The Kenwood Press
News: 03/15/2017

March 7 election results



Cannabis tax wins big

Measure A, a cannabis business tax in unincorporated Sonoma County, won by a large margin, 72.4 percent (56,713 votes) to 27.6 percent (21,856 votes).

The total vote represented participation by 27.6 percent of the registered voters in unincorporated Sonoma County.

Measure A would impose a business tax on both medical and non-medical marijuana businesses in the unincorporated areas of the county. Tax on cultivation would be up to $38 per square foot, or up to 10 percent on gross receipts. The measure also places an up to 10 percent tax on gross receipts of every commercial cannabis business, including distributors, testing laboratories, nurseries, and medical marijuana dispensaries.

According to the measure, the tax monies will be used to address the impacts of the cannabis industry, especially in the wake of the approval by California voters last November of Proposition 64, which legalized the recreational use of cannabis by adults. Proposition 64 allows cities and counties to tax marijuana.

Initially, the county expects to raise $6.3 million annually. Tax rates will not start out at the highest level. The money raised goes into the county's General Fund.

Measure A funds will go toward the increased county services that officials say will be necessary to address cannabis industry impacts, such as public safety, health, roads, environmental protection, planning and code enforcement.

After the vote on the statewide Proposition 64 in November, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors began studying how to establish regulations in the new legal cannabis frontier. In December, they passed land-use rules regarding cultivation in rural and industrial areas of the county. The implementation and funding of the rules had to wait until the results of the Measure A election.

The Sonoma County Growers Alliance opposed Measure A, charging, in part, that the regulations and taxes are excessive, and that the rules will adversely impact small cannabis growers.

SV Hospital parcel tax fails

Measure B, a renewal of the Sonoma Valley Health District's parcel tax, went down, but just barely.

Two-thirds voter approval was needed (66.66 percent), but Measure B received 64.8 percent in favor (4,954 votes) and 32.3 opposed (2,693 votes).

The boundaries of the health care district reach from Schellville to Glen Ellen. Kenwood used to be part of the district but was detached in 2005 after a survey indicated that very few Kenwood residents used Sonoma Valley Hospital.

Measure B would have renewed an expiring parcel tax and continued it for five years. The new parcel tax would have levied up to $250 per parcel per year, generating an estimated $3.8 annually for hospital needs, including emergency room services. The $250 amount was $55 higher than the present tax. Before the March 7 election, the parcel tax had been approved by voters three times.

Measure B's defeat prompted the board of directors of the Sonoma Valley Health Care District to meet in special session, where they approved putting a similar measure on the June 6 ballot.