Monday, February 1, 2016

LOCAL GROUP TO SURVEY COUNTY CANNABIS CULTIVATORS

SCM² Surveying County Cannabis Growers


Ben Lomond, CA. A local grassroots advocacy organization is conducting a survey of cannabis growers in Santa Cruz County.  The SCM² Cannabis Cultivation Survey 2016 will seek to provide data that policy makers can evaluate as they continue to develop a local licensing program expected to roll out in the next year.

Almost 20 years ago, over 70% of Santa Cruz County voters approved Proposition 215, the medical cannabis initiative.  Since then, several thousand residents have received the required medical recommendation which allows cultivation, with restrictions, for personal use. Since then hundreds if not thousands of residents have planted the crop.  Some indoors, in garages, closets or commercial buildings, others outdoors in backyards, greenhouses or remote parcels.  

Speculation varies wildly about the number and location of growers - both personal and commercial - as well as about the size of their crops.  How many growers and grow sites there are in the County remains unknown.

Last year over $32 million of retail sales were recorded by 14 local dispensaries.

Few believe those sales, as big as they sound, accounts for all or even most of the cannabis being grown in Santa Cruz.  Some growers consume all of their grow.  Others grow as part of a membership collective and still others sell some or all of their crop directly to consumers or processors both within and outside of Santa Cruz County.

The Board of Supervisors recently approved plans to license some small scale grow operations and regulations for larger operations are being contemplated.  How many licenses will be issued will in some part be decided by how many growers currently operate in the County.

Santa Cruz Mountains for Sustainable Cannabis Medicine (SCM²) is conducting the survey with the cooperation of other advocacy groups, local dispensaries, vendors and media outlets. The goal is to reach as many Santa Cruz County residents who are growing or planning to grow cannabis whether for their own personal use or for use by others.

The survey is available online by going to http://scm2.net or in hard copy at local dispensaries. It’s completely anonymous and can be completed in a few minutes.  Results will be published and shared with policy makers.

About Santa Cruz Mountains for Sustainable Medical Cannabis (SCM²):
SCM² was formed in 2014 by a group of Santa Cruz Mountain medical cannabis cultivators, processors, patients and supporters in order to share information about proposed changes to the County medical cannabis ordinances.  They have held public meetings and forums to inform and gather information about medical cannabis cultivation policies, proposals and best practices.  They played a key role in initiating the petition drive to overturn the Board of Supervisors ban on cultivation and they have a seat on the County Cannabis Cultivation Choices Committee (C4).

Saturday, January 23, 2016

2016 SLVHS Athletic Hall of Fame Inductees Announced

2016 SLV Athletic Hall of Fame:
Date: Saturday, March 26th
Time: 5pm Social/Cocktail Hour, 6pm Dinner/Awards
Place: Scopazzi's Restaurant
Cost of Dinner (includes a Prime Rib, Salmon or Vegetarian plate): $47.00
This biennial event honors athletes, coaches, teams and other important individuals who have shown excellence within the San Lorenzo Valley Athletics Program. These inductees are elected by the selection committee of the SLVHS Hall of Fame; however anyone, at any time may nominate someone for the SLV Athletic Hall of Fame. If you will not be attending the dinner, where nomination cards will be offered, you can submit your nominations to Athletic Director Mark Mercer via email. There is an official form that needs to be filled; all nominations will be considered by the committee. If a nominee is not selected, their name will remain on the nominee list for future considerations.
SLV High School is proud to announce the SLVHS Athletic Hall of Fame, Class of 2016:
1) Ashley Kiersted (1998)
2) Jeff Mercer (2000)
3) Hayley Durham (2002)
4) Andy Levitre (2004)
5) Matt Kiel (2006)
6) Cody Rodebaugh (2010)
7) Doug Morris (Honorary)
Contact:
Mark Mercer
San Lorenzo Valley HS Athletic Director
Physical Education/Health Teacher
Varsity Boys Golf Coach
831 246 2517

