Letter: Your Decision – The Future of Capay Valley

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By Lauren Ayers

Allow me to be frank. Although each county supervisor is elected by the voters of their district, you represent all the residents (whether they voted for you or not) of the entire county.

That means your unspoken eagerness for pot revenue needs to be balanced against how the carpet-bagging influx of most pot grows being located mostly in District Five could undermine what was already here and growing.

“The ‘California Travel Impacts’ report, prepared for Visit California by Dean Runyan Associates, shows visitor spending reached $454.3 million and supported 5,219 jobs in Yolo County in 2019.”

While our county’s three large cities get the credit, recreation in Capay Valley is also a significant factor, with river rafting, Almond Festival tourism, lavender farms and wine tasting, the Yocha Dehe Golf Club, Cache Creek Casino Resort, Séka Hills Olive Mill, Mother’s Day garden tours, and 3 decades of Full Belly Farm’s Hoes Down events drawing considerable crowds. The county took in $15 million in local tax revenue in 2019 from visitors.

https://www.dailydemocrat.com/2020/05/16/new-economic-report-highlights-importance-of-tourism-to-yolo-county/

Another report shows how agricultural production and the food system are key factors in western Yolo County’s economy:

  • Western Yolo could experience a 30 percent increase in visitation from the recent designation of Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument immediately west, adding an estimated $50 million in annual economic activity and $800,000 in tax revenue over five years. Similarly, the county could expect to see an increase in local agritourism as the regional farm-to-fork movement continues to expand.
  • Rises in tourism could augment the demand for accommodations such as lodging, food (restaurants and grocery), entertainment, fuel and especially transportation facilities. Economic development, tourism and transportation strategies for rural jurisdictions and businesses will help western Yolo maximize this market opportunity. The case study incorporates a plan for bicycle tourism using the City of Winters and surrounding western Yolo County as its primary case study to provide an example of one such strategy.

Page 7: https://www.sacog.org/sites/main/files/file-attachments/yolo_case_study-technical_report_final_0.pdf?1480711320

At the Cannabis meetings (before COVID) which I attended, the staff pretended to listen to us but their intention was to placate us. It has come to pass that nothing we said budged them; their report doesn’t reflect how strongly people here don’t want to be stuck with most of the pot grows in the county.

I know of two couples who sold up and left Capay Valley due to the disturbances from pot grows near their homes, and many others who are trying to cope with the noise, the transient workers, the dogs and armed guards that go hand-in-hand with a crop like cannabis.

It’s not too late to do the right thing. From the very beginning of this Pot Bonanza, county offices had posters warning that once the regulations were finalized pot growers might find the requirements more difficult than they expected.

But, instead, we the residents are somehow second class citizens compared to the commercial cannabis businesses. There is still a little time to fix this, or else history will show the dire results of putting tax revenues above residents.

Don’t turn Capay Valley into a Sacrifice Zone

Lauren Ayers is a resident of Guinda.


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29 Comments

  1. Alan Miller

    The author is not super clear on the issues.  I guess it might be clear to some who lives in the rural areas what the issues are with legal pot growing, but the author just talks about “noise, the transient workers, the dogs and armed guards”.  Noise and transient workers are part of the agricultural that has existed in the Capay Valley since the 1800’s.  Dogs and armed guards may be necessary due to the value of the crop, but why would you run into this unless you trespassed on the growing land?  I’m not doubting there are issues, but if publishing like this, one needs to explain them to the rest of us.

    Instead there are many paragraphs taken by the various tourist amenities and studies on tourism of Capay Valley — or Winters — or whatever.  I’m not sure the point.  Is the implication that these tourist attractions for Capay Valley are somehow harmed by the pot growing?  I don’t see the connection.  The author needs to connect the dots for those of us who don’t live there.

