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.


48 thoughts on “Dispatches from the Housing Element of the General Plan Update

  1. Anonymous says:

    There’s still gold in them thar hills….

    Due to extraordinary voter non-participation rates, enough rural residents threw their hats in with this region’s greediest developers, speculators and their associated realtors, property managers, brokers, bankers, etc. to continue focusing limited public resources, transportation, emergency services, and infrastructure on remote subdivisions. They are biding their time hoping to continue the legacy of cashing-in on easy money subsidized by the public….big homes, mini-kingdoms, widened roads, bridges, and whatever fortune water and livestock can extract, as long as those pesky regulations are kept at bay!

    Backroom deals are already advancing on Eureka’s Zoo Barnum property, motivating residents to form opposition to Dan Johnson’s high-rise “affordable housing” proposal…(that reverts back to being un-affordable after a few decades). This property would be ideal for attractive, affordable housing with communal gardens that better-fit the neighborhood.

    A good journalist would have headlined Planning Commissioner Keven McKenny’s outrageous 3-minute address to the Planning Commission prior to taking his appointed seat. He feigned a “deep concern” over home owners facing “prohibitive regulations” in trying to build a 3rd bedroom to house an aging parent! This is the first public record of McKenny’s efforts on behalf of average folk while 15 years elapses at his “Towndowner” Motel that would make a excellent affordable housing facility for the elderly.

    Unfortunately, there’s so little relevant journalism taking place that the mere routine reporting of actual facts is easily discredited as “advocacy journalism” when IT IS NOT.

    What is the eligible voter non-participation rate?
    What is the home affordability rate?
    How many local foreclosures and bankruptcies were there last year, or since 2007??
    How many local homes are owner-occupied?
    How much public funding will be lost if the Housing Element fails?
    Didn’t Bass ‘n Bohn run campaigns against a continuously failing HE?
    How many poverty wage jobs can our rural economy support?
    How are our leaders planning for the drought, now in its 9th year?

    The Stazi or Gestapo would have been AMAZED at the non-violent efficiency by which fundamental facts are being silenced.

    “In a world of deceit, the truth is revolutionary” (Orwel).

    How many more fundamental questions and accessible statistics are not being asked or reported??

    Self-censorship in our “free-press” is a primary reason every category of our environment, economy and society continue to collapse.

    1. Oops anon. Not only not true, untrue. Almost, but not quite the opposite of truth.

      I wish I had more time, inshallah later. There was no progressive faction. Clif and Bonnie were not progressives, just Eisenhower Republicans (I don’t know Bonnie well enough to understand her politics – but Richard Marx is right about one thing- she was a Republican) seeing the light and standing up against the reactionary/Tea Party/libertarian streak that had swept our county.

      Unfortunately the combination of deception, money, and libertarian ferver from the left allowed a two election sweep that disallowed sanity from winning. Any question, go back to the first public speaker at the June 3rd BOS meeting on the GPU. Louis DeMartin. He knew who his 4 were. How did he know this? They were not all Repubilicans? Apparently two of them even understand that Global Warming is a clear and present danger, so what did he know that you didn’t?

      If a (not the) progressive Board (not faction) had governed (not ruled), they would have been able to cut through the crap and if Kirk G. was the monster the right makes him out to be, they would have been strong enough to work with him to insure continued public planning as is implied in the term General Plan. They would have been able to stop the false narrative driven by a “faction” of Chamber of Commerce land speculators that used the banners of Public and Democracy to insure democratic double jeapardy so they can more easily simply continue the process they just accomplished 30 years down the road.

      So, no. That one sentence meme that says so much about a narrative that is demonstrably false about our politics and thus policy won’t fly. Not any more. Hopefully, this can’t be demonstrated at the ballot box this June. If not, then November, if not then, then the next even-numbered year. And next time, hopefully we will have established a conversation that will disallow such increadibly false-on-their-face narratives. Humboldt and our future deserves better.

      OK, I made time.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Have fun in your alternate reality. I don’t think I will be back. You are delusional if you think Bonnie, cliff, mark, john Woolley, Jill geist, Julie fulkerson, etc are not progressives. I’m not even saying they did anything good or bad, merely the fact the board was a fairly progressive majority for years. You had roger rodoni on the right, jimmy smith in the middle. For years.

    1. I’m not surprised. This seems to be a one way conversation – just like the one party rule. Only one side can debate policy in public transparently, the other side depends on anons and $$$.

      The question is whose reality is the alternate one, who has the credibility and stature to stand behind the rhetoric. This seems pretty clear to me right now. Ask Chet Albin.

      If you mean to define progressive as people who would vote for language to protect agriculture and timberland for the long term, then maybe I’d agree with you – but we should all agree on that. Unfortunately the Chamber of Commerce and business interests cannot allow such language in the Guiding Principles of a legal document. It might – you know – mean something.

    2. MOLA42 says:

      I think the problem is we aren’t agreeing on definitions such as who is a progressive and who is a regressive (the logical opposite of a progressive).