Thursday, January 21, 2016

AmeriCorps NCCC Strengthens Community of San Lorenzo Valley


BEN LOMOND, Calif. – An AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) team, Blue Six, will be serving in Boulder Creek, Calif. from Jan. 12 to March 15. Blue Six will be serving with The Valley Women's Club of the San Lorenzo Valley and 17 other organizations to strengthen the community.
The Valley Women’s Club of the San Lorenzo Valley (VWC) works closely with the surrounding community to create awareness and to lead in environmental, educational, social, and political concerns. The Club is dedicated to community action and works closely with other local organizations to empower dozens of people, providing them with the skills and support to take a stand and make changes.
Blue Six with be helping to strengthen the community by removing invasive plant species in Highlands County Park in Ben Lomond, restoring local landscapes, and completing various renovations in and around the area. Other projects include building a kiosk for Garrahan Park, restoring bird habitat at Scott Creek Beach, and reducing creek erosion by building a bridge at Highlands County Park.
“The arrival of the AmeriCorps team represents the culmination of years of desire and hope to have restoration become an even more important goal of the San Lorenzo Valley communities. The Valley Women's Club of the San Lorenzo Valley, Santa Cruz County Parks, Boulder Creek Parks and Rec, and the community at large should be acknowledged for their support and education of this team. Their dedication to this team will advance the cause of restoration not only here but wherever the team members go in the future," said Linda Skeff, Chair of the Restoration Committee of the VWC’s Environmental Committee.

For more information about AmeriCorps NCCC please visit:

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Ben Lomond Brewery to Take Over the Taps at The West End

                                                             

Local Brewery Crawls Out of Santa Cruz Mountains for Tap Takeover at West End Tap & Kitchen
SUNDAY JAN 24

Brewing beer is challenging. Launching a business that focuses on brewing beer, easier said than done. On Sunday, January 24th, fourteen months of brewing, branding, and business formulation has laid the foundation for the launch of Humble Sea Brewery at West End Tap & Kitchen. Founded by three childhood friends, Humble Sea is a small craft brewery emerging from the redwood-wrapped mountains of Ben Lomond. West End Tap & Kitchen, a popular gastropub on the Westside of Santa Cruz, will play host to an all day tap takeover, featuring 8-10 of Humble Sea’s inventive styles. The event starts at 11:30 am. They suggest showing up before 2 pm.

With shallow pockets and hefty ambitions, Nick Pavlina, Frank Scott Krueger, and Taylor West teamed up in hopes of creating the next craft beer hotspot. Humble Sea Brewery operates on three core principles: great beer, community involvement and a well-designed beer drinking experience.

“Humble Sea Brewery has garnered an incredible amount of attention and hype before serving a single pint. Now is the chance to try a full lineup of their beers for the first time.” Geoff Hargrave, head chef and owner of West End Tap & Kitchen

“The support from the community has been a huge surprise for us. We’re just three local guys trying to build a business based on good beer and community involvement. People have responded and are thrilled,” said Taylor West, director of operations and cofounder of Humble Sea.

The soul behind the beer is Nick Pavlina, Humble Sea’s head brewer. After learning the craft from his father, brewing thousands of test batches and completing an intensive program at the American Brewer’s Guild, Nick set his sights on a career in the craft beer industry.

"Brewing beer has always been the perfect blend of art and science for me. We brew a wide array of experimental flavors through craft lagers, barrel-aged specialties and classic west coast ales and are constantly coming up with new styles,” said Nick Pavlina, head brewer and cofounder of Humble Sea.
Nick attempted to launch Humble Sea Brewery in 2012 but after his original partner tragically passed, the project was placed on the back burner. Three years later, Nick connected with childhood friends and local entrepreneurs Frank Scott Krueger and Taylor West and revisited his dream. Since, Humble Sea Brewery has taken shape. West, a manager at West End Tap & Kitchen, and Krueger, a design and marketing creative, helped form a balanced and energetic team.

With Santa Cruz booming as a craft beer hub, Humble Sea Brewery hopes to add strength to an already established community.

“Much like wine is to Napa, we want Santa Cruz to be recognized as a craft beer hub known around the globe. Our objective is to complement Santa Cruz’s existing craft beer industry and help it grow to its potential,” said Frank Scott Krueger, Humble Sea Brewery’s creative director and cofounder.

Humble Sea Brewery currently resides in the quaint town of Ben Lomond but plans on expanding to Santa Cruz by winter 2016.

For more information on the event here is the facebook event link. All are welcome:


More info about Humble Sea
Humble Sea Brewing Company is a craft brewery founded in the Santa Cruz Mountains, established by three long-term friends with diverse skill sets and relevant business experience. We are a brewery founded on three principles; beer, community and design. They brew small, experimental batches of beer in the Santa Cruz Mountains will be expanding to the West Side of Santa Cruz in 2016.

