Valley News -

By Diane Sieker
Writer 

Anza Valley Municipal Advisory Council meeting discusses county cannabis and stray dog regulations

 

Last updated 3/31/2018 at 1:21pm

Diane Sieker

Anza Valley Municipal Advisory Council members, left to right, Allison Renck, Bob Giffin and Edison Gomez-Krauss, attend the AVMAC meeting Wednesday, March 14, at the Anza Community Hall.

The Anza Valley Municipal Advisory Council meeting was held at the Anza Community Hall Wednesday, March 14, and was attended by about 25 community members. 

AVMAC members Bob Giffin, Allison Renck and Edison Gomez-Krauss were present. 

Special guest speakers included Indio Councilman and District Director Glenn Miller of Sen. Jeff Stone's office and Riverside County Department of Animal Services officers Sgt. Leslie Huennekens and Lt. John Stephens.

Riverside County Supervisor Chuck Washington's legislative assistant Opal Hellweg was not able to attend, and therefore there was no report from the county presented.

Giffin introduced Miller, and he spoke of the senator's concern about water issues in the county. He brought legislative packages, veteran of the year information, business cards and other useful contact information. He assured the group that Stone was open to any discussion on local matters or issues.

"Our office is always open," he said.

Stone represents over 1 million people within California's 28th State Senate district.

Miller entertained a question about state cannabis laws and the slow application of new regulations from a member of the audience.

"The marijuana system is in place; they have their own cannabis commission. They have policies in place," he said. "The state of California's a little bit different because of its environmental concerns, it's one of the issues they had, and the water concerns as well."

He went on to describe the diversity of the state complicating many regulations, as well as water and water contamination worries. 

Giffin chimed in, mentioning that the local counties have jurisdiction of many of the new cannabis regulations and that complicates the matter further for the everyday grower trying to comply.

"If the county doesn't allow it, then it's not going to happen," Giffin said.

Miller said that many cities and counties statewide are looking into detailed regulations regarding cannabis research and development, delivery, sales, cultivation and more. Numerous jurisdictions have even banned marijuana, according to Miller. 

Edison Gomez-Krauss gave a short report on the progress of the AVMAC's Cannabis Emergency Regulation Committee.

"Topics we've discussed: zoning, canopy size, water usage, environmental impact both with water and energy consumption, energy theft, economic viability of the industry," Gomez-Krauss said. He also added that fee structures, compliance, crime reduction, community outreach, a grower survey and a regulatory body are also being studied by the committee. All this data will be compiled into a report to help assist Washington and the other supervisors to craft new cannabis regulations.

"The committee is made up of the most diverse group of people you will find in Anza," Gomez-Krauss said. "We have farmers. We have people from the Anza Electric Cooperative, from the water companies and just ordinary citizens. We have naysayers, who prefer no cannabis in the Anza valley, just to keep it objective. We are trying to be completely fact-based."

Gomez-Krauss answered a question from an resident about the impact of all the cannabis growing has on Anza's image and how this in turn affects the property values.

"We have no conclusive findings yet, but it is being spoken of and that point of view is being heavily treated with much respect," Gomez-Krauss said.

Giffin asked for any old business, and it was said that the special guest and new principal of Hamilton High School, Natalie Ruddell, was unable to make the meeting that evening. It was agreed to reschedule her as soon as possible.

Giffin introduced Animal Services officers Huennekens and Stephens.

Huennekens stood and addressed the room, explaining the scope of the department and what they are doing for the Anza area in order to respond to complaints of stray dogs, licensing, spay and neutering clinics and other concerns. She quoted some interesting statistics.

"From January 2017 through January 2018, Animal Services received 522 calls for service in Anza," Huennekens said. It does not include follow up calls, she said.

"We impounded 84 animals in the community," she said. "Issued 39 citations, impounded 82 dead animals which includes both domestic and wild."

Animal Services conducted an early morning stray dog patrol, Jan. 24, in response to complaints in the Ramsey and Bailey roads area in Terwilliger, impounding three dogs and issuing 13 citations.

