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.
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.
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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