      For example purposes only; from Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s viewpoint Eisenhower was just a bit commie “pink.”

      From your spot far to the right a lot of people are going to appear progressive just because of your relative regressive position on the spectrum (I’m making perhaps the dangerous assumption you are the same person who’s been using that Anonymous gray avatar for the past weeks).

      A lot of the people you named were indeed progressives but certainly Bonnie Neeley was not one of them. Which is too bad for you since you need her to be a progressive to make your math work.

      Have fun in your own regressive alternate reality. Let’s us know how it turns out.

      1. MOLA42 says:

        Goofed again: I should have made sure to address what I just said to Anonymous 8:22 to be clear I wasn’t replying to Liberal Jon.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Yes, ignore the facts, spin spin spin. You go on and on about the pattern of development, but the fact is there has been a massive decline in development since the “gang of four” has been in office. All the the problems you have with current development patterns and standards are the legacy of the left learning board of the past 20 years.

    But, “Democrats” and “transparency”.

    You should try one: Honesty

    1. MOLA42 says:

      Anonymous 11:38:

      You promised you were going back to your own reality never to return.

      Development (in case you have not noticed) is in the tank all over this country, not just here in Humboldt County and that is due to the massive Recession we have yet to get clear of.

      Nor can you blame this fantasy “gang of four” for the fact that the timber industry, even when healthy (which it is not and has not been for quite some time) due to automation and new heavy machinery in the field just does not employ as many people as it once did and does not require the number of sawmills it once did.

      At least, that’s how it went in my alternate reality that I (and perhaps Liberal Jon and a few others) inhabit.

      For comparison purposes: The color of the sky in my world is blue (with white and gray clouds). What’s the color of the sky in your world?

  4. Anonymous says:

    Mola, I never promised anything. Bonnie, the conservative who killed wal-mart; pushed for the redevelopment zones, etc was no conservative. Why was she supported by bill Pierson, blue lake casine, your hero Chris kerrigan, and THE hcdcc?

    So you are saying the market has a much larger impact on the timber industry and housing than the general plan? What are you, some kind of conservative?

    1. MOLA42 says:

      Anonymous 14:06:

      “So you are saying the market has a much larger impact on the timber industry and housing than the general plan? What are you, some kind of conservative?”

      No, I am a realist. The truth is not the property of anyone; there is no Republican Truth or Democratic Truth or whatever. I simply reminded you of a truth you evidently forgot.

      And I did not say Bonnie Neeley was a conservative; I just pointed out to you that she was not a Progressive either. Aw what the hell, if Bonnie Neeley to you is a Progressive, fine; she is a Progressive. Who knows, to you she might even be a Real Democrat like Virginia Bass.

      As for her endorsements for her last election; well, look at the alternative.

      And forgive me about the error I made concerning my perception that you promised to go away. I let my wishful thinking cloud my judgement.

      1. Anonymous says:

        You would think lifelong democrat and union leader Richard Marks would have have been a good alternative. But he is a blue collar guy, a true democrat for the working person.

  5. Anonymous says:

    “Why was she supported by bill Pierson, blue lake casine, your hero Chris kerrigan, and THE hcdcc?”

    Republican Bonnie Neely and republican Virginia Bass-Jackson registered democrat to win.

    However, Neely naively assumed that public outrage against a generation of greedy excesses by the development industry translated into voters that no one ever bothers to register. Neely actually found the courage to support a temporary building moratorium and to finally pursue the Good Ol’ Boys poster-child for unbridled growth, convicted felon Kenny Bareilles.

    As opposed to Virginia Bass that recently appointed Eureka’s poster-child of blight to the Planning Commission, Kevin McKenny.

    “The tale of two Kenny’s…”

    Right wing sophist’s claims that Humboldt County “once” had a progressive majority need only look at actual progressive policies and planning in nearby Arcata, (or numerous other U.S. cities), where affordable in-fill housing, manufacturing incubators, industrial parks, walkable, tree-lined streets, big box bans, and renowned waste water designs attract capital investment, higher paying jobs, and the highest sales tax revenue per-capita in the county.

    1. Anonymous says:

      LOL! Arcata with it’s cookie-cutter suburbs sprawling out into productive Ag lands to the West, fugly McMansions crawling up into the forests to the East, and the Anywhere USA shitscape of Valley West, to the North.

      Yeah, the Plaza is nice. So is Old Town.

  6. Anon 604 am: Here we go in the cycle again. Richard Marks IS a life long Democrat. However, Richard Marks also does not believe the GPU is a big deal because the populace doesn’t thing it’s a big deal. I think Richard has said he would be a more plan B (ish) proponent and possible Virginia is down the alphabet than he is (option C(ish)) but this does not matter as not many people care about this issue, so why fight it. He believes we can best be effective by aligning ourselves with Supervisor Bass then hoping and helping to help her make a change.

