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Valley People (October 9, 2019)

KAREN OTTOBONI popped in Sunday afternoon to remind me that the brand new elder home was at that moment open to visitors. I hustled down the street for a look and immediately wanted to move in. The idea is to provide affordable housing for local people no longer able to live in their present homes. I liked everything about it, from its roomy design by local architect Steve Wood to its meticulous construction by Yorkville contractor, Jack Davis with big assists from Fred Wooley and Ryan Davis; Joshua Townsend who applied the interior paint, Erica Zissa and Bob Day the merry exterior yellow. Pat McClure contributed his formidable electrical wiring skills as Rafa Engavi did the bathroom and kitchen. Wally Hopkins and Kirk Wilder did an impressively professional job on the cabinetry and Brian Wood was responsible for the interior finish. Plenty of room in this nifty little house for two fortunate Seniors who, I understand, are already poised to take up residence. he convenient SoBo (South Boonville) setting comes with a thriving garden, and another duplex planned for the site, the whole of it adding up to an all-round major plus for Mendocino County’s most happening community. Major kudos to the Elder Home’s board of directors for bringing  this most valuable project to fruition.

AND COULDN’T help noticing a beautifully rendered bench in the memory of Hayes and Linda Brennan, long-time residents of the Anderson Valley placed between the new Elder house and the garden.


Please join the AVEH Board and other Elder Home supporters at the Boonville Hotel on Sunday, November 10, 2019, to enjoy a sumptuous multi-course dinner paired with Anderson Valley’s finest wines. Proceeds from the dinner, $150 per person, will help complete the parking and sidewalks of the new Cottage 1. Attendees can buy tickets singly or can “buy a table” by inviting like-minded friends to join them and us for a fine meal for a good cause. To reserve your place or for more information contact Brian at 510.388.9103 or Scarlet at 707.360.7730 (text or voice). You may also send us an email at

ANDERSON VALLEY TEE-BALL began today, Wednesday, October 9th. — Come out and join fellow AV families for an introduction to the game of baseball for both parent and child. Players will learn the basic skills like throwing, catching, hitting and running. Where appropriate, older kids will focus on skill-building and developing fundamental knowledge of the game including team play. (Parent participation required.)

SEASON: Oct 9 - December 18

DAYS: Wednesday’s, TIME: 4-5pm

LOCATION: AVHS Softball Field

AGES: 3 to 6 year olds + parent/guardian

FEE: FREE: This is a parent led program. Parent participation is expected. Please bring any age appropriate teeball equipment you may have to share. If you would like to make a formal donation to the program, we welcome the support!

CONTACT: Elizabeth Jensen, (415) 713-3833,

SPEAKING of junior sports, Shauna Espinoza and Belma Rhoades have rounded up youth basketball teams to play in Ukiah leagues for years. Interested parents should contact Belma at the Elementary School for details.

FROST FANS thundered into life about 4am last Tuesday morning at the Boonville end of the Anderson Valley and, presumably, also roused many more of us between here and Navarro. A major nuisance you say? As a grape industry grandee famously put it, "My grapes are more important than your sleep!" Evidently.

OVERWHELMED by your tomato, chile pepper, and tomatillo harvest from the garden? Have no fear! Secrets of Salsa is here! This bilingual cookbook with over 30 recipes shared by Mexican women from Anderson Valley can be found in stores throughout Anderson Valley, including Boont Berry Farm, AV market, The General Store, and Lemon’s. or you can get it at the Boonville Farmer’s Market on Friday from 4-7 pm in the Disco Ranch parking lot. You can also get one directly from the Adult School. Call 895-2953 All proceeds from the sale of this book go to adult education in Anderson Valley, such as helping people with their HiSet and GED exam fees.

If you have a local business and would like to sell this book we offer it at a reasonable wholesale price. Contact us at 895-2953. These photos feature Angeles Segura's Red Salsa recipe and Priscilla Anguiano's Tomatillo Avocado Salsa.

