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.
Stop Phase Three from Devastating Mendocino County
The proposed Phase 3 Cannabis Cultivation Ordinance endangers our environment, communities, and local economy. The expansion proposed by the BOS in both acreage and zoning has the potential to dramatically change what our county will be. I strongly oppose this proposal.
We can already see environmental damage from supposedly small grows. In this time of drought, local residents fear that massive use of water for growing cannabis will dry up wells and springs, leaving people short of water for the essentials of life. Wildlife will suffer as animals become more desperate as riverbeds and waterholes dry up. The cumulative impacts of this expansion need to be studied yet the Board frantically tries to pass this new ordinance before July 1 without doing an environmental impact report. This is our environment where we live.
Communities will change giving us hoop houses instead of pastoral vistas. Food and regular agriculture will not be able to compete as land prices skyrocket. Food production will be converted to cannabis production. Prime ag lands and vulnerable range lands will be rocked over, plastics will cover the land, and hoop houses will multiply. Guard dogs and higher security will dominate our country roads, valleys and hillsides. Code enforcement and law enforcement have already lost control of the situation. These changes will greatly accelerate if the Board passes this ordinance without addressing the dangers. When the boom bursts, which it will, whoever and whatever is left will have a lot of cleaning up to do.
We shape our economy and communities with our policy decisions. That is why you don’t see McDonalds in Mendocino. Phase 3 could devastate mom and pop growers while huge cannabis grows proliferate. Wall Street investors, buying up land for profit are instigating a race to the bottom, damaging our local economy by bringing cheap labor and extracting profits to benefit far-away private equity funds.
Mendocino County has failed to properly implement Phase I and II of the ordinance. Permits were wrongly granted. Out of the 1,100 in the county permit system, only a handful have received state annual licenses which is what is needed to grow legally after January 1, 2022. Code enforcement can’t keep up. Law enforcement has been overwhelmed by illegal grows. Yet somehow some Board members believe that this new ordinance, opening up range land and expanding grow sites will make everything right. Wishful thinking. A much bigger mess is ahead of us if we go down this path.
In a democracy, the elected representatives need to listen to the people. The Planning Commission received over 400 letters. 99% were against this expansion. The Sheriff, Farm Bureau, Municipal Advisory Councils of Laytonville, Redwood Valley and Round Valley, Willits and Mendocino Environmental Centers, Covelo Cannabis Advocacy Group, and many other groups are against this proposal. Big cannabis businesses are for it.
Please make your voices heard by writing to or calling the Board before the April 19 meeting.
If the BOS decides not to listen, then the people need to be able to vote on this issue.
Looking ahead, Mendocino County needs to reject this idea of expansion of acreage and zoning, perform an Environmental Impact Report, and fund code and law enforcement to enforce the rules we have, The future of Mendocino County is at stake.
The preceding article was an opinion column, or letter to the editor, and the opinions expressed therein are the author’s, not those of The Mendocino Voice. It was not necessarily edited for punctuation, capitalization, spelling etc. While, we reserve the right to copyedit and fact-check opinion pieces, and letters to the editor — and to annotate such pieces with fact-checking — we do not habitually do so.
Come on guys, typo in the title, really?
I have been searching for a humble, quiet piece of rural land- 5 -10 acres for over three years and it seems impossible to avoid cannabis growers – legal or not.
The “Grows” have increased real estate prices, attracting cash buyers, cutting the average person out of the market. The “turn key” grows selling at top dollar market prices is now a real estate marketing strategy.
The environmental impact, land erosion, over water use, fertilizer runoff into the watershed, devastation to the environment is obvious.
The workers, water tanks, dirt delivery traveling in and out of the grows have little to no connection or vested interest in the local community bringing more pollution and traffic.
Currently, it is impossible for the county officials impossible to properly regulate the permitted Grows, let alone bust he black market grows.
The big money grab for the Green Rush is completely out of control and the “cat is out of the bag.”
Can the residents of Mendocino County make a stand,
have the organization and resolve to properly regulate the cannabis industry?
It might be too late.
Absolutely right! If we don’t rally to block this, small local generational growers will be wiped out and Big Weed will take over.
The simple fact, not enough water for huge corporate farms without everyone else paying the price. Take a look at lake Mendocino , almost dried up and it’s barely April!
Excellent op-ed. I hope everyone will write and call the Board of Supes to stop this.