    This is the best I can do to represent Richard’s ideas on the GPU fairly. Does this sound like the type of leadership we need? General Plan Updates are important, if they were not, they would not be such a political lightning rod. We need Democratic leadership to be able to address items like our society’s responsibility to protect agriculture and timberland for the long term. And our Planning Department’s (and Supervisor’s) responsibility to plan for the future responsibly.

    I agree, Richard and Virginia are both Democrats now. Virginia of 5 (ish) years, Richard lifelong. That’s not how politics work. Our policy differences don’t stop at the HCDCC door. If you’ve ever attended a meeting, you’ll see most of us don’t agree on much.

    We need leadership on the GPU and in the Democratic Party locally, statewide and nationally that understand that addressing climate change, our continuing population growth, economic doldrums and even national security can and must be addressed at all levels of government – including the local level.

    So my question for Virginia (and also Richard) stands. What can we do locally about global warming? Isn’t protecting the Planning Department from the sometimes myopic whims of the Chamber of Commerce an important policy strategy.

    If we are to allow the kind of mentality that says a riverside property owner should have the right to develop her land trumping societies right to try to protect natural resources, where will we be when the next GPU comes up?

    The time is now to start to prioritize protecting natural resources, agriculture and timberland for the long term. Define Richard Marks, Supervisor Bass, Supervisor Fennell, Matthew Owen, Congressman Huffman, Candidates McGuire and Wood and 14 or 15 of the 24(ish) HCDCC democrats who failed to endorse Kerrigan as Democrats. That is true. It doesn’t mean these Democrats are right on the critical issue of local government’s responsibility to plan for future growth with wisdom and an eye on tomorrow and the public’s interests at large, not just the rightfully myopic and limited vision defined by interests groups such as the Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber of Commerce’s first priority is not doing what is right for Humboldt in 20 years. It’s priority, I’m assuming, is to take direction from it’s members to build the most successful and prosperous Humboldt for it’s members, (and the larger community) today.

    Which is fine. But we need leaders whose vison of the future expands that vision. Economically speaking alone, I’m sure we could find farmers and fishermen against the path Virginia has taken. A woman representing Fishermen spoke up at the 6/3/13 Guiding Principles meeting to speak against the proposed changes. Also, I remember a member of a Humboldt agricultural group lament the already dire state of sub-divisions occuring on prime agricultural land. His point seemed to be it was already too late.

    Anon 02:31 and 0606:

    So yes, “Arcata with it’s cookie-cutter suburbs sprawling out into productive Ag lands to the West, fugly McMansions crawling up into the forests to the East, and the Anywhere USA shitscape of Valley West, to the North.” Let’s work on this.

    Also “County plan and city plans = apples and oranges.” Yes – but apples and oranges are still both fruit and their trees need to be tended with care and with an eye to the future so the tree can produce the best fruit year after year. Kinda like those tending our city and county’s plan for land development and population and economic growth.

  7. Anonymous says:

    LJ –
    “protect agriculture and timberland for the long term” – please tell me why you think these aren’t protected? There are 600 acre minimums for AG, “no net loss” of AG, and TPZ subdivisions are not allowed. I see you saying this over and over, but you simply ignore the fact that there is “no net loss” of AG. How much more protected can you be, than no loss? It is so bizarre to me the way you latch on to the guiding principles and ignore the actual implementation policies.

    Arcata – this is so funny, a company town planned by a private corporation, built on some of the most productive soils in the county. If we copy that model, we have lost everything you are fighting for. Those McMansions to the East that provide so much property taxes to the city were once a working forest. Logged and sold to the high wage earners of the college and the doctors. The kind of policies you are fighting now to prevent in the county as you hold up Arcata as the model city. I guess they did if first, so it’s OK.

  8. Mary Ella Anderson says:

    This discussion illustrates the conflict within the Democratic party as to what it values and supports. The hierarchy in the party determines who succeeds and who doesn’t and sometimes they’re right and sometimes they’re wrong. The difference between the Democrats and the Republicans is that the Democrats are a little more able to tolerate differing points of view in their structure, whereas the Republicans seem to have no tolerance for dissent at all.

    The fact that someone becomes a Democrat to get elected doesn’t speak well for their character. But I must say I thought that Bonnie Neely really grew into her role as Supervisor and became more progressive than she was when she started. Maybe that will happen with Bass. She really wants to be liked and thought of as a good person, but she has to walk the CPR line to keep their support. Clif was very progressive on development issues. That’s why they had to get rid of him. If he had agreed to go along with their agenda, he would still be supervisor.

  9. Anonymous says:

    “That’s why THEY had to get rid of him, (Cliff)”.

    And when Bonnie became more progressive, THEY dumped her too.

    This is how/why Humboldt County has never had a progressive majority, nor has any of its cities, except for Arcata…the persistent knot in right-winger’s shorts, disproving every one of their archaic economic fallacies.

    Until the right-wing “incursion” into the democratic party, real democrats rarely strayed far from their fundamental value of legislating to benefit the poor as opposed to republican’s “trickle down” nonsense that has returned a Gilded Age to America. Humboldt County’s political leadership has maintained affordable housing deficits for over a generation, despite occasional dissent by lone progressives.

