly monitored and protected, he said. “We demand a new updated ordinance be passed that supports the interests of all Sonoma County residents, not just the marijuana industry.”
If not, Harrison said, “We are prepared to take additional steps, with overwhelming support from Sonoma County citizens.