You & the remaining BOS have heard all the bitching concerning this problem. Many other residents & myself believe that MJ cultivation legal or not is desperately out of control. The numbers of calls for service are becoming astronomical as you know.
The folks of Mendoville & neighboring counties are NOT safe due to this condition.
COMMET & other agencies used to keep the growers at bay & in check.
Consequently reducing the problems.
It’s become all to obvious that the governing masses need to make a
SIZE 10 CORRECTION & boot the WEED GREED OUT OF MENDOVILLE NOW!
Thanks again for your attention.
I took a leisurely drive back to my first home “over the hill” in Potter Valley last week. In 1980, I bought 2 acres and a log cabin of sorts with several out buildings. For 4 years, I enjoyed an immersion into Mendocino wonder: firewood, chickens, geese, my scruffy dog chasing along the dusty road just beyond Hartstone Bible Camp about 40 minutes from Willits where I drove daily for my teaching job where Mr Haschak and I labored with country kids. Fast-forward to 2021 and seeking some solace and remembrances along the Eel River. Wow, what a disappointment. My property had been integrated into the voracious and haphazard Hartstone footprint, and nearly every property that flanked the entry road had high fences with black plastic or fabric hung to obscure even a peek onto the property. Yes, many dogs; a siege mentality; mom and pops perhaps on the small parcels, but the blanketed fences were completely sheeting any view. Oh, ugly and not a welcoming sight for my aging eyes. It was my first time back after 40 years, and I won’t return. I prefer the center of busy, lovely Ukiah. What happened?!
This county has been supported by cannabis cultivation since the collapse of the logging industry. Mom and pop grows are to thank for sustaining every small store, restaurant, and contractor in every small town in Mendo. The reason this was possible has been because growing pot was illegal. Small amounts of marijuana were worth a lot or money. With the legalization of pot comes the woes of conventional agriculture. When a conventional producer wants to increase profits in a market they have a few choices. Raise the price of the goods, cut production costs and make more product. We are watching the industrialization of the cannabis industry and it will have devastating consequences to our communities and the environment. When wide spread industrialization of food production happened in this country in the 1940s it killed the small farm, drove small farmers off the land and into cities, and destroyed and is still destroying the environment. Read Wendell Berry’s The Unsettling of America. This expansion of cannabis cultivation in Mendo is a short term cash grab during a transitional period. When pot is legal federally, and it will be one day, all these so called large grows will succumb to even larger operations in more accessible locations like the Central Valley and we will be left with a landscape scared and pillaged by short term profiteers. Our supervisors that have allowed the industry to get to where it is now and are championing further growth without adequate planning are criminals and should be ashamed. We are watching the death of our towns and our communities. If you love this area make a stand now, support supervisor Haschak and speak out against this travesty!
Dear reader and “BOS” (Board Of Supervisors), I write this in amazement and awe!
Our community’s memory is astounding to me.
In the mid 2000’s this community fought against plastic grocery bags and a 1o cent was added to your bill at the grocery store if you wanted a plastic grocery bag. This was to supposedly decrease our impact of plastics on our environment and hopefully positively impact the size of plastic in the ocean’s gyres.
Today, we are about to engage on a journey towards the mass production of marijuana in our county. Yet, we seem to forget that many grow houses are made of plastic too.
Isn’t it just amazing?
Back then, it was great to see that we took those two steps in the direction of protecting our very fragile environment.
Yet, we consider taking three steps back for the glory of MONEY!
Have you tried to eat MONEY?
Have you tried to drink MONEY?
If MONEY were so wonderful why aren’t there cook books and recipes which include a cup of quarters or dimes?
Anyhow, in the 80s and 90s, redwoods and spotted owls were to be protected.
Sugar was a weapons poured in fuel tanks of bulldozers and logging trucks in both Mendocino and Humboldt counties.
Julia Butterfly lived up-high in a tall old growth redwood.
Earth First was in the news.
PALCO was clear cutting Humboldt’s old growth redwoods at an alarming rate.
They made tons of quick money for their edge fund investors and as the old adage goes, “Easy come, easy go” They took and took and then it was gone!
Lumber mills closed.
The railroad closed.
Now, people think that BIG marijuana (known as the supposedly more palatable moniker of Cannabis) will save the day.
