ICFA Calls Hum. CO’s Planning Commission Meeting Today “Crucial”
Kristin Nevedal, Chair of the International Cannabis Farmers Association which has an office in Southern Humboldt, says she believes today’s Special Meeting of the Humboldt County Planning Commission “will be crucial to attend in order to influence the direction of the final language.” The meeting will offer a public comment period which will allow people to address concerns they have with the ordinance. (The ordinance is posted below.)
Nevedal has provided a copy of a draft letter that she believes hits some of cannabis farmers’ main concerns. We’ve provided the full letter below but in brief, she argues,
I am experiencing a number of challenges with the process itself. The County’s resistance to issuing permits, restrictions on ownership and the newly proposed 1000 foot setback for all open-air cultivation and flammable extraction activities. Combined, these provisions pose significant challenges to Humboldt County’s local cannabis farmer and the regulated development of the County’s commercial cannabis industry as a whole.
Here is the International Cannabis Farmers Association full suggested letter below that can be modified to fit each grower’s concerns:
To Whom It May Concern:
My name is xxxx. I am a landowner in Southern Humboldt and an applicant for existing cultivation, and xxxx. I’m writing today to express concerns regarding the draft Commercial Cannabis Land Use Ordinance (CCLUO), published for the November 30, 2017 Planning Commission meeting. As a landowner in Southern Humboldt, applying for existing ‘open-air’ cultivation, I look forward to engaging in the newly regulated cannabis market place and potentially investing in other local cannabis related businesses.
As I work my way through the application process in preparation for January 1, 2018 State licensing, I am experiencing a number of challenges with the process itself. The County’s resistance to issuing permits, restrictions on ownership and the newly proposed 1000 foot setback for all open-air cultivation and flammable extraction activities. Combined, these provisions pose significant challenges to Humboldt County’s local cannabis farmer and the regulated development of the County’s commercial cannabis industry as a whole.
Community Support Facilities
As an existing open-air cultivator, I’d like to thank the Planning Commission and Staff for moving provisional permitting forward. However, I still have concerns regarding the County’s resistance to issuing permits for centralized processing, nurseries and distribution until such time as a new ordinance is passed. Without such support facilities in the County, provisionally permitted farmers will face limited access to the legal marketplace come January 1, 2018. For this reason, I would like to express my support for the proposed language in the draft CCLUO which allows for the transportation of commercial cannabis with a business license and suggest that the County give permission to these business holders to apply for a distribution transport license at the State level. Additionally, it will be important that the County issue community support facility permits in an expedited manner to ensure legal supply chain access for our community’s farmers.
The County’s proposed manufacturing requirements could pose significant challenges to farmers and manufacturers wishing to engage in ethanol extraction methods, including tincture extraction methods. Based on the County’s proposed definition for flammable extraction, all ethanol based extraction activities will be subject to the County guidelines proposed for flammable extraction. On November 16, 2017, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued State Emergency Regulations for manufacturing activities, clarifying Volatile and Nonvolatile Manufacturing criteria. Under the State’s Emergency Regulations, ethanol based extraction activities have been deemed Nonvolatile Manufacturing activities. We respectfully request that the County Planning Commissioners reconsider how ethanol extractions are categorized and consider allowing such extraction methods in nonflammable extraction facilities.
1000 Foot Setbacks
The County’s current draft language proposes that all commercial cannabis activity be setback one thousand feet (1,000’) from any RA zoning district, mapped Rural Residential Neighborhood Area (RRNA’s), Community Planning Areas as identified under 18.104.22.168(b), the Sphere of Influence (SOI) of any incorporated city within the County of Humboldt, or Tribal Lands. The one thousand foot setback restrictions are also referenced in Alternative 6 as a Special Area Setback for Odor Mitigation specific to Open Air Cultivation Facilities and again in reference to Flammable Extraction facilities under 22.214.171.124.1.3. While the proposed setback language is clear regarding the applicable Community Planning Areas, the Spheres of Influence, and Tribal Lands, it is not clear regarding RA zoning districts and mapped Rural Residential Neighborhood Areas (RRNA’s).
What qualifies as an RA zoning district? What qualifies as a mapped Rural Residential Neighborhood Area (RRNA)? According to the General Plan maps, RA designated use properties exist throughout the Southern Humboldt area and in close proximity to most urban areas. How will, or will, the RA overlay affect Open Air Cultivators and Flammable Extraction Facilities? What is a RRNA? How will RRNA’s affect these setbacks in regards to Open Air Cultivators and Flammable Extraction Facilities? Additionally, how will the 1000’ setback from neighboring residences be applied? Will Open Air Cultivation Facilities and Flammable Extraction Facilities qualify for variances such as under 126.96.36.199.4(e)?
Encouraging Enclosed Cultivation Facilities could significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions and negatively impact air quality. Both Flammable and Nonflammable Extraction Facilities will be important to the future development of products originating from Humboldt County. We urge the Planning Commission to consider the exclusionary zoning impacts that a one thousand foot (1000’) setback would have on otherwise appropriately zoned manufacturing and industrial zoned parcels.
Standards for Noise From Cultivation Sites
The proposed performance standards for cultivation related noise could result in challenges relating to excessive nuisance complaints. The proposed language is incredibly broad and the requirements for establishing and documenting ambient noise levels will be incredibly onerous to achieve and are subjective in nature.
The recent draft also proposes significant changes to the Humboldt Artisanal Branding. Under provisions 55.4.13(a) and (c) the draft proposes removing the outdoor cultivation requirement and replacing it with a requirement for the product be cultivated using exclusively natural light. We do not believe that this change is consistent with the original intention of the Artisanal Branding program’s intention to create a branding pathway that protects the small traditional outdoor cannabis farmer.
Permit Counting and Restrictions
In closing, we’d like to encourage the County to eliminate the restrictions pertaining to permit counting under 188.8.131.52.2, 184.108.40.206.3, and 220.127.116.11.4. The mentioned provisions appear to be left over language that was primarily applicable to the four (4) permit cap. If the Planning Commissioners are in support of transitioning to restricting permit holders to no more than four acres of Commercial Cannabis cultivation permits then eliminating the above mentioned provisions would provide clarity to the new language.
I want to thank the Planning Commissioners and County staff for considering the concerns expressed in this letter. Please see the following pages for language specific concerns and suggestions.
Title, Company Name
Below is the Draft Commercial Cannabis Land Use Ordinance. The vote on the draft is likely to be held mid-December.OR-17-002 Draft Ordinance