About West End
West End is a neighborhood eatery which showcases the flavors of a traditional pub with a California twist; using local, fresh and seasonal foods.Our food is cooked to pair perfectly with one of many craft beers and wines. Our chef brings French cuisine techniques to a simple and approachable menu for all to enjoy and afford! We are proud to offer healthy and fun kids choices along with mouth-watering house-made desserts and ice creams. Come in and be our guest!

Relevant Links

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Talitha "Tai" Stills 1949-2015

Photo by Carol Carson

(Reprinted from the 2013 Valley Women's Club Hammer-Marcum Award Presentation by Nancy Macy)

Hello to everyone on this beautiful day in the San Lorenzo Valley! We are so very lucky to live here, and to share in the celebration of three remarkable people whose love for this region and its people have improved so many lives. They are ideal recipients to be honored in the names of Annette Marcum and Mary Hammer.

Talitha Stills, known as TAI, has a long history of working and volunteering in the not-for-profit sector, early on with environmental organizations such as the Sierra Club Palo Alto Chapter and later the Sierra Club National Headquarters. She was Executive Director for Marin Discoveries, the Terwilliger Nature Education Center, in San Rafael. 

And THAT was before she moved to the San Lorenzo Valley, where her love of the environment, her love of music, and her desire to serve the community, provided dozens of opportunities for her to share her time and skills.

From the moment Tai joined the VWC Environmental Committee, she was a powerhouse of ideas and creative energy. Her background and experience, and her passion for protecting and restoring the environment, were continually helpful as efforts were made to reach more people and inspire them to live respectfully on the land.

Tai helped inspire the formation of, and helped lead the organization and implementation of, the Watershed Festival of Events. This Festival was a multi-year outreach effort, starting in 2001 and going through 2010. The Festival had many facets, including creating a series of factual and entertaining brochures that were mailed to every SLV resident, providing informational hikes led by a wide variety of experts -- including “auto-tours” for disabled individuals, producing a set of informational photo displays still in use, and presenting a series of in-depth workshops and forums that brought up-to-the-minute information on significant environmental topics to hundreds of attendees.

Tai wrote a series of successful grant proposals to fund the Watershed Festival of Events and the brochures, including one for $33,000 from the State Department of Fish and Game, and others from the Cultural Council, the Santa Cruz County Fish and Game Commission, and the SLV Water District.

Using her understanding of PR and media, and her talent for writing and production, Tai designed the series of four brochures that were mailed to every resident. The brochures included the San Lorenzo Watershed, A Homeowner’s Guide to Septic Systems, Why Erosion Control Is Important, and Non-point Source Pollution. These brochures have been updated under her guidance, and are still being distributed by the VWC and other regional environmental organizations.

Tai has been active on the VWC’s Environmental Committee, and taken a leadership role in many of its projects, for over 12 years. She has helped staff the sign-in/weigh-in tables at the River & Road Clean up for the past ten years, helped with the information booth at Earth Day in Santa Cruz in previous years, and has researched and composed letters on important issues for the Committee, including arguments against methyl iodide, land use issues and watershed protection.

Tai helped initiate and produce the annual “Environmental Update” community meeting, where our State Assembly Member comes to Felton Community Hall to provide an update on environmental legislation and State issues that impact our region.

Last year Tai designed a cartoon leaflet to remind smokers to keep their cigarette butts out of the streets and off the ground so they won’t end up in the waterways poisoning wildlife, for The Butt Stops Here, the Environmental Committee’s on-going effort to reduce cigarette butt pollution.

A couple years ago Tai was moved by a presentation by Dr. Kerry Kreiger, founder of Save The Frogs, that the Environmental Committee sponsored at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. Tai became involved in Save the Frogs, and is now serving on its Board of Directors as Treasurer. Last September she put on a major fundraiser – a Frog Art Show featuring 250 pieces of art, 60 of which Tai personally mounted and framed.

The environment has not been Tai’s only focus. Music, and its importance to people of all ages, has also benefited. Tai was Director of the Young At Heart Project in 2008 and 2009, managing the non-profit organization and raising funds to provide musicians to perform at local convalescent hospitals and senior care facilities, at no cost to the facilities. Thousands of seniors have been diverted and entertained through this program.

