An urgency ordinance to ban outdoor marijuana gardens in Tehama County was adopted by the county's Board of Supervisors on a 4-1 vote on Tuesday.

The one variance to the all-out ban was decided by a 4-1 board consensus those who have already planted an outdoor marijuana garden this year and are in full compliance, to grow no more than 12 plants outdoors this year, effective April 1.

"It they aren't in compliance by April 1, I have no sympathy for them, and they will be banned," said Supervisor Burt Bundy.

Voting against the ordinance was Supervisor Candy Carlson, who said she believes the ordinance is "a major mistake and an abuse of power."

Carlson, who was elected in November, has not dealt with the county's marijuana cultivation ordinance until now.

"There are better ways to handle this issue," she said.

Carlson's comments were heralded by those attending the board's meeting who opposed the outdoor ban.

However, those in the audience supporting the ordinance, which originated in 2010, voiced their approval and appreciation the board passed the ban.

For the past few years, there has been rampant, illegal and criminal marijuana gardens growing throughout the county, but most specifically in Rancho Tehama and western Tehama County.

The Tehama County Sheriff's Department's full-time abatement deputy and a county code enforcement officer worked nearly around the clock trying to keep up with the number of complaints filed by residents concerning out of compliance pot gardens.

In an effort to bring the problem under control, the amended urgency ordinance was proposed.

The urgency ordinance prohibits outdoor cultivation of marijuana, regulates the structures within which pot can be cultivated and establishes an alternative abatement process not subject to review under the California Environmental Act.

Ordinance amendments specify outdoor cultivation is banned, cultivation within residences or other buildings used for human occupancy is banned, and cultivation is limited to detached accessory structures meeting specified requirements.

In addition, the registration process is revised to allow county Environmental Health to refuse to accept registrations for sites in violation of the ordinance.

The ordinance establishes a new administrative hearing process for abatements. The process would be an alternative to the current board procedure allowing the board to appoint one or more hearings officers to handle marijuana abatement, requiring the hearings officers to be attorneys with at least five years of experience. Previously, all of the abatement hearings were heard by the Board of Supervisors.

The county will now contract with licensed attorneys to serve as hearing officers for marijuana cultivation hearings at a cost not to exceed $25,000 annually and to be "absorbed within existing budgeted appropriations."

Abatement hearings would automatically be scheduled on the next available hearing days, no sooner than six days later to speed the process. If the abatement citation is upheld, the grower has two days to follow the abate order.

With the pot growing season expected to start early this year, the ordinance was adopted to preserve public peace, health and safety, according to county documents.

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