NEVADA CITY, Calif. August 5, 2016 – There’s a perpetual breaking headline running through all Nevada County news these days – Supes Try to Undo Yesterday’s Bungled Pot Ordinance.
The latest try came as four out of the five county leaders dumped a new load of fertilizer on the grow. By approving an urgency ordinance the county leaders are now allowing the open air growth of medical marijuana to resume, repealing the outdoor grow ban they put in place January 12th. Do you hear the Beatles singing, “Here comes the sun…”?
But, not so fast. This latest bit of lawmaking is just a stopgap to make time to cobble up the next piece of marijuana cultivation law. The recent supes meeting about weed took five-and-a-half hours during which nobody seemed to like what was being proposed.
Here’s a bit of the convoluted history of marijuana regulation in Nevada County as detailed by Patricia Smith of the local chapter of Americans for Safe Access:
“We had an election to determine if medical marijuana should be banned from outdoor cultivation. The voters said NO by 20 percent. The county was charged to repeal the ban. Instead, they doubled-down and banned MORE people than before Measure W was defeated. “Previously, anyone anywhere could grow 12 plants indoors. Afterwards, no one could grow anything indoors or out if they lived in R-1, R-2, or R-3 zones or if they lived on less than 10 acres…”
Then the supes amended that.
“Now residential patients can finish their indoor set-ups,” Smith told The Messenger, “but then it’s banned again. (making them buy expensive indoor set-ups for one season) The supervisors also extended outdoor grow rights to RA Rural zones of 300 square feet.”
On it goes…
“The dithering came with the setbacks,” Smith added. “Previously setbacks were measured from the garden to the neighbor’s home or ‘outdoor living space’. For some reason they changed the setbacks from the garden to the property line. This changes everything since the recommended setbacks met in the middle of most properties in our county. They based their measurements on perfectly square parcels which are rare or non-existent – most parcels are long and narrow.
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“For instance, I live on 10 acres,” Smith said, “where I’ve had my 12 plant garden for eight years without a complaint. I put it in way before there was any ordinance and I put up a fence before it was necessary because it was the smart thing to do. The setbacks they introduced would overlap by 70′ so there would be no place on 10 acres to grow a single plant. So then they reduced the setbacks by 50′ from either side. great! Now I have 37′ down the center of my property where I could conceivable grow. It would mean removing my grapevines, putting up a new fence (thousands of dollars), bringing in a landscape contractor to build new mounds, buy new soil, new compost, and organic fertilizers FOR A TEMPORARY ORDINANCE.”
Listening to Smith one might get the idea that the supervisors are confused. The citizens certainly are.
“They decide these plant counts and setbacks without thinking through the consequences. First only outdoor was allowed and you had to construct a fence. Then they ban outdoor and you need to buy indoor equipment. Then they ban indoor (for most areas) and require permitted greenhouses, then they say you can grow outdoors, no greenhouse necessary. Now they say you can grow outdoors, but you have to relocate your garden.
“I brought this to supervisor Hank Weston’s attention,” Smith concludes, “and he also thought it wasn’t fair to cite people for setbacks and is looking into fixing this bad situation.”
And as the county hops back and forth from foot to foot the growing seasons ticks away.
Editor’s note: The Mountain Messenger, California’s oldest weekly newspaper since 1853, is published on Thursdays from Downieville, California.
The Mountain Messenger can be purchased for half a buck at the National Hotel (sidewalk), Nevada City SPD (outside), Nevada City Express Mart (outside) and in front of Safeway, Brunswick area.