    If anything has harmed the tourist attractions and the ambiance of the Capay Valley, it isn’t the pot growing, it’s that hideous casino with its associated mass lines of 24-hour traffic and the associated accidents.   Perhaps some reading this are too young to remember the Capay Valley before the casino.  It was like heaven, paradise.  Like the Black Rock Desert before the blight of Burning Man.  The casino has changed that Valley for the worse, forever, until its massive cement edifices are emptied and dynamited, and it’s golf courses left to dry and brown in the searing summer heat.  To get some sense of what the Capay Valley was like before the casino, drive/bike west of Brooks where there is much less traffic, as most casino traffic comes from the east.

    Bicycle tourism?  The Capay Valley used to be paradise.  Now the questionably-sober endless lines of casino cars up to Brooks make the ride an unpleasant mega-hazard.  How would “noise, the transient workers, the dogs and armed guards” of pot farms harm bicycle tourism?   All the tourism related to the casino and not related to the casino is lumped together by the author as if it is “all good” vs. the pot farms.  Yet I submit that the casino is the biggest harm to the rest of the tourism, though it probably brings in the most money, though tax-wise not what it would as a business due to the sovereign-nation status, but then again without sovereign-nation status it wouldn’t exist at all.

    Why does the author not mention what may be most threatened by the pot farms, the massive food agriculture of the Capay Valley, much of it small, organic farms, that could be displaced by the money-money-money of high-production cannabis?   Isn’t that the real threat, as pot farms expand in the Capay Valley?

    So we have gaming and pot as big money makers that are both, apparently, harming this once serene and beautiful valley.  Is this actually a casino vs. pot fight of some sort?  The sin of intoxication vs. the sin of gambling, and the associated vast pots of money that the purveyors of sin acquire drip-by-drip from the zombied masses of the afflicted.  I’d be fine if the dam broke at Clear Lake and the magic waters rushed down the canyon and took out the casino and the pot farms, leaving the Capay Valley back in the hands of the early Wintun people, before money and greed and agriculture and tourism ruined it all.

    1. Ron Oertel

      If anything has harmed the tourist attractions and the ambiance of the Capay Valley, it isn’t the pot growing, it’s that hideous casino with its associated mass lines of 24-hour traffic and the associated accidents.   Perhaps some reading this are too young to remember the Capay Valley before the casino.  It was like heaven, paradise.  Like the Black Rock Desert before the blight of Burning Man.  The casino has changed that Valley for the worse, forever, until its massive cement edifices are emptied and dynamited, and it’s golf courses left to dry and brown in the searing summer heat.  To get some sense of what the Capay Valley was like before the casino, drive/bike west of Brooks where there is much less traffic, as most casino traffic comes from the east.

      Worth repeating.

        1. Ron Oertel

          Is that right? Also, is the author connected to the Tribe or Casino?

          What is their concern?

          (By the way, Alan M. makes several other good points, as well.)

          1. David Greenwald

            It looks like the author is simply someone living in the Capay Valley, I don’t know that much about her. Not sure completely, but they may see Cannabis as competition with the Casino.

    2. Richard_McCann

      Unfortunately, US policies since the founding of this nation left the Native American tribes little in the way of options to make money. We brought the casinos on to ourselves. Until we resolve what we did to them, we cannot yet again cut off another source of income. Perhaps the better solution to do a land swap on a corner of Woodland next to I-5.

      1. Alan Miller

        Unfortunately, US policies since the founding of this nation left the Native American tribes little in the way of options to make money.

        That’s a small corner of what the USA did to the indigenous people (not saying you don’t know that).

        We brought the casinos on to ourselves.

        I wouldn’t put it that way, but it certainly happened.

        Until we resolve what we did to them, we cannot yet again cut off another source of income.

        I don’t think casinos should ever have been considered as some sort of reparations or equity – but they are now their own self-perpetuating monsters and killing them isn’t going to go well for anyone.  Talk about two wrongs not making a right – this is the little picture in the encyclopedia next to the concept.

        Perhaps the better solution to do a land swap on a corner of Woodland next to I-5.

        I proposed that very idea 35 years ago when they first opened.  It may have been possible when the casino was tiny, but they have poured so much cement since then I don’t think that’s feasible.  Cheaper for the casino to have people burn gas and tear up Highway 16 all the way out to Brooks.

