Posted on Categories Land UseTags ,

Sonoma County to take up pivotal decision over medical marijuana regulation


The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors will hold its first hearing Tuesday on a proposed zoning ordinance that will determine where medical cannabis can be grown for profit.

Sonoma County’s move to recognize and regulate thousands of marijuana growers has triggered a high-stakes battle between pot producers intent on protecting their livelihood and rural residents who want cannabis cultivation pushed as far as possible from their homes.

It’s a land-use conflict that may have no satisfactory solution for either the estimated 3,000 marijuana growers or the 81,000 people living on land designated for residential use in the unincorporated area outside the county’s nine cities.
And it’s a culture clash between cannabis entrepreneurs who for decades have raised, in the legal shadows, an intoxicating crop that could rival the wine grape industry in value versus residents who say the proliferation of pot gardens is destroying their quality-of-life and diminishing property values in their rural neighborhoods.
From Cloverdale to the Willowside area west of Santa Rosa, from Bennett Valley on the city’s east flank and even in the upscale Montecito Heights area, residents tell of unfriendly strangers putting up tall fences, blacking out windows and converting nearby homes to marijuana operations of uncertain legality.
Pot producers, meanwhile, are concerned that 70 percent of the 31,383 properties on rural residential land are too small to meet the county’s proposed 2-acre minimum lot size for small grows.
Kathleen Whitener, who’s lived on a Willowside area cul de sac for 31 years, said she no longer enjoys gardening in her back yard, with a feeder that attracts green hummingbirds and an ash tree for shade.
“Now I just feel creepy out there,” she said.
Read more at: Sonoma County to take up pivotal decision over medical marijuana regulation

Posted on Categories Climate Change & Energy, TransportationTags , , , , ,

Op-Ed: How oil won the battle for SB 350

Before he would commit to voting for landmark legislation to cut petroleum use by 50 percent, Assemblyman Adam Gray had a few requests.
Actually, it was more than a few. The term sheet runs three pages. The quid for the quo is something to behold.
In one of his more remarkably bold suggestions, the Merced Democrat sought $550 million a year in cap-and-trade revenue to pay for more water storage. Additional water storage is a great idea. But cap-and-trade money must be used to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, not provide water in perpetuity for Central Valley farmers.
And then there were the three pages of amendments offered by the Western States Petroleum Association. Its demands would have gutted the California Air Resources Board, the agency directly responsible for reducing air pollution created by the oil industry.
Faced with demands made by industry and well-greased Assembly members from his own Democratic Party, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León concluded last week that he had no choice but to gut the most significant part of his Senate Bill 350, the sections that sought to force a 50 percent reduction in oil use.
Not having been in the room when negotiations were going on, I don’t know who said what. But the wish lists offer some insights into the pulls and tugs that led to the decision to limit SB 350. Though it won’t cut oil use, it will reduce electricity use and increase wind and solar power.
Gray was quick to say “we have to take aggressive action on climate change.” He also defended his proposals by saying he wants to “make sure the Valley is not put at a disadvantage,” while people in “Palo Alto are driving around in Teslas.”
Gray is one of 20 or so Assembly Democrats who call themselves moderates, and held out against the petroleum reduction in SB 350. As near as I can tell, being a moderate has little to do with their stands on social issues, or their willingness to challenge the core of Democratic support, public employee unions; they aren’t.
Rather, the definition seems to revolve around a willingness to accept campaign money from oil, tobacco or anyone else, and their malleability when donors come calling. Certainly, the reflections of some of Gray’s donors can be seen in some of the amendments he suggested.
Read more at: Dan Morain: How oil won the battle for SB 350 | The Sacramento Bee

Posted on Categories Climate Change & Energy, TransportationTags , , , ,

Jerry Brown, Kevin de Leon abandon legislative push to require 50 percent cut in gasoline use

David Siders & Jeremy B. White, THE SACRAMENTO BEE
In a major setback for Gov. Jerry Brown’s climate agenda, the governor and legislative leaders on Wednesday abandoned an effort to require a 50 percent reduction in petroleum use in motor vehicles by 2030.
The announcement followed weeks of lobbying by oil companies and resistance not only from Republicans, but moderate Democrats in the Assembly.
For Brown, the failure represented a rare legislative defeat, and on Wednesday there were two: In addition to dropping the petroleum reduction mandate from Senate Bill 350, Brown’s proposal to raise billions of dollars for road repairs appeared to stall.
At a dreary news conference at the Capitol, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, said she does not expect a vote on road funding before the legislative session concludes at the end of the week, though she said lawmakers will continue to discuss transportation funding later.
Brown, who has made climate change a priority of his administration, said he will push forward on greenhouse gas emissions using his executive authority. The bill will preserve the California Air Resources Board’s existing power to make regulations that reduce emissions.
Read more at: Jerry Brown, Kevin de Leon abandon legislative push to require 50 percent cut in gasoline use