Valley News -

By Diane Sieker

AVMAC CERC prepares to forward recommendations


Last updated 4/27/2018 at 10:21am

Diane Sieker

Cannabis Emergency Regulation Committee member George Hanian reads the minutes from the previous meeting at the CERC meeting held Thursday, April 5, at the Anza Electric Cooperative.

The Anza Valley Municipal Advisory Council hosted another Cannabis Emergency Regulation Committee meeting at Anza Electric Cooperative's conference room Thursday, April 5.

The CERC strives to help the AVMAC advise Riverside County Supervisor Chuck Washington's office of the cannabis regulations that will best suit the Anza and Aguanga areas.

CERC members Committee Chair Edison Gomez-Krauss, Vice Chair Bob Giffin, Kevin Short, Phillip Canaday, Kiran Samuels, Daryl Hossler, Richard Ku, Kendall Steinmetz and George Hanian were present, along with several members of the public for the meeting.

Gomez-Krauss called the meeting to order and summarized the purpose of the CERC and the progress made so far. 

"We thought this would happen quicker, we thought it was going to be easier," Gomez-Krauss said.

He spoke about the Riverside County Planning Department Staff Report regarding possible new legislation regarding cannabis cultivation, sales, transportation and distribution within the unincorporated county communities.

"When we started this committee, the board of supervisors indicated they were coming up with a plan, a regulatory framework for the cannabis industry in the unincorporated area," he said. "As of January, we had heard nothing. So, we said, we have to do something, this is an emergency situation, and we require attention. This March they had a meeting, and surprise, surprise, they came up with a very complete set of recommendations for the cannabis industry in unincorporated areas. It threw sort of a curve ball for us because it means that everything we were doing, they had already done.

"This is not set in stone," he added. "This is the first set of recommendations. These recommendations cost $150,000, and it took one year to get it done. We are running on volunteer work alone. We have had about five meetings that have run between an hour and a half to three hours, biweekly, and we've discovered information that this $150,000 and one year didn't even think to look at. The work we're doing here is something no one else in unincorporated areas are doing. We're taking a proactive approach to legislation in our area, and I think that's pretty awesome."

Tim Lauridsen of Anza discussed the size of some grows and the impacts of the Cahuilla water lawsuit during the public comments portion of the meeting. 

Ronnie Bell of Terwilliger commented on the cannabis survey and said that growers were afraid to complete and turn them in, for fear of misuse of the information by members of the committee. 

"They don't want to get in trouble because of this survey," he said. "There's going to be no repercussions from this survey, right? I want to reassure them."

Several committee members chimed in, informing Bell that the survey was designed to be anonymous and will remain that way so that the growers could fill them out with confidence.

Gomez-Krauss continued the meeting by explaining that CERC was going to recommend changes to the Staff Report, which was released by the county supervisors at the March 20 meeting in Riverside. 

Kevin Short said that he was making progress on the preamble for the report to be submitted to the AVMAC at the special meeting, April 25. He summarized what he had included and presented his draft to the committee.

Gomez-Krauss temporarily suspended the rules to allow comments by Anza resident Dr. Baumer to be heard. Baumer commented on business licensing, taxes and the decreasing profitability of cannabis businesses.

"I've talked to literally hundreds of growers in the valley," he said. "And the consensus is the same. Every business in America starts with a business license and to contact the Franchise Tax Board and you get a resale license. A few years ago, it was actually profitable, but it's not anymore. There are so many people that have moved in to grow and the profit is gone." He implied that heavy tax and licensing burdens for growers are not fair. 

"Keep it simple and it will work," Baumer said.

Discussion resumed on the preamble presented by Short. Kendall Steinmetz discussed items in the Riverside County Planning Department staff submittal, such as reasonable taxation and inclusiveness.

Giffin handed out his findings on zoning and commercial cannabis cultivation in rural residential zones. He read segments of working documents from other counties and their application to the Anza Valley, such as prohibiting commercial cannabis grows on residential zoned parcels. "Clustering" of grows is also an option explored in different municipalities, where the grows are positioned in certain areas.

"I'm just throwing out some suggestions," Giffin said.

Steinmetz reported his findings on grow sizes and their energy requirements, pesticide use and certain restrictions that should be set in place and recommended in the county of Riverside Planning Department Staff Report. Distribution, testing and dispensing licensing were all explored by the committee.

Gomez-Krauss again suspended the rules to allow statements by Andrew Carey, who commented on renewable energy use and water use.

Richard Ku voiced his opposition to large commercial cannabis cultivations.

A water use summary was discussed. The U.S. v. Fallbrook Public Utility District water suit should be listed as a factor in the final report, CERC members decided. 

Phil Canaday reminded the committee of water quantification, and Giffin added that commercial grows should operate off residential wells. Much discussion ensued regarding the water suit and water usage.

"We are not drawing any conclusions here as a committee," Short said. "We're making recommendations to the municipal advisory council to take to the board of supervisors. It's their responsibility to do their own work on what we say. That's why we're here, to contribute as a group."

Richard Ku said that the final grower survey results will be submitted by the next meeting. Currently, 62 online surveys have been completed.

Daryl Hosler suggested that the results of the survey be described as non-scientific.

Diane Sieker

Ronnie Bell of Terwilliger discusses the cannabis survey and some growers' lack of participation at the Cannabis Emergency Regulation Committee meeting held Thursday, April 5, at the Anza Electric Cooperative.

Kiran Samuels discussed a survey for non-growers. The consensus of the group was that there was insufficient time remaining for the committee to conduct a new survey. She was concerned by the lack of resident non-grower input into the process. Samuels said that people she has spoken to on the subject of cannabis grows in Anza feel "hopeless." 

"There has been no attempt to not get public comments; we have always encouraged it. It's just they don't show up," Gomez-Krauss said.

Gomez-Krauss reviewed the members' assignments for the next meeting. Ku will report on his survey; Canaday will submit his water report; Giffin will report on zoning; Stienmetz will report on cultivation, transportation and distribution and a law enforcement report will be received from Samuels.

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

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


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