Mendocino County approves cannabis program recommendations

The Ukiah Daily Journal reports……..Supervisors Ted Williams and Dan Gjerde of the Cannabis Economic Development Ad Hoc Committee updated the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors cannabis ordinance recommendations for the county, the first step in the committee’s goal to help local cannabis businesses and the county cannabis program.

The supervisors gave their support for all five of the recommendations after discussion and some changes. The ad hoc committee is expected to have more meetings and come up with more suggestions.

The five recommendations are:

1. Direct Planning and Building Services to assess the feasibility of developing a cannabis business innovation zone and identify potential sites.

2. Update the County Temporary Use Regulations regarding special events to streamline permitting and include cannabis events.

3. Direct Planning and Building Services to bring back potential sites throughout the county with proper zoning that could allow scaling up to larger than 10,000 square feet of cannabis cultivation. Potentially increasing the size of cultivation greater than one acre with multiple permits if supported with sufficient water and state approvals. Evaluate if biomass production warrants increased cultivation allowances.

4. Recommend the county work with local stakeholders to promote cannabis and cannabis tourism through branding and marketing.

5. Develop a private/public partnership with cannabis cultivation and facilities businesses to fund future code changes that will require additional California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) documents to support industry operational desires not currently allowed under Mendocino County Code.

The ad hoc committee said that they had met with county staff and industry leaders about the California cannabis market, the economic future and long-term growth potential in Mendocino County to develop goals for cannabis economic development over the next three- to five years. The ad hoc committee is expected to bring some proposed vision and goals within the next few months.

The supervisors directed county staff to talk with the Mendocino Coast Recreation and Park District Lands on Highway 20 in Fort Bragg about the possibility of having part of their site be a potential business innovation zone site. Other zones that county staff will begin to look at include areas in Round Valley.

The board also approved an agreement with Cal Fire to provide $1,652,200 for the West Hills Ukiah Fuels and Fire Break Project through a state grant. The state has stepped up its efforts to become better prepared for fire season through fire management and changes to policy. One of these policies is more fuel breaks in potentially dangerous areas.

The West Hills project would construct a 5.6-mile shaded fuel break along the west side of the Ukiah Valley, a 4.2-mile fire break extension on the ridgelines above Ukiah, and reduce fuel loads along 6.6 miles of roads. Another part of the project includes curbside chipping services for homes for defensible space.

The project is expected to help reduce dangerous fuel loads in the area, improve safety for firefighters, and improve emergency evacuation routes for people. Mendocino County, the Mendocino Fire Safe Council, the Mendocino County Resource Conservation District, the city of Ukiah, the Ukiah Valley Fire Authority, Cal Fire Mendocino Unit, and local neighborhood fire-safe councils will be involved with the project.

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