Calaveras County supervisors on Tuesday will consider contracting with the California Highway Patrol to provide officers to escort building code inspectors when the inspectors visit cannabis farms.

County officials this year received more than 700 applications to register commercial cannabis farms but have been unable to assemble enough staff to promptly conduct all the necessary inspections.

The cost of the $50,000 contract would be covered by fees paid by those seeking to register cannabis farms, according to a staff report. The Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office is also seeking to hire officers to escort code enforcers during their initial visits to farms. But Sheriff’s Office representatives have said repeatedly in recent months that they are struggling to hire officers fast enough to replace those leaving for better paid jobs elsewhere.

Because it increases the appropriation for the Building Department budget, the CHP contract measure requires four votes from the board to win approval.

Supervisors will also consider several other cannabis-related measures on Tuesday.

Human Resources Department Director Judy Hawkins is asking the board to approve an almost $20,000 per year increase in the base salary for the county’s chief building official. In her report, Hawkins notes that the job has been vacant since February “without a successful candidate being identified.”

Hawkins also wrote, “There are many challenges to this position due to the Butte Fire and addition of medical cannabis. With an adjustment to the salary we feel we will have a more qualified candidate pool to interview.”

Among other things, the Building Department helps to enforce county zoning codes that apply to cannabis farms.

Hawkins is asking that supervisors boost the base salary for the chief building official to $116,492 per year. Currently, the base salary for a chief building official is $96,636. Right now, the county government is paying Interim Building Official Michael Renner to cover the position’s duties on a part-time basis.

Finally, supervisors will hear an appeal by cannabis farmer Phan Toyed of the Planning Commission’s denial of Toyed’s request that the commission direct staff to process his application for a commercial cannabis farm on West Murray Creek Road.

Staff rejected the application because satellite imagery showed that there was no marijuana cultivation happening in late May and early June at the site. Toyed claimed that he had started growing cannabis before May 10, but later took it out because he believed he had to wait to have some kind of confirmation from county officials that they had received his application.

Supervisors on May 10 adopted an urgency ordinance that banned any new or expanded cannabis farms after that date.


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