DA Uses the Wrong Ring to “Decode” Measure D ~ Barden Stevenot

San Andreas, CA…I guess I received a different decoder ring in my box of Wheaties. The DA says that in order to decode Measure D, you must have mastery of at least four legal disciplines. Wow, that’s a lot of schooling to decipher what amounts to a pretty clear-cut ordinance governing land use in Calaveras County. This decoder nonsense would lead one to believe that only the most sophisticated and broadly learned attorney could possibly decipher Measure D. That’s just not true. However, decoding the district attorney’s arguments only requires a logical mind, never mind multiple degrees.


In roughly 7 paragraphs there are 10 specious arguments, either totally unsupported by the facts, or intellectually dishonest arguments. If this is how our district attorney assembles evidence conviction levels must be astronomical in Calaveras courts.

One thing can be said in favor of the DA’s presentation. It may be false, but it is a fine piece of propaganda. It appeals to emotional issues to override fact, it pushes fear, and it is so incorrect as to be almost beyond argument.

I invite you to read Measure D yourself, along with a more detailed rebuttal of the district attorney’s arguments below.

When an argument is presented like this I always ask myself what do they really want? What does Calaveras law enforcement really want? Do they want an ordinance they can manipulate, do they want to ban, do they want to make their own laws, do they want votes? The answer, I believe, is all of the above.

The single-mindedness of purpose and willful alteration of even the basic facts by people in authority is not to be taken lightly. Legislation should always come from truthful information enabling voters to make sensible decisions, either directly, or indirectly, through their representatives. That’s not happening in Calaveras County, it’s regrettable and, if they are successful will mean that law enforcement has moved from the implementation of law to the formation of law without the checks and balances we expect.

What don’t they consider? Well, they don’t consider economics, practical enforcement, social issues, or funding for law enforcement or for other general purposes. They live in a bubble in which they seek out a base of people who, through emotional argument, factual misrepresentation, and fear can be persuaded to bend to their authority.

Read below for the FACTS

“Measure D permits dangerous cannabis activities near schools and residential areas.” – FALSE

The County already allows far more hazardous industries than cannabis manufacturing in Industrial Zones. Cannabis manufacturing businesses, while less hazardous, would be treated the same way. Those companies are required to obtain a Conditional Use Permit granted only at the discretion of the Planning Commission and shall only be located in Industrial Zones. Some examples of other industries currently eligible to apply for a Conditional Use Permit in those zones are:

Acid manufacturing
Fertilizer manufacturing
Dead animal reduction
Insecticide manufacturing
Septage waste disposal
And many more…

As you can clearly see, manufacturing and other job creating industries are currently permitted in the county, and Conditional Use Permits require a public approval process for each applicant. The Planning Commission has full authority to deny an application based on their findings. While it is a separate issue, grows and less impactful cannabis businesses also require an Administrative Use Permit which can only be granted at the discretion of the Planning Director.

The DA and others are using false arguments regarding these industries to further their own agenda.

“Measure D limits the Sheriff’s discretion to deny permits based on criminal history.” – FALSE

Measure D permits the Sheriff to consider any “offense”, whether it be felony or misdemeanor, which he determines to be related to the business license of the applicant. Clearly, supplying cannabis to children or using children to sell cannabis illegally, or violence against police officers, as well as the other crimes listed by the DA fall within these categories and it is absolutely absurd to claim the proponents of Measure D, who have included this language in their measure, would support otherwise.

Furthermore, an independent law firm specializing in land-use ordinances has already confirmed that the County may, if it wishes, expand and strengthen background check requirements as it sees fit. The District Attorney, a criminal specialist, claims otherwise. She cites no case law. The consulting firm, backed their opinion, which benefits enforcement, by citing case law. Strange that the District Attorney would see this in a negative light.

Measure D also includes a provision which enables the county to address any unintended safety concerns that might arise in the future. This is a quote from Measure D and is included for ALL cannabis business types:

“R. Meet any specific, additional operating procedures and measures as may be imposed as conditions of approval by the county to ensure that the cultivation is consistent with protection of the health, safety and welfare of the community and will not adversely affect surrounding uses.”

“Measure D’s regulatory scheme is deficient.” – FALSE

The current climate of growing in Calaveras County is a direct result of failure to act by the Board of Supervisors at the beginning of 2016. With no regulations, our county was flooded with growers looking to make a quick buck. Many of these growers are in the process of vacating the county as they have no intention or ability to comply with any regulations now that the Sheriff has been shutting down non-compliant farms since passage of the Urgency Ordinance. The Sheriff reports over 70,000 plants have been destroyed in just a few months, and that will continue under Measure D. Raids on illegal farms are happening on a regular basis as reported in the Calaveras Enterprise. This is regulation in action. Never have we seen such heavy law enforcement action against growers. We now have the teeth from temporary regulations and fees from the Urgency Ordinance ripping into the illegal and non-compliant grows. Non-compliant and illegal growers are seeing these results and fleeing the county, and those thinking about moving here with dollar signs in their eyes are now looking for easy pickings elsewhere.

“To date, 7 commercial “Certificates” have been issued meaning the County might receive a total of $35,000 in fees sometime next fall. Under Measure D, this amount would be cut in half.” – FALSE

Measure D requires all those who registered under the Urgency Ordinance to pay another $5,000 within the first year of Measure D passing providing millions of dollars to county enforcement efforts, and permits the County to study the true costs of administering the program within that year to raise the fees to whatever amount is necessary to cover all costs, if needed. The fees collected for applications and renewals will cover 100% of the costs associated with enforcing and administering the program, without a dime coming out of taxpayer’s pockets. The true benefit to the County comes with the passage of Measure C, which would put an estimated $12+ million into the County General Fund. These funds have the potential to DOUBLE the discretional fund that the supervisors use to improve the quality of life for all those in Calaveras County, and the proponents of Measure D support this tax.

In closing, there is one very important point to remember when considering the words of Law Enforcement, which includes the District Attorney’s Office:
Their constituents, you the voters, vote for them because they are perceived to protect you from threat. Even if a threat is falsely magnified it helps them win your approval, your vote, and your tax money. Law Enforcement lobbying through false argument is an effective but dangerous game which can nullify your vote.

Read Measure D, and see for yourself that it is the voters answer to special interests.

Yes on D