What's Going On?
The County of Sonoma is in the middle of a multi-year process of developing a new cannabis ordinance and conducting an EIR. Public meetings will be held on December 13, 2023 (in-person and via Zoom) to discuss the County's progress and proposals for certain aspects of the program. On November 29, 2023 they released the following:
The full draft of the proposed new ordinance, which will only apply to the unincorporated areas, has not been released yet. However, these new materials indicate that the County is proposing to make changes related to the cannabis land use table, meaning changes to what type of commercial cannabis activity is allowed where. They are also proposing a new concept of "residential enclaves" which would essentially function as exclusion zones where no commercial cannabis activity would be allowed. The residential enclaves would encompass numerous parcels that are currently eligible for cannabis permitting, including several that have active cannabis permits or applications pending.
The county is proposing to define cannabis as agriculture for the purpose of the County Code; however it wouldn't actually treat cannabis the same way as other agricultural activities, and a use permit would be required for cultivation in Ag zones. Certain ancillary activities that are not currently allowed in Ag zones would be allowed if incidental to a cultivation use, such as non-volatile manufacturing, transport-only distribution, and retail sale of cannabis grown on-site. The minimum parcel size for cultivation would be modified and the 1-acre cap would be removed. Setbacks for cultivation would be modified. The cap of 9 processor licenses would be removed. The cap of 9 dispensaries would also be eliminated, and non-storefront retailers would be allowed in certain zones. Both volatile and non-volatile manufacturing would allowed.
The county is seeking input on these and the other proposed Key Program Elements, including what to do about existing permitted operators or applicants in the pipeline whose activities would be disallowed by the new ordinance ("nonconforming uses").
How to Participate
The in-person meeting will take place in the Board of Supervisors chambers (575 Administration Drive, Room 102A, Santa Rosa) from 5:30pm to 6:30pm. The Zoom meeting will be held from 7pm to 8pm; you can register for the Zoom meeting here.
Written comments can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to Permit Sonoma, ATTN: Cannabis Ordinance Update, 2550 Ventura Ave., Santa Rosa, CA 95403.
You can also send your thoughts and comments to email@example.com, as we will be having a one-on-one meeting with Permit Sonoma following the public meeting where we will discuss our feedback with the County in detail.