      2. Ron Oertel

        We brought the casinos on to ourselves.

        Pretty sure that I voted against it (decades ago, I’m guessing).  I recall/predicted (to myself) that there would be problems. 🙂

        I’m not willing to sacrifice the environment, in the name of past “social injustices” (for what is essentially an extinct culture – and to some degree – an extinct and/or changed people. Who at this point, are quite a bit like “us”. And actually, “they” always were.).

        Actually – they aren’t “changed” – as those folks have been dead for more than 150 years.

        1. Alan Miller

          for what is essentially an extinct culture – and to some degree – an extinct and/or changed people.

          I don’t ever wish to be offended on behalf of someone else or assume I know, but in this case I am fairly certain that the descendants of local tribes would disagree with you that they are extinct.

          Changed?  We’re all changed – how is that relevant?

        2. Richard_McCann

          Ron O

          You’re the example of how people are unwilling to accept responsibility for the injustices that created the privileges that they live with. And then those people can’t understand why others resent them for enforcing those privileges and failing to address those injustices. Yes, we’re all changed, but the legacy of those injustices continue.

          We brought the casinos on ourselves not by voting on casinos but through our ancestors’ actions over the last five centuries. We reap what we sow.

          Native American households are even worse off economically that Black households, with only 8% of wealth of the average white household.

          https://www.nicoa.org/native-households-make-8-cents-for-every-dollar-a-white-household-has/

      3. Ron Oertel

        I don’t think casinos should ever have been considered as some sort of reparations or equity . . .

        Though this occurred some decades ago, I’m pretty sure that this was the “implied reason” to support the monopoly – and the predictable impacts it has brought.

        Actually, you might see some of that same “reasoning” in Richard’s comment.

        1. Richard_McCann

          As I said, come up with and implement another solution for Native Americans to derive sufficient economic returns from the lands that we pushed them into, and then we can talk about limiting or moving casinos.

  2. Ron Glick

    I’ve been from Davis to Capay Valley

    Sacramento to Vacaville,

    I’ve driven every kind of rig that’s ever been made,

    Driven the back roads so I wouldn’t get weighed,

    And if you give me weed, whites and whine,

    And you show me a sign,

    I’ll be willing, to be movin.

     

    With apologies to Lowell George

     

  3. Ron Glick

    “Smoking marijuana is more fun than drinking beer,

    But a friend of mine was captured and they gave hime thirty years,

    Maybe we should raise our voices ask somebody why,

    But demonstrations are a drag,

    Besides I’m much too high.”

    Phil Ochs

    1967

  4. Ron Glick

    I’m going north, north to get that Capay Valley Gold,

    There ain’t nothing it can’t fix,

    Old dogs will learn new tricks,

    When the streets are lined with bricks,

    Of Capay Valley Gold

  5. Ron Glick

    Capay Red, Capay Red,
    He’ll steal your woman, then he’ll rob your head,
    Capay Red, Capay Red,
    On his white horse, mescalito
    He come breezin’ through townI’ll bet your woman’s up in bed with old Capay Red

  6. Ron Glick

    In the Vaca Mountains campesinos are planting their fields
    While the ghost of Zapata rides a horse that can still outrun the wheel
    There, free in the sky high above, nearly clear out of sight
    It’s the Free Yolo Air Force flyin’ tonight

    In the City of Angels, a cowboy is cooling his heels
    Remembering that God gave us herbs and the fruits of the fields
    But a criminal law that makes outlaws of those seeking light
    Made the Free Yolo Air Force — Mescalito riding his white horse —
    Yeah, the Free Yolo Air Force is flyin’ tonight!
    Flying so high – yi – hiyeeeee! …

    How strange that an innocent herb causes money to burn
    They’ll jail you or kill you for making those rich fat cats squirm
    They’re the fools who make rules with no difference between wrong or right
    That’s why the Free Yolo Air Force is flyin’ tonight

    Uncle Sam in his misery put a nix on the fields of Vacaville
    Sayin’, “Shoot down all gringos and stoners who dare wear sombreros!”
    Either run for your life, surrender, or stand up and fight —
    Or join the Free Yolo Air Force — Mescalito riding his white horse —
    Yeah, the Free Yolo Air Force is flying tonight!
    Flying so high – yi – hiyeeeee! …

    It is not marijuana destroying the minds of the young
    But confusion continued for power and greed in all forms
    Well, the borders of evil will fall to the smugglers of light!
    We’re the Free Yolo Air Force and we’re flyin’ tonight!

