by Placerville Newswire / Dec 20, 2016 / comments

Residents of unincorporated Sonoma County who worry about the crime and blight associated with marijuana cultivation had their voices heard Tuesday when the Board of Supervisors rejected a proposal that would have allowed small-scale grows in any residential rural zones outside city limits.

Supervisors Shirlee Zane, David Rabbitt and James Gore voiced strong support for an outright ban, opposing a county Planning Commission recommendation to allow cottage-sized cultivation on rural residential lots of 2 acres in size or more…

The board, instead, voted to approve a broader, far-reaching land-use ordinance regulating marijuana cultivation, both indoors and outdoors, on agricultural and industrial zones across the county. Implementation is tied largely to the success of a marijuana cultivation tax set for a March 7 special election, or finding an alternative funding source.

“There’s a lot of violence with home invasions,” Zane said. “I think the crime element has not been discussed enough. People who live in rural residential (areas) have a right to live in a safe community.”

Her sentiments echoed testimony from law enforcement officials who said they had seen an uptick in marijuana-related crimes in the area. Lt. Tim Duke of the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office told the Board that 774 crimes associated with pot were committed between July of 2013 and 2016. He also believes home invasion robberies are up because of the marijuana trade.

Many growers acknowledge the criminal element but say greater restrictions make the problem worse by pushing the trade further into the shadows. With the ban now in place, “people are going to head right back into the hills, the national forests,” one grower said.

Read more about Tuesday’s vote here.