The latest newsletter can be found inside last week’s North Coast Journal, and for me the most interesting portion was the one dedicated to four questions asked of each of the candidates.  I can’t find it online at either the NCJ or HumCPR sites.

I’m going to summarize the responses pretty much ignoring the commentary candidates gave which is not directly related to the question.  You should read them on your own however, as some of what they say is tangentially related, sometimes provided when the candidate didn’t feel it was a question appropriate for the position for which he or she is running.  I sometimes receive some complaints about my interpretations of campaign statements, occasionally even from candidates I support.  I could say that sometimes the “confusion” is the product of the difficulty of interpreting either inadvertently or deliberately vague or evasive responses, but I’ll leave that up to you.  This is just a primer for those of you who may not access the newsletter any time soon.

I think the wording of a couple of the questions are problematic as well, as noted.  A few of the candidates respond to a question by challenging a premise behind it, and I note that in my summary.  If I can’t tell what the candidate position is on the question, I note that as well.

Fourth District Supervisor:

Do you believe the County should uphold the people’s principally permitted right to build a home with a home with a ministerial permit on their legal existing parcel? (this question assumes that the right is always principally permitted as oppose to conditionally permitted regardless of zoning or other legal status of the land, or at least it fails to distinguish).

Virginia Bass – Yes, as long as the right is recognized by state and county law.

Jeff Leonard – I think maybe the answer is a yes, but basically he defines “ministerial permit” and says that the definition has been changed for the Marina Center project and objects to that process.

Bonnie Neely – Points out that it is not a principally permitted right with every parcel under existing law and says that discretionary permits are applicable when there is an issue of compatibility with surrounding land uses.  Believes that the Board needs to review ag zone and TPZ policy and establish a set of checks and balances, but not require conditional use permits for the majority situations in which owners don’t intend to receive tax breaks for ag or TPZ status.

Should the County have the right to unilaterally merge existing parcels that were legally created just because a single owner now owns them?

Virginia Bass – No

Jeff Leonard – No

Bonnie Neely – The county does not have that right.  The existing law provides for due process.  Using the merger ordinance to prevent fragmentation of timber and agricultural lands may not be a good idea.  She wants to hear alternatives.

Do you believe that the public has been adequately informed and given sufficient opportunities for meaningful input in the General Plan Update process?

Virginia Bass – Acknowledges that the County has spend a great deal of time over the years on the issue, but does not believe that the information provided has been adequate or timely.

Jeff Leonard – Says that the county has taken ample public input on the GPU, but needs to speed up the process.

Bonnie Neely – Yes

Do you believe that the County is effectively administering the current General Plan?

Virginia Bass – Responds in the negative and then refers to a lack of clarity which applies to policy regarding the current plan as well as the update.

Jeff Leonard – Doesn’t really answer.  He says he’s done a good job with Eureka’s General Plan and says that complaints about the County process should be directed to Bonnie Neely.

Bonnie Neely – yes, especially considering the funding limitations.

The responses from the other races are summarized below the fold.

Fifth District Supervisor:

Do you believe the County should uphold the people’s principally permitted right to build a home with a home with a ministerial permit on their legal existing parcel? (this question assumes that the right is always principally permitted as oppose to conditionally permitted regardless of zoning or other legal status of the land, or at least it fails to distinguish).

Ryan Sundberg – Supports the current permit procedures.

Patrick Higgins – Yes, as long as all policy considerations have been factored into the requirements for a ministerial permit, particularly environmental and conservation considerations.

Patrick Cleary – Yes, for all residential zoned properties.  Says it’s more complicated for ag or industrial zoned properties.  Supports ministerial permits for one home per parcel on TPZ parcels of 160 acres or larger.

Jeff Lytle – Yes, because a right is a right.

Should the County have the right to unilaterally merge existing parcels that were legally created just because a single owner now owns them?

Ryan Sundberg- No

Patrick Higgins – Supports the existing merger ordinance as applied towards Williamson Act and TPZ land only.  Points out that owners receive tax breaks precisely because it is necessary to treat the land differently from residential land in order to preserve resources.

Patrick Cleary – Does not support the Merger Ordinance in its current form.  Supports an ordinance to prevent fragmentation with incentives and possibly a merger ordinance, but also to allow for owners to roll out of applicable land status.

Jeff Lytle – I’m pretty sure the response is “no.”

Do you believe that the public has been adequately informed and given sufficient opportunities for meaningful input in the General Plan Update process?

Ryan Sundberg – I’m not clear on his answer to the question.  He commends the Commission for holding a meeting in Garberville, then says that he’s concerned about the people who are concerned about the proposed plan.

