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Residents United to Demand a Cannabis Exclusion for Greater Capay Valley

The following group-written letter was sent to the Yolo County Board of Supervisors, several of whom also shared the letter with the Davisite and suggested that other people concerned about this issue can contact the Board at: "Oscar Villegas, 1st" <oscar.villegas@yolocounty.org> "Don Saylor, Chair, 2nd" <don.saylor@yolocounty.org>, "Gary Sandy, 3rd" <gary.sandy@yolocounty.org>, "Jim Provenza, 4th" <jim.provenza@yolocounty.org>, "Angel Barajas, 5th" <angel.barajas@yolocounty.org>, "Patrick S. Blacklock, Co Admin’r" <patrick.blacklock@yolocounty.org>

[Updated to add signatories].

Dear Supervisors: 

We are residents of the rural communities along Highway 16 west of the 505 in Yolo County, with most of us living and some of us farming in and around Madison, Esparto, Capay, Brooks, Guinda and/or Rumsey. This area is a special one, renowned for the quality of its produce and sustainable farming, and variously called the “Capay Valley” or “greater Capay Valley.” We submit this letter to express our strong and united opposition to the cannabis industry in our communities.  

Since the County first began experimenting with the cannabis industry four years ago, and authorized cannabis cultivation without any prior analysis or environmental review, the greater Capay Valley quickly became overwhelmed with cannabis grows. As you stand ready to approve an Ordinance that will bring some permanence to this industry, we ask you to hear us.  While we recognize the County wants this industry because of the revenues it will generate, the Board needs to consider the real costs this industry poses to our way of life.  

Many of our families have lived in this region for generations. We have personally witnessed – and experienced – the harmful impacts of this industry. We want to make it clear to you, the elected Board of Supervisors, including our District 5 Supervisor Angel Barrajas, that we want the cannabis industry out of the greater Capay Valley, which needs to be protected from cannabis cultivation and related uses with an express exclusion or ban.

Many of us have been attending community meetings and verbally commenting or submitting letters of concern to the Board since this idea was proposed. After the idea became reality with cannabis grows in our Valley, we continued to communicate our grievances to the County. Our concerns have gone unheard. Scores of Capay Valley residents submitted comment letters explaining how the industry was negatively impacting the quality of our lives. Of the 78 letters submitted to the board regarding the CLUO/EIR, nearly half (48%) were from people who live in and between the greater Capay Valley, from Madison up to Rumsey, along Highway 16 west of the 505. 

The County’s staff continues to assure the Board they have adequately responded to our concerns. The reality is otherwise. No material changes have been made to the Cannabis Land Use Ordinance that was supposed to fix this problem, the Environmental Impact Report that was supposed to fairly analyze it, or the staff reports that supposedly addressed community concerns. 

It is appalling to see community feedback so disregarded on a matter that so deeply affects our daily lives. 

The communities of the greater Capay Valley are small, with a burgeoning agritourism industry that has been cultivated and supported with years of effort. We must preserve the character and culture of this place for generations to come, and we must be vigilant about how our actions will  

impact future generations. This region is simply not suitable for cannabis grows, which has a history of drawing miscreants and generating crime, and exploiting already limited resources – including the precious and increasingly scarce water needed to grow food. 

People, no doubt, solicited by the cannabis industry have appeared at a recent Board meeting and misrepresented our position. Their falsehoods bear correction. For the record, we do NOT oppose cannabis in Yolo County. We support people’s right to grow and buy it legally, and the County’s right to tax it. The issue for us is not whether it should be authorized, but where it should be grown. Our position is a common sense one: it should not be grown in rural and residential communities where people live. Cannabis cultivation is simply incompatible with rural communities like ours, the Capay Valley, for reasons we have variously explained in letters to the County, again and again. And contrary to assertion, we have not been silent, but have advocated for the protection of our community for four years. 

