Public Hearings Begin Over Proposed Changes to Sonoma's Marijuana Cultivation Ordinance

Today marks the start of public hearings on proposed changes to Sonoma County’s Commercial Cannabis Cultivation Ordinance. All signs point to a contentious fight.

The new proposed ordinance would significantly streamline the cultivation permit process, moving permitting authority to the Agricultural Commissioner’s office away from the county’s planning department, Permit Sonoma. It would remove the requirement for individual pot projects to be subject to public zoning and permissible use permit hearings. Growers would have to adhere to minimum setbacks from property lines and neighboring structures. Regulations on water use, energy sources, habitat protection, odor controls and minimum lot sizes are all changed from the previous 2018 ordinance.

...Along with the streamlined “ministerial” permitting process, the county is proposing a General Plan amendment that would recognize cannabis as an agricultural crop consistent with state law. Treating cannabis like other crops such as grapes or apples is what has many would-be pot neighbors most up in arms. — Sonoma West

Community groups have been mobilizing for weeks in opposition to the proposed changes, which can be found here. They’re expected to come out in full force for the four virtual town halls on March 8 and March 12.

Opponents are particularly upset over the proposed setback requirements (100 ft. from property lines and 300 ft. from neighboring structures). They want setbacks to be at least 1,000 to 1,500 feet.

Similar battles over cannabis cultivation policies are brewing in Napa and Santa Barbara Counties.

Read more at Sonoma West.



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