CLEAR WINNER: Alternative “A” feels the love
Keeping consistent with past meetings on Humboldt County’s General Plan Update, the public spoke strongly in favor of Alternative A, which offers the most protections for agriculture and timber lands for the next 20 years.
About 50 residents filed to the podium at the Humboldt County Planning Commission meeting Thursday night, starting with an angry screed by Tom Grover of Redway. He said residents of Southern Humboldt “get no respect” and are being misinformed by county staff. “We’re ticked off about our loss of freedoms,” he said.*
The comments that followed maintained a civil decibel level.
Greg Blomstrom, a Registered Professional Forester and timberland owner with a consulting firm that manages over 30,000 acres noted the difficulties presented by fragmentation. He said one client belongs to 3 different road associations, and others face rising costs when forced to change their timber management practices to accommodate the needs of an increasingly residential area.
Blomstrom said his firm conducted a recent analysis of TPZ (Timber Production Zone) owners and found that over half own less than 80 acres. He said unless they can prove the land is being managed for timber, the properties should be rolled out so that taxpayers can stop subsidizing those land owners with the tax breaks that accompany such zoning.
Several people voiced support for protecting ag lands for local food production. Fyre Phoenix of Arcata noted disasters and depletions in other food-growing areas, saying “food production won’t continue as it has.”
The county “must ensure timber and ag lands have first priority on lands suited for them,” said Virginia Graziani.
Speakers roughly complied to the 3-minute comment limit with little interruption, until Commisioner Scott Kelly noted some “misinformation” on a Humboldt Future flyer that was endorsed by Realtors and developers. Kelly said the flyer “spread misinformation by describing Alternative A as the “preferred” staff alternative.
Speakers also favored community forestry, and the protection of wildlife habitat. Sal Steinberg of Friends of the Van Duzen said the coho salmon count in that river was under 500 for 2009.
Others blasted Green Diamond for its plan to convert the McKay tract south of Eureka from an extremely productive timberland to residential development.
Opponents of Alt. A voiced concern over the merger ordinance, and argued that development in the rural areas can’t be considered “sprawl.”
The Commission will deliberate and perhaps vote on these issues at its October 22nd meeting.