We have also been dismissed by persons in the cannabis industry as a “special interest” group.  That is absurd. We are farmers. We grow food. We earn scant profits on our farms compared to cannabis investors, whose operations generate as much as $6 million per acre. Our only agenda is to protect our families, our community, our rural culture, and our livelihoods. Also wrong – and ridiculous – is the assertion that cannabis is simply farming, another crop worthy of County support. To put a point on it, no other crop attracts criminal miscreants, and requires 24-hour security with armed officers and guard dogs to protect it from theft; no other crop must be so strictly regulated and requires law enforcement to accompany regulators; no other crop uses the kind of chemicals that create such serious wildfire risks; and no other crop generates non-stop light and noise, and emits skunk smells for months on end to the misery of neighboring land owners. 

When the County started this experiment four years ago, without any environmental review, we were assured that the licenses issued were temporary, interim only, creating no legal entitlements. The County needs to puts its words into action, and approve a common sense land use policy that protects the Capay Valley, an area whose unique brand, topography, limited accessibility, farming culture and lack of law enforcement makes it particularly unsuitable to cannabis cultivation. 

This list of concerned community residents stands united to demand cannabis grows be banned from the greater Capay Valley. That includes Madison and Esparto, and not simply the communities beyond the town of Capay. We ask Supervisor Angel Barajas, the person elected to represent our interests for District 5 – and all other Supervisors who helped create this problem – to stand with us to protect our beloved Valley.  

Signed,

Pamela S. Welch
Capay Valley Vineyards Brooks, CA

Tom Frederick
Capay Valley Vineyards
Brooks, CA

Brian Paddock
Capay Hills Orchard
Capay Valley, CA

Gretchen Paddock
Capay Hills Orchard
Capay Valley, CA

Michael McDonald
McDonald Orchards
Capay Valley, CA

Sam Cody
Esparto, CA

Jane Cody
Esparto, CA

Dennis Pruett
Esparto,CA

Chief Barry Burns
Esparto, CA

Monica Burns
Esparto, CA

Kris Stanfill
Esparto, CA

David Scheuring
Golden Oak Ranch
Capay Valley

Helen McCloskey
Rumsey Farms
Rumsey, CA

Pete McCloskey
Rumsey Farms
Rumsey, CA

Meg Hehner
Rumsey, CA

Steve Schroeder
Rumsey, CA

Robin Testa
Old Rumsey Schoolhouse
Rumsey, CA

Serge Testa
Old Rumsey Schoolhouse
Rumsey, CA

Anthony DeMaria
Guinda, CA

Christine DeMaria
Gunida, CA

Debra Robbins
Guinda, CA

Nina Andres
Rumsey, CA

Earl Robbins
Gunida, CA

Larry Alegre
Rancho Alegre
Rumsey, CA

Pamela Bateman
Guinda, CA

David Bateman
Guinda, CA

Linda Deering
Rumsey, CA

Elizabeth Collins
Professor Emerita
Guinda, CA

Malissa Knapp
Esparto, CA

Claramarie Collins
Psychologist and Training Director
Berkeley Therapy Institute
Guinda, CA

Nicholas Collins
Guinda, CA

Brian Boyce
Rumsey, CA

David Gray
Guinda, CA

Nancy Gray
Guinda, CA

Vince Facciuto
Guinda, CA

Victoria Facciuto
Guinda, CA

Moira Fitzgerald
Brooks, CA

Sterling Pickering
Brooks, CA

Catherine Suematsu
Spreadwing Farm
Rumsey, CA

Giacomo Moris
Esparto, CA

Mary Scomona
Esparto, CA

Gretchen Ceteras
Blue Heron Farm
Rumsey, CA

Dru Rivers
Full Belly Farms, Co-Owner
Rumsey, CA

Greg Kringen
Guinda, CA

Cheryl B. Pedersen
Rumsey, CA

Sherri Wood
Capay Valley Lavender
Capay Valley, CA

Alejandra Liora Adler
Rumsey, CA

Andrew Langford
Rumsey, CA

Lauren Ayers
Retired teacher
Guinda

 

Comments

Donna Lemongello

That is an eye-opener and seems to have a lot of merit. Thanks for publishing.

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