Arguments +/-

The following Pro & Con arguments and Opinions regarding the Measure Y ballot initiative may be helpful to you in making your voting decisions:

  1. Our “Argument In Favor of Measure Y” as it will appear on your printed ballot:

“Why not give Sonoma Citizens a choice: competition is a good thing whereas an exclusive cannabis licensed monopoly that corners the market is not.  Why not help assure your local access to cannabis if a lone dispensary fails?  Why not consider Measure Y as a tax paying economic engine for Sonoma, something to help balance out the job losses we are experiencing?  Why not exercise your right to vote and bypass the tangle of bureaucracy when it needs to be bypassed?  

Measure Y businesses will not go unregulated, they will be fully vetted and regulated by the State of California. Measure Y will not create a runaway string of pot shops, which is surely the argument we will hear from the opposition.  Very few of the commercial properties it would affect will be available or viable when considerations are taken into account: Location, use, access, parking, lot size, etc.  As a matter of fact, the City’s own August 21, 2018 consultant’s report envisioned that only five properties would be viable with passage this initiative.

Further, Urban Renewal on West Napa Street, the northern Gateway into Sonoma, needs to be encouraged. And, it’s not just dispensaries that can help our economic engine: a testing lab, a light manufacturing business and a distributor could all exist symbiotically with employees, tucked away & unseen while helping local growers make ends meet, and all of them paying local taxes.

Four long years ago, two thirds of Sonoma voters were solidly in favor of Prop. 64 to legalize cannabis access and they still are.  Two years ago, ten percent of Sonoma voters happily signed this qualified ballot initiative. Please note, Measure Y also allows for residential, indoor cultivation.  Now it’s time for voters to decide for themselves and make their wishes clear, once again!”

Signer:

Jon Early,

Proponent of Measure Y

  1. The City of Sonoma “Argument Against Measure Y” as it will appear on your printed ballot:

Submitted by the City Counsel of Sonoma

“Last year, the Sonoma City Council created detailed regulations and an exhaustive process to select seasoned cannabis (marijuana) businesses to open one cannabis retail dispensary and one delivery-only dispensary in city limits. One experienced cannabis business was chosen in August 2020 to open a retail dispensary. This business is expected to open next year after completing a rigorous review process by the Sonoma Planning Commission to ensure safe operations as a good neighbor. In the future, the City’s cannabis policies will allow one delivery-only dispensary, one testing facility, and one culinary manufacturer.

Measure Y reaches too far. Its “one size fits all” approach places no limits on the number of commercial cannabis businesses that may be opened in Sonoma. Measure Y would allow cultivation, manufacturing, distribution, testing, and retail all on one site and/or next door to one another, creating the potential for a “cannabis row” Sonoma.

Measure Y prohibits the City of Sonoma from reviewing the operations of any cannabis business and how it would operate or fit within a neighborhood. Measure Y extensively removes all public review and input. It requires only a staff level review on basic zoning parameters. There would be no public hearings, no environmental review, and no ability for public input on building design, noise, security, fencing, parking, and other operational issues.

Measure Y is poorly written. It is internally inconsistent and ambiguous. For example, the measure appears to prohibit outdoor personal cultivation, but would permit indoor cultivation of up to 30 plants on any residential property by caregivers for patients.

As City Council Members, we have different opinions about cannabis in Sonoma, but we are all unanimously against Measure Y. The initiative is overly broad, confusing, and problematic. With limited restrictions and no opportunities for local input and oversight, Measure Y puts our community and future cannabis businesses at risk. Vote “No” on Measure Y.”

Signers:

Logan Harvey, Mayor

Rachel Hundley, Vice Mayor

Madalyn Agrimonti, Councilmember

David Cook, Councilmember

Amy Harrington, Councilmember

  1. Our “Rebuttal” to the City of Sonoma “Argument Against Measure Y” as it will appear on your printed ballot:

“The undisputed reason Sonoma will have City-allowed cannabis access in 2021 is that 767 frustrated voters, over 10%, signed Measure Y in 2018 after the Council voted to prohibit cannabis entirely, greatly motivating a subsequent counsel to change policies. If Measure Y doesn’t pass, Sonoma will be left with a City-sponsored Cannabis Monopoly: no retail competition, no freedom of choice and no free enterprise, with unduly limited economic growth.

The Council wants you to believe that Measure Y encourages unlimited cannabis businesses; however, the City’s own consultant, in a costly report, identified only five viable properties within Measure Y boundaries.  There’s no likelihood of a “cannabis row” as the City would have you believe.  They say “The initiative is overly broad, confusing and problematic.”  They are confused and want the voters to be confused.

They say Measure Y “requires only a staff level review on basic zoning parameters.”  While technically correct, it’s misleading and disingenuous since existing Commercial Zoning guidelines already allow (and do not require a review or Use Permit for) Grocery Stores, Banks, General Retail, Plant Nurseries, Auto Parts, Offices, etc.

They state “the measure appears to prohibit outdoor personal cultivation…” It actually does not prohibit or discuss outdoor cultivation at all, although it does permit indoor cultivation.

Measure Y does not put our community and future cannabis businesses at risk. It does, however, limit bureaucratic opposition and arbitrary decisions; the real reason the City wants to suppress your vote is because it infringes on their unchecked power.”

  1. The City of Sonoma “Rebuttal” to our “Argument In Favor of Measure Y” as it will appear on your printed ballot:

“Measure Y was designed with the specific goal of primarily benefitting one business, the signatory in favor of the measure. If passed, the author stands to personally benefit by allowing more dispensaries to be opened in Sonoma and to by-pass Sonoma’s public review process that is required of all other businesses.