Tai was co-producer on a major fundraiser for music and musicians in Santa Cruz County, putting in many dozens of hours and raising thousands of dollars. This was in April, 2011. Tai brought a showing of the extraordinary documentary, “Legends of the Canyon: Music and Magic of 1960’s Laurel Canyon,” to raise funds for the Digital Media Factory. She brought Henry Diltz, the photographer whose images are featured in the film, along with his narration, to the delight of attendees at the sold-out event.

Most recently, Tai joined the Redwood Mountain Faire Steering Committee, undertaking the management of the Meadow and Creekside Stages, and coordinating the logistics for the 21 bands’ performances at the Faire, for each of the past two years. Tai handled the task of renting and arranging for installation of the stages, as well as contracting for sound techs and equipment. She then brought together and managed the large backstage crew that assured the 21 bands, and all their equipment, could perform efficiently, helping make the Faire an enormous success.

Tai is being honored with the Hammer-Marcum Award because she believes in the importance of community education and participation to protect and enhance the environment, and has actively worked for that here for our beautiful watershed. She is committed to working in support of non-profit organizations so that they may provide special services to the community. And, she is being honored for her belief that creating ways for us all to understand and honor the environment, and providing opportunities to share and support music and musicians, works wonders for people and makes our community a better place to be.

(Tai was found dead in her Felton home on Tuesday Dec 15th, her birthday.  Cause of death has not been determined.)

Sunday, December 13, 2015

C4 At Crossroads as They Meet to Plan Extended Term

Following last week’s Board of Supervisors unanimous agreement to give the group a 6 month extension, the 13 appointees on the Santa Cruz County Cannabis Cultivation Choices Committee (C4) will meet on Tuesday to begin planning their future.  The Committee will also expand their focus beyond cultivation to other facets of the business of medical cannabis in Santa Cruz County like processing, distribution, transport, testing and licensing.


The C4 had previously discussed completing recommendations regarding cultivation by March before addressing the wider range of issues that will need to be resolved before the County begins issuing licenses as early as June.


Before getting to their 2016 calendar however they will take up the draft ordinance they voted to support just days before it went before the BOS.


The C4 got their first look at the new draft ordinance, along with everyone else, on Thursday afternoon Dec 3rd.  After receiving a walk through of the major elements the group voted to withdraw their previously agreed upon recommendations in favor of the proposed Chapter 7.128.


Many of the C4 members expressed reservations about some of the elements and restrictions in the draft but were offered assurances that this was only a “foundation” or “framework” and will need lots of finishing work.  Chief Assistant County Counsel Jason Heath said he expects  “a substantial amount of time will be required to implement” the program.


Board of Supervisors Take Historic Action - Move From Ban to Licensing in Less Than 9 Months


With their unanimous vote, accepting the draft ordinance “in concept”,  the Board of Supervisors took the first step toward establishing a regulated commercial medical cannabis market in the County. The new ordinance creates a “Licensing Official” empowered to approve or deny applications and issue or revoke licenses.  The draft ordinance assumes applications for a 2016 license will be accepted beginning in June but no later than September 30th.


The program is to be funded by application and licensing fees.  Each license will be for one year only and a “provisional license” may be granted to existing cultivators while their application is considered.


Most of the restrictions in the current ordinance (7.126) were carried into the new chapter along with some new ones.  Two restrictions which the C4 was going to recommend be eliminated from the current (7.126) ordinance: the 99 plant count and the requirement of ties to local dispensaries were eliminated in the new draft but will remain in the current ordinance (7.126).


Saying that some level of consistency should be maintained during the transition to licensing, County Counsel wants the current ordinance to remain in place.


C4 Gives, Gets Lots of Love


After the presentation of the proposed draft ordinance the Board heard from Eric Olsen, the consultant hired by the County to facilitate the work of the C4.  He gave a powerpoint presentation describing the Committee’s work to date and their consensus building process.


He thanked the Board for creating the Committee and urged an extension to continue their work.


Committee member Shebreh Kalantari Johnson who represents the Community Prevention Partners (CPP) - a countywide coalition that is dedicated to promoting health and well being and enhancing youth and community safety through sustainable alcohol and drug prevention efforts - spoke next.


