Pubdate: Thu, 15 Jan 2015
Source: Appeal-Democrat (Marysville, CA)
Copyright: 2015 Appeal-Democrat
Author: Eric Vodden


Whatever supervisors do to change Yuba County's medical marijuana 
cultivation ordinance, an estimated $1 million would be needed to 
boost enforcement, the county's top administrator said.

County Administrator Robert Bendorf provided the informal cost 
estimate during the latest discussion before county supervisors on 
tightening up the ordinance. Supervisors have emphasized that 
increased enforcement needs to go hand-in-hand with a more 
restrictive marijuana growing ordinance.

"Unfortunately, using that much for enforcement will have to come 
from somewhere else," Bendorf said. "There is a very limited pot we 
can draw from without it having an effect elsewhere."

More than 350 people crowded into the board chambers Tuesday in a 
session that included applause, booing, finger-pointing and fist shaking.

Thirty-two people spoke during the session that lasted just under three hours.

Bendorf said Wednesday the $1 million estimate comes from meeting 
with departments involved in 215 criminal or civil compliance checks 
over the past year. The bulk of the cost would be for additional 
sheriff's department personnel, though there would also be a need for 
increases in code enforcement and the district attorney's office, he said.

"This is a minimum level of additional resources needed on top of 
what they already have," Bendorf said.

Sheriff Steve Durfor said during the meeting his department does not 
have the resources to monitor large marijuana grows. "We have a long 
list of large grow sites that clearly need to be visited," Durfor 
said. "We don't have the ability to do that."

In addition, Yuba County's code enforcement division has only three 
enforcement officers for the entire county. Only one of those is 
assigned to look into complaints of possible marijuana cultivation violations.

Supervisors on Tuesday directed staff to develop a draft ordinance 
along the lines of one used in Shasta County. While Yuba County 
allows 18 outdoor plants on an acre or less and as many as 99 on 20 
acres or more, the Shasta ordinance allows no outdoor grows and a 
dozen indoor plants.

Also being looked at is a requirement that growers register with the 
county and pay an annual fee.

Supervisors will consider the draft at 3 p.m. Feb. 10.

Supervisor Mary Jane Griego acknowledged the board is facing a tough 
issue, in effect penalizing those who comply with the ordinance while 
trying to stop those who grow commercially.

"I have compassion for the medical marijuana user, but there has to 
be room for a middle ground," she said.

Some of those supporting a more restrictive ordinance wore Families 
Against Cannabis Trafficking (FACT) badges. They complained of 
alleged criminal activity and odors stemming from marijuana grows.

"Three years ago things started to go downhill," said Gene Weckman of 
the increasing number of grows. "It started going down and we have 
seen it go down and down and down.

"I don't care whether anybody has marijuana in their home, but not 
when they are infringing on my rights."

Some supporting the existing ordinance talked about the possibility 
of a voter referendum or seeking a recall election against supervisors.

Medical marijuana patient Chris Ashe told the board that increased 
enforcement should be the focus.

"Let people register," he said. "Let people have their gardens in a 
regulatory way. There are people doing things responsibly, so let 
them do things responsibly.

"Don't create another class of criminal."


$115K in fines upheld by board

Nearly $115,000 in fines stemming from an allegedly illegal Yuba 
County foothills marijuana grow were upheld Tuesday by the Board of 

Supervisors unanimously assessed the fine on property owner Karen 
Ungles Robins and cultivator Gary McQuary for growing 72 marijuana 
plants without a required residence on Clark Ranch Way, Dobbins. The 
county's ordinance requires a home occupied by the grower be located 
on any parcels where outdoor cultivation is taking place.

Robins and McQuary were not challenging whether the garden 
constituted a nuisance, but only the amount of the fine. Along with 
violating the ordinance related to residential structures, they also 
were accused of having unpermitted accessory structures on the 
property and illegal occupancy of a travel trailer.

The fine amounted to $100 a day per plant for each violation until 
the plants were removed. The notice of violation was served last July 
29 and the plants were removed Aug. 12.

Along with upholding the fine, supervisors approved recording an 
abatement lien on the property.

While Robins and McQuary had obtaining a building permit for the 
residence, the ordinance requires it to be built and occupied before 
marijuana growing can occur.

The hearing came just before supervisors held a workshop on a 
proposal to tighten restrictions on the county's existing ordinance.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom