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Last October the Board of Supervisors amended the “Urgency Ordinance” enacted codes to allow people to hold candles or signs after dark, but there can be no free-standing signs, tables or displays.
At the same time daytime restrictions on the use of tables, free-standing signs and displays were imposed.  A person must be within 4 feet of each item and there must be 4 feet of unrestricted passage between each item. Still in place is a complete ban on long time practices such as hanging or staking signs, having a temporary shelter, and serving food. The language is broad enough to be open to interpretation/enforcement.
To discuss the situation, a committee from the Human Rights Commission (HRC) met twice with a Board of Supervisors’ committee. Then, in early March, the HRC committee was disbanded and another HRC committee was appointed, “to avoid the Brown Act.” It proceeded with unannounced meetings, invited guests only.
Local poet Jerry Martien captured this rather turbulent period in this wonderful parody:
 2 April, 2013
To: Humboldt County Human Rights Commission
From: Humboldt County Human Rights Sub-Sub-Sub Commission
 Dear Commission Members:
            This is to explain our decision to replace your Commission with our own, and to re-locate its meetings to the third basement of the Humboldt County courthouse. Naturally, we have covertly discussed this move with at least two County Supervisors, law enforcement personnel, and CAO Smith-Hanes, and they fully agree. Trust us on this.
We realize that this will remove human rights issues even farther from the public eye, and regret that we cannot divulge our reasons for this decision. Disclosing the decision-making process of a sub-sub-sub committee and/or sub-sub-sub commission is prohibited by the Deep Deep Brown Act (Section 001.382, Sub-sub section R) and by strongly held privacy issues of several of our sub-sub-sub commission members.
            This action is retroactive to September, 2011, and removes all policies, discoveries, and memory of decisions made since that time, especially regarding Occupy, its rationale and justifications, homelessness, criminalization of street people, lack of public toilets, and Ordinance 2488, formerly known as Ordinance 2477, including your decision to call for its rescission, modification, accommodation, and/or compromise.
Change elevators at level 2. Thank you for your patience during this transition.
 For the Underground,
Sub-sub-sub Commandante Martien

Now, five months later, word is the committee is presenting a document for review and discussion at the August 1st HRC meeting. Made available through a Public Records Act request, a July 9 draft is available at

The recommendations are mostly good, so far.  But it is not the review of the urgency ordinance called for in the Board’s September 25 motion, and not the further modifications Board members verbally requested. As a Board commission the HRC was between a rock and a hard place; follow the written motion or the verbal request?
This committee draft again recommends repeal. This would be the third time the Human Rights Commission has recommended the Board repeal, will it stand firm?
Unfortunately, it is difficult to know what, if anything, will be discussed; the agenda is not yet public. A draft agenda has been shared, but it is unchanged from prior months and states simply “Committee Report.”
If you wish to attend the HRC Thursday, August 1st  meeting, it is at 5pm in Conference Room A of the Courthouse.
Comments or thank you notes can be sent to:

or posted with the committee’s July 9 draft at