County Enforcement or County Stunt?

By Jeff Giordano   |   June 10, 2021

I’m loving what I’m seeing on Coast Village Road as most of us pull ourselves from our cocoons — an inside table at Lucky’s, things really are getting “normal.” It’s a spring like no other and I can’t wait to become fully engaged in our community because, frankly, it needs as much help as we can provide.

As most know, I’m a reasonable cannabis guy, a live-and-let-live “raging centrist” who believes every industry should respect our community. Especially, our coastal zone, the gently rolling hills of our second district (cannabis will be grown there) and wine country which I love. I don’t mind that our $1.3B+ county makes just $20M (gross!) in tax revenue, while single growers are valued at $567M. No, I expect most pols are not business folks (or worse); so, yes, we got fleeced in a way no other county did.

I’m not sure if you saw it, but June’s Wine Spectator features us on the cover — not for our wine, but for how compared to Napa and Sonoma we screwed it up (“disastrous”) by allowing 80-acre open pot farms. As the Grand Jury said, wine is 80% olfactory and these two industries can’t co-exist without deep oversight. In Napa, cannabis is banned, but here there will be 1,761 acres of cannabis.

A new cannabis-twist came on May 21 when our supervisor-appointed County Counsel Michael Ghizzoni initiated his very first enforcement action against a greenhouse enclosed cannabis grower. A nuisance, as alleged in the complaint (21CV02021), is easy to define: “a serious threat to the general health, safety, and welfare of … residents and their peaceable and safe enjoyment of properties.” 

We know about the odor, the volatile organic compounds, the vapor phase chemicals, the increased ground level ozone, and apparently so too does the county.

Concerning this second Cause of Action, the facts are simple: “The County … has received several complaints in the past two years concerning cannabis odor.”

So, if odor complaints can trigger a nuisance action — they can and/or should — then why wait years for our first enforcement suit? And, more importantly, why this particular grower?  

Sure, they don’t have an annual business license (which are county discretionary), but as it relates to the nuisance itself — they are no different than anyone else and, indeed, there are other grows with more complaints. And how about North County’s open grows? If this small, enclosed grow is a nuisance, then isn’t every open grow a nuisance as well?

Sorry, these are trick questions. This county created an untenable ordinance, written by lobbyists and now they have a dilemma: If one grow is a nuisance, then the thousands of permits and hundreds of grows are together a countywide public nuisance.

This enforcement action is a stunt, plain and simple. The county will claim they are “enforcing” one acre at a time and other growers will claim, “see, they are the bad ones.” But, sorry, once VOC’s move beyond their property line, they are all “bad.”

The county’s apparatchiks are hard at work spinning but don’t be fooled — this is a public nuisance, and they have a legal obligation to abate it. Get involved, write our CEO, Ms. Mona Miyasato, and start making some noise — it’s never too late for change.


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