Home > Humboldt County General Plan Update > Healthy Humboldt on the GPU kerfuffle

Healthy Humboldt on the GPU kerfuffle

While everyone is gearing up for the General Plan Update hearing at tomorrow’s Board of Supervisors meeting, Monday Morning Magazine host Dennis Huber talked to Jen Kalt and Dan Ehresman of Healthy Humboldt on KMUD this morning. The interview starts about 5 minutes into this hour-long show but interested parties should take the time to listen:

I will try to update this post with some highlights later but here’s the audio so you can hear it for yourselves.

  1. Plain Jane
    April 11, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    50% of the people in Humboldt County don’t have the ability to access the internet? I know people who live WAY out in the boonies, off the grid, solar and wind generators only, who have satellite internet. So how much responsibility does the government have to inform people who have virtually no interest in informing themselves? People who wouldn’t read an information pamphlet hand delivered to them are up in arms now because of the propaganda being spewed by the developer cover groups while govt. officials run for cover.

  2. April 11, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    You got it, PJ. This stuff has been waving in people’s faces for TEN YEARS. Now they’re having fits because they just heard about it? What BS. The BIG STALL is purely agenda driven by certain developer and finance types for their own interests. It’s time for the people we elected to do the job to do their jobs and move the GPU on down the road.

  3. Anonymousoverandover
    April 11, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    People also have internet they can get through their cell phone providers and cell towers.

  4. April 11, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    Wrong, anonymous. This came about because the overreach on the TPZ debacle woke people up to the fact that Mark Lovelace was being paid to influence the direction of the plan, and showed them that there were a number of groups getting away with just that – so people who really do care about property rights started showing up too. What they found was very interesting – things like typing up the record with only certain viewpoints included, stopping typing when the non-preferred viewpoints were being expressed.

    This isn’t about developers at all, but about ordinary people who don’t want their rights shat upon by organized grant driven fascistic little groups who are more than happy to say to your face that they will NEVER tell you you can’t build on your own property, you just have to meet this reasonable criteria, but then they set it up so that, oh, ooooooops, it is impossible, or impossibly expensive to meet that criteria.

    That’s why you have such an interesting mix of otherwise non-aligned people who care about this – next time maybe the “Healthy Humboldt” crew won’t overreach quite so obviously.

  5. Ben
    April 11, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    If you truly beleive that “developer groups” are capable of mounting this kind of outcry, you are out of touch. When all five MCSD Board members vote for a letter calling for a CAC this points out the level of support for the idea. This is a huge vote of no conficence in the current process and one that can not be ignored.

  6. Eric Kirk
    April 11, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    This came about because the overreach on the TPZ debacle woke people up to the fact that Mark Lovelace was being paid to influence the direction of the plan

    Are you accusing him of accepting bribes Rose? That’s a pretty serious accusation.

  7. Plain Jane
    April 11, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    What percentage of people don’t know they can write a letter to the BOS, or any commission or committee thereof, expressing their view with no limit of length or amount of detail they choose to include? Which is the most effective way to make sure your opinion is recorded accurately, in person with a 3 minute time slot or a carefully considered letter?

  8. Plain Jane
    April 11, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    Maybe even libelous if untrue.

  9. Plain Jane
    April 11, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    Ben, we KNOW what kind of outcry the developers can create with their full page ads full of hysterical lies.

  10. Plain Jane
    April 11, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    And further we know that much of it is NIMBYs opposed to low income housing.

  11. Ben
    April 11, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    Ads only work if the public has a disposition to agree and Health Humboldt has been doing a lot of media stuff. As far as hysterical lies, have you read the staff reports which all of the information in the ads are based? You do not need to lie when the staff report is enough to scare anyone!

  12. Plain Jane
    April 11, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    Can you be specific about what you find so scary about the staff report, Ben?

  13. longwind
    April 11, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    Come on, kids. The 1500 series of public participation rules were written *by the public* in the 1980s, in the course of a successful General Plan process that included the public. It wasn’t just CACs, it was ten thousand bulletins distributed around the county, library information, and above all, meaningful and continuing dialog. It’s the people who wrote those rules who started the complaints, years ago now, that public participation had disappeared, illegally, into the morass of staff pre-determinations that the General Plan Update had become.