    Until they decide to stop ignoring the vast majority of eligible voters that always abstain, we can expect the democratic party to continue abandoning core values, and its base, in order to appeal to opponents and win elections….eventually rendering themselves indistinguishable from republicans.

    Keeping political control is easy when most people don’t vote, progressive opponents are easily outspent and distracted (exhausted) by individual crusades, unable to coalesce behind a single candidate.

  10. “protect agriculture and timberland for the long term” – please tell me why you think these aren’t protected?
    a) please cite the clauses swerve they are. This will help me to pay attention to these clauses going forward. I don’t believe we need to omit language from guiding principles in a defference to what? Brevity? Non-redundancy? Because it exists in the policy section.
    b) you do realize that at least twice inflencial players in this process have argued that because of internal inconsistantcies, specifically with the new neo-Democrat inspired GP the body of the GPU needs to be re-addressed. Commissioner Ulansey and HBE’s lawyers argued this, and we were close to openning up the entire GPU if Commissioners Ulansey, Bongio, and ironically Faust had there way.
    c) Finally, I think “agriculture, timberland and natural resources are not protected for the long term” because I watched the PC address stream bed and wetland setbacks, and wetland definitions. The was a time when the only people in the room standing up for protections critical natural resources were two professional wildlife biologists.
    Instead of considering the professionals, the PC favored Julie Williams’ desires to define and regulate such that we can protect citizens from takings. Her argument to me during that session was this, she knows someone who couldn’t develop near the stream bank because of the entirety of their land was within the setback limit. This was a great opportunity of a well designed development. In the end, who are we as a public to take away this opportunity for growth and this individual’s right to develop their land as they see fit?

    This is why simple language stating the publics goals are needed without modifiers. We need to give the professional planners the tools to stand up for general, sometimes esoteric-seeming goals of society at large.

    But thank you for a good and challenging question.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Ag land, chapter 4, Supervisor s draft.

    Agricultural Land Conversion – No Net Loss. Lands planned for agriculture (AE, AG) shall not be converted to non-agricultural uses unless the Planning Commission makes the following findings:

    1. There are no feasible alternatives that would prevent or minimize conversion;

    2. The facts support an overriding public interest in the conversion; and

    3. For lands outside of designated Urban Development Boundaries, sufficient off-setting mitigations have been provided to prevent a net reduction in the agricultural land base and agricultural production. This requirement shall be known as the “No Net Loss” agricultural lands policy. “No Net Loss” mitigations are limited to one or more of the following: a) re-planning of vacant agricultural lands from a non-agricultural land use designation to an agricultural plan designation along with the recordation of a permanent conservation easement on this land for continued agricultural use; or b) the retirement of non-agricultural uses on lands planned for agriculture and recordation of a permanent conservation easement on this land for continued agricultural use; or c) financial contribution to an agricultural land fund in an amount sufficient to fully offset the agricultural land conversion for those uses enumerated in subsections a and b. The operational details of the land fund, including the process for setting the amount of the financial contribution, shall be established by ordinance.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Same chapter, forest resources:
    FR-S4. Timberland Subdivisions. Subdivisions of lands designated as Timberland (T) below 160 acres down to the minimum parcel size may be permitted if the project meets the following criteria:

    A. The subdivision will improve the ability to manage the parcel for improved forest health and productivity result in significant improvements (as defined in the Glossary) in site productivity, timber growth, and harvest through intensive management, or the subdivision is necessary for the public interest as determined by the Board of Supervisors with the recommendation from the Forest Resources Committee;

    B. Adequate access, water, and geologic stability can be demonstrated for the proposed use and the land division meets all other regulatory requirements, including the General Plan standards and policies for rural lands; and

    C. On each parcel, the residential site is located, to the extent practical and considering proximity to existing infrastructure, in areas of the lowest productivity; and

    D. A joint timber management plan (JTMP) is prepared for divisions below 160 acres. [BOS tentative action 8-23-2013: Straw Vote 5-0]

  13. Anonymous says:

    So, the only time you can subdivide AG is if you offset the project so there is no net loss of ag land, and the only time you can subdivide timberland is if it will improve productivity and forest health.


  14. Do you feel these element phrases “protect agriculture ans timberland for the long term?” Then why did the Guiding principles have to change if they do?

    What about encouraging adding a second and a proposed 3rd home to tpz lands? Why can’t the guiding principles state that we want to discourage resource conversion, even after a majority voted for that language?


  15. Anonymous says:

    I don’t know, but it is irrelevant. The policies and implementation measures are what you have to comply with, they are the standards the planning has to use when making decisions.

    There is no 3rd home allowed on tpz. To do a split in tpz, you will have to demonstrate how this will be better for the forest or it will be denied.

    Protected. For the long term. Regardless of what the guiding principles say.

