Comments on :
ORDINANCE AMENDING PROVISIONS OF TITLE III OF THE HUMBOLDT COUNTY CODE RELATING TO THE COMMERCIAL CULTIVATION, PROCESSING, MANUFACTURING, DISTRIBUTION, TESTING, AND SALE OF CANNABIS FOR MEDICINAL OR ADULT USE
I question whether these new ordinance changes will actually benefit the small farmer. The chief issue that is putting a cap on the small farmer’s success is the continuing cascade of fees and mandated demand to utilize expensive professionals. Bear in mind, that until this moment, the County did not care about road health at all and made no effort to protect the environment. Now, suddenly, the County expects the County’s citizens to pick up this cost. This looks suspiciously like the on-going effort the County and its Planning Department has engaged in over many decades to penalize and restrict the South County’s development (the Planning Department has long hesitated to grant permits to the backcountry residents of Southern Humboldt – this means that South County backcountry residents have been unable to get loans on their unpermitted property)
I would like to point out that the State’s Prop 64 considers a small farmer to be no more than 10,000 sq ft, not 3000 or 5000 sq ft. The County should consider Section 126.96.36.199.1 Small Cultivation Sites to apply to 10,000 square feet, not the 3000 square feet mentioned. The 3000 square foot limit does not provide the small farmer with a viable economic base.
55.4.13 Humboldt Artisanal Branding is too narrowly conceived. Do not limit to 3000 square feet, 10000 square feet is more appropriate. Do not insist on organic certification, if the product is artisanal then certification is not relevant; if a farmer wants to add the extra value of “certifying”, then they can reach out to the industry. The residence requirement must remain.
For cannatourism/on-site consumption (a big money maker) to flourish, the County should lighten road requirements and also stage any road improvements over several years – it would be prudent to grandfather in as many access roads as possible. The RMA proposal must be totally scrapped as it is inherently unworkable – and it seems that the County may have already done so.
Private road systems should be grandfathered in. Requiring backcountry citizens to upgrade their roads to Category 4 is unrealistically expensive. Rather than preemptively demanding expensive road work, the County should track the traffic volume on those roads that are of concern. If there is no inappropriate traffic volume then there is no need. If road work is necessary, then the County should bear the cost; after all, the tax monies collected rely on the success of the County’s farmers. No roads = no taxes.
If the County demands that citizens improve their roads, how will the County deal with the black markets growers who use the roads and quite likely will refuse to be involved? The logic here is that other legal growers will turn them in. Does that seem like something you want your fellow citizens to do? Very ill-advised approach.
It is unrealistic to require that “Electricity must be exclusively provided by a Renewable Energy Source”. Generator use is very necessary in the backcountry and can be regulated without a blanket rejection. Basically, can we or can’t we use generators? The expense of renewable systems makes this proposed implementation unrealistic. People have been using generators for a long time in the backcountry – and, suddenly, they have to go?
Additionally, restrictions on generator use will seriously impact cannabis Nursery license holders – much Nursery activity occurs during the Fall, Winter and early Spring when solar power is at a low ebb. The Special Permit requirement for generator use should be dropped. By definition, citizens living in the backcountry will not be able to afford access to grid power. No grower wants to be “forced” to give up their own propagation efforts. Propagation centers have a very limited value.
By restricting generator use, the County will seriously impact the cannabis farmers ability to succeed. Again, requiring installation of alternative energy infrastructure is far too expensive for the farming community. Section 188.8.131.52 must be re-worked; it is unreasonable to favor grid power, which is not easily accessible to backcountry farmers, and exclude necessary generator power – especially if these generators were in use at pre-existing sites. Many backcountry homesteaders have integrated their alternative power and their generator power to such an extent that it is not possible to distinguish whether the power is running the homestead or the cannabis operation.
The ordinance’s “Stored Water” concerns seem unworkable. You cannot ask citizens to bear the cost of multiple large water tanks or pond construction – this is another nail in the small farmer’s coffin. This is especially the case when no other California agriculture is required to do this – the almond growers are not required to endure a “Stored Water” requirement. Bear in mind, that cannabis farmers can only grown as much as they have water available. This means that this perceived water problem is actually self-correcting.
Additionally, all pre-existing water storage, including large tanks and ponds, should be grandfathered in.
The County should consider limiting cannabis grows to mid-summer operations, not full-term, October harvest, operations. This would go a long way to eliminating the dry season pressure on water use. Growers would be need to dep gardens to accomplish this.
I am given to understand that the Planning Department is attempting to include language that will demand code inspection on previously constructed, non-cannabis, structures. If the County has not already done so, this language must be removed from the Ordinance. It was a vast error in judgement to attempt to include this – it went quite a way towards alienating those the County professes to want to help. All backcountry structures should be grandfathered permits.
How does the County plan to apply this Ordinance to the 80% black market? This smacks of unequal application of the law and could well lead to multiple lawsuits. The black market has repeatedly survived all attempts at eradication and it is waiting with open arms for any farmer that thinks they are being unfairly oppressed by the restrictive white market that is developing.
Do not require that road exceptions are prohibited for Microbusiness or Nursery licenses. A microbusiness may sell on-line and have only a delivery truck and a Nursery does not always have visitors and often use a delivery truck to transport their product.
Bottom line? The County is asking far too much and these requests are too expensive. Every road, every pond, any development across the board, is now about to be monitored. The County did not care about this until now. Apparently, the roads have been fine til now…. Why not leave things as they are; that is certainly what the County has done up to this point?
This all needs to be staged and grandfathered. The effort the County has made to grant provisional permits was especially apt. More of this is needed.
This regulation effort does very little to ease the burdens that the farmers are bearing. Although the allowances for canna tourism are a step in the right direction.
Thanks for attending to my comments and concerns. You have worked very hard to make all this happen. We at Humboldt Growers want our County’s success more than anything. Please get in touch with us if you have any questions.
Humboldt Growers Collective