    People who believe in democracy have said the same things for years (often to people who say they believe in democracy). Now, when our poor Board of Supervisors must accept responsibility for something that excluded most of the people it affects, people are speaking out. They were ignored before, remember? Now is the time someone electable becomes accountable. This was the inevitable time for the backlash.

    Incidentally, if we had public participation, do you suppose we could teach staff how to use the word ‘marijuana’ in a planning document? Maybe we could even teach our economic development director that better-paying jobs are a good thing, not a bad thing, as she suggested to the Planning Commission when forced to talk about our actual economic base.

    We face a strange new world which our planners, with all their pre-determinations, have not a clue how to plan for or deal with. I think it would be fun to make it real.

  14. Anon
    April 11, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    For once I have to agree with PJ at 3:50 p.m. – It is the NIMBYs that are rattling so many cages – Where is the low income housing in Arcata?? The NIMBYs there don’t want it and want it in other neighborhoods.

    There are plenty of sites available for apartments in Arcata outlying areas but were they named? No.

  15. Plain Jane
    April 11, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    Arcata has its own general plan with their own low income housing plan because they are a city, Anon. The county GPU doesn’t involve them. It doesn’t involve Eureka or Fortuna either for the same reason.

  16. Anonymousoverandover
    April 11, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    Arcata has low income housing on Alliance as well as Valley West.

  17. Anonymous
    April 11, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    To add to the Arcata low-income housing discussion – It is true that Arcata has it’s own General Plan and, unlike the County, they are meeting low-income housing requirements (and are actually ahead of the curve).

  18. Anonymous
    April 11, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    Yes, Arcata meets the low income housing requirements and it has the best schools.

  19. Anonymous
    April 11, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    Unfortunately section 1500 does not require CAC’s. In fact, much of language section 1500 is not compulsory and lacks specifics. Given the loose language, the County is entirely complying with the Section as written. That being said I do think that the language should be strengthened to provide a better framework for Public Participation.

    Section 1550 says CAC’s SHOULD (not shall) be FORMED IN THE COMMUNITY (not appointed by the Supervisors). CAC’s could have been (and, in my opinion, should have been) formed in the community, by the community, for the community, early on in the process. Still, it is not too late to do this – we still have many, many months before it even reaches the Supervisors when there will be another round of public input and deliberations on the details. The GPU process does not need to be stopped in order to create Community advisory committees. It is up to THE COMMUNITY (not the government) to do this.

    Read section 1500 for yourself on HumCPR’s website: http://humcpr.org/2011/03/public-participation-in-the-gpu/

  20. longwind
    April 11, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    Arcatans have a a government to be proud of, and a hard time understanding the problems of living without a local government.

    Without citizen participation, far-off governance–by representatives elected mostly by voters with local governments–is guaranteed to fail. For proof, tune in tomorrow.

  21. longwind
    April 11, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    5:31, I didn’t say the problem was only with Citizen Advisory Committees, they’re an illustrative example of, for example, this problem:

    1542 Access to Decision Makers

    1. The Commission shall maintain clear, consistent and fair procedures for operation and relationships with the public, the board of Supervisors, ad-hoc committees, and local, and Federal agencies.

    2. Commission procedures shall be prepared in a format and language that is clean and readily available to the public,

    3. The County shall encourage the formation of citizen organizations to provide input on specific matters in a format consistent with the adopted policies and procedures . . .

    It says ‘shall,’ over and over. The violations are on every page, CACs on one of them. Your disdain for the Citizen Advisory process that was killed in its crib is curious. I wish I shared your faith that the never-ending update will still not end until it begins to get the information it should assembled ten years ago. But faith is a beautiful thing, and I’ll listen to your faith witness if you like.

  22. Anonymous
    April 11, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    kerfuffle. this is why i read the herald. where else do you hear such words?

  23. Anonymous
    April 11, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    let me be your faith witness, baby!

  24. Fool On Hill
    April 11, 2011 at 6:30 pm

    Government boards and agencies rarely criticize other boards processes. All of the entities that are now yelling foul in obviously orchestrated unity have known about the county’s GPU efforts for years, so where are their letters of specific concerns during the process? If the city of Fortuna, for example, saw some conflict with the county, their job was to put concerns and recommendations in writing in a timely fashion. I advise the letter writers to clean up their own houses since you have now opened season on boards attacking each others processes for political gain. What goes around, comes around.