  16. There is no third home. Doesn’t mean Comissioner Ulansey didn’t explore it (he did, it was only mentioned lomgingly, but it was mentioned and he was serious.)

    As someome who probably has to follow ipthe implementation measures, I see your point. However, there is a reason supervisor Fennell and Bohn had to change these. There is a reason the absurd way they changed brought out 50 people for two or three or four meetings. There is a reason dispite the protest, nothing significant was changed back. Well, one principle was, but the the HAR et, al. we’re not happy and got to Supervisor Bass and Sundberg interestingly through Mark Wheetly and the City of Arcata and changed it back.

    There is a reason so much attention was paid to theses by both sides, and your dismissal of them does not alone make them irrelevant.

  17. Also, btw adding a second home on ones land in the name of ones mother-in-law allowing a pattern of growth at least doubling the legal structures (and proportional increase in population) in timberland is in itself a very significant policy. It in itself does encourage resource conversion.

      1. If we encourage mother-in-law units (they have to be family-related to get around State mandates? Right) … if we not only allow, but encourage these 2nd units which the current BOS and PC were doing last time I was attending … in the name of affordable housing btw… what potential dispersed growth pattern are we encouraging? Do you know the numbers? Not what is going to happen, because we can’t know that, but what is the potential increase in housing that this policy relaxing/encouraging will allow?
        And… This is right “There is no 3rd home allowed on tpz. To do a split in tpz, you will have to demonstrate how this will be better for the forest or it will be denied.”
        I was in the chamber when WLRG (Working Lands Research Group) argued against this and Supervisor Sundberg so proudly argued against it. What is to stop this from changing in the future? Isn’t another “mother-in-law” unit another step in the direction of a pattern of dispersed development. In other words the best we can do in dispersed development until we get Supervisors who understand the RLWG position that we should not have to demonstrate it is better for the forest?

        I’m not arguing what is here, I’m arguing what should be. You are saying this is and this is what should be. Do you think this is exactly the right pattern of development based on a seemingly random allowance of one extra family unit, or are you an opportunist arguing for exactly the most dispersed pattern of development allowable under state and federal mandates and by what the current board allows.

        What do you think should be allowed. What are your Guiding Principles? I’m going to assume (because I have no idea which anon I’m speaking with) Guiding Principles don’t matter, it’s the implementation measures that matter. How, pray tell, is Joe public to get involved in implementation measures? If I don’t have the time and /or energy to make it through these, who will be left to make these desicisions without clear Guiding Principles.

        Can you picture whom? Most likely those with an intimate knowledge of the regulations, implementations and laws the have to push up against right? Who would these people be? The WLRG for one, stake holders for two…

        This is why the Guiding Principles are important. This is why it is important to say “we want to protect timberland for the long term”. To protect agains a thousand cuts that begin with encouraging the absolute maximum allowable under state law – and then pressing against even that (WLRG arguing against having to demonstrate how this will be better for the forest and Commissioner Ulansey’s 3rd home proposal.)

        1. Anonymous says:

          When you bring a project in, they do not look at the guiding principles, they look at the standards and implementation measures. Nobody talks about the guiding principles in the planning department. After this plan is adopted, they will be Irrelevant. What does count is minimum lot size, zoning, overlays, etc. The details that you don’t have time to understand.

          Nothing is to stop a changing of the plan in the future, its why they have general plan amendments. They are pretty rare, though. I think the last one was Forster Gill.

          I have no idea what the #’s are, but how can a mother in law unit on 160 acres, which had to be built in the already converted area affect the timber? 97.5% of that land is protected in this scenario. And it you did that on every single 160 acre tpz land, 97.5% would still be protected.

          Also, some people would like to live out of town, I think that’s OK. They should have a choice, it shouldn’t just be the wealthy people and pot growers with the opportunity to grow up in a rural lifestyle, coralling the poor into the cities to contend with urban crimeand

          I notice you finally gave up and conceded that ag land is protected. Thank you for that.

          1. When you bring a project in to the Planning Department, you are bringing a project in. You have a vested interest in the outcome.

            You are advocating to slant the Planning Department’s results based on what you think should be done.

            So what is it you want to do? How do we talk about that when we don’t know who you are, what you want to do, where you’d like to see Humboldt in 25 years? Are we going to make these decisions based on hundreds or thousands of myopic (by definition) interactions between project advocate and planner or a greater vision of what we want and need to do as a community.

            So yes, I don’t disagree with you, when you go into that former hospital complex to get your project approved you are not going to discuss the Guiding Principles with the staff member.

            This is the fundamental difference in the 4th district Supervisorial race. Virginia is listening to you and wants to focus on the “Service” aspect of the Planning Department, or in her and your vision, the “Building” portion of what is technically called the “Planning and Building Department”. (Even though the county doesn’t build). Chris will allow people to ask questions about what we as a public want to do. Can we again take the reins away from project advocates and put them back into the hands of the public at large.

