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Peter read some of the discussion in a previous thread and wrote out the following history and thought. I welcome his thoughts, and even agree with some of them. I disagree with others, but when I have the time I’ll place my responses into the thread with everyone else. It’s a long piece, most of it under the fold. Also, some of the sentences appear to have been chopped short, and that may be a formatting conversion issue. I’ll compare what’s below with what was sent to me later and correct them manually. I’ve already done that with a few sentences, but I can’t finish until later and I think the essence of the writing is below.
Let me start by saying that it troubles me deeply to see Bonnie Blackberry and Dan Taranto spoken of in such terms, by bloggers whose ignorance seems to me to be equaled by their arrogance. Bonnie and Dan are two of the most intelligent, selfless, and tireless public servants it has ever been my privilege to know (and work with). You who so facilely demean them have no idea what they have done, for you among so many others, over so many years.
Riding such a high horse makes it hard to see what’s actually down there on the ground. So here’s a little history, for what it may be worth. One person’s version, of course.
I moved to SoHum in 1971. My wife designed a charming little house and I built it. At the outset of the process I applied for a building permit but I let it lapse when I read the fine print and discovered that the house could be abated (bulldozed) because it didn’t conform to the Uniform Building Code; for instance it used recycled lumber, and my electrical outlets weren’t the proper distance apart (they didn’t exist; we used kerosene lamps for the first fourteen years). I also discovered that the Building Department had no interest in flexibility. So my house was illegal, and this was worrisome since I planned to live out my days here.
In 1979 I was asked by a County supervisor to join the Citizens’ Advisory Committee on the Housing Element (CACHE). I knew Dan Taranto, who was heading up the committee; as we were both owner-builders and had both had similar difficulties with the Building Department (at that time separate from the Planning Department) and since we knew that there were quite a lot of other folks in the County in a similar situation we decided that the “alternative owner-builder” should be considered a legitimate component of the county’s housing stock and should be properly represented in the Housing Element along with several other categories of owner building. (The CACHE Subcommittee on Housing Regulations conducted a survey of building permits which indicated that the many forms of owner building accounted for 65% of home building activity in the County). I was the Alternative Owner-Builder representative on the CACHE committee, and the upshot of our work in that specific area was the Alternative Owner-Builder program, which has something over three hundred houses under its umbrella and which is, I’m happy to say, currently accepted by the Planning/Building Department as a legitimate response to a real need.
Mark Lovelace will join me on KHSU tonight at 7:00 p.m. to discuss the status of the General Plan Update.
Call in with your questions.
I did extend an invitation to all of the Supervisors. All but one responded, and only Mark can join me.
Humboldt Builder’s Exchange is threatening a lawsuit if the Board of Supervisors doesn’t reboot the whole GPU.
The Sups. will finish reviewing the Guiding Principles this coming Mon., Oct. 7, starting a 1:30 pm. I believe the large number of people who showed up at the last session and stood up for the environment contributed greatly to some compromises that the Sups. made – leading to a better outcome than I originally predicted. However, they only got through G.P. # 5, so there is some very important work left to be done.
If this time we also get a good turn out of folks speaking out for environmental health and protection, it can make it difficult for the Sups. to backpedal and not continue to compromise. No doubt the development crowd will be there to push for no, or very minimal, restrictions and environmental safeguards.
Please come if you are at all able and speak briefly about the importance of environmental protection for us and our future generations. The public input begins at 1:30 pm and there’s nothing wrong with saying your piece and leaving shortly afterward.
-For Immediate Release-
Supervisors Make Substantial Changes to GPU Guiding Principles
Despite Pleas for Robust Public Review Process
June 3, 2013
Eureka, CA – On Monday, June 3, the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors did an about face on the Guiding Principles of the County’s General Plan Update. Despite requests from many speakers, including Hezekiah Allen of the Mattole Restoration Council and local resident Lisa Zystro, for more time to review a new set of principles that were released just three days before the hearing, the Board voted 4-1 to substantially alter the original Guiding Principles. The original principles were developed with significant public input over several years and unanimously approved by both the Board of Supervisors in 2004 and then by the Planning Commission, with a few minor changes, in 2012.