THE BOONVILLE QUIZ returns to Lauren’s restaurant in Boonville on Thursday, October 10. Hope to see you there. — Cheers, Steve Sparks, Quizmaster


A good first half for Mendocino - lots of pressure - but a bad result at halftime - AV up 2-0. Goals by Cristobal Gonzalez @ 24’ & Gael Gonzalez @ 30’.

In the second half both teams had opportunities but Mendocino forced the play - with Luciano Martinez finally able to score in a one-on-one situation with AV goalkeeper Diego Perez.

Martinez scored - of course - but the goal came in stoppage time. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, despite a well-played game (the best in 12 years vs AV) it was too little too late.

Mendocino will get a chance to break the 10-game losing streak (extending back to 2007) when they travel to Boonville on October 25th. (MendocinoSportsPlus)

THE SPEED LIMIT through central Boonville is 30 mph. Many vehicles of all sizes, all day and night long, drive through the town's roadside splendors at twice that speed — by my informal count about 1 in 3 drive far too fast for conditions. 


We have been given the opportunity for a matching donation; if we raise $3,000 by October 18th we will be matched by another $3,000!

The Greenwood Ridge fire truck needs to be replaced. We're raising funds for that replacement - a total cost of $82,000.

(Anne Fashauer)

GET READY! An on-line comment: “Remember, a 3.5 quake isn't really even a keeper. But what should keep all of us on alert is the fact that even a 3.5 can be a precursor to a larger, potentially more destructive event, so while there is nothing to become concerned about with a single event like this one - 3.5 off Colma - we SHOULD be concerned with being prepared. If you have not yet done so, go get CERT training. Build go-bags for every member of the family and for your pets. Create a plan in the event of separation during an emergency. Build a family emergency supply - at least 2 weeks of food and water for every member of the family (Talk to the folks at Caspar about how they developed their pickle barrel kits). You cannot predict when a really bad event will happen, but you can get prepared for one. Do it today, stop putting it off!”

WE EXPECTED that Friday’s appearance of Supervisor Ted Williams and Planning Director Brent Schultz on KZYX would be dominated by pot. But that may have been because they didn’t take any calls at all. Instead, they spent most of the hour dealing with softballs from the show’s host about the local housing shortage. At one point, Williams asked Schultz how many new home permits have been issued this year compared to “the need.” (Something Schultz should be providing to the Supervisors monthly, of course, but not in Mendo.) Schultz said they’d issued a few dozen. Asked why so few, Schultz answered “It’s very hard” because of the state’s increasingly complicated and rigid building rules, and “costs have gone up.” In fact, those were the answers to almost every generic housing question. 

WILLIAMS AND SCHULTZ also talked in general terms about the wonderfulness of accessory dwelling units. Local officials inevitably trot out granny and her imagined units as a “solution” to the housing shortage as housing scarcity continues to grow. Planning and Building's failed attempts to “simplify” or “streamline” the permit process remain invisible. Having gone through that process a few years ago, I'm here to tell you, from first-hand experience with P&B how arbitrary and drop-fall stupid the process is.

CONSPICUOUSLY not raised, of course, was the subject of trailer parks, the only short-term low-cost option for housing for many Mendolanders. But trailer parks don’t quite fit the Schultzian-Mendo Planning and Building model. Instead, Schultz said he was working on the latest iteration of the General Plan’s Housing Element, but made no mention of why the last housing element was a complete flop — so much so that a local legal aid attorney successfully sued the County to require them to be more realistic in their “housing element” — and why this one probably will have the same problem. (Hint: they couldn’t find any non-city areas to zone for housing because there were none with adequate water or sewer. The lawsuit simply pointed out that the few acres Mendo said they’d zone for housing were either not for sale or had already been determined to be unsuitable for housing.) 