Thousands of plastic bags of soil amendments and fertilizer are being delivered by the flat bed load and stored, in the open, all around the county.
People think that BIG Cannabis will save our community’s economic vitality.
People think that it will do great things for us all!
Wonderful and glorious isn’t it!
Like a magic wand this magical plant will save us!….
Uh…., what?…. Has anyone looked at the cost of such “Saving”?
What is the environmental cost of maintaining such grows?
What is the cost of cleaning up such grows once they have abjectly failed do to a lack of understanding of agricultural practices? Not everyone has a green thumb, you know?
The cost to our water supply during a drought needs to be considered.
The cost to our environment is going to rise.
The stars at night won’t be so bright due to the grow lights shining through the grow houses. The salmon populations will dwindle due to stream diversions, increased irrigation demands, pesticides, rodenticides and so forth.
Bears won’t be able to shit in the woods in privacy and in revenge, they might ruin a grow house or two, too!
Not to mention the cost to our social services.
Crime is on the rise.
Mental illness is on the rise.
Children suffering form second hand marijuana smoke is on the rise.
And, to top it off, with the prominence of wildfires, firefighters have to contend with pot growers who put their crops ahead of their lives and the lives of first responders.
So, my questions to you dear reader and “BOS” are:
1. Are you willing to have your grand kids and kids drink more wine, since water is, already, in short supply and that supply is going to be in greater demand?
2. Are you willing to pay more taxes to pay for the environment clean up of the current and future and larger failed grows?
3. What long term benefits have you seen created by the current cannabis situation in our county. In other words, how much more money have we, as a community, received from the current Cannabis industry? It seems to me that it’s a free for all and that the rules are at best, haphazardly enforced and that the increase in taxes coming in has not been as great as predicted.
4. With the fact that jobs in this field do not require high school diplomas, how do you see the future of our society when pot is so prevalent that it becomes old and out of fashion? Yes, kids are already making money in this “industry”. They are, often, driving fancy cars but some aren’t completing their education. This is all in the name of “easy” MONEY. Is dumbing down our society the long term goal?
5. Historically, for me, Mendocino seems to have been a “long term” thinking county. People fought against, off shore oil drilling, clear cutting, Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO), plastic grocery bags, spraying toxic herbicides along our roads, and many others things… Now, we are thinking about going backwards? HAVE WE LOST OUR MINDS? Are we so fickle that the short term financial gains of BIG Marijuana blind our good judgement?
April 19th is marked on my calendar! Thank you!
I hear a lot of concerns my neighbors have, but I also see growth of cannabis farmers small and large only expanding due to the surge of demand of Cannabis. This will never be stopped. If you have money, you always find a way to get what you want. We might as well put some standards in place to improve the issues we already have faced for years and no one is doing anything about it. Thats the real problem here.
Water – the entire state of California has a water issue. Is this because of expansion or do we not have effective water systems to help provide water? We can stop selling our water to So Ca and maintain our own supply as a starting point. This is the real issue.
Crime – I won’t go into areas in Mendo due to the illegal possession of weapons, meth heads and people that decide they don’t want to follow the law. We need more legal protection – the county should hire guards and increase police to protect citizens, but not racists ones like we just saw beating in Ukiah on the street. Where are the black or brown officer? People go missing – why are we not addressing the issues that need to be addressed with crime. Will expansion create more security or less? Can we enforce standards in the county to help keep the community safer. Expansion or no expansion, this problem has been around for so long and nothing is being done. Crime in Mendo is the real issue, not the expansion.
Jobs – lets stop exploiting people, not paying them a legal wage or maybe stop stiffing them. My kid got shamed by a local resident that decided they didn’t want to pay him. Where is justice? How about the county make standards for good working conditions, give jobs to the homeless – so many people sleeping in their cars or camping in the forest. A friend of mine told me about a some foreign worker die on a small farm. He is hispanic – guess what – no news, no cops, no arrests. Do brown people not matter? Where is the investigation or arrests? I do want legalization to happen so people can make a living, feed their families and stop getting raped or killed. Why are we protesting expansion when people are dying, have no work, get rapped in our community? We spend our energy on an expansion bill? Do we really have our priorities straight?
Food – Can’t grow enough food for people – I agree. Can we do something about. Its the same issue. Government is created by the people and is doing nothing to solve the real issues in the community. Lets stop wasting time on crap like this and address the real issues of the community.