Measure Y (Sonoma Citizens For Local Access) creates a voter approved Commercial Zoning “Permitted Use” modification in the City of Sonoma in order to bypass bureaucratic entanglements and favoritism. The modification allows for cannabis businesses (Dispensary, Delivery, Manufacturing, Distribution, Testing or Indoor Cultivation) to thrive without the necessity of applying for a costly, time consuming Use-Permit via a biased City permit process much the same way a Bank, a Grocery Store, an Auto Repair, a Retail Store or Offices are considered “Permitted Uses” that do not need a Use-Permit in Commercial Zones within City limits. On top of which, Measure Y is structured with very restrictive setback limitations from Schools, Libraries and the Sonoma Plaza in deference to citizen concerns expressed in 2018 when Measure Y was drafted, leaving the possibility of only a half dozen viable properties for Measure Y businesses that will not be regulated by the City of Sonoma but will be monitored and regulated by the State of California.
WHY MEASURE Y?
Measure Y was born out of frustration following the 64% Voter Approved Prop. 64 Cannabis Legalization Initiative in November of 2016 yet 80% of the City and County jurisdictions in California chose to ignore the Prop. 64 will-of-the-voters by blatantly suppressing the regulations necessary for local access licensing. The City of Sonoma is one of the jurisdictions that suppressed the will of the voters by doing nothing for two years that would have allowed its citizenry legal, local access to cannabis (very often for their personal medical needs) and then again in 2018 by preventing the voter-signature qualified Sonoma Citizens For Local Access (now Measure Y) from being placed on the November 2018 Ballot through the use of a backhanded delay meant as a Voter Suppression tactic.
Measure Y was successfully delayed for two years by the City of Sonoma but it is now qualified for the November 2020 Ballot. With enough donations we should be able to reach all the expected majority of voters that support legal cannabis.
Donations will go to Signage, email Blasts, Social Media, Personal Contact such as Farmers Markets, Media Advertising, Press Releases, Printed Handout Materials and Mailings.
If we exceed the donation needs for a successful Measure Y ballot result, then the remaining balance of the donations will go to a legal defense fund of Measure Y, should it be necessary.
And finally, if there remains an excess of needed donation’s we will form a non-profit and use the funds to provide know-how and support for similar Ballot Initiatives in similar suppressive jurisdictions!
This City of Sonoma fiasco is one of many, and City Officials seem to have forgotten who placed them in office via the very same Citizen Ballot Box that elected them. Measure Y can contribute nicely to the much-needed Sonoma Valley Economic Engine, but rather than serving their electorate, they have chosen Voter Suppression!
ENCOURAGE COMPETITION, DISCOURAGE MONOPOLY!
IMPARTIAL ANALYSIS OF MEASURE Y from CITY ATTORNEY
If approved by a majority of the voters, Measure Y would allow – without having to get permits from the City — the establishment and operation of commercial cannabis businesses, including commercial manufacturing, distribution, cultivation, transportation, testing, retail sales, and delivery of cannabis in all commercial zoning districts in the City. No limitations are set on the number of such businesses that can open in the City. Multiple, unspecified numbers of cannabis businesses can locate on the same parcel. Unless prohibited by the City’s anti-smoking ordinance, consumption of cannabis at retail businesses is permitted. No provision is made for the City or the community to examine and mitigate, in advance of their opening, such businesses’ impacts on the community and the environment.
Other than for temporary special events where cannabis may be sold and consumed, Measure Y does not require submittal of a permit application or create a procedure for the City to accept, review and act on permit applications through a public process, but instead provides that with limited exceptions, the only City approval that is required to open a cannabis business is a “zoning clearance.” A “zoning clearance” is not a permit; it is a statement issued by the Planning Director that a proposed business is located within the correct zoning district and complies with the district’s requirements, such as the building height limit. A “zoning clearance” is issued over the counter and without notice or hearing.
Under Measure Y, operators who were engaged in medicinal cannabis businesses before September 9, 2016, would be entitled to continue or re-commence those operations provided they state that they were operating such businesses in compliance with the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 and pay the City a fee. The City would be required to issue such an operator a certificate of compliance and allow that business to operate even if the business had violated City laws.
Only those cannabis retailers whose businesses are located in the City would be authorized to deliver cannabis to their City customers; except deliveries from out-of-city businesses would be allowed upon the payment of an enhanced fee.
The measure would permit indoor personal medical cannabis cultivation in all residential districts: unclear whether personal cultivation of adult use cannabis is permitted. Outdoor personal cultivation is not permitted. Personal cultivation cannot exceed six cannabis plants “per adult”, but Measure Y does not limit the number of “adults” who are permitted to so cultivate. Thus, the number of cannabis plants allowed to be cultivated per residence cannot be determined. Additionally, Measure Y permits the indoor cultivation of up to 30 cannabis plants on any residential property by caregivers for their patients.
Cannabis businesses must be at least 600′ from schools and City parks, 1000′ from the Plaza, and 250′ from the City library. No buffer is required between a cannabis business and daycare centers or youth facilities.
Measure Y was placed on the ballot by a petition signed by the requisite number of voters.
Arguments In Support of Measure Y
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.
Jon Early, Proponent
Van Solkov, Founder Happy Travelers Tours
Ken Brown, Cannabis Advocate
Bill Beorum, Healthcare Advocate
In Rebuttal to Measure Y
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 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.
Logan Harvey, Mayor
Rachel Hundly, Vice Mayor
Christopher Johnson, Chair, Design Review
Mike Benziger, Farmer/Cannabis Cultivator
Michael Coats, Cannabis Advocate
Measure Y – Personal Cannabis Cultivation Initiative
Ballot Argument Against – Submitted on Behalf of the City 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.