Questionnaire to Candidates for Sonoma County Boardof Supervisors

Originally printed in:
Questionnaire emailed Dec 15, 2023 to Candidates for Sonoma County Board of Supervisors
Link to original article

January 13, 2024

Distriict #1 candidate responses (Hermosillo and Mathieu) can be found at the "link to original article" above, as well as below.

Questionnaire to Candidates for Sonoma County Boardof Supervisors

December 15, 2023

 The Neighborhood Coalition, a Sonoma County all-volunteer grassroots citizens group, advocates for sustainable, environmentally sound, andneighborhood-compatible cannabis policies in Sonoma County.  We are asking each candidate for supervisorto answer the following questions which we will post on our web site in theirentirety to inform voters.  Pleaseprovide your written response, preferably in Word, by January 8, 2024 to


1.         Cannabis and hemp odor is due toterpenes, including significant amounts of beta-myrcene, a chemical recognized ascarcinogenic by the federal National ToxicologyProgram (aninter-agency program run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)and California’s Office of EnvironmentalHealth Hazard Assessment. Do you think Sonoma County should approvepermits for commercial cultivations that expose residents in their homes tonoxious odors, including carcinogens, by a business that Sonoma County permits?Would you require scientific proof of prevention of such chemicals fromreaching neighbors’ parcels before approving any cannabis permit?

District 1 Candidates responses:

Hermosillo: I do believe that the County bears some responsibility to provide public health information to residents which includes cannabis, cannabis abuse, and second-hand smoke. The County currently provides public health information on this. In addition, I also support ongoing work by our Health Department to stay current with health issues as new studies are reported and report those studies to the public. I also believe that it’s important for supervisors to meet with stakeholders to continue to assess the impacts public health concerns have on our community. I have concerns about banning Cannabis knowing that many constituents rely on cannabis for medical purposes. I am optimistic that the EIR will take a close look at the health impacts cannabis activities have on the public and make recommendations to the Board of Supervisors on how to make cannabis activities compatible with our neighborhoods. I do not believe either a farmer’s cannabis farm or a consumer’s cannabis smoke should ever affect the public and our neighborhoods.

Mathieu: N0. Permits that allow residents to be endangered should not be allowed. I would not require proof of toxins because we already know proof of them exists.

2.         The supervisors recently banned sales of certaintobacco productsin the unincorporated area. The journal Radiology reported that smoking cannabis can be more harmful tohealth than smoking tobacco. The Journal of the AmericanMedical Associationfound that second-hand cannabis smoke has much higher concentrations of toxins,carcinogens, and particulate matter than tobacco smoke. The American Geriatrics Society reports a 1,800% increase inthe rate of cannabis-related trips to the emergency department among Californiaadults ages 65 and older from 2005 to 2019. The Press Democrat reported that the nation’spoison control centers had more than 7,000 cases of children eating marijuanaedibles between 2017 and 2021, climbing from about 200 to more than 3000 peryear. Do you think county officials should warn cannabis users and thepublic of the health dangers?  Do youbelieve the County should continue to support and encourage cannabis operationsconsidering these clear and scientifically-proven dangers?

District 1 Candidates responses:

Hermosillo: I do not believe that residents should have to smell cannabis in their homes. I have been tracking the progress of the County’s EIR, and understand increased setbacks are being discussed. It’s my understanding that the County has hired Ascent Environmental Group and I look forward to their report to the County. I understand that these consultants will be studying the effect of cannabis odor and making recommendations to the board related to setbacks and odors.

Mathieu: Warnings of health dangers from cannabis is the job of the FDA. It is also the duty of the county to protect its citzens and residents, just as we warn and protect people from floods, fires, and accidents. If the warnings are ignored from county residents then we have no other alternative than to discontinue support of these operations.

3.         Voters approvedMeasure A (Cannabis Business Tax) in 2016 with a rate structure that projecteda revenue windfall “to fund essential county services” including “publicsafety, fire, health, housing, roads, and environmental protection.” In 2022 the supervisors cut thosetaxes in response to drastically reduced crop value caused by oversupply inCalifornia. The County consultant’s 2022 report forecasts significant declinesin tax revenue from cannabis (HdL,Fiscal Analysis of the Commercial Cannabis Cultivation Industry).  The Auditor/Controller reported the newstructure generates insufficient tax revenue to pay for the cannabis program andsoon general funds will be making up the shortfall.  Do you think these general funds from propertyand sales taxes should subsidize the cannabis industry?

District 1 Candidates responses:

Hermosillo: My understanding as it relates to cannabis taxes is that the Board of Supervisors plan to revisit this soon. I look forward to this conversation, and will be watching it closely. I believe all industries should pay their fair share, and taxes/fees should cover the cost of these programs. In my opinion, general funds should not be used to subsidize any industry.