Johnson noted that the Committee “adopted a ‘perspectivist’ framework, that allowed us to move from our more narrow definitions of community to a broader and inclusive one...to include patients, young people, neighbors, wildlife, natural environment, members of the industry, and more.”.


She said, “Our desire for the well being of each of these components, brings us together and inspires us to continue our work on behalf of the Board.”


“You have put your trust in us, to guide our community in developing realistic, safe, and efficient Cannabis regulations.  As we have discovered that each of us at C4 cares deeply about maintaining a healthy, thriving Santa Cruz County, and that our group is guided by values such as justice and compassion, your trust is well placed.”


She asked all the C4 members and staff to stand and be recognized, saying “We support County Counsel’s recommendations for an initial licensing scheme and we are confident that with more time we will deliver a comprehensive set of recommendations that are realistic, safe, efficient, and will benefit the entire community.”


Committee member D’Angelo Carmine “Cricket” Roberto spoke next.  He represents the group Responsible Cultivation Santa Cruz (RCSC) one of five cannabis business sector organizations with seats on the Committee.  


He also spoke about the shared vision among the C4: “We all believe that protecting our youth, our neighborhoods, and our environment are as equally important as providing an adequate supply of medical cannabis to qualified patients.”


Saying that the C4 has been  “a great catalyst for the community at large to discuss the challenges our county faces”  Roberto dismissed what he said was  “the perceived threat of corporations flooding into Santa Cruz buying land to set up shop (as) unrealistic to their bottom line. Quality over quantity should be how we remain distinct.”


He said good regulations would establish the appropriate limits on any potential abuses.


Both Johnson and Roberto spoke about the value and importance of trust, and Roberto said that  
“Trust is not a one way street but rather an intersection where the potential for disaster exists along with the potential for an elegant display of cooperation.”


He added, “Not one point of view is more or less important than the other – they must co-exist. Every voice in this conversation is valuable.”


He ended by inviting the County Counsel and the Supervisors to join with the C4 “to create a stable and sustainable example of a functioning community where our shared values are revered throughout the state of California and beyond.”


Over two dozen members of the public, including other members of the C4, then shared their support or concerns before Supervisor Zach Friend offered a motion to accept the recommendations, extend the term of the C4 through June and approve the draft ordinance in concept.


Friend said that we are at a “significant time of opportunity to establish a collective good”  He praised the work of the C4 as a great example of community participation.


Supervisor John Leopold seconded the motion and also heaped praise on the C4 for taking up the issue after the Board’s “failed attempt” to reach consensus.


Supervisor Bruce McPherson indicated his support for the draft ordinance saying it provided both “local control and flexibility”.


Supervisor Ryan Coonerty also expressed his gratitude for the work of the C4 but cautioned them saying “Be careful when politicians praise your work.  It usually means they expect a lot more.”  


Coonerty also mentioned he was glad to see the State had chosen to treat cannabis as an agricultural crop and that he was looking forward to recommendations on the other pieces of the supply chain.


After Board Chair Greg Caput joined the chorus of praise for the work of the C4, noting that he had heard from many complimenting individuals on the C4 and that he understood they had put in in excess of 100 hours working to date. He said this was not his number one priority but that he was prepared to “go along for now.”


He expressed concern for restrictions on the possession of firearms, saying that raised “second amendment issues” with him.


The vote was called and all five Supervisors voiced support.





Saturday, December 5, 2015

County Counsel Commits Grand Theft, Steals C4 Thunder, Key Recommendations

Members of the Santa Cruz County Cannabis Cultivation Choices Committee met Thursday afternoon in the Board chambers in what was supposed to be a final dress rehearsal for their presentation of preliminary recommendations to the Supervisors on Tuesday. Instead, County Counsel Dana McRae presented a proposed a new chapter to the existing ordinance that would make Santa Cruz one of the first counties in the State to develop a local license for commercial cultivation.


The C4 had come to agreement earlier that the county should permit commercial activity but had struggled with specific language around size and location.  They were set to offer recommendations that the Board develop an interim license allowing commercial grows of up to 100 square feet on parcels of at least five acres and to eliminate the restriction that sellers be tied to local dispensaries and drop the 99 plant cap on all grows.


McRae said her office was paying attention to the views being expressed by the Committee. Specifically the switch from plant count to canopy size and lifting the restriction on “in county only” sales were included into the new rules.
  