    By the way, the next board in this dog and pony show is the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation, and Conservation District, which has suddenly decided to get involved in the county’s general plan update by writing their own letter to support throwing out the baby with the bay water. Their meeting is this Thursday at 7PM at their meeting room on Woodley Island.

  25. Not A Native
    April 11, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    I listened to the whole hour, ‘redneck wisdom’ and all and think the misunderstanding is when people feel that when they give input, its a real big deal. So when they do, their inut must be respected and adopted. And if it isn’t adopted, they feel that’s ‘proof’ that the system is rigged against them and there is collusion or deviousness going on.

    Essentially they believe that democracy means if they care deeply about an issue, their position must be accepted. Pretty much that’s the same as what PJ has been writing on this issue.

    Seems to me, they’re voicing an extension of the idea that “What I want to do on my land is my business and no one else has a right to have any say about it.” In a theoretical truly isolated world(perhaps what HumCo came close to being many years ago), that would be practical.

    But in a greatly interconnected world, even seemingly trivial acts can have large unwanted effects. Because of a legacy of overlooking unwanted environmental degredation and a current more intensive choice of “The American Way of Life”, HumCo populace is having a much greater effect, percapita on the environment than it had. Much of the ‘excess capacity’ in the local environmental and economic systems has been used up, we’re more interconnected than before and there’s no going back.

  26. Mae E. Bell
    April 11, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    I think it is so nice that Tina Christensen (Humboldt Association of Realtors) and Estelle Fennel (HumCPR) can join together to disseminate the righteous truth to City Councils and Community Services Districts regarding a process that they all have participated in from the beginning.

  27. Mae E. Bell
    April 11, 2011 at 7:28 pm

    Clever anagram, no?

  28. a non
    April 11, 2011 at 7:42 pm

    Longwind, you said that “Now, when our poor Board of Supervisors must accept responsibility for something that excluded most of the people it affects, people are speaking out.”

    Explain, exactly, how the people were excluded, Longwind? Be specific.

    Was someone standing at the door of the many public meeting, refusing to let them in?

    Did the Planning Dept. say – Don’t give us input?

    Explain how this exclusion of the public happened. And if you can’t, get off it. You hurt your cause by spewing nonsense.

  29. Anonymous
    April 11, 2011 at 8:26 pm

    Did the county not encourage and integrate “Find Our Lots” into the process? (Another developer front-group). It was offensive to watch Kay Backer dominate a public hearing with a 70-slide Power Point, then sign Jan Turner’s name onto it without Jan’s permission.

    Where the HELL is our “community media”?

    How many more developer’s sham-groups are needed before there’s evidence of “illegality”?

  30. Anonymous
    April 11, 2011 at 8:50 pm

    “oh, ooooooops, it is impossible, or impossibly expensive to meet that criteria.”

    This is exactly what has happened over and over in Shelter Cove.

  31. What Now
    April 11, 2011 at 9:01 pm

    Not A Native made the followng observation:
    “…when people feel that when they give input, its a real big deal. So when they do, their inut must be respected and adopted. And if it isn’t adopted, they feel that’s ‘proof’ that the system is rigged against them and there is collusion or deviousness going on.”

    Probably one of the most astute analysis EVER posted on this blog.

    April 11, 2011 at 9:18 pm


    the groupee slamming is getting larger and louder, who coulda thunk it. Double Wow – THE GPU process is getting worse, who coulda thunk that. Triple wow – the loudest voices are not even the most effective; rather, the ones behind the scenes that understand processes and know how to disseminate information to “force” public officials to comply are the most effective community members because of not being the type of people who are clamoring for popularity and local, but very personal, greeds.

    Caught in between the schmoozers are all the good folks who don’t necessarily understand what it (the GPU shenanigans) all means.

    In short, priceless.

    Jeffrey Lytle
    McKinleyville – 5th District

    April 11, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    What Now says:
    April 11, 2011 at 9:01 pm
    Not A Native made the followng observation:
    “…when people feel that when they give input, its a real big deal. So when they do, their inut must be respected and adopted. And if it isn’t adopted, they feel that’s ‘proof’ that the system is rigged against them and there is collusion or deviousness going on.”

