Ill-informed and alarming quote of the week:
Board chairwoman and 2nd District Supervisor Estelle Fennell said that the commission had done a “tremendous job to at least wrangle this down into a good product.”
Local Environmental Organizations have sent out alerts:
GREEN RU$H Action Alert: Board of Supervisors Hearing this Tuesday!
On Tuesday, Dec. 15 at 1:30 pm, the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors will hold its first hearing on a new ordinance to regulate commercial medical MJ cultivation. The County Planning Commission’s recommendations adopted on Dec. 3 set very few limits, and NEC and our allies are calling on the Board of Supervisors to ensure that the ordinance protects the environment and does not result in further expansion of the Green Rush.
We urge you to come to the hearing this Tuesday at 1:30 and contact the Board of Supervisors to call for the following:
Place a Cap on Total Number of Permits: With approximately 3,300 parcels – more than 10% of the parcels in the County – already having large marijuana grows visible from Google Earth, the top priority must be reining in the environmental impacts of existing grows without allowing massive expansion. We suggest a cap of 2,500 permits in the first three years, followed by a review and consideration of a full EIR to assess carrying capacity of watersheds.
Decrease the Grow Sizes Allowed Without Special or Conditional Use Permits:
The draft ordinance recommended on Dec. 3 would allow much larger grows than even proposed by California Cannabis Voice Humboldt (CCVH), the industry advocates who began the ordinance process last year.
Limit Generator-Dependent Cultivation:
Noise and light from generators in the hills impacts wildlife and quality of life in rural areas. Allowing unlimited indoor and “mixed light” greenhouse grows to run generators day and night to power lights and fans is unacceptable.
Prohibit pesticide use: The County should explicitly prohibit pesticides (including rodenticides, fungicides, insecticides, and herbicides) use on and around cannabis cultivation operations. This can be achieved by requiring that medical marijuana be grown consistent with organic standards, which will protect the environment as well as marijuana workers and consumers.
No New Cultivation on TPZ lands: The County should stop the further proliferation of marijuana cultivation on TPZ (Timber Production Zone) land by prohibiting new operations while existing cultivation sites are cleaned up and brought into compliance. The timber industry has done tremendous damage to our forests and watersheds for decades; clearing hillsides and building more roads will only exacerbate these problems.
Address Carrying Capacity of Watersheds:
The County’s draft ordinance does nothing to address the cumulative impacts of cultivation activities within a watershed. As a whole, existing operations are resulting in unacceptable impacts to waterways, fish and wildlife, and downstream communities. Allowing an unlimited number of permits per watershed is unacceptable.
Ensure Adequate Funding: Meaningful regulation of commercial marijuana cultivation is dependent on adequate funding for inspection and enforcement. We urge the County to pursue a marijuana tax to be placed on the June 2016 ballot for voter approval.
Impacts from illegal water diversion, irresponsible grading, and clearing of forests for grow sites have expanded exponentially in recent years. Salmon streams are particularly hard hit from the combined impacts of drought, decades of harmful logging practices, and unchecked marijuana operations. It is long past time to bring the marijuana industry into compliance with state and local environmental regulations.
Jennifer Kalt, Humboldt Baykeeper
Larry Glass, Northcoast Environmental Center
Submit comments to Kathy Hayes, Clerk of the Board, at firstname.lastname@example.org to get your comments into the public record. You can also contact the Board of Supervisors directly:
Rex Bohn, District 1: 476-2391
Estelle Fennell, District 2: 476-2392
Mark Lovelace, District 3: 476-2393
Virginia Bass, District 4: 476-2394
Ryan Sundberg, District 5: 476-2395
For more info:
Commercial Marijuana Cultivation Rules Set Few Limits Jennifer Kalt, EcoNews 12/2/15
Draft pot ordinance drawing mixed views Will Houston, Times Standard 12/12/15
STATE OF THE WEED: Can You Guess Where Most of the Weed in Humboldt County is Grown? Hank Sims, Lost Coast Outpost 12/10/15
Hank Sims, Lost Coast Outpost 12/10/15
Protecting Watersheds Needs to be First Priority in Pot Ordinance Dan Ehresman, EcoNews 8/1/15