Sonoma County officers are weighing proposals from two corporations vying to hold out a extremely anticipated environmental research of the native business hashish trade — with the ultimate product meant to assist underwrite modifications to the county’s troubled hashish ordinance.
The proposals on the desk come from Sacramento-based Ascent Environmental, which bid $623,238 for the mission, and Oakland-based Rincon Consultants Inc., which bid $456,158.
The Board of Supervisors dedicated to an environmental influence report final yr following years of sharp debate and criticism from these within the hashish trade and residents involved concerning the impacts of business cultivation.
“I hope it helps us in our resolution making and to be extra constant on a holistic stage as an alternative of creating numerous these selections individually,” stated Supervisor Chris Coursey, the board’s vice chair.
Neighbors have pushed for tighter restrictions on the scope and site of hashish farms, elevating considerations starting from water provide and odor to site visitors and safety.
Growers, nevertheless, stated their operations current restricted pressure on assets and level to investments in safety many have made above and past another crop. The county’s battle to ascertain a clear, comprehensive regulatory framework, growers stated, has hampered development of a local industry legalized by California voters 5 years in the past.
The interval for firms to bid on the mission ran from Could 20 to June 20. Workers from the planning division and County Administrator’s Workplace have already got recognized which firm to advocate to the board, stated Crystal Acker, supervising planner with Allow Sonoma.
Acker stated she couldn’t but identify the favored firm, nor disclose different particulars, as a result of the county was nonetheless negotiating the potential contract.
Officers are tentatively scheduled to current their suggestion to the board Sept. 27, stated Dan Virkstis, a county spokesperson.
Ascent Environmental estimated the mission would run by way of June 2024 if began in October 2022. The corporate’s earlier work features a hashish land-use ordinance for Yolo County, the same hashish research for Trinity County and a report on business hashish rules for Humboldt County, in line with Ascent’s proposal.
Rincon Consultants didn’t present projected dates in its proposal however did estimate it will take 12 to 14 months. The corporate has beforehand labored with Sonoma County in 2020 and 2021, when it dealt with an preliminary research of modifications to the county’s hashish ordinance and a subsequent, extra primary report to include these modifications.
Rincon’s earlier work additionally consists of an environmental influence report on indoor hashish cultivation for town of Santa Rosa. The corporate didn’t cite any earlier work with the scope of Sonoma County’s requested research.
The way forward for hashish cultivation grew to become a significant flashpoint over the previous two years as cannabis growers and neighbors clashed over the place and the way the county ought to permit cultivators to broaden their footprint exterior cities.
Growers have bristled at pushback from residents against hashish farms close by, who stated that with out main modifications, together with expedited allowing and decrease charges, they’ll be chased off or pressured again into the black market.
Throughout California, a lot of the trade, and particularly smaller, unbiased operators, has struggled as a glut of product drove down wholesale costs whereas layers of native and state taxes lower into income. Lawmakers handed the trade some aid earlier this summer time, because the state ended its cultivation on tax on growers and capped the excise tax at level of sale at 15% over the following three years.
In March, the Board of Supervisors slashed the tax paid by cannabis growers, forgoing greater than $1.6 million in tax income by way of mid-2023, when the subsidy is about to run out.
Entrenched opposition amongst many rural residents to looser guidelines guidelines for hashish cultivation pressured the board in May 2021 to commit to a broad study geared to help its method to governing the trade’s progress.
The county forged a large internet in its request for proposals that might deal with the wide selection of considerations aired within the yearslong debate.
“We’re principally searching for any data that’s obtainable to attempt to get a real understanding of what this system is at present costing, like staffing and administration charges, and what modifications to this system will value,” Acker stated.
The county can also be searching for an analysis of how the hashish program impacts candidates, Acker stated.
“Is it changing into so costly that nobody can afford to use?” she stated.
The county hopes these questions shall be answered in an financial report accompanying the environmental research.
A staff of 5 county employees members from Allow Sonoma and the administrator’s workplace reviewed the 2 proposals and scored every bid, Acker stated.
When evaluating the proposals, Acker stated, employees usually appears to be like for familiarity with Sonoma County, expertise coping with California’s advanced environmental legal guidelines, value and former expertise with comparable initiatives.
Earlier work historical past with the county could also be a think about deciding which proposal to simply accept, however the product isn’t, Acker stated.
“They need to be neutral based mostly on the proposal itself,” she stated.
“We wouldn’t say the work you probably did was superior or it wasn’t and take that under consideration,” Acker stated.
You may attain Workers Author Emma Murphy at 707-521-5228 or email@example.com. On Twitter @MurphReports.