    In Sacramento, they tell me that power and money are one
    They can buy us or sell you to keep you afraid, on the run
    But no one can stop us! My vision is clearly in sight!
    And the Free Yolo Air Force — Mescalito riding his white horse —
    Yeah, the Free Yolo Air Force is flyin’ tonight!
    Flying so high – yi – hiyeeeee! …

    Some were smoking colitas while other were loading their guns
    Blowing smoke from their six-shooters, spinning their barrels for fun
    Contrabandistas, banditos alike —
    We’re the Free Yolo Air Force and we’re flyin’ tonight!

    High in the hills we are harvesting sweet sensimillia
    Yeah, the law wants it all ’cause they know that the wild weed can free ya
    And freedom for us is a prison for the rulers of might!
    That’s why the Free Yolo Air Force — Mescalito riding his white horse —
    Yeah, the Free Capay Air Force is flyin’ tonight!
    Flyin’ so high- yi- yee…
    Flyin’ tonight! 

     

    With apologies to Peter Rowen

  7. Bill Marshall

    So… we’re discovering the ‘puritans’ (gaming places are inherently evil), the super-anti-GHG folk (zero carbon fuel), and the “Not In My Valley” folk… and, to top it off, what ethnic group is (‘disproportionally’) most frequently busing/driving up to Cache Creek Casino, to add to “profiling”?

    I frequent casinos maybe once every two years (I generally stick to Blackjack and Poker, play a little on slots, in honor of my deceased mother-in law)… I use less gas (GHG) to go up the Capay Valley, than other nearest options… I don’t mind the other ethnic groups who are present… just other people…

    I like gambling, from time to time, but always set limits…

    Hwy 16 is a State Hwy… we all pay for its maintenance… not just those who mainly use it because of where they live, or those who bike, recreate on it.  They ‘pay’ a tiny fraction of those costs (think “privileged”)… the fact is, that the casino is a revenue generator for all, and it doesn’t matter much what ethnic group owns it (except, perhaps, to some)… however, the branch tribe who owns it, owned the land, by ‘treaty’… logical place to set up business(es)…

    1. Alan Miller

      what ethnic group is (‘disproportionally’) most frequently busing/driving up to Cache Creek Casino

      I don’t know; never gone gambling once in my life.  So, you tell us . . .

      to add to “profiling”?

      Who is profiling who in this scenario?

      I don’t mind the other ethnic groups who are present…

      I’m so glad you pointed that out; it wouldn’t have occurred to me that you did mind the ‘other‘, until you brought up that you didn’t mind, um, them.  Why are we talking about this?

      just other people…

      That’s the idea.

      I like gambling, from time to time, but always set limits…

      So do I.   Never setting foot in a casino is a limit.

      Hwy 16 is a State Hwy… we all pay for its maintenance…

      This isn’t about the cost of highway maintenance, it’s about creating an ugly nuisance that draws a constant stream of cars 24/7 into what was a serene, beautiful valley.

      They ‘pay’ a tiny fraction of those costs (think “privileged”)…

      Who is ‘they’ in this scenario?  And why would I want to think ‘privileged’, about who, about what?

      the fact is, that the casino is a revenue generator for all,

      So is an offshore oil rig.

      and it doesn’t matter much what ethnic group owns it

      It does in this case, because no other ethnic group could legally own it.

      (except, perhaps, to some)…

      “Some” being?  And why?

      however, the branch tribe who owns it, owned the land, by ‘treaty’…

      In a European land paradigm sort of way . . .

      logical place to set up business(es)…

      Logical?  Maybe.  Being along 505 would have rendered a lot more business.

