Our Message to the BOS regarding CEQA

At the recent Board of Supervisor’s meeting, Alliance Director Diana Gamzon reminded the Board of Supervisors of several other options for enacting an ordinance while the CEQA required Environmental Impact Report is completed other than the currently presented to the board by county staff.

Here is the statement read at the meeting:. You can watch the entire meeting HERE:

BOS Meeting 3.27.18

Public Comment

Since County CEO Rick Haffe announced in a Friday memo recently that a comprehensive Environmental Impact Report would need to be conducted before a cannabis cultivation ordinance is in place, Alliance members and cannabis farmers have struggled to understand how they will operate during the 2018 planting season.

As the memo stated, the process may take at least six months to complete and upwards of $350,000. While this is one avenue for completing the EIR and reaching CEQA compliance, it happens to be one of the more expensive and lengthy options. By not having a reasonable ordinance in place for this summer we have done nothing to address the very immediate concerns of our neighborhoods, public safety or environmental impacts.

Meanwhile responsible cannabis farmers have embarked on the path of moving forward with permitting and licensing by hiring environmental engineers, applying for greenhouse permits and submitting required applications to the agencies such as the Water Quality Control Board — all in the hopes of being ready and at the starting line by the time the county were to adopt the ordinance.

However, there are other options that allows the county to fulfill its CEQA requirement while allowing farmers to move forward with local permitting; options that have not been publicly presented to you at this time.

We are  in the process of commissioning a memo from outside council, informed by research as well as cannabis industry and regulatory experts, that will detail other viable options that are available to the county. We will be distributing the memo to the board and county staff at the end of the week in hopes of helping your policy direction to county staff.

We fully support moving forward with a complete EIR, in fact we would like to see the process include all the license types so that we don’t have the repeat the process in the future. But if we cannot solidify a path forward for cannabis farmers this season and operate under the status quo, the impact would be sorely felt.

Cultivation will continue to occur in neighborhoods where it wouldn’t be otherwise allowed. Water and pesticide usage would remain outside the purview of agencies like the Water Board and compliance issues that pose a threat to public health and safety would go unaddressed.

It’s time to get this right. The cannabis community has been patient as have our neighborhoods and the greater community. We have participated thoroughly in the democratic process set forth by the Community Advisory Group. We have stayed engaged and informed, trusting that this process would deliver regulations that allow our community to operate as responsible and legitimate businesses. Following the defeat of Measure W the community trusted the county that county staff and the board would work expeditiously to have a permanent ordinance in place by this grow season. Another grow season without a workable ordinance seems negligent at this point.

There were key decision points from both the Feb 13th BOS meeting and the March 6th meeting which have not been decided. For example, minimum parcel size for Type 1 and Type 1C licenses and commercial cultivation setbacks. We ask that we use the April BOS meetings to make progress on some of these undecided items so when you receive the draft ordinance on May 8th it is near complete.

We also ask that all CEQA options get placed on the agenda for an April board meeting.

Thank you for your consideration,

The Nevada County Cannabis Alliance