The following is a letter to the editor submitted by Mendocino County District 3 Supervisor John Haschak, published here as a column, in which he updates his constituents. We encourage the other supervisors to submit letters — we will happily publish them. You can see Haschak’s previous letters to his constituents here. The opinions expressed in this letter are the author’s, not those of The Mendocino Voice.
Election season is here. Please vote and get all your eligible friends and family to vote. Of course this is the most important election of our lifetime (aren’t they all but this time it really is true!) The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved support for Prop 15, the Schools and Communities First proposition. By closing corporate loopholes, it will provide needed funding for schools and local governments.
The Board of Supervisors recently created two ad hoc committees. One is for Measure B and one is for the cannabis ordinance. Supervisor Williams and I are on both of these ad hocs.
Measure B is making progress such as the construction of a Crisis Residential Treatment facility, funding for mobile outreach teams consisting of a sheriff’s deputy and a mental health worker, and the aquisition of a training facility. We want to make sure that there is a solid financial and strategic plan adopted. There is too much taxpayer money at stake to haphazardly commit to facilities and services without ensuring that the money is spent as effectively as possible. We don’t want to spend money here and there and then realize we don’t have enough for a key project. We are making sure the numbers are correct and the expenses and revenues are all accounted for.
The BOS approved 10 recommendations that Williams and I made about the cannabis program. Some have to do with how the cannabis department deals with applicants. When staff says that it takes five hours to determine where an applicant is in getting their permit, there is a big problem with internal management. When there are 882 growers with only an embossed receipt and not a County permit and we can’t get those people a County permit, we have a problem. Supervisor Williams and I are working on fixing these problems. We have been able to get an agreement with Dept. of Fish and Wildlife to streamline the process for Sensitive Species Reviews and dedicate a biologist to Mendocino County to expedite that process. We are still working out issues with the state agency in charge of cannabis as to how people will get their annual permits.
At the Oct. 13 BOS meeting which was dedicated to cannabis policy, a major shift happened. Staff recommended that there be no expansion and no new grows in rangeland in Phase 3 (the phase for new cultivators) and Sheriff Kendall, ranchers, environmentalists, community members, the Farm Bureau were all opposed to expansion especially in resource lands. In spite of this opposition, the BOS on a 4-1 vote gave direction to staff to create an ordinance that will allow lands designated ag, rangeland, or upland residential to cultivate 10% of their property as cannabis. This was a shocking proposal! As you can tell, I voted no.
The next day I got a call from a businessman in Iowa who has 144 acres. He was planning on growing an acre but now, if this passes, will grow 14 acres. So while the County cannabis department flounders in getting the legacy growers their County permits and State annuals, the floodgates will be open to new cultivators from all over.
If you have an opinion on this change in direction, you can do something. There are still two steps for this direction to be changed. The Planning Commission needs to hear this proposal and then the ordinance has to come back to the Board for approval.
Several groups are helping sponsor a 3rd District Town Hall meeting on Nov. 15. More information will be sent out.
Wishing you all the best and feel free to contact me at [email protected] or 707-972-4214.