Before walking the committee through the 14 page ordinance, Chief Assistant County Counsel Jason Heath stressed  that the proposal should be seen as the “foundation and framing of a building” that still needs finishing touches and could be built upon in the future to add more “floors” to address additional licensing categories and concerns.


The new chapter to the County Code would create a “Medical Cannabis Cultivation Licensing Program” (MCCLP) to be administered by a Licensing Officer appointed by and reporting to the County Administrative Officer.


Two categories of commercial cannabis cultivation would be created for the unincorporated areas of the county:  A “Cottage Garden License” for up to 200 square feet of canopy and a “Level One Cultivator License” for up to 500 square feet of canopy.  


A long list of restrictions would govern the issuance of both licenses and fees charged for applications and licenses would be used to fund and enforce the MCCLP.


McRae and Heath both expressed appreciation for the work of the C4 and indicated they would support an extension of their term to allow the group to consider more policy recommendations regarding other aspects of the business like larger indoor grows, manufacturing, testing and distribution.  


After the presentation the C4 voted unanimous support for the new ordinance as a “transitional step” to comply with the new State regulations while reserving the right to offer amendments and new language to encourage compliance and deal with larger commercial activities.

(The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to take up the matter at 1:30 on Tuesday, December 8.  To comment for the public record you can use the online form by clicking the envelope next to item #59 on the Board Agenda before 8:30am on Tuesday.)

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors Will Consider Licensing Cannabis Cultivation

The 13 member panel appointed in August by the Board of Supervisors to come up with recommendations on regulations for medical cannabis cultivation will propose that the county drop the current 99 plant count restriction and eliminate the requirement that growers have a direct connection with one of the 13 local dispensaries.  The Santa Cruz County Cannabis Cultivation Choices Committee (C4) will also recommend adoption of an ordinance establishing a license for small scale commercial grows no larger than 100 sq ft throughout the county with a variety of restrictions.  

They will also ask the Board to extend their term for 6 months so that they can develop additional recommendations relative to the licensing process for larger scale operations as well as manufacturing, testing, distribution and retail sales..  

The BOS will take up the matter at their regular meeting on Tuesday Dec. 8.

Current county rules prohibit the cultivation of cannabis except for personal use with a medical recommendation and provides “limited immunity” to those growing for sale in one of the 13 county dispensaries.  In both cases growers were limited to no more than 99 plants.

In March the Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to effectively ban all commercial grows.  A citizen’s referendum, spearheaded by a coalition of medical cannabis advocates, prevented that ordinance from taking effect and the Board subsequently repealed it.  Since that time, a number of local growers who believed they were operating in compliance with the previous - now current - ordinance have been arrested or have seen their crops destroyed by Sheriff’s deputies.

The C4 began meeting in September with a goal of developing recommendations to create a new county ordinance that dealt with the environmental and neighborhood concerns that led to the ban while ensuring safe access to medical cannabis for county residents.  

In the meantime the State of California adopted the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA) that creates a comprehensive licensing scheme to regulate a commercial medical cannabis market from seed to sale.  

Local jurisdictions throughout California face a March 1st deadline to either expressly prohibit or regulate cannabis cultivation within their borders or the state becomes the sole licensing authority for that jurisdiction. Millions of dollars in potential revenue from licensing fees and local taxes could be at stake.  

Prior to the adoption of MMRSA, local law enforcement could seek prosecution of commercial growers under state laws even if a local jurisdiction had more permissive ordinances. If the board accepts the recommendations it will provide local growers, for the first time, the ability to operate legally if they are otherwise in compliance with state and local laws.  

Friday, November 20, 2015

Supervisor McPherson's Next "Valley Voices" Mtg Dec 2 to Focus on Hwy 17

Via Supervisor McPherson's office:



 "In 2014, there were 583 collisions with 171 injuries and three deaths on Highway 17. With that in mind,  Caltrans representatives have asked for community input for the Highway 17 “Access Management Plan” as they plan improvements for the next 25 years. The  long-range plan will have recommendations to improve access, mobility and safety needs of the highway corridor.  
 



The recommendations are intended to help reduce conflict points that interrupt traffic flow, causing collisions.. The effort is intended to make improvements over the next several decades, during which time traffic on the corridor is expected to increase from the approximate 54,500 current daily drivers – many of them from the San Lorenzo Valley and Scotts Valley -- to 75,000.