Yes, the Sonoma voters supported Proposition 64 – the legalization of cannabis. However, Sonomans (sic) did not vote for unregulated cannabis businesses. Sonoma has a history of striking a balance on the type and number of businesses that can open in our small town – including restrictions on big box retail and tasting rooms. The City just completed a lengthy process limiting the number of cannabis business operators to respect Sonoma’s unique character. Measure Y would open the flood gates.

In the City of Sonoma’s recent competitive dispensary approval process, ten cannabis proposals were received and one local professional cannabis business was approved. With the passage of Measure Y, local control and regulation of this new industry is removed. Any cannabis dispensaries could quickly receive a permit from the State and open for business in the City, without review. Measure Y means no local review of parking, traffic, safety, security, architectural design, and compatibility with neighborhoods. Further, no environmental impacts will be evaluated.

Sonoma already allows cannabis delivery and soon will have a retail dispensary opening in town. Sonoma is not Colorado or Los Angeles, we do not need an unlimited number of cannabis dispensaries to change our community character overnight. Vote “No” on Measure Y.”

Signers:

Logan Harvey, Mayor

Rachel Hundley, Vice Mayor

Christopher Johnson, Chair, Design Review Commission*

Michael Coats, Cannabis Advocate*

Mike Benziger, Farmer, Cannabis Cultivator*

            OPINION: *For the record we would like to note the following observations – The Rebuttal to the Argument In Favor of Measure Y is supposed to be a Rebuttal from the Sonoma City Counsel that drafted the Argument Against Measure Y but apparently the City Manager chose to invite Johnson, Coats and Benziger to be three new, unnecessary signers. 

We see odd conflicts: 

  1. Johnson is the Chair of the City of Sonoma Design Review Commission who will soon be overseeing a presentation to the Design Review Commission by a supporter of Measure Y that owns a property deemed by many to be the best location for a potential dispensary site. We suggest that Johnson might want to consider recusing himself from that particular Design Review Agenda Item #2 scheduled for hearing on 9/15/20.
  2. Coats and Benziger both have close connections to Eric Pearson, CEO of Sparc, who was recently awarded the sole monopoly Dispensary License in the City of Sonoma by the City Counsel.
  • Coats is a paid PR consultant to Sparc.
  • Benziger is a cannabis grower that sells his crop to Sparc.
  • Additionally, Coats represented Measure Y two years ago as a paid PR consultant in favor of Measure Y but now seems comfortable opposing Measure Y as a consultant paid for by Sparc and acting as a redundant signer to this rebuttal, which only requires one signer.
  • Sparc has one agenda with Measure Y, to thwart competition and maintain their current Monopoly.

We are surprised that the City of Sonoma has chosen to align themselves with Sparc representatives in what appears to be a very biased and conflicted arrangement of commercial favoritism.

  1. Our unofficial “Rebuttal” to the City of Sonoma Rebuttal to the City’s “Argument Against Measure Y”
  • “Measure Y was designed with the specific goal of primarily benefitting one business, the signatory in favor of the measure.” Not even remotely true.  The signatory has no business plans for a cannabis business in Sonoma given the current City Hall environment.
  • “If passed, the author stands to personally benefit by allowing more dispensaries to be opened in Sonoma and to by-pass Sonoma’s public review process that is required of all other businesses.” That is an ignorant statement. There are many businesses in Sonoma that do not require public review.
  • “Yes, the Sonoma voters supported Proposition 64 – the legalization of cannabis. However, Sonomans (sic) did not vote for unregulated cannabis businesses”. Cannabis businesses under Measure Y will hardly go unregulated; they will all be highly regulated by the CA Bureau of Cannabis Control.
  • “Measure Y would open the flood gates.” Another ignorant statement from the author that obviously did not read Measure Y, plot the properties that could benefit from Measure Y (after considering setbacks) or read the consultant report to the City of Sonoma dated August 21, 2018.
  • “In the City of Sonoma’s recent competitive dispensary approval process, ten cannabis proposals were received and one local professional cannabis business was approved.” Very true!  The City charged each applicant a non-refundable $11,000 fee and called it a “Beauty Contest” and then a “Bathing Suit Contest”.  They Monopoly was indeed given to one contestant, Sparc.
  • “With the passage of Measure Y, local control and regulation of this new industry is removed. Any cannabis dispensaries could quickly receive a permit from the State and open for business in the City, without review. Measure Y means no local review of parking, traffic, safety, security, architectural design, and compatibility with neighborhoods. Further, no environmental impacts will be evaluated.”  The City brought this upon themselves by delaying Cannabis Access for four years since Prop. 64 was voted into law.  Now it’s time for the voters to say “enough is enough”, we do not trust the City to abide by the wishes of the citizens, whom they were elected to represent!
  • “Sonoma already allows cannabis delivery and soon will have a retail dispensary opening in town. Sonoma is not Colorado or Los Angeles, we do not need an unlimited number of cannabis dispensaries to change our community character overnight.” What a ridiculous statement.  We all know that Sonoma is not a State like Colorado or a megaregion like Los Angeles, how can we possibly be compared to them?
  • These inaccurate and ignorant claims cause us to believe that they were not written by a City official, or else they would have been aware of and not made the mistaken claims in the rebuttal. So which one of the signers of the rebuttal wrote it, are they possibly one of the Sparc representatives?