MOVING FORWARD TO PUT THE MENDOCINO HERITAGE ACT OF 2016 ON THE FALL BALLOT!

At Monday’s Board of Supervisors meeting it was revealed that there will probably not be a revised 9.31 Ordinance until October, despite earlier plans to create new policy by June.

After Supervisor McCowen made that statement, discussion continued and it became obvious that we have the majority of the Board, and county staff such as Dept of of Ag, the CEO, County Counsel, and others – all on our side concerning several key points:

  1. They join with us in wanting to see regulation move to the Ag Department and away from Law Enforcement.
  2. They get it that WE NEED PROTECTION from law enforcement!
  3. They understand that the 25 plant limit undermines the small farmer and the entire county’s ability to participate in this rapidly growing industry.
  4. They agree that nurseries have to be permitted along with cultivation – immediately.
  5. They seem to understand the role of Forestland and TPZ in cannabis cultivation but are worried about triggering CEQA if we change zoning definitions and requirements.

SO WHAT WENT WRONG ON MONDAY???

Their position is this:  The Board of Supes is concerned that making changes to land use policy and zoning may inevitably trigger a CEQA review and/or an EIR which will take months and delay implementation of a fully revised 9.31 Ordinance until this Fall.

The Board gave direction to the Planning Department and County Counsel to explore what specifically will require CEQA and/or an EIR. This item is next scheduled for discussion at the May 16th BOS meeting. We will strongly advocate that County Staff and the Board prepare an Emergency Ordinance (which is designed not to trigger environmental review) to be voted upon at the May 16th meeting in order to accommodate this year’s growing season and our demands.

Because they “get” these minimum points, we will continue to work with them to put an Emergency Ordinance in place immediately for this season that we can live with until we get a better ordinance later this summer and/or we pass our Heritage Initiative.  We think we can influence the creation of this “emergency temporary ordinance.”  We have cultivated important political allies and we don’t want to squander this political capital by just abandoning this effort to secure a fair cannabis policy at the level of the Board of Supervisors.  We want an ordinance that meets our minimum requirements, and we will work like hell to achieve it.

IN THE MEANTIME, we have 2 months to gather 5,000 signatures for our greatest, most powerful and potent political influence – A SUCCESSFUL HERITAGE INITIATIVE THAT WINS AT THE BALLOT BOX THIS NOVEMBER!  Without the success of first, getting the signatures to put our Initiative on the ballot, and second, winning the vote in November – without this, we fall back to the politically impotent position we’ve been in for years.  This cannot happen!

Many thanks to all who came to the Board of Supes meeting on Monday. It was a strong showing of community unity and we were effective in moving the Board and others in the direction of a fair and favorable policy.

One Final Note: Yesterday we received confirmation from the County Clerk that our petition is officially approved for circulation and the Heritage Initiative Committee is currently preparing a strategy to begin gathering signatures.