"Grow House Hazards," Feature, 3/9
I Was There ... Illegally
In his article, David Downs writes, "The rapid rise of indoor marijuana farms can be traced to the 1980s, when the Reagan administration launched the Campaign Against Marijuana Planting, or CAMP. The program sent government-funded helicopters and cops to backwoods farms in the Emerald Triangle, the famed Northern California pot-growing region that includes Humboldt and Mendocino counties."
As a soldier with the 7th Infantry Division at Fort Ord in the early-1990s, I participated in several of these raids with my aviation unit. It was never explained to us that this was a violation of the Posse Comitatus Act, and that as active duty soldiers we should not have been used to aid the DEA in these "greensweeps," as they were commonly called.
Michelle Cook, San Jose
Electrician for Hire
There is a distinct irony in having an improperly wired or under-powered grow room facility of any size. Growers, for the most part, fail to recognize that a modern grow room needs to be treated as another addition to the structure. The available power at receptacles is, at best, suitable for timers, fans, and control mechanisms. All else (and, ideally every part of the grow) should be fed from a separate sub-panel, mounted in (or between) the designated room(s), from which all power emanates. This sub-panel must be properly fed from a breaker located in the main distribution panel. These sub-panels can be mounted on "power distribution panels," onto which all receptacles, breakers, and contactors are mounted. This makes it easy to "take your grow room power with you" when you move.
All it takes is knowledge of the electrical devices and their (separate and combined) power consumption, wire size, voltage drop, conduit bending, crawling through attics with power drills, etc. In other words, it takes a qualified (read: licensed and insured) electrician whom you can trust not to talk about your grow in bars on Saturday night. At the very least, one should read a book on basic wiring methods and follow the printed suggestions. Your grow room should be wired to electrical standards that an inspector would require for your (and everybody else's) safety, regardless of whether it would actually be approved and allowed.
My company is 420Electric (420Electric.com), serving the East Bay. While any electrician with a license and insurance is qualified to wire a grow room, my California electrical contractors license (license number 952214) has me branded, for better or worse, as 420Electric. One can understand how this company name stands in the way of the occasional remodel job for most upscale businesses. I am, however, dedicated to designing, wiring, inspecting, and troubleshooting grow rooms, and my professional affiliation with the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners requires integrity with my clients — under which "discretion" falls.
Thank you for an opportunity to address this issue. There is no excuse for growers who are raising crops worth thousands of dollars to try to DIY, or hire Joe Six-Pack or Timmy Two-Finger. Worse yet is the idea of stealing (or "jumping") power. This inevitably results in fire and loss, as people who steal power rarely do so to "code." The power company isn't tracking you (yet) and you aren't doing things right if you cannot cover the expense and investment necessary to install safe, reliable power distribution that will yield many fine crops over time.
Baran Galocy, Berkeley
A Bad Example
It is disgusting how municipalities are so eager to overlook the illegalities going on right now, as long as they get their share of the profits. Is that what we are teaching our youth? This is the worst form of politics I have witnessed in my 74 years.
Howard "Duke" Holtz, Lakeport, CA
"The Demise of Kitty's," News, 3/9
The Wrong Target
We're very disappointed in the Emeryville City Council for the attitude taken against Kitty's. As new neighbors in this community, part of our decision to move here was a well-planned urban living community, as the city advertised itself, and for us, coming from Los Angeles, a nearby entertainment venue was a must. When we found Kitty's bar, it felt like home, and the first thing that we did was Salsa Night. Unfortunately, Oakland does not offer the desirable atmosphere for nightlife and Berkeley was not planned for entertainment venues, so Emeryville is ideal for this purpose. It's a shame they don't see it that way. We even took some friends visiting from Los Angeles and they fell in love with the place.Hopefully the council will reconsider its actions and everything can go back to normal.
One thing that we don't understand: Why Kitty's instead of the Card Club on San Pablo? And Black and White Liquor? Those businesses bring unattractive clientele to the city. Best of luck, Kitty, and we support you.
Gaudy Welsh, Emeryville
A Voting Force
Kitty's cabaret license is very important to the Latin community. This venue has been very supportive of Latin music in the Bay Area and has become one of the most important locations for performance and expression of Latin music and culture.There are thousands of dancers, musicians, and fans who depend on venues like Kitty's to participate in, share, and express their Latin culture. This community is strong, very well-connected, technically savvy ... and we vote!
Tony Sternad, El Cerrito
A Change for the Better
It's rather sad that Kitty Faria thinks her business will fail without a cabaret license. As a former patron and neighbor, I can say that my interest in Kitty's has returned now that the non-local club crowd is gone. I know many, many people who stopped going just because of that crowd. The lines, the dress code, the club atmosphere, the constant scuffles — very unappealing for people who just want to get drunk with some friends. There are very few bars in the immediate area and my friends and I regularly go to bars just to "come hang out and ... talk." The Ruby, the Missouri, and Radio don't seem to be failing on that very same model.