      Also, a friend of mine presented a plan back in the 80’s to use the old rail Southern Pacific right-of-way to transport people from a parking lot along I-505 in Madison to Brooks by train (the right of way ran through the field west of the casino).  The idea was to spend the money on the train rather than upgrading Highway 16, and keeping that constant flow of cars off two-lane Highway 16, thus preventing accidents and saving lives.

      1. Alan Miller

        Asking for a sixth in mercy to shot-clock failure . . . would have added, “Esparto, wisely #cough# has since built a subdivision on the right-of-way west of their old depot.”

  8. Don Shor

    Interesting to note that this letter is about cannabis growing operations, but nearly all the comments seem to be about the casino.

    One of the issues is that these operations tend to use generators for power. They are really, really noisy and even the best of them spew fumes comparable to having big trucks idling near your house for hours at a time.

    It sounds like the county supervisors need to take near-neighbor issues more seriously.

    1. Alan Miller

      It sounds . . .

      Certainly not in this letter.  I’d like to know more, but where is the “sound” coming from.  Why would they use a generator instead of the grid?  If there are issues with cannabis growing, that should be addressed, but those issues were NOT brought up in this letter.  Petrol emissions, noise?  If those are the issues, why talking about Winters having had a study on being a bike tourism spot?

  9. Ron Glick

    “One of the issues is that these operations tend to use generators for power. ”

    Are they growing it under lights? If they use solar power i.e. the sun, they don’t need generators.

  10. Ron Oertel

    Alan M:  but in this case I am fairly certain that the descendants of local tribes would disagree with you that they are extinct.

    Their (original) way of life is largely “extinct”.  And it’s probably been disrupted enough to not even be directly passed on to current generations. In some places, there is an effort to resurrect what once was.

    For that matter, how many descendants are “purely” Native American at this point?  Not that it matters, but (as I recall) this is sometimes a point of contention regarding tribal membership, in general.  (Not necessarily for this tribe.)

    Changed?  We’re all changed – how is that relevant?

    Culture changes, technology changes, etc.  Modern ways of life are spreading throughout the globe.  None of us live as our ancestors did.  But in the case of native cultures (around the globe), that’s especially/increasingly true.

    Bill:  and, to top it off, what ethnic group is (‘disproportionally’) most frequently busing/driving up to Cache Creek Casino, to add to “profiling”?

    I wouldn’t know.  But if there is a particular ethnic group that is (disproportionately) represented, would some then claim that it’s “racist” to take advantage of them?  (Similar to “menthol” cigarettes perhaps – as discussed on here the other day?)

     

     

  11. Ron Glick

    “Their (original) way of life is largely ‘extinct’. ”

    Once again you write with limited knowledge.

    If they are growing Cannabis in winter they would need lights since it is a short day plant and needs declining hours of sunlight to flower. The lights would generate enough heat under those circumstances. If they don’t have electricity they would need a generator but if they have electricity they could do this silently.

    Its a shame that pot farming went to lights and indoor growing under Reagan in the 80’s.

    Cannabis sativa is easy to grow as is anything that Linnaeus gave the species name sativa. Other things with the species name sativa include oats (Avena sativa), lettuce (Lactuca sativa), radish (Raphanus sativa) and garlic (Allium sativa). All are easy to grow. In Yolo County it should be easy to grow it without lights during the normal growing season. Sadly many consumers want C. sativa grown under lights. Its likely because they don’t know that outdoor Cannabis can be better than indoor. Its also likely that if they understood the carbon footprint of indoor Cannabis is much higher they would prefer outdoor. I think this is a marketing problem in an industry that was forced indoors during prohibition.

     

    1. Ron Oertel

      The Native Americans were pot farmers?

      As Don noted, I wanna talk about the casino! That’s the elephant in the valley, so to speak. And we’ve lost track of David’s comment, that they’re (apparently) opposed to the increased marijuana operations for some reason.

      And they’re likely a powerful foe.

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