A few positive notes about 2020

See ya, 2020. Don’t let the door hit you in the patootie on the way out. Much has been said and written about what a terrible year it was. And it was, but there were some great things about it, too.

Only one trip down the hill per week saved us a small fortune in gas. Win.

We Tehamans are lucky or smart to live in a rural area. We were able to get outdoors, exercise, feel the sun. Imagine what people living in apartments in cities went through. Stuck in your 800-square-foot box, no yard, possibly with a spouse and children. Win.

On a personal note, I am grateful Mr. Standish and I chose each other. Turns out with whom you choose to spend your life is super important. Cuteness and hilarity aside, he is an excellent pandemic-mate. He single-handedly “redid” our stairwell and both upstairs bedrooms. After 27 years, we finally have zero square inches of carpeting in our home and couldn’t be happier about it. Win.

I lost three of my four income streams, but that fourth one exploded. Win.

People had time to focus on local government. The contract extensions of Chief Administrator Bill Goodwin and Planning Director Kristen Maze got the attention of hundreds, if not thousands, of citizens. And not in a good way. Would the recall even be happening if not for COVID? Win.

We made new friends, created alliances, and deepened friendships we already had. That’s always a blessing. Win.

There were losses, of course. Lives of people we knew and didn’t know. Money. Pets. No weight, unfortunately. Perhaps the biggest loss was our naivete about how decisions made by government officials can significantly impact our daily lives. Decisions made in haste without sufficient information continue to plague us, pun intended. Life can go from Mayberry to Walking Dead or The Stand in no time.

Other decisions were made after being avoided for some time out of fear of public resistance, like the COVID Enforcement Ordinance. That one became easy to nix when the board discovered they would get to keep the CARES Act funding without any ordinance. Enforcement would have been an issue, with the Tehama County Sheriff’s Office clearly not having the resources to respond to complaints and Code Enforcement too busy learning how to use their new drones for cannabis spying.

Lately Environmental Health has been stepping up and doing their jobs – helping citizens clean up blight, cap old wells, remove junk cars, clear trash – yay. Of course, it’s not the growing season.

The board of supervisors also mentioned that County Code Enforcement has no jurisdiction within the incorporated cities, where most of the businesses are located. Those would have been the targets of any enforcement. Complaint driven, of course.

Wait. County Code Enforcement can’t abate cannabis in the cities? Who does, then? I emailed the Red Bluff Police Department and Captain Ortega responded immediately. He explained that currently, RBPD would respond to any complaint of illegal marijuana cultivation. If no current law or ordinance violation is observed regarding possession or cultivation, the complaint may be forwarded to the city of Red Bluff Code Enforcement for review of possible nuisance violations.

If there is no complaint, there is no enforcement. So, in the city of Red Bluff, arguably the least appropriate place in the county to cultivate cannabis, enforcement is complaint driven. Nice.

I wrote Red Bluff City Manager and City Attorney Rick Crabtree and asked the same thing. Incidentally, you Red Bluffians need to take a closer look at that situation. Why does one person hold both those positions? Traditionally, a city manager and city attorney have slightly adversarial roles, keeping each other in check. When it’s just Rick, who does that? Nothing personal, I’m sure he’s doing a fine job. It’s just weird.

Anyhoo, Rick kindly wrote back giving a similar answer, adding, “The Red Bluff City Code currently prohibits all cannabis dispensaries and cultivation (except for 6 indoor personal use plants) within the city limits.” He went on to talk about the Cannabis Committee and its efforts to modify the current City Ordinance. He wrote, “All of the options being considered would ease existing restrictions.”

Let me get this straight. The city of Red Bluff, with small residential parcels, spends zero dollars a year on cannabis eradication. If there’s a complaint, somebody checks it out. If nobody complains, you’re golden. It is legal to grow six personal plants in your home. They are actively working towards allowing dispensaries, which will without question create a tidy little revenue stream, tourism and jobs.

Tehama County, on the other hand, will spend $848,000 this year to spy on its residents, performing warrantless searches on private property with drones in search of a plant that, if regulated in a sane manner, could help bridge that pesky funding gap that’s growing annually. We’re not going to be lucky enough to have millions of COVID dollars thrust at us every year. Also, it is illegal to grow six plants in our homes. An accessory structure must be built to very narrow specifications. Hello, permit fees.

The county could save almost a million dollars a year if it switched to complaint driven enforcement, like it would have done with COVID enforcement. Big grows that bothered the neighbors would be reported, little personal gardens that nobody even knew about wouldn’t. And goddess forbid the county would try to create jobs and revenue by allowing regulated commercial industries. I guess the hemp ordinance is the first step towards that. Baby steps.

No, I don’t want to open a dispensary or grow 5 acres of commercial cannabis. That is way too much work. But maybe a cute little Bud and Breakfast to keep Mr. Standish and me busy into our 70s. The Joke and Toke B&B? How fun would that be? Win.

Liz Merry has been half of Merry Standish Comedy for 30 years and is a former downtown Red Bluff business owner. She now has a home-based business and is locked and loaded in Manton. She can be reached at [email protected].

Latest posts