Pubdate: Fri, 18 Jan 2013
Source: Record Searchlight (Redding, CA)
Copyright: 2013 Record Searchlight


If out-of-control marijuana growing is wrecking the quality of life in
rural Shasta County neighborhoods, as many residents complain, another
wheel-spinning committee will certainly not solve the problem.

Yet after hours of discussion among county officials and the public -
both for and against marijuana - a committee is exactly what the Board
of Supervisors decided to form this week.

Anyone who thinks more debate at this point will restore anyone's lost
quality of life is delusional. And if it costs the county 50 cents to
run and staff the committee - and it will be much more, thanks to
requirements to publicize meetings, keep minutes, etc. - it will be
money wasted instead of getting to the heart of the issue.

As Sheriff Tom Bosenko and Rick Simon, the county's assistant director
of resource management and head of code enforcement, agreed Tuesday,
there was widespread disregard of the existing county rules last year,
the first growing season since they took effect. Of complaints the
county was able to investigate, fully 85 percent of gardens broke the
rules somehow.

But the county cannot simply uproot plants that violate the county
code. Rather, it must cite the resident and allow for an appeal. But a
backlog in scheduling hearings and a simple shortage of qualified
hearing officers (a role played by lawyers on contract) delayed the
process so long that growers could harvest their plants before they'd
face any fine. And once the marijuana is cut down, the "nuisance"
along with any penalties are gone.

The county is already taking sensible steps to work faster, while
still following the law. It might not be enough. Zoning codes are
designed to control buildings, not annual crops, and the pace just
might never mesh - especially if growers can profit through simple

Still, the county must fix its own affairs. And it must devote
adequate resources to policing the code, a financial challenge for a
county that currently has one code-enforcement officer and a seriously
short-staffed Sheriff's Office. If it can manage that, we might find
out if the current ordinance works.

But however much a committee might earnestly debate the ideal balance
of a county ordinance, rogue operators looking for a quick buck will
laugh at the law unless the county can enforce it.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jo-D