Patrick Higgins – Commends the Planning Commission for its efforts, but suggests the Board of Supervisors could do more to explain the process in their own districts and promises to spend lots of time in the 5th District.  Was this a swipe at outgoing Jill Duffy?

Patrick Cleary – I’m not sure he addresses the question specifically, except to suggest that the County can do better despite having held “160 meetings” and received “600 comments.”  Thinks it’s time to finish the process.  Basically, I think he’s trying to say that it’s been open enough and it’s time to finish the process.

Jeff Lytle – The whole process has been twisted, deflected, and deformed.

Do you believe that the County is effectively administering the current General Plan?

Ryan Sundberg – There are too many time delays in permit approvals.

Patrick Higgins – Lack of resources and staff are a problem.  Efficiency can be improved.  The inequities put a particular burden on those with less money to spend.

Patrick Cleary – The current General Plan is difficult to administer because it is out of date and not in compliance with state laws.  The Planning Department needs better administration.  The Headwaters Fund should be used to streamline permitting and increase transparencies, but the project has not been implemented.

Jeff Lytle – Leaders have failed.  Special interests are bad.

Assessor:

Do you believe the County should uphold the people’s principally permitted right to build a home with a home with a ministerial permit on their legal existing parcel? (this question assumes that the right is always principally permitted as oppose to conditionally permitted regardless of zoning or other legal status of the land, or at least it fails to distinguish).

Johanna Rodoni – Yes.

Jon Brooks – Doesn’t believe the question is in the purview of the Assessor’s Office, pledges to stay out of other political issues, and tries to explain the role of Assessor.  He addresses tangential issues, such as the lack of clarity with regard to the difference between a legal parcel and an Assessor’s parcel.

Mari Wilson – The Assessor’s job is to locate, identify, and value all of the land.  The existence of a permit or legal parcel is not in the scope of the Assessor’s job.

Should the County have the right to unilaterally merge existing parcels that were legally created just because a single owner now owns them?

Johanna Rodoni – No, as it will have numerous negative impacts on the owners.

Jon Brooks – The issue is beyond the purview of the office.  He will assess all property, whether merged or not, as specified by law.

Mari Wilson – Assessor’s Parcels are only combined at the request of the owner.

Do you believe that the public has been adequately informed and given sufficient opportunities for meaningful input in the General Plan Update process?

Johanna Rodoni – More effort is needed for such an important process.

Jon Brooks – The Assessor’s office is not directly involved in the process, but may be able to help with the process by providing improved data and analysis, particularly with regard to the “illegal subdivision” issues.

Mari Wilson – The question is not appropriate for an Assessor candidate and should be directed to offices directly involved in the process.

Do you believe that the County is effectively administering the current General Plan?

Johanna Rodoni – In some cases no.  The County is delaying processes in anticipation of the GPU, when decisions should be based solely upon the existing plan until a new one is implemented.  The current plan with a little tweaking should be the basis of the new plan.

Jon Brooks – Again, the issue is not a direct one for the Assessor’s office, but the Assessor can be indirectly helpful.  The Assessor should not become involved in subdivision and zoning controversies, and should coordinate with other agencies to send tax bills to record owners, while helping to provide notice to innocent owners of questionable parcels.

Mari Wilson – Again, the question is not appropriate for a candidate for the Assessor’s Office.

District Attorney:

Do you believe the County should uphold the people’s principally permitted right to build a home with a home with a ministerial permit on their legal existing parcel? (this question assumes that the right is always principally permitted as oppose to conditionally permitted regardless of zoning or other legal status of the land, or at least it fails to distinguish).

Allison Jackson – Prefaces by saying that the questions have nothing to do with running the D.A.’s office, but offers her responses as a private attorney.  Says that people have a right to a ministerial permit process.

Paul Hagen – Prefaces by saying that the D.A. has no authority in the subject area of law, and cannot properly weigh in on subject issue policy decisions, and therefor declines to answer.

Paul Gallegos – Prefaces by saying that the D.A. needs to maintain neutrality on the issues in order to enforce the law in an equitable and just manner.  Does not believe it would be appropriate to voice personal opinions on the subject.  Therefor, no comment.

Should the County have the right to unilaterally merge existing parcels that were legally created just because a single owner now owns them?

Allison Jackson – Currently the County has that right if they follow certain requirements.  The County can, but should not as it causes significant financial burden and even financial ruination.

Paul Hagen – Declines to answer.

Paul Gallegos – No comment.

Do you believe that the public has been adequately informed and given sufficient opportunities for meaningful input in the General Plan Update process?

Allison Jackson – Disappointed in the meetings she has attended.

Paul Hagen – Declines to answer.

Paul Gallegos – No comment

Do you believe that the County is effectively administering the current General Plan?

Allison Jackson – No

Paul Hagen – Declines to answer.

Paul Gallegos – No comment.

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