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As a real estate appraiser, I have seen small-scale, discreet cultivation of Marijuana that had no direct effect on neighbors at all. As a Yuba County Reserve Deputy Sheriff, I have seen massive grows reeking with crime, including the theft of water and electricity, serious environmental damage, home invasions, assaults and murders.

The median home price in Marysville increased from a low of $65,000 in 2011 to $175,000 in October, 2017, an increase of 169.2%.

In Olivehurst the median home price for the same period increased from $105,000 to $199,900 for an increase of 90.4%.

In Linda the median home price for the same period increased from $118,500 to $256,500 for an increase of 116.5%.

In Plumas Lake the median home price for the same period increased from $169,000 to $334,900 for an increase of 98.2%.

That gives an average median price increase in the Yuba County valley communities of 118.53%.

In comparison, the Yuba County foothill communities median home price (for parcels of five acres or less) increased from $181,000 to $304,000, an increase of only 68%.

I presented these numbers to a number of local real estate professionals and they all agreed that the stigma associated with illegal marijuana grows was a major contributing factor, especially since the difference in values appears to correlate with the communities that are affected the most by illegal marijuana impact.

If illegal marijuana cultivation is a factor in devaluing foothill properties, then the average foothill residence has lost up to $180,000 in potential appreciation over the past six years due in part to this criminal activity. The result is a significant investment loss and diminished retirement income for these residents, and significant unrealized property tax income for the county and state.

There may be other factors that have contributed to the arrested appreciation in the area and those should be identified and isolated if they exist. I hope to gather more data, including crime statistics and news stories as well as similar data from other Northern California counties, and to work with other real estate professionals to present a report filled with real data and supportable conclusions to the Yuba County Board of Supervisors, other governing bodies, and the public at large to aid them as they make future decisions regarding marijuana cultivation and crime enforcement.

The time for sticking our heads in the sand has passed. There is a significant disparity in the valuation of foothill homes that is now adversely affecting everyone in the County.

Steve Souza,

Loma Rica Ca