Letters to the Editor - week of Nov. 7

Resident clarifies stand on cannabis cultivation

The Oct. 17 Town Crier article “Los Altos City Council passes pot ordinance – stench remains” attributed some comments to me that were not entirely accurate.

On Oct. 9, the city council was considering a proposed ordinance that bans outdoor cultivation of cannabis and allows indoor cultivation of up to six cannabis plants per residence. California state law allows municipalities to ban outdoor cultivation – one important reason being that odors many people find disagreeable are emitted by cannabis plants while being cultivated – but in effect requires (thanks to Proposition 64, passed in 2016) that cities allow residents to cultivate as many as six cannabis plants indoors in a private residence or “fully enclosed and secure” accessory structure.

My concern with the then-proposed ordinance is that cannabis plants can emit a disagreeable odor – some strains smell like skunk. Even when grown indoors, the odor of the plant may escape the “fully enclosed structure” and foul the neighborhood – residences as well as accessory structures have doors, windows, roof vents, etc., and plant odors can be exhausted out without violating the Los Altos ordinance.

I suggested that Rancho Cordova’s ordinance addresses many of the issues that ours doesn’t: (1) prevents odors from cannabis cultivation from affecting adjacent properties; (2) requires that indoor structures have ventilation systems that prevent cannabis odors from becoming a public nuisance to surrounding properties or the public; and (3) says that it is unlawful to create a public nuisance in the course of cultivating cannabis, and defines what such a public nuisance is (creation of odors that are disturbing to persons of normal sensitivity).

I didn’t discuss odor from smoke, and didn’t say the Rancho Cordova ordinance said anything about “outdoor cultivation regulations regarding greenhouses or accessory dwelling units …” Their ordinance bans outdoor cultivation in its entirety (as does ours). Their ordinance (and ours) discusses accessory structures, not accessory dwelling units.

For the record, I favor legalization but don’t want to have to smell the odor emitted by cannabis plants being cultivated in my neighborhood, whether grown indoors or outdoors. The city council adopted the ordinance but agreed to take action to redo the ordinance to address its deficiencies.

Ken Elchert

Los Altos

Chapman’s columns are ‘rich in detail’

Thank you for publishing “Santa Clara Valley Lives,” Robin Chapman’s fascinating columns about local history. Her recent one on Robert Louis Stevenson is rich in detail, for example, “(Fanny’s) chronically unfaithful husband … a cheerful rogue…” and “(Stevenson) caught a horse car on Market Street.”

Leaving us in suspense for the denouement reminds me of serialized fiction that was popular in Victorian Britain. Many great authors wrote installments in monthly or weekly periodicals, for example, Charles Dickens and Arthur Conan Doyle. In modern times, Tom Wolfe serialized “Bonfire of the Vanities” in Rolling Stone prior to publishing it as a novel.

Please give us more of these little gems. I can’t wait to tune in to the next thrilling episode!

Pat Marriott

Los Altos

Submit a Letter to the Editor

The Town Crier welcomes letters to the editor on current events pertinent to Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and Mountain View. Write to us at 138 Main St., Los Altos 94022, Attn: Editor, or email editor Bruce Barton at bruceb@latc.com. Because editorial space is limited, please confine letters to no more than 200 words. Include a phone number for verification purposes. Anonymous letters will not be printed.

You can also have your say right here at losaltosonline.com – scroll to the bottom of any story to add a comment. 

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