            If we are going to, we are going to have to use tools like what you see as irrelevant – the Guiding Principles. These principles will be an SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) or better yet, a blue print that helps give the planners a mandate not only from their direct bosses (the 5 Supervisors), but their indirect actual bosses you and I.

            So yes, when you go in there this is true. “What does count is minimum lot size, zoning, overlays, etc. The details that you don’t have time to understand” It is also true that when the BOS goes over the mapping all the stakeholders will be notified and everyone will be in to advocate for what they want to be done with their slice of the American Dream.

            Meanwhile, the result of these maps will help determine the pattern of growth of our county. It will determine if we are going to continue the post WW II suburb-exurb growth pattern that has insured our American Civilization uses an unsustainable amount of energy.


            We have a unique opportunity in Humboldt with our decades-long stagnated growth (which protected us from too much of the exurb and suburb pattern of growth) to be on the cutting edge of the future. -Or- we can instead of planning, focus our policy and elections on people wanting to squeeze the most out of their project for their personal economic interests. Which, btw is fine and right to advocate for – just please do it honestly and openly – but you can’t. Because then the majority of people might disagree with you.


            Addressing your points…A) “97.5% of that land is protected in this scenario. And it you did that on every single 160 acre tpz land, 97.5% would still be protected.” what you are not seeing here is the pattern of growth, the influence of a doubling of population in the timberzone generally. Again, what is to stop this from being increased to 3 homes? Are you advocating for exactly only one more home ever on this land? What about when our children also want to live in the woods? Or when there is another Tea Party election and two more HumCPR members become Commissioners?

            So this “97.5% would still be protected”… is either disingenuous, or you are not grasping what I think EPIC coined as the collective effects … some word that starts with “c” that escapes me right now, but is such an important concept. It’s the concept the despite the footprint of homes and pavement you are speaking about, the human factor, which you are in effect potentially doubling means a doubling of water use (or more if we farm), a doubling of car traffic, a significant increase in pavement and non-natural environments, etc.

            Gorden Leppig could address this better than I could, but I hope you understand this more esoteric impact. An effect that will be much, much greater than the 2.5% you mention connotes. In fact I would argue the 2.5 % of human footprint will have about a 97.5 % impact overall on the timber zone. – but I mean those quantitative numbers qualitatively. In other words, your precise numbers on actual land use imply a highly inaccurate implication that doubling permanent human influence in the area will not encourage resource conversion to an extent much greater than the actual percentage of the footprint.

            Think of it this way. Think about the top predator and their huge territories. There is a reason a mountain lion or grizzly needs this much space naturally. They consume a great deal of the land’s resources. In the end, we are not so different.


            ” They should have a choice, it shouldn’t just be the wealthy people and pot growers with the opportunity to grow up in a rural lifestyle, corralling the poor into the cities to contend with urban crimeand”

            This is a strong point (if not finished), and what ultimately may doom our county to vote against our long-term interests. In a sense it is what has driven western expansion for the entirety of our country’s existence and European era pre-existence. I believe we can have affordable housing in rural areas and denser areas. This is something an empowered Planning Department and BOS and electorate would have to watch carefully and manage with pro-active public sector initiatives to encourage pro-active private sector implementations.


            “I notice you finally gave up and conceded that ag land is protected.”

            Not sure where you see this. Unfortunately I can discuss only what people bring up at the meetings, and Ag was not a big topic while I was there – unfortunately. I think I mentioned the one time an Ag representative showed up, he was pretty despondent in effect saying we have already lost so much great ag land to subdivisions and we are going exactly the wrong way. I wouldn’t be surprised if the speaker I remember was one of the two mentioned by Mary Ella in her important report from the Housing Element.

              1. walk and chew gum. This progressive is adamantly against mj in the hills. But we can reverse the type of farming we do for the most part, but I’ve never, ever see urbanization or development reversed, have you? One the homes are placed, they will be there for 150 years. The one I’m typing in now has been here 120 years.

                So yes, let’s do what is right and stop doing what is wrong, whether that’s an inappropriate pattern of growth for tomorrow of inappropriate water guzzlers in our mediterrenean climate hills.

                1. Anonymous says:

                  What good will it do to reverse the type of farming after the fish are gone? You are worried about wetland setbacks while the rivers are being sucked dry.


                2. Anonymous says:

                  There are abandon places all over in the rural areas, which is what we are talking about. Adding a second unit on 160 acres is a car cry from urbanization. If you are in a 120 year old house, you are probably in Eureka, not out in the rural areas. Who are you to say building a house on my property is inappropriate?

                  If you bought a piece of property (properly zoned of course) with the expectation of being able to build a home, it is not ‘appropriate’ for the government to change those rules. Imagine if they sudden!y decided your house was no longer appropriate for housing although there was nothing wrong with it health or safety wise? How would you feel about that? What good would your vacant lot be, with no ability to live there? What if you had a mortgage?

                  Oh well, we decided what you are doing is inappropriate. That’s why HumCPR has so many members.

                  1. “Who are you to say building a house on my property is inappropriate?”