The management plan focuses on the 7 mile stretch from Summit Road to Granite Creek Road in Scotts Valley, where there are 59 driveways and turnoffs.
 



Please join Fifth District Supervisor Bruce McPherson for the next Valley Voices/Highway 17 Access workshop.
 
When:  7 to 8:30 p.m.,  Wednesday, Dec. 2
Where: Scotts Valley Senior Center, 370 Kings Village Road, Scotts Valley
To comment: WWW.CA-Hwy-17amp.org."




Thursday, November 19, 2015

Politics of Pot Meeting Draws Large Crowd in Ben Lomond

Cooperation, Collaboration and Community Action Favored By Most

As many as 200 people came out for a public meeting in Ben Lomond Wednesday night to share their opinions and learn about new and proposed regulations around medicinal cannabis particularly as they relate to the Santa Cruz Mountains and the County in general.


The meeting began with a presentation about the new California law “The Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act” (MMRSA) from Santa Cruz attorney Sasha Brodsky and Monterey film maker and executive director of the Monterey NORML, Ryan Munevar.  


A large graphic demonstrated the complexity of the new law; over a dozen types of licenses will be issued by the state, some as early as this spring*.  A variety of different state agencies will play a role in creating the rules licensees will be subject to and a Chief of the new Bureau of Medical Marijuana is being sought who will coordinate the players with a goal to be up and running by no later than Jan 2018.


The audience next heard from three members of the Santa Cruz County Cannabis Cultivation Choices Committee (C4).  This 13 member group was created by the Board of Supervisors
to come up with policy recommendations after the Board chose to rescind their most recent cannabis ordinance and revert to the previous, so called “limited immunity” rules.  


That move was the result of a citizen’s referendum calling for approval by the voters to the complete ban the Supervisors had passed 3-2 in March.


Eric Hammer, appointed to represent the 5th District by Supervisor Bruce McPherson, was first up and he outlined many of the concerns heard over the last 10 weeks of meetings.  He spoke to the need for the community to come together behind reasonable regulations so the County would retain control over how the burgeoning industry would be allowed to develop in Santa Cruz. He stressed the importance of ensuring that the environment be protected and quality of life issues addressed.
 
He urged the audience to express their opinions both to the committee and directly to McPherson and other Supervisors who will hold a first reading of a proposed ordinance on Dec 8th.


Ben Lomond mom, educator, and self described “homesteader” Kim Sammet of SCM2, one of the five cannabis advocacy organizations represented on the C4, spoke about the progress the committee has made.  While stressing that no final recommendations have yet been made, she said there was strong consensus against a ban and for some sort of licensing scheme.  She also said the group was unanimous in their support for dropping the plant count in favor of a grow site size measure to determine what would be permitted on various parcels.  She also expressed confidence that the committee would recommend lifting the restriction that prevented sale outside of the county.


Pat Malo a co-founder of the Cannabis Advocates Alliance and their representative on the C4, spoke about the need to protect the unique quality of the cannabis culture in Santa Cruz.  He stressed how important it is that locals stay connected and work together to leverage the value of the Santa Cruz “brand” which he said was a “world leader” in research and cultivation and well respected for the quality of the medicine produced here.  He saluted the pioneers in the collective movement like WAMM and The Veterans Alliance as well as the many smaller groups who have organized to supply medical cannabis to their member patients.


Robert Zaremba a Boulder Creek businessman and co founder of SCM2 was the last presenter and he also spoke about the need to get organized and work together in order to be able to compete with other counties who will likely permit much larger scale operations than anything contemplated in Santa Cruz.  He invited anyone interested to reach out to the SCM2 for advice on best practices.


At that point the audience was invited to offer their opinions  For the next hour a steady stream stepped up to the microphone and offered a wide range of suggestions. Many shared their concerns and personal experiences all of which were recorded for presentation later to the C4.

After everyone who wanted had an opportunity to speak, moderator Jim Coffis thanked them and invited them to stay, mingle and speak personally with any of the 6 members of the C4 plus the two consultants to the committee who were in attendance. Many took him up and small conversations took place throughout the room, some even continued outside after the hall was emptied.

The meeting was civil and respectful throughout. One member of the audience expressed surprise that there were not more younger people in attendance.