Dispatches from the Housing Element of the General Plan Update

By: Mary Ella Anderson

Eureka, California.


Just getting back to the thread. Regarding the Housing Element (HE), now that it’s back to the Board of Supervisors some of the more damaging inserts have been dropped. The thing that struck me about the Planning commission (not including Levy and Masten in this generalization, is that they have a deep distrust of their staff and they are intent on righting what they believe are wrongs that were visited on them by county government in the past.

One of the funniest things that happened at the Board of Supervisors was Humboldt Association of Realtors reaction to the mapping of tsunami zones. Tina Christensen complained that if properties are declared to be in the tsunami zone realtors won’t be able to sell them. Labels are bad for business, I guess.

Several of the Supervisors, Chair Bohn in particular, argued to keep a provision the Planning Commissioners had insisted on adding that would make the country responsible not just for tenant’s rights (something defined in California law) but also for landlord’s rights. It took two County Counsels and both the Planning Department head and his assistant to persuade them that in law landlords have responsibilities rather rights. There was some disgruntlement that the county wouldn’t take on the responsibility of identifying what landlord rights were and how the county could protect them.

Basically, the state of California is trying to move ahead into the 21st Century and the Gang of Four and their buddies on the PC are intent on moving backwards to a mythical 1950s, a time before integration and all that environmental hippie tree hugging crap.

It’s a toss up as to whether the HE will emerge in good enough condition to pass muster as the state level. It’s a shame because funded housing projects are probably the only ones that are going to be built for some time, given the prevailing economic doldrums, and if the HE doesn’t get approved they won’t get funded or built.

The show continues on May 5.

Note:  This was a comment inspired by green anon but written so wonderfully by Mary Ella in the previous comment thread.  If any one wants to comment about their observations on any Planning Commission or Board of Supervisors meeting on the GPU – to include the Housing Element, let me know either by email or in the comment section.  I will post it here with minimal editing.  I invite all perspectives, my only request (and it is a request, not a requirement at this point) is please use your name or a consistant email so we can follow your thought process over time.  ie, no blue gravitar anons please.


What One Party Rule Looks Like

30 years from now, my niece Liberal Leila and other current 2 year-olds might wonder how, back int 2012-14, did a Democratic majority Board of Supervisors (BOS) do what they did to the General Plan Update over the past 2 years.  They also might note that both other members of the BOS were registered as Decline to State. “How did they vote so overwhelmingly conservatively” Leila and friends might ask.  I think the answer lies in part in the HCDCC endorsement meeting last night.

(BTW, if you are not clear on what this BOS has done, please find the April Fools edition of the Mad River Union.  It’s wonderful.)

So, we have in this country two very clear and very different governing philosophies.  One side would admit that government can be good and has a role to play in softening the excesses of capitalism and the free market.  The other side is very skeptical of government and believes if left alone, the market and individuals will make the best decisions on their own.

Unfortunately, we have decided as a community to toss away these two ready-made political parties in favor of only one.  This creates great problems for democracy as public debates of substance,  differences, and even acrimony on matters of policy are limited.  What we are left with is maneuvering, back-room dealing, leverage – oh, and a whole lot of glad-handing.

Last night, the one remaining effective party in HumCo put on an open house and weighed in on two incredibly important subjects that are going to be on the June 6th ballot – the Board of Supervisors and by extension the General Plan Update, and the District Attorney’s race.  Unfortunately, we swung and missed as predicted.  We could not endorse* which was the specific hope, if not strategy of the Bass campaign.  In Matthew Owen’s words, “now the voters get to decide”.

Is that really what just happened Matthew?  Or did you, Virginia and friends join the growing club of people working to short circuit a political system given the new realities of one party rule in Humboldt, AND, I might mention in California.

It’s a big problem for democracy and any hope we have as a community, as a state and nation, and ultimately as a globe if we cannot use our political system to address real problems honestly and openly.  I’m thinking specifically of climate change, but inequality, economic sustainability, etc.  also depend on an open and honest discussion and approach to problem solving.

Matthew, did you notice that during Virginia’s comments she did not mention the General Plan Update?  But the Building Department as a Service Department was the one thing she mentioned at her campaign kick-off.  What is it that can explain that paradox?  Is it possible that the HCDCC is not the best place to discuss a service oriented instead of planning oriented Planning Department?  And wouldn’t it be cool if there was a party where she could express her opinion?

Not only do I think it would be cool, I think it is critical.

Anyway, here is a link to the votes last night.  I added a little subjective categorizing of GPU voting blocks for your mulling pleasure.

* I mean besides in the 5th District!  Hooray for Sharon and for democracy up there.  Let’s start using some Democratic resources to get Sharon elected and to tell Congressman Huffman and the Driscoll bros WTH man?  Also, Mike McGuire and Jim Wood lets stand up for Sharon Latour strongly and loudly!

Democracy on Display Wednesday Night – Warts and All.

A big Democratic open house at the Labor Temple Wednesday night.  Come out and bring a friend.  It should be exciting even if it’s uneventful.

People have a great deal riding on this.  A Democratic endorsement is important.  In the last presidential election 64% of the electorate voted left of center, only 36% right of center in Humboldt County.  This is why no one runs as a Republican (did you know Rex Bohn is a Decline to State?  Ryan too.)  This is also why people with both conservative economic and financial views and somewhat moderate social views from a national perspective choose to run and be active as Democrats.

It also helps that we have a core group of old school civic minded and hard working individuals who have built our local party to be a significant force in local politics.  These individuals include Milt Boyd, Phillis Seawright, Bob and Pam Service, Linda Atkins, Bette Boyd, Julie Timmons, Jean Caldwell, tens of wonderful people who join together every  month as they can to fight for small d and capital D Democratic values.

So this Wednesday come out and see the fun.  Most likely we already know what’s going to happen.  Unfortunately, Virginia’s and/or Matthew’s and Richard’s strategy to define “Democrat” by their narrow definition* will have worked.  They will have probably weighed the scale down enough so the HCDCC will not be able to endorse either Chris or Virginia.

It’s also likely that Sharon will get an endorsement as unlike Congressman Huffman and Candidates Wood and McGuire our members will pay attention to values AND Party and votes that way when we can.  It’s possible that Maggie will get an endorsement, but with three Democrats involved in the race (even if one is in name only) and important local Democrats like John Woolley endorsing Elan, perhaps not probable.

We’ll see.

In a related story, who will the Republicans be endorsing this year?  Hmmm.  Maybe they know better than to curse a candidate with their imprimatur.

So come one, come all.  It will be another episode of a pretty great and consequential political drama and a great deal is on the line.  I would guess at least 5 to 10 points in an election if the candidate takes advantage of the endorsement.  So turn off the boob tube and/or the Giants game and get involved in local civics and politics.   It has all the drama and infighting of a soap opera, all the excitement of a horse race with the added bonus that if you pay attention and get involved, you might be able to help direct our county, state and country in the direction of a better and more sustainable tomorrow – however YOU think we could achieve that.

Special Democratic Monthly Meeting at the Labor Temple:

Wednesday April 9th,  7pm

840 E Street, Eureka.

Bring a friend!

*  This is the definition that prompts one to be concerned about adding a principle of supporting “democratic values” in our bylaws.  I mean the nerve, right?