                    This is a great and valid point. It needs to be discussed in the open by real people and the decisions need to be made by the public.

                    How do we balance the rights of the property owners and the absolute need to plan growth?

                    We are not getting that discussion, instead we have stealth interests and anons influencing policy with undercover power grabs because they can’t win elections on the issues.

                    “Who are you to say building a house on my property is inappropriate?”

                    It’s not me, it would be us – the electorate, the people. We have to decide what will be right for all of our interests, not just your pocket book.

                    We have to balance your pocket book with those of others in the community as well as our need to protect agriculture, timberland and natural resources for the long term. Because, if we focus only on your pocketbook, our myopic policy solutions will create more problems going forward than they solve.

                    And if we want a continually prosperous society we need to make decisions that enrich materially and otherwise the entire community.

                    So my comment and follow up question would be… ” That’s why HumCPR has so many members.” Kudos. Sincerely. I think interest in policy and public participation is important. Why not be more open? Why not join and/or addvocate with the Republicans (who is one of the two parties that are strongly aligned with protecting personal property rights), why not endorse candidates, why not become an active and open part of the public dialog in ways other than buying ad time, paying for spokes-people, and supporting campaigns financially.

                    Speak with words, not money, then the electorate and community as a whole can make the most informed decisions. We all deserve this.

                    1. Anonymous says:

                      “It’s not me, it would be us – the electorate, the people. We have to decide what will be right for all of our interests, not just your pocket book.”

                      “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation”

                      now, where have I seen that before?

                  2. Here are some follow-up questions too. In order to make soom back-of-envelope transportion environ mental/economic calculations… How far is your home from the nearest affordable marketplace? Will Ray’s in Garberville work, or will you be traveling to WinCo? How often? Where will you be commuting to for income?

                    1. Anonymous says:

                      i would say about the same distance to the store as supervisor lovelace, less to work. I don’t have a half acre like him though.

  18. Mary Ella Anderson says:

    I and my fellow housing advocates were pleasantly surprised at the outcome of the second session of Housing Element discussion at the Board of Supervisors on Monday, May 5, Was it the constant dogging or the way pending elections have of focusing the mind of candidates? Either way, cooler heads prevailed and the result is a HE that has a good chance of passing muster at the state level.

    A lot of credit for this outcome must go to staff, to Michael Richards, Director Hamblin and Assistant Counsel Ruth. Richardson has incorporated comments from the state HCD and after much discussion, mid-point density was returned at least to Housing Opportunity Zones. In the discussion, it appeared that mid-point density, being a mathematical formula, is confusing to most, especially builders and real estate agents. It has always been the case that the number of housing units on a parcel can be reduced for good cause, but the CPR Planning Commission was threatened by the idea of mid-point density and wanted to essentially encourage less density in housing. Housing for All attorney Jan Turner characterized their proposal as “an anti-housing element” and in the end mid-point density was retained.

    Counsel Ruth reminded the Supervisors that the EIR for the HE is based on encouraging development in areas with sewer and water, and that while extending development beyond services might be “okay” the goal should be to encourage less development outside HOZs. The figure of 75% development within HOZs was mentioned as the goal, leaving a quarter of the whole for those areas outside sewer/water districts.

    Supervisor Lovelace noted that development of smaller scale housing complexes outside of HOZs still consumes land, and that building fewer units meant more land consumption. The idea of planning is to leave something for the future.

    Solar shading protection for existing housing was also kept. As I understand it, the right to a share of the sun for people and their gardens can’t be taken away by new development. At least, not without a chance for the homeowner to lodge an objection.

    Also, county building standards will now allow housing units as small as 150 square feet. These smaller, efficiency units, are seen as a wave of the future as younger people don’t seem quite as enchanted with mansions and palaces as their elders have been.

    Speaking for the Farm Bureau John Laboyteaux and Katherine Zeimer made it clear to the supervisors that the farm community did not want the proposal to allow second units on AE land included, They said that all agricultural groups in the county were opposed to the idea. Laboyteaux said that the least the HE should do is “to make it possible for us to continue to feed ourselves” and that “the primary purpose of AE land is to grow food.” Tina Christensen of the Humboldt Association of Realtors defended the idea of changing the rules to allow second units on AE and TPZ land without the need for a Conditional Use Permit, but in the end the supervisors were persuaded to leave things as they are. Supervisor Bass, however, indicated she might raise the issue again later on.

    Staff will put everything together and have it ready by the Board of Supervisors’ meeting of May 13 at which time they should pass it formally. Only straw votes were taken at the Monday meeting, so nothing is set in concrete yet. Eternal vigilance is recommended.

    P.S. Jon , if you post this separately , please correct my name – it’s Mary Ella, not Mary Ellen. Thanks for your interest and being so supportive.

  19. Peacenik says:

    Amazing job Mary Ella! It’s incredible how a few diligent people can turn our Supe’s votes away from what their support base wants them to do towards more environmental protection. It really shows just how malleable these idiots are. Thanks for all your hard work!

