Outdoor Cannabis Cultivation; UPC17-0081


SCH Number
Public Agency
Sonoma County
Document Title
Outdoor Cannabis Cultivation; UPC17-0081
Document Type
NOE - Notice of Exemption
Document Description
Request for a limited term, conditional Use Permit including 10,000 square feet of outdoor cannabis cultivation, accessory cannabis propagation, and self-distribution of site-grown cannabis on a 25.51-acre parcel. This permit would allow for up to two (2} full-time and up to (2} seasonal employees to serve the cultivation site. The site is currently operating under the County's Penalty Relief Program.

Contact Information

Ken Compton
Agency Name
Permit Sonoma
Job Title
Planner II
Contact Types
Lead/Public Agency



Notice of Exemption

Exempt Status
Categorical Exemption
Type, Section or Code
Categorical Exemption. Section 15301 Existing Facilities and Section 15304 Minor Alterations to Land.
Reasons for Exemption
The proposed project is categorically exempt from the provisions of the CEQA Guidelines pursuant to the Provisions of Title 14 of the California Administrative Code, Existing Facilities and 15304, Minor Alterations to Land as the project involves continued seasonal outdoor cultivation with negligible expansion (less than 400 square feet} on an area consisting of less than one percent ofthe project site. The use requires only minor improvements consisting of the installation of security fencing and would not involve the removal of vegetation or construction of new structures. The proposed project is located on a site designated as a groundwater availability of Class 4, which are areas characterized by low or variable groundwater yield. The project site was reviewed by O'Connor Environmental in a groundwater report dated June 11, 2018, which concluded that the project would not result in impacts to groundwater availability, offsite wells, or streamflow levels in nearby Porter Creek, a USGS designated blue line stream. The project would not result in impacts to groundwater due to the small sea le of the operation resulting in an estimated water demand of 1.15 acre-feet per year, which represents approximately 8% of estimated groundwater recharge and 5% of groundwater storage. Impacts to offsite wells is unlikely due to the substantial distance from the nearest well, measured at over 750 feet. Similarly, the project well is located over 1,100 feet from the nearest tributary to Porter Creek, which indicates project activity would be unlikely to cause interaction with surface water and depletion of streamflow. The proposed project is located in the State Responsibility Area (SRA} and designated as a High Fire Hazard Severity Zone by CalFire. Impacts resulting from wildfires are exacerbated by poor access that limits emergency response, activity that exposes substantial numbers of individuals to heightened fire risk, or additional impacts from installation of additiona I infrastructure to serve the project. The proposed project is an outdoor cannabis cultivation, which is a commercia I operation that is similar to agricultura I uses as it involves the seasonaI planting and harvesting of plants directly in the ground or in raised containers. The project site is accessed via Sweetwater Springs Rd, which is a County maintained road with varying width and connects to two lane roads (Armstrong Woods Rd to the west and Westside Rd to the east}. Further, the project would not exacerbate evacuation in the area as it would include a limited number of employees, with a maximum of two full-time employees and up to two additional seasonal employees to assist during peak harvest season, which is generally a period of about four weeks between the months of late August to early October. As discussed, the project does not propose any structures to serve the operation and existing infrastructure is present on the site including private access driveway and water tanks. Therefore, the project would not generate an increased risk of fire through its operation as an agricultural activity, subject a substantial number of onsite or offsite individuals to exacerbated fire risks by obstructing access for evacuation, or construct additional structures or install additional infrastructure to serve the operation. The location of the proposed project in a Class 4 groundwater area and High Fire Hazard Severity Zone does not create an unusua I circumstance because this type of agricultura I activity in these areas is common in the County and the low impact ofthe activity, even in these areas, will not have a significant effect on the environment for the reasons described above. Given the entirety ofthe record and substantial evidence provided, no exceptions listed under CEQA Section 15300.2 apply.
County Clerk


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