Ag odor and noise different?
At the Planning Commission (PC) and Board of Supervisors (BOS) I have recounted the story that upon arriving at our vineyard one of the grandkids while getting out of the car asked: “Granddad why does the vineyard smell like pepperoni?” The smell was of course cannabis. Whether it was from a legal grow, bad actor or homeowner’s backyard stash was unknown.
It seems ironic that the proposed winery ordinance, for an industry that sells smell, had an odor abatement requirement. Surprisingly, the cannabis ordinance had no odor abatement requirement for an industry that everyone agrees can stink.
The PC is holding marathon workshops to craft recommendations for amendments to the cannabis ordinance. At the PC session on Feb. 5, there was a suggestion for a requirement that cannabis odor stop at the property line.
While this may sound good, it is a dangerous precedent for farmers. Our vineyard is on the north side of Highway 246. Across the road from us are several hundred acres of farmland that for many years were planted to broccoli and brussel sprouts. Two or three times each year for five days or so when the broccoli or brussel sprouts were harvested, our vineyard smelled like broccoli or brussel sprouts. An aroma which some may like, but I find unpleasant.
That is the problem with odors - they are very individual. When young our granddaughter spent every spare moment at the horse stable. She invited my wife, Cathy, into the stable and said: “Grandma don’t you just love the smell?” Cathy said, “of course dear,” but later confided to me all she could smell was horse sweat and merde.
It is not a very big step from requiring cannabis odors to stop at the property line to requiring all farm odors to stop at the property line. I suggest farmers would be better served if we treated farm odors like we treat farm noise.
Some of us in the vineyard business use noisy wind machines for frost protection and air cannons during harvest to scare the birds. These noises don’t stop at the property line but do diminish with distance. Noise, like odor, can be measured at the property line and appropriately limited. The PC should establish a maximum measurable odor threshold which is realistic for responsible growers.
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Follow the money
We can all access official campaign contribution information by going online. It’s at SBCVote.com. When I did, this morning, it became clear that Joan Hartmann, our county supervisor, has received contributions from lots of average folks. Bruce Porter, however, is getting his contributions from a very small group, a handful, of wealthy donors who have been aligned with the oil industry.
What does this suggest? Joan Hartmann would continue to support the clean, renewable energy economy and jobs that we benefit from now. She's done this for years. This is our best future and she understands it well. Further, her re-election would not affect existing employment in the oil fields.
A Porter victory, however, could result in hundreds of new and dangerous oil wells. The effect of this would be few new jobs and greater threats to the county budget as we citizens would be paying to clean up oil spills and to repave roads after tens of thousands of additional annual trips by heavy oil trucks.
We have plenty of oil already. More than enough, in fact. So much that we even export it. We don’t need more forest fires and contaminated drinking water. What we need is an advocate for the good jobs in the safe energy fields. I'm voting for Joan Hartmann and ask you to consider doing the same.