Mathieu: No. The cannabis industry and business, should be run as a business and support itself. It should be like any other business, it either succeeds or fails, a lot of other businesses fail, and receive no support.

4.         Cannabisretailers have been targets for armed robberies in cities throughout the BayArea, including SantaRosa. Permit Sonoma is considering allowing cannabis retail sales and events atgrow sites in rural neighborhoods where law enforcement is essentiallynon-existent.  Do you support allowingretail activity at such locations?  Ifso, how do you propose to protect the innocent neighbors?

District 1 Candidates responses:

Hermosillo: I share your concern about safety. It is my understanding that cannabis farms and dispensaries are required to have CCTV and alarm systems. I support this requirement. I also believe that the EIR and County Staff are taking a close look at cannabis retail in Ag land as it relates to security and safety. And should allowing this retail in Ag land be the direction of the Board, I would advocate that these operations have robust security in place.

Mathieu: I definitely do not support retail actiivity in rural areas. I would like to see us rejuvenate some of the past zoning laws and separate residential zones from commercial zones.

5.         Cannabis Cultivationis recognized as a water intense crop (3 to 6 times more than grapes, dependingon the study). We recently experienced the worst drought in a millennium.  Significant water sources like Potter Dam arenow in question, the County groundwater well management plan is legallychallenged as inadequate, new housing required by the state is increasingdemands, and Sonoma County has not updated its water plan in over two decades. Recently30% of Sonoma cannabis growers applied for drought relief. In the face ofnon-negotiable and necessary demands for water and the uncertainties of waterresources, does it make sense to permit and expand the growth of  cannabis and, secondarily, to subsidize itsvoracious appetite for water?

District 1 Candidates responses:

Hermosillo: I support the monitoring of wells used for cannabis farms. I understand that these wells are currently monitored, and that the County has limited farms to certain quantities of water based on hydrological studies. I support this. I also know that the County has not prioritized investing in our water infrastructure for decades, and our community’s water use has greatly increased. Water whether it is traditional Ag, new homes, or cannabis, is our most precious resource and I am working to prioritize water conservation and our aging infrastructure. In addition, I am currently working with Sonoma Water and our federal representative to ensure that Sonoma County won’t be left behind when Potter Valley Dam is decommissioned. It is also my understanding that the EIR will be taking a close look at cannabis and water use as well.

Mathieu: No, it does not make much sense as industry, business, and population grow, so does the need for water. I believe we have not seriously addressed the need for water and I propose we implement water storage features that will maintain and sustain our future. Water is a serious issue, now and in the future and I have ideas in this regard.

6.         Neighborhoodcompatibility has been a major stumbling block in the current cannabis ordinanceand an impetus for an environmental impact report. The Project Description ofthe cannabis scoping document (February 6, 2023) identified neighborhood compatibilityrequirement as a key element.  Assumingyou support neighborhood protections, what specifically would you propose toprotect individual rural residences?

District 1 Candidates responses:

Hermosillo: When I ran Valley of the Moon Teen Center, a dispensary opened without any notice just down the street from the teen center. I was a key opponent of that dispensary to protect the neighborhood and the kids walking to the teen center. I believe appropriate setbacks are vital and necessary and I believe community input is essential. I am currently meeting with rural residents/stakeholders to hear about their priorities and concerns regarding cannabis cultivation. As part of this outreach, I would like to extend an invitation to discuss your group’s concerns with me.

Mathieu: I do support neighborhood protection, and I would like to propose that rural retail dispensaries maintain daytime hours (9-5) and closing before the problem hours or when families return home. This, of course, would be just a start to address a problem.

7.          Countyresidents have been traumatized from the many recent fires. The 2023 StateMinimum Fire Safe Regulations prohibit new development on narrow or longdead-end roads. Will you limit cannabis development to projects that meetthe state regulations for good road access and that provide physical publicservices and infrastructure, including public safety, good access and responsetimes, water and wastewater management systems, and drainage that are availablein time to serve the development?

District 1 Candidates responses:

Hermosillo: I believe that all cannabis farms should comply with State law as it relates to access and egress, just as they should conform to County regulations related to this. Cannabis cultivation should be limited to appropriately sited locations to ensure they operate under county and state laws. I was working on the front lines during all the fires and know firsthand that our roads posed significant safety concerns for residents as well as first responders. Public safety, emergency response times, and drainage concerns are all important and I will need to be addressed as part of the EIR. I will work to ensure that the EIR addresses these important safety concerns.

Mathieu: Yes, State regulations seem to change like night and day. I mentioned earlier that I would like to go back to past zoning laws. I will fight to support our police and fire agencies so that they may assist us and p us safe.