Valley News -

By Diane Sieker
Writer 

CERC holds final meeting, approves report for submission to county

 

Last updated 5/2/2018 at 9:31am

Diane Sieker

The Cannabis Emergency Regulation Committee held its final meeting Thursday, April 19, at the Anza Electric Cooperative conference room.

The Anza Valley Municipal Advisory Council's Cannabis Emergency Regulation Committee held its final meeting at Anza Electric Cooperative's conference room Thursday, April 19.

The CERC strived to help the AVMAC advise 3rd District Supervisor Chuck Washington's office on cannabis regulations that will best suit the Anza and Aguanga areas.

CERC Chair Edison Gomez-Krauss, Vice Chair Bob Giffin, Secretary Kiran Samuels, Kevin Short, Phillip Canaday, Daryl Hosler, Richard Ku, Kendall Steinmetz and George Hanian were present. 

Gomez-Krauss called the meeting to order.

A discussion of a non-grower opinion survey ensued. Several members of the committee had entertained the idea that such a survey should be conducted and the findings added to the surveys directed to the local cannabis cultivators.

Giffin said for the record that he disagreed and that Canaday had approached him outside of a previous meeting to suggest that such a survey of residents also be conducted. Giffin said that he did not recall such a meeting.

Samuels said that when she volunteered to serve on the committee, she could not have anticipated that the exclusion of the opinions of non-growing residents would occur.

Short gave a PowerPoint presentation of the CERC draft report with member findings organized on individual topic sections. Members of the committee reviewed, revised and reformatted the content as it was presented on the screen, with Short making immediate changes to the document's computer file. The report was studied and prepared for submittal to AVMAC at the special meeting, April 25.

Canaday said that he disagreed with the committee's decision that there was not enough time to conduct a survey of non-growing residents. He presented a survey that he had conducted from April 7 to April 16. There were 199 respondents to Canaday's unscientific survey. Seventy-four percent of completed surveys voiced an opposition to commercial cannabis cultivation in Anza and the surrounding areas. Among other concerns were water consumption, 79 percent and increased crime, 78 percent. Seventy percent were fearful for their family's safety, and 31 percent declined to state their name due to fear of reprisals. Over half of the respondents were concerned with cannabis odors and possible allergies, reductions in property values, 59 percent and destruction of the natural beauty of the area, 52 percent. Of the 17 percent of respondents who supported commercial cannabis cultivation, less than half said they had no concerns. The majority of those surveyed said they had the same worries as those who were opposed. Most of the undecided agreed that while there was benefit in medical marijuana, they were opposed to the cultivation in the unincorporated county areas.

Short said for the record that he was disappointed that the committee did not think to gather public input some time ago. He thought it should have been part of what the committee studied. It was agreed that even though Canaday's survey could not be included in the committee's formal report because it had not been authorized by the CERC, it was valuable information that should be presented to the AVMAC or even to Washington's office.

After the discussion, Gomez-Krauss suspended the normal rules and allowed for public comment.

Aguanga resident Annika Knoppel thought the grower survey was poorly worded. If it had specified whether the cannabis cultivation was legal or illegal, the responses about the concerns would have been different. It was stressed that the survey was unscientific in nature.

AVMAC member Allison Renck spoke briefly. She thanked the CERC for their hard work and dedication to the matter. She referred to the Multi-Species Habitat Map, which includes properties from Bautista Road to Kirby Road to the Forest Service lands, Cauhilla Reservation and Anza. According to Renck, there are 409 parcels that are 5 acres or larger in this region. 

"Let's decide that 50 percent become cannabis industry, and I think of it as industry because I think of mitigation and what that entails," Renck said. "That is 329 possible industry units, and this does not include the Cary Road area, the Terwilliger area and the Barbara Road area. This would eliminate 329 possible families that would actually put stock in the community. Although many of the cannabis growers that are looking at cottage grows do look at the community, I also know that many of them don't because it is a business. If each of these industry units were asked to contribute a fee of $2,000 that would only be $659,000 per year. I also then looked at the survey numbers and what the majority of the survey respondents were willing to pay $42,150? As an AVMAC member, the county keeps telling us the county has no money. I know the growers cannot foot the bill for everything. Six hundred, fifty-nine thousand dollars will cover nothing. I worry, because if it becomes a heavy industry here, the whole community will change. The school will become smaller. It may be eliminated. And as a trail town advocate, I want the town to be mixed. I want it to be culturally diverse. I look at cottage grows as fine. I do not want anything bigger than 2,500 feet." 

Reed Valley resident Jan Scott described the damage to her 40-acre rental property by what she termed as "guerilla growers." She said she does see a future in medical marijuana and cannabis as a recreational drug. 

"I don't know what the answer is, but what I and other people are going through is not a good thing," she said. "I don't think that we as a community should support growing pot."

Gary Worobec, who has followed the CERC meetings faithfully, said, "I think the growers survey should be thrown out. Thank Mr. Canaday for doing what he did, but unless there is going to be a balance between what the growers say and what the community says, it is not relevant to what the county board of supervisors said. Desert Hot Springs, San Jacinto and other communities have already set some benchmarks and those benchmarks are way different to what was on the survey."

CERC alternate Andrew Carey called attention to the alternates on the CERC, stating that they have attended almost every meeting, yet have not been able to contribute. He wanted to share some ideas to add to the knowledge of this committee, but it was difficult to do that in the three-minute time allotment.

With public comment completed, the committee resumed reviewing and revising the report.

A motion was made to replace Steimetz's cultivation recommendation with wording to reflect that the major concern of the local growers that the exclusion of all rural residential zoned property in the planning departments staff report will virtually eliminate the path for small cultivators.

A motion to remove the entire section for the topic of distribution passed unanimously.

The committee reviewed the appendices for inclusion in the final report. These include meeting agendas and minutes, a transcript of Capt. Leonard Purvis's statements at the CERC meeting held March 22, the growers survey, the U.S. Geological Survey survey submitted by Brian Baharie and the California State Water Resources Board paper on water use for cannabis.

Diane Sieker

Chair Edison Gomez-Krauss of the Cannabis Emergency Regulation Committee and Vice Chair Bob Giffin guide the discussion at the final CERC meeting Thursday, April 19, at the Anza Electric Cooperative conference room.

"Commercial cannabis cultivation in Anza has had a huge impact throughout our community. Permitting by the county in whatever shape or form it may take will play a tremendous role in shaping our communities' future," Gomez-Krauss said. "We, the CERC, are confident that the committee's findings will provide the AVMAC with sufficient and relevant information so that they may make a properly educated recommendation to the board of supervisors on the matter."

The finalized report was emailed to all committee members in advance of the AVMAC meeting April 25. 

For more information regarding the AVMAC Cannabis Emergency Regulation Committee, email [email protected]

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

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

 

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