Last week was a very eventful week on all things GPU. Not that you would know that from the local media unfortunately.
Planning Commissioner Lee Ulansey and his 3 and probably 4 friends (when Commissioner Linda Disiere is able to make it to a meeting) are doing the bidding of their benefactors. So much so that after 2 hours of debate on Thursday night, after quite an effort was made by 3 professional biologists, including Gordon Leppig and another California Fish and Wildlife biologist and Jennifer Kalt from Humboldt Baykeeper toward fairly simple and effective language in BR-S4 – a section of 10 .3*, the Planning Commission basicly said, “Public, schmublic the Working Lands Resource language is just fine for our purposes”.
In a move that seemed to shock everyone in the room, including his fellow Commissioners, Commissioner David Edmonds, in what seemed to be frustration in a public comment that had just occured, made a motion to accept, without changes, language by the Working Lands Resource Group**. The motion was quickly voted on and straw voted in 4-0 with soon-to-be-voting Commissioner Noah Levy not able to vote thanks to concerned citizen Bill Bertain who is a stickler for process when it comes to our County government. (sarcasm!)
This moment was another in a series of mind-boggling events that have become part and parcel of the HumCPR led changes to the GPU. This moment is one of the clearest of who is driving the show.
Please think about recovering from our collective despondency and come out to future meetings to be another witness to the catastrophe that is happening in slow-motion before our eyes. I’ve heard this from Harbor Commissioner Richard Marks (a past and probable future Supervisor Bass supporter) and Planning Commissioner Alan Bongio, one of the reasons they feel empowered to vote the way they do is that they think no one in this county cares about the GPU. Seriously. If you care, please show up or at the very least write comments to the Planning Commission GPU site. They are recording these and as of now the majority they are receiving are from those with vested interests.
What has happened since 2010, as a fairly balanced GPU had been developed, is the Chamber of Commerce, HumCPR and property rights advocates rode a wave of anti-government Tea Party animus largely fueled by opposition to a completely unrelated national health-care debate into the majority. Their main argument was that they believed in democracy and process and their voice wasn’t getting heard. They may have been a quarter true. They were getting heard, they may not have gotten everything they wanted. But it’s beyond a reasonable doubt now that they had no interest whatsoever in a public process. All they wanted was what they wanted, and they finally have it now with our county’s top property rights lobbyist leading the changes in your General Plan Update from the head of the PC dais.
I understand Commissioner Ulansey is not the Chair, but one visit to a PC meeting will demonstrate who is the force behind these changes. This man knows what he is doing and he is a very effective proponent for his and his constituent’s goals.
This week’s meetings: (both 6pm at the Supervisor’s Chambers at the Courthouse (5th and I, Eureka)
Thursday, February 6th (probable)
* For those new to this or busy with things such as … life… 10.3 refers to Chapter 10 subchapter? 3 of the GPU. Chapter 10 is the Conservation and Open Space Chapter. One that has many protections for rare and endangered species for one and it is apparently very important for those in the know to get this language just right. The Chapter or “Element” was sent back to the Planning Commission in large part due to a couple of very forceful letters to the BOS care of Humboldt Building Exchange’s and Mercer Fraser’s environmental lawyers. Subsection (is that the word?) 3 (ie in 10.3) is the Biological Resources subchapter and it has many of the definitions that industry, realtors, property owners, contractors, are trying to whittle down into ineffectiveness. Of course they would say they are simply trying to make these definitions black and white.
You can find much of what was discussed Tuesday and Thursday nights in the very long staff report to the Commissioners here. The section BR-S4 is on page 91. I encourage everyone who can’t make it to check out the videos of the proceedings. They contain all the drama of prime time with the extra significance that these proceedings are real and will affect our county’s planning process for the next 20 to 30 years.
** Working Lands Resource Group = (According to their letterhead) Large Timberland Owner’s Group, Forest Landowners of California (Humboldt County Representatives), Humboldt/DelNorte Cattlemen Association, Humboldt County Farm Bureau, The Buckeye. BTW, I would hope that I would probably share a bunch of common ground with the Farm Bureau and The Buckeye. It would be very interesting to know more about how much say they had in these updates, but this document is of course from a private group and we will sadly not be privy to those meetings.
Note: RIP Phillip Seymour Hoffman. One of the top actors of my generation is shockingly gone. He will be missed.
DHF! Administrative Notes: I’m adding the Planning Commission meeting notices to the “milestone” widget instead of the registration deadline that is still 3 months off. For those who care right now, the deadline for the June primary is May 19th 2014 at 5 pm.
Also, thank you to Senior Planner Michael Richardson for his help with navigating the BOS, PC, GPU web sites!