Sunday’s Letters to the Editor
The cannabis economy
EDITOR: The new cannabis ordinance is not just planning policy; it’s economic policy. The Press Democrat reported that one acre of cannabis yields
$1 million. If 15,000 acres go into cannabis cultivation, that is $15 billion in revenue for growers. The question we should ask is: What do existing residents, communities, businesses and industries give up so that other business people can make $15 billion?
Do we give up our rural countryside beauty to unsightly plastic hoop houses and fenced plots patrolled by security guards and drones? Do we give up environmentally sustainable farming practices? Do we give up existing property values for one person so that another person can make $2 million on their outdoor grow?
Do we collect taxes on cannabis grows to fund schools, roads and parks? The oil and gas industry makes money by drilling off the California coast; how much public benefit do we receive from those oil derricks? How much did we give up?
Cannabis is a billion dollar industry. The Board of Supervisors must craft a cannabis policy that creates a healthy, diverse economic system and produces substantial public benefit.
EDITOR: Your April 27 editorial (“California’s political star dims after the census”) asked, “What can we do to once again become the Western beacon of hope and prosperity that California was for more than a century? Why are people leaving, and how do we get them to stay?” I have been a regular visitor to Sonoma County in recent years. My observations are based largely on what happened with my son and daughter-in-law. He moved to California in 2013 when they were getting married; she is a California native.
Both have good careers. They have now left the state, likely permanently. It is unaffordable — they can never hope to own a home in Sonoma County. Last year, they looked in more affordable counties, but work was unavailable.
They were evicted from their home in January by a landlord who said she was selling. In fact, she wanted them out so she could raise the rent. It was already sky-high for what, in my view, was pretty basic accommodation. Other costs of living are equally pricey.
In addition to that, the steady series of environmental disasters from wildfires to drought is of major concern to them.
Why would young people in their situation want to stay?
Surrey, British Columbia
A true hero
EDITOR: Alexei Navalny, who fights tyranny and corruption in the Russian government, is a true Russian hero and patriot (which means love of country, as opposed to love of self). The Biden administration, unlike the complicit Trump administration, should expose and oppose Russian efforts to dismantle democracy at home and abroad.
EDITOR: I want to thank all of the teachers who are just getting back to in-person learning. Don’t think for a minute that these teachers have been idling away the days just because they were on Zoom. As a substitute elementary teacher, I have seen the hours spent helping children who need more attention in certain subjects, while only being able to help them from afar. I have seen the amount of time it takes to find a video that might help explain a concept or idea.
The 20-something teachers have grown up with computers, but others who are old enough to remember “Romper Room” have had to reach a whole other level of understanding. And now, many are balancing a TV to show the in-persons what is going on for the at-homes, a computer to monitor all of the Zoom/at-home kids, the lesson plans and the curriculum, plus an iPad for a camera to show the entire class what is being done in, say, their math books.
They are to be commended for their flexibility, expertise and joy for the profession. You teachers are amazing.
Coming to our senses
EDITOR: Living close to a vineyard, I find the daily intrusions mainly auditory. The noise of tractors and fans is the price I pay for living in a beautiful, rural county. To add visual and olfactory intrusions from an industrial marijuana grow is contrary, at best, to the agricultural nature and beauty of our county.
I may not love the uniform acres of vineyards, but at least I’m looking at plants and greenery. Plastic hoop houses, security fences, lighting and the invasive smell that comes from industrial marijuana grows will affect the quality of life for many rural residents and tourists alike.
Whatever the acreage, such a large-scale change will significantly affect Sonoma County. It should be considered carefully and have multiple benefits, beyond just tax revenue. I encourage the supervisors to consider carefully before rushing to permits. At $1 million per acre in revenue, the marijuana industry will wait, but your constituents may not.
EDITOR: It appears Republican opposition to President Biden’s infrastructure plan rests in large measure on a narrow, somewhat dated definition of infrastructure. Republicans apparently believe the bill should contain funding only for crucial infrastructure projects such as repairing livery stables, installing hitching posts, and filling water troughs.
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