Watertrough Childrens Alliance-
help us protect our children

Please make a note that every Tuesday at 1:30 pm at 575 Administration Blvd in Santa Rosa the public has a chance to speak to the Board of Supervisors about issues in this county.  We consider this on ongoing issue and would appreciate anyone and everyone attending to help clarify to the BOS what needs to be done.

My name is Lori Gatmaitan.

I am new to understanding how local government agencies work and indeed how the press works since I was assumed to be a protestor yesterday while viewing the destruction of the trees at the orchard adjacent to Apple Blossom School in Sebastopol. Yesterday I went to look at the apple trees laying on their sides and to try and figure out another way to protect my daughter and all the children, and was interviewed about my concerns. In Matt's defense, I did not distinguish myself from others present. So, in the interest of learning from yesterday, I am a concerned parent of a wonderful 10 year old who goes to Apple Blossom school.

It is my understanding that out of all the local and state agencies, you all as a group hold the power to help protect our children during this time of conversion of the apple orchard to vineyard. My concern is the conversion process itself and that it be handled safely. The conversion falls through the cracks of the laws we currently have legislated and all the permits were done accordingly. So again, I come to you all because you have the power to protect our children. We are your constituents and need your protection in this matter.

I am specifically asking this board to temporarily halt the work being done at 622 Watertrough Rd in Sebastopol. I do not dispute the landowner's right to do what he wants on his property. What is important here is that the conversion has the great potential to harm his neighbors, the children, teachers, and staff at 5 schools in close proximity. Three schools literally share a common 2,080 ft border with the orchard.

There has been 50+ years of pesticide use on this land and I ask the board to require Paul Hobbs Winery to pay for an independent, EPA approved group to conduct a comprehensive soil test. These results need to be made public to the community, school board, AG commissioner, and to this board of supervisors. Then a plan to safe guard everyone concerned can be created and implemented properly before the conversion resumes.

Thank you for listening to my concerns and protecting our children.

Thomas Cooper of the Apple Roots Group spoke: 

Orchard Conversion briefing to Board of Supervisors. by Thomas Cooper on 6/18/13. Included in this briefing are 1) narrative of my trip to 6/17/13 Orchard Site, 2) Press Release for action on 6/17/13. 3) Aerial map of Orchard Conversion. 

I went to 622 Watertrough Rd in Sebastopol from 9am to Noon to Decorate the Gate. I was hoping for 6-8 people attending and got 12. Press Democrat and Sonoma West Times reporters interviewed those present and PD photographer took many pictures. Raised concern about ongoing Orchard Conversion on Watertrough Rd and the health risks posed by toxic dust drifting onto the 5 schools nearby. Removal of tree started while we were there. The dust from the work coated my face, hair and glasses. I could also smell and taste it. 
Included in this briefing is an aerial map of the orchard and show how the orchard surrounds Apple Blossom Campus on three sides. No amount of setback or barrier will stop dust from drifting onto the schools. I also Restated Apple Roots key demands
1) Complete moratorium on new vineyards in Sonoma County to thoroughly review safer, new best practices for vineyard management
2) Review the issue of land use for vineyards at the expense of open space, wildlife and human safety and food grown for people to eat.

I learned today the following the current Orchard Conversion process underway is exempt from the jurisdiction of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. Their mandate is contained within the State Health and Safety code 41701 to investigate and enforce clear air standards, in this case drift of dust. Code 41705 stated code 41701 does not apply to agricultural operations or use of agricultural equipment necessary for the growing of crops or raising of fowl or animals. 

This is a blatant example of Corporate Agribusiness creating laws and codes to benefit their multi-billion dollar business at the expense open space, wildlife and human safety and food grown for people.


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