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Whose rights matter?

EDITOR: Last week, the Sonoma County Planning Commission took a straw vote on expanding commercial growing of marijuana into new areas of the county by creating a process to allow growing in residential areas (zones RR and AR) where it is currently prohibited. Several of the commissioners took the approach that to disallow commercial growing would be a removal of the property owner’s rights.

To be clear, there is no “right” to have a commercial cannabis operation on a property. Granting permission to grow creates a right where none previously existed. Disallowing growing for the greater good of environmental or neighborhood protection doesn’t “take away” anything from the property owner.

In many cases, permitting commercial activity does take away the rights of neighbors who can no longer enjoy outdoor use of their property, have decreased property values because they are next to a commercial venture or suffer harm to wells and streams.

I hope when these cannabis ordinance amendments come before the supervisors, they will acknowledge that allowing commercial operations in sensitive watersheds and neighborhoods will be “giving” to the industry and “taking” from the common good, not the reverse.

LAURA WALDBAUM

Santa Rosa

Demand and cartels

EDITOR: Regarding Edelweiss Geary’s letter (“Cartels and immigration,” Tuesday), here’s a solution: Get rid of American junkies, and you will eliminate the market for the illegal drugs produced in Mexico and Latin American that are entering our nation.

As long as there are veins in our nation waiting to be punctured and rushes waiting to be experienced, the suppliers will be standing by, ready to satisfy our citizens’ cravings.

Sadly, the U.S. will likely always have junkies, with the numbers potentially swelling due to the policies of the current administration. Opioid addicts, in many cases forced to turn to street drugs because of the ongoing mismanagement of pain treatment, are merely the latest generation of this longstanding American tradition.

When it comes to illegal drugs being imported into the U.S., we are solely responsible for creating the demand, resulting in us being our own worst enemy.

As an alternative, perhaps Geary should advocate for the legalization of the currently imported drugs. This would eliminate the problem with cross-border cartels, as big pharma’s dealers are already here.

JOHN A. EDER

Sebastopol

Local officials MIA

EDITOR: I attended the Families Belong Together rally in downtown Santa Rosa (“Marchers unite in support of immigrants,” Sunday). I was very disappointed that no representatives of our local government spoke. This rally was protesting the inhumane and immoral practice of separating babies and children from their parents. This isn’t a partisan issue. It is a moral and ethical issue. If you remain silent, you are telling me that you agree with this unholy attack on children. If you want my vote, stand up and speak against this shameless act of cruelty.

DELPHINE MANGAN

Santa Rosa

CEQA and housing

EDITOR: Please let the editorial board know that the UC Berkeley law school has completed the first in-depth independent study of what causes the costly time-consuming delays in approving housing in California (“Cutting red tape to build needed housing,” Editorial, Sunday).

Berkeley law, in concert with Columbia, found that the California Environmental Quality Act has little to no effect on delays and time-consuming problems in the five key Bay Area cities that were studied.

This study, called “Getting it Right,” is the first and only study at this depth of detail looking into the internal processes of cities and city planning. Berkeley law found that each city has redundant, complex internal rules and practices, even for “by right” projects, which create big delays, drive up costs, discourage small developers who cannot afford to learn the exotic internal processes and encourage big developers who absorb the delays and time-consuming processes — and jack up rents.

Berkeley law urged legislators to stop acting in ignorance of the real causes, because in doing so they may simply make the housing problem worse. They showed, definitively, that CEQA is a convenient whipping boy for problems nobody wants to address, and its weakening will hurt us all.

JILL STEWART

Woodland Hills

Restore naval cemetery

EDITOR: I am writing this letter in response to your June 29 article about the Mare Island Naval Cemetery (“History of soldiers’ shrine?”). The problem of Mare Island Naval Cemetery never should have occurred. The Navy had every opportunity to turn over the cemetery to the Veterans Administration for perpetual care, maintenance and restoration under Public Law 93-43.

The Navy chose not to act, and the current deteriorated state of the cemetery is the result. There is no incompatibility between historic preservation and providing a respectful, well-maintained and preserved military cemetery that honors the service of those veterans interred there.

The problem at the Mare Island Naval Cemetery is a persistent lack of resources. No national, state or local organization has stepped forward with the necessary expertise and resources to do the job. It is long past time to rectify the situation before the cemetery is lost and does, in fact, become an archaeological site instead of a place honoring the service of those interred there.

RALPH PARROTT

Fairfax Station, Virginia

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