THERE was also no mention of the status of Ukiah’s Lovers Lane, project just north of Ukiah on County-zoned property. Whatever its drawbacks and limitations, the Chico developer went to lots of trouble and expense to file his 200-unit development permit application and should at least be getting a fair hearing and reasonable processing — but is not. Nobody ever brings that project up either. Nobody asks what the hold-up is or what can be done to address it. No matter — the discussion's host, Bob Bushansky, gushed his appreciation for his guests even coming on the air and saying nothing of consequence while he accepted either “nothing can be done/it’s too hard” or other bland non-answers to his softball questions.

WE’VE RECEIVED a copy of a letter sent to the Planning Department on October 1, 2019 by a Ukiah pot permit processing consultant named Shannon Wells, “Environmental Analyst, Jacobszoon & Associates, Inc.” Ms. Wells is apparently trying help Mr. John Mark of Yorkville navigate the county’s pot permit maze.

MS. WELLS WRITES: “The parcel is not required to have an SIUR [Small Irrigation Use Registration] on file as there is no surface water diversion for cannabis cultivation on site. The cannabis is irrigated using a groundwater well.”

AS PROOF, Ms. Wells includes a copy of a “Well Completion Report” for the well on Mr. Mark’s property, which in turn came from an outfit called Countervail Inc., in Ukiah, a “tax and legal compliance business” which Mr. Mark had also contracted with for permit processing assistance.

THE TWO LETTERS from the two Ukiah consultants were provided to the Planning Department by Mr. Mark along with Mr. Mark’s note to Mendo’s Pot Permit Coordinator Sean Connell:

“SEAN, It seems that you denied my cultivation license for a Small Irrigation Use Registration that not only I don't have but the state doesn't require me to have. My engineering company has enclosed their letter and copy from the state of my well registration. All the forms I've filed with the AG Dept., the Water Board, CDFW. All of them know I do not divert water — I use the listed well. So the question is: how am I denied my license for something I don't need? Very frustrating, John Mark, Yorkville”

MR. MARK’S note to Mendo County’s permit guy,  Mr. Connell, was prepared after consultant Wells suggested that Mr. Mark try sending the docs to the County himself:

MS. WELLS HAD WRITTEN TO APPLICANT MARK: “Below is a list of things you should put together for the county to show you don't need an SIUR: Notice of receipt for your water board enrollment. When you did this on those computers where they helped you, it should have emailed you a receipt. Well Report (I'm including it here just in case you don't have an easy copy). And I'm also including a letter as requested. I have no problem meeting at the county for you, it's just weird that they are requiring you to go further than showing your enrollment in the water board, and I don't want anyone ever paying for something they shouldn't have to.” 

MARK SCARAMELLA NOTES: This is a perfect example of the kind of rabbit hole that a well-meaning pot permit applicant enters when trying to obtain a legal pot cultivation permit from Mendocino County. From this simple exchange we not only discover that Mr. Mark is being required to provide paperwork he doesn’t need, but also that: Pot cultivators are required to have a Small Irrigation Use Registration if they use any ground water at all. (Grape growers are not).

THE POT PERMIT APPLICANT must prove they don’t need something when they don’t need something; That applicants have to hire costly permit processing experts to handle the permit process that other applicants don’t is unfair, to put it gently. That even with all the consultants they hire, applicants still have bureaucratic problems that they have to deal with themselves, all the while they cannot grow pot to generate money to cover all the processing costs, much less the County taxes and fees.

MOREOVER, pot permit applicants must somehow maintain extensive and precise records of every relevant document (computer and hard copy) because they will need it when the inevitable glitch occurs, and if they don’t they’re screwed. So, as far as the County is concerned, this application — like who knows how many others — is being held up because the applicant — not the County, not the State — has somehow failed to provide something he or she is not required to have in the first place.

MULTIPLY MR. MARK’S EXPERIENCE by the nearly 1200 pot permit applications the County has received so far and you understand while the County has not received the bonanza income it had expected from legalization of marijuana production. You also can see why “illegal” grows remain illegal. 

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