    Probably one of the most astute analysis EVER posted on this blog.

    Response: Now, lets consider the people who become involved in any gubbamint process – no need “to feel” when “feeling” is groping for money and power through the violation of one’s rights. So, rigged is not “a feeling or feel”, it is all too often reality based on facts that tax dollars are used to cover-up to protect those who cover-over from the inside……this is why I claim that no current elected officials represent me….because they really do not given the types of abuses occuring in Humboldt County, California and the USA. So, those who voted for all the “backstabbing” gubbamint schmucks DESERVE whatever political pains they receive.


  34. tra
    April 11, 2011 at 10:03 pm

    Rose says: This came about because the overreach on the TPZ debacle woke people up to the fact that Mark Lovelace was being paid to influence the direction of the plan…

    Eric Kirk says: Are you accusing him of accepting bribes Rose? That’s a pretty serious accusation.

    Plain Jane says: Maybe even libelous if untrue.

    C’mon, Eric and Jane, it really didn’t occur to you that Rose was referring to Mark Lovelace’s paid work for Healthy Humboldt, before he ran for Supervisor? Seems pretty obvious to me.

    Of course her actual point is pretty silly. So what if Lovelace was a paid employee of an interest group? So is Estelle Fennell. If Estelle was to run for Supervisor and win, and then leave her HumCPR job and serve as Supervisor, she’d be in the same postion as Lovelace is now — a supervisor who used to be paid by an interest group. Would Rose have a problems with that?

  35. tra
    April 11, 2011 at 10:04 pm

    I do agree with Rose’s point that it was, in large part, the arrogance and overreach of the Option A crowd that has led to such a significant backlash against them.

    Now one question is whether the Option A crowd will continue will show the same level of arrogance and overreach, or whether they’ll look to actually find some common ground and work toward a GPU that a broad majority of Humboldt residents can live with (even if nobody’s all that thrilled with it).

    And the other question is whether the backlashers themselves will behave in an equally arrogant and overreaching fashion.

    So far, I have to say it’s not looking too promising on either side.

  36. Eric Kirk
    April 11, 2011 at 10:16 pm

    C’mon, Eric and Jane, it really didn’t occur to you that Rose was referring to Mark Lovelace’s paid work for Healthy Humboldt, before he ran for Supervisor? Seems pretty obvious to me.

    Upon rereading it, I do now. Of course he was paid to influence the direction of the plan before he was in office. That just doesn’t seem very sinister to me, so it didn’t occur to me that she was talking about that.

  37. Eric Kirk
    April 11, 2011 at 10:19 pm

    And to add to the discussion, I agree with NAN. The majority of the people screaming the loudest about the process have been vocal from the beginning, which suggests that certain people define being listened to as being agreed with. If everyone doesn’t jump on the bandwagon of your message, obviously you haven’t had enough opportunity for input, because if you have by golly they should be working for you.

  38. tra
    April 11, 2011 at 10:47 pm


    That dynamic of “I gave my input, but now they’re not adopting my demands, so something nefarious must be afoot” also perfectly decribes all the squealing from the Healthy Humboldt / Lovelace faction about how everyone who opposes them are greedy developers and real estate agents (of course something like half of the county’s residents would have to be developers or real estate agents in order for their claim to be true).

    Anonymous 8:26 provides a prime example of this kind of political persecution complex: How many more developer’s sham-groups are needed before there’s evidence of “illegality?”

    So, for example, there were folks who got real involved in pushing for an Option A-style GPU a few years ago, and the process did seem to be moving in that direction — until the attempt was made to morph the temporary moratorium on housing permits for TPZ land (which was aimed at the MAXXSCAM bankruptcy judge) into a permanent moratorium.

    Then, with that idea plummeting like a lead balloon, there’s been the attempt ever since to create enough regulatory burden — for example, by changing the law to require an expensive, time-consuming and unreliable discretionary permit process — to accomplish the same thing without calling it a moratorium.