  20. “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation”

    anon May 10th 12:15 pm and 12:12 pm. Great point. That’s in the 5th amendment to the US Constitution. This is a great argument and debating point. Why isn’t one of our two Supervisors for the 4th District making it? Why do you have to make it as an anon?

    We need to have these debates. How are we going to address global warming and other goals if we cannot plan as a society where and how we should develop? Are you willing to ignore environmental, economic, even national defense issues to hold to your interpretation of one clause of the 5th amendment? Are you certain that changing zoning to a more restrictive one allowing less development would be considered a taking – always, everywhere? If so, what is the point of planning? How did we get more restrictive zoning in the first place, I mean didn’t all this land have to be private at one point or another? Was that more restrictive zoning unconstitutional as well?

    And I get the other argument, Supervisor Lovelace is a hypocrite and rich to boot. It’s a great meme and it wins elections. Focus on individuals instead of policy. It is what has gotten us into this mess. Hopefully I can help wean us off this destructive need that conservatives (and some liberals) have of making politics a soap opera instead of making it about policy and civics.

    We need to get back to policy and civics in politics.

  21. Anonymous says:

    don’t you think it a little bizarre he is the biggest environmentalist pushing for infill and smart growth but lives on a half acre on the edge of town? what message does that send? it is a little hard to take somebody serious on policy when it doesn’t apply to them, don’t you think?

    the general plan has almost no effect on the 4th district. if the people living there knew that what kerrigan is actually pushing with his infill talk is intense development in their backyards, I think there would be a huge backlash. don’t know why bass isn’t saying that, it’s the truth. all of you smart growthers want infill until it’s next door and 17 units per acre. then you start talking about character of the neighborhood, right project, wrong place, proximity to jobs, etc. etc.

    it is not my interpretation, it is the supreme court’s interpretation. the government cannot take your private property without just compensation. this is a good thing. you don’t see it because you are only thinking in terms of restricting development, but it protects us from having the government nationalize assets, seize your bank account, or car for the hell of it, etc. Due process is very important to a free society.

    i don’t understand why you think government=good ; private interest= bad. your assumption the government does everything for the good of the people is deeply flawed. government workers do things for the same reasons private workers do: some for pay, recognition, spite, arrogance, personal gain, and the list goes on.

    changing the zoning is not necessarily a taking, but significantly diminishing the usability is, i believe.

    are you willing to ignore the bill of rights in the name of the environment?

  22. a) “don’t you think it a little bizarre he is the biggest environmentalist pushing for infill and smart growth but lives on a half acre on the edge of town? what message does that send? it is a little hard to take somebody serious on policy when it doesn’t apply to them, don’t you think?”

    I’m going to take responses one by one in bite size chunks on my breaks from a chore-day (and canvassing of course) Sunday. I would hope some day you might address some of the concerns I have brought up from and environmental perspective. For example, how do we address climate change from a local level?

    a) Lovelace could live on a 160 acre TPZ land home and he’d still not be hypocritical. The little lie behind your statement is that neither Supervisor Lovelace nor I nor 99.9% of other environmentalists are trying to hamper a rural lifestyle or living in any way.* What we are trying to do is protect it for the long term. What will happen if we double the amount of homes in TPZ land is we are again in one fell swoop, allowing and encouraging the doubling of population in the rural lands. What percentage of these lands would change enough with this expansion of population to change the definition from rural to maybe exurban? 0 percent?

    It doesn’t matter where Supervisor Lovelace lives nor where you or I live. What does matter is our policy recommendations are consistent with our principles, and I’ll admit, it would be nice if we were not overtly hypocritical.

    And, btw, we all will be a hypocrite – we have to be OK with that because we are not necessarily yet were we’d like to be. We don’t have the public transportation infrastructure or the walkable streets we need to wean a large portion of our population off the addiction to the latest and greatest automobile.

    We are headed that way with leadership like Chris Kerrigan and Mark Lovelace. If we follow a vision of many professional planners including Kevin Hamblin, who in an email exchange several months ago wrote that he attended a conference on the new urbanism and appreciated it greatly, if we allow them to help the public sector plan for growth, we can at the very least start to offer choice in housing and let the market decide. Do you want to buy a cookie-cutter home in the suburbs and exurbs and spend a fortune in time and money commuting to your job, or maybe we can start encouraging and allowing growth within our asphalt and concrete footprint.

    I’m not saying this is going to be easy, just saying Supervisor Bass doesn’t get this, nor the reason why it’s essential.

    That’s part one.

    * other than trying to prevent the use of land as a capital investment for it’s own sake. Work, live, and respect the land in a way we all agree (not just the land owner herself) is sustainable for the long term don’t slice and dice it and flip it to the highest bidder. This liberals are trying to hamper.

  23. Anonymous says:

    “The little lie behind your statement is that neither Supervisor Lovelace nor I nor 99.9% of other environmentalists are trying to hamper a rural lifestyle or living in any way.”

    Well, I beg to differ:

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