Supervisor Fennell, after emphasizing the importance of public participation, decided against giving another two weeks for the public to review and comment on the major changes to the Guiding Principles. Supervisor Bohn made a claim that he felt the new Principles, which were developed behind closed doors, were representative of the community as a whole despite significant concerns brought up by many members of the public in attendance. Supervisors Bass and Sundberg were quick to support the new language leaving Third District Supervisor Mark Lovelace to be the lone dissenting voice.
In response to the outcome of Monday’s hearing, NorthcoastEnvironmentalCenter director Dan Ehresman stated, “The Board’s decision to approve a brand new set of Guiding Principles absent even a week for public review greatly undermines the very idea of robust public participation that this Board supposedly supports.”
Speaking specifically about the newly adopted principles Ehresman continued, “What concerns me most is not necessarily what these new principles say, it is what they leave out. Specifically, the Board decided to take out all reference to protecting forests and farmland from further subdivision – which was an underlying concept that has community support. Moreover, the Board voted to remove a key principle that spoke to the importance of including actionable plans for funding critical infrastructure needs. Given vastly outdated water and sewer lines and a $200 million backlog in costs needed to repair failing roads, one would hope that our government representatives might want to take this issue at least a little seriously.”
The new version also eliminates support of the County’s economic development strategy and prioritizes landowners’ rights over the rights of those who do not own property and over environmental protections in general.
Ehresman concluded, “Overall, we fear that the Board’s decision marks a very clear turning point away from a meaningful public process that seeks to balance the interests of our broad community in favor of one that serves the self-interest of some developers, Realtors, and large property owners.
About the Northcoast Environmental Center
The mission of the Northcoast Environmental Center is to promote understanding of the relations between people and the biosphere and to conserve, protect, and celebrate terrestrial, aquatic, and marine ecosystems of northern California and southern Oregon.
For more information, please contact:
Northcoast Environmental Center
PO Box 4259
Addendum: Ryan Burns’s coverage.
It is an opinion piece. I’ve only skimmed it, and don’t have any comments just yet.
The discussion is scheduled for Monday.
I may have some comments later, after I’ve had the opportunity to read it carefully. But I wanted to post the link since the crucial discussion is only days away.
Addendum: I did read it and posted some comments within the thread.
Supervisor Clif Clendenen will join me to discuss the latest developments in the General Plan Update. Call-in format as usual. 7:00 p.m.
It’s all happening at Lost Coast Outpost. To avoid confusion, go to the bottom and read up. I didn’t realize I was reading it backwards for a few minutes and it was reading like the movie Memento.
Is Sundberg breaking from the conservative majority? He says that he is not interested in scuttling the plan in its entirety. He did just barely win the last election against an environmental activist, and since then his district has lost Blue Lake. He can’t afford to be cavalier about it.
The Humboldt Sentinel reports on a very contentious special meeting of the Board of Supervisors, and it looks like the new conservative majority is ready to scrap the whole plan and start over. So far no coverage from the TS or any of the other media blogs.
Addendum: Coverage from the NCJ.
Second addendum: Hank comments on the majority’s concern that the document is too big and difficult to read.
I’ve received several emails, but went to check the County site and I can’t find any mention of the meetings. However, several people have told me that there will be meetings for the next two Mondays at Redway School.
Again, I haven’t confirmed with the County, but I’m told that this is the schedule:
Redway- Monday June 6, from 6 – 8pm (Elementary School)
Eureka- Wednesday June 8; from 6 – 8 pm (Wharfinger building) We were scheduled in the Bay room downstairs, but to accommodate more people, we’ve moved it upstairs.
McKinleyville- Thursday June 9, from 6 – 8pm (Azalea Hall)
Redway- Monday, June 13, from 6 – 8pm (Elementary School)
Eureka- Wednesday June 22; from 6:30 – 8 pm (Wharfinger building) (upstairs)
McKinleyville- Thursday June 23 from 6 – 8pm (Azalea Hall)
Redway- Monday, June 27 from 6 – 8pm (Elementary School)
All the comments received will be provided to the Planning Commission at their meeting on Thursday, June 30. The Planning Commission will be continuing their meeting to Thursday, July 14th. If you have any questions or comments call Michael Richardson, Senior Planner, Humboldt County Community Development Services at: (707) 268-3723