She said that the San Jacinto office was offering a free spay and neuter clinic that also included vaccinations, rabies shots and microchipping. The only requirement for this first-come, first-serve event would be the purchase of a $17 license per animal served at the clinic. More information is available by calling (951) 791-3720.

Huennekens offered information to people concerned with wild animals, advising that they contact California Fish and Wildlife at (951) 532-3311 regarding mountain lions, bobcats, coyotes and other wildlife.

Residents presented many questions for Huennekens, including issues with loose dogs. She said that they are aware of a lot of repeat offenders and those people are being watched and cited.

Stephens said that Riverside county law provides for ownership of four adult dogs per property and any more than that requires a kennel license. 

He encouraged anyone with complaints to call Animal Services immediately.

Stories of the damage that stray dogs have been doing, such as the killing of livestock, was discussed. It was revealed that the department has an officer in the area all day long, according to Huennekens, for a quick response time. Any complaints are taken seriously and looked into carefully.

"If you have issues, you need to call us," she said. "We need your eyes. That is (951) 258-7387."

She went on to describe the kennel licensing process, adding that a majority of the cost and complication does come from the fact that the Riverside County Planning Department is also involved, making the process difficult at best, due to the many procedures that must be followed. She offered brochures with more detailed information.

Renck told of a repeat offending loose dog that she personally has dealt with and asked the officers about how they deal with repetitive loose dog issues.

Huennekens said that at the department certain criteria must be met to retrieve an impounded dog and fines are also levied against the owners. These fines get more expensive as the number of violations increases. 

Dogs deemed dangerous are destroyed, added Stephens.

Animal Services can also require owners to construct kennels and other restraining devices such as cable runners.

"We can issue dog traps, too, free of charge," Huennekens said, to capture loose nuisance dogs.

Gomez-Krauss asked if there were any way the local dog rescues could get low-cost kennel permits, to which the officers replied that there was no such program or grant process. Huennekens said that there were some large and very nice kennel facilities in Anza and the surrounding areas.

Dog hoarding is a problem in Anza, and several local hoarders are well-known to the officers. Abandoned dogs are also a major issue. Audience members agreed and supplied several examples.

Reports on animal violations can be made anonymously, assured the officers.

Giffin opened the meeting to public comments, describing the three-minute time requirement and the filling out of an index card with the question before the opening of the meeting.

There were no comments.

He asked for future topics to be addressed at the next meeting and added that there would be a special cannabis meeting in April, in addition to the normally scheduled meeting for May. At that time, the CERC findings and report should be presented to the AVMAC.

A short mention of the Anza Area Trail Town's National Trails Day Celebration, to be held Saturday, June 2, was discussed. Trail fans will start at Minor Park in Anza for a one-and-a-half-mile hike to the Hamilton Museum and back to the park. The event is designed to demonstrate through living history, reenactments the story of Juan Bautista de Anza who traveled through Anza in 1775 and 1776 and for whom the trail and the community is named. It is the goal of Anza Area Trail Town to create a dedicated multi-use trail system through Anza with the de Anza trail being the anchor trail.

Diane Sieker

Riverside County Department of Animal Services officers Sgt. Leslie Huennekens reads off some of her department's statistics for the Anza area at the Anza Valley Municipal Advisory Council meeting Wednesday, March 14, at the Anza Community Hall.

The wish to have representatives from CalTrans was also suggested.

Giffin closed the meeting.

To contact Washington's office, call (951) 955-1030 or visit http://supervisorchuckwashington.com.

For more information about the AVMAC, visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/AnzaValleyMAC.

For more information about the Anza Area Trail Town's National Trails Day Celebration, contact Allison Renck at [email protected] or (951) 663-5452.

To learn more about state cultivation regulations and fees, visit http://calcannabis.cdfa.ca.gov.

For information on all areas of cannabis regulation and tax structure in California, visit https://cannabis.ca.gov.

The Riverside County Department of Animal Services can be reached by contacting them on the web at https://www.rcdas.org or calling (951) 358-7387.

Diane Sieker can be reached by email at [email protected]

 

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