    Despite the talk of “compromise,” Healthy Humboldt has continued to cling to that demand right up to the present, attempting to whip up resentment against TPZ residents with baseless claims of tax unfairness (but failing to acknowlege one a house is built on TPZ land it does get taxed at regular rates, along with outbuildings and the home site). And then HH supporters can’t understand why TPZ landowners and other rural residents feel the need to continue to speak out against that kind of stuff? Again…arrogance and overreach.

    So, naturally those who disagreed with the policies that Healthy Humboldt has continued to try to force on rural residents are now speaking up and making their voices heard, much to the annoyance of those who favor an Option A-style GPU, who “gave input” a couple of years ago and are now resentful that their pearls of wisdom haven’t already been accepted and adopted, yielding the OptionAtopia that they envisioned.

  39. Anonymous
    April 11, 2011 at 11:43 pm

    have you ever spoken with anyone currently working with Healthy Humboldt about the TPZ issues you bring up? If you attempt to have a conversation, rather than constantly broadcasting your assumptions, you might be surprised with the result.

  40. Anonymous
    April 11, 2011 at 11:52 pm

    tra is too busy mixing apples and oranges. sure, there are some small landowners who are disgruntled with the process and the direction the GPU appears to be going but, for the most part, it is a troupe of power-hungry developers, realtors and for-profit interest groups leading the charge to halt the Update.

    Tina Christensen (Humboldt Association of Realtors) and Estelle Fennel (HumCPR [Humboldt Corporation for Property Rights]) have successfully lobbied various cities and services districts to write letters calling for a halt to the GPU in the hopes that Arkley’s minions can install a few new Supervisors and control the destiny (deletion) of this County’s General Plan Update.

  41. Anonymous
    April 11, 2011 at 11:57 pm

    As a caveat, i must add there are a few upstanding developers and realtors out there. Unfortunately they are vastly outnumbered by greedy obstructionists who want to have their way fuck all the consequences.

  42. Not an Expert
    April 12, 2011 at 12:05 am

    How exactly is Healthy Humboldt forcing anything on anyone when they are simply giving input on the GPU like anyone else is free to? Come on, that’s just over the top.

  43. tra
    April 12, 2011 at 12:20 am


    Yes, plenty, though they (probably) don’t know that I post comments as “tra.” For the most part they are nice people, and mean well, but are in denial about and/or dismissive of the potential negative unintended consequences of their fixation on forcing TPZ owners into the discretionary permit process, for example:

    * the potential that such a move would cause a massive devaluation of TPZ parcels (whose value is, indeed, partly determined by the fact that TPZ owners have, up to this point, always been allowed to build a home on their land with only a ministerial permit, which is then taxed at the regular rate, while the rest of the parcel remains under the TPZ tax-deferral system),

    * the potential that forcing TPZ landowners who want to live on their land into this expensive, time-consuming and unreliable process may lead many to sell out to wealthier parties who can afford the exoense, delay, and hassle or who will simply take their property out of TPZ designation, leading to more trophy home-style development, and

    * the potential that some TPZ owners who are “priced out” of the ability to live on their own land by the new requirements will end up selling out to the large, corporate, out-of-area-owned timber companies, leading to more clear-cutting, more herbicide use, more logging on steep slopes, and other harmful industrial timnber practices, etc., etc.

    Basically, all they say is that that’s not their “intent.” To which I say, well, road to hell / good intentions, and all that.

    And with regard to my point that the Healthy Humboldt crowd remains completely unwilling to bend on their demand that TPZ owners be forced into the discretionary permit process, one only has to look at their own public statements, such as this one from September 1, 2010:

    …Healthy Humboldt Coalition believes that a conditional use permit should be required for a residence on TPZ…


    So, yes, I talk to a wide variety of people about these issues, from hard-core adherents to the Ulansey brand of scaremongering (they’re trying to herd everyone off the land and into crowded city housing projects where social control is easier) all the way to hard-core adherents to the Healthy Humboldt brand of scaremongering (if we don’t approve an Option A-style GPU the whole county will soon be swallowed up in wall-to-wall Santa-Rosa-style suburbs).

    Frankly I’m not impressed with those taking hard-line positions on both sides. And yes, I find the Healthy Humboldt groupthinkers every bit as close-minded and insular as the HumCPR groupthinkers. Maybe more so.

    At times I wonder whether we might be better off if the two most hard-line ideologues on the Board of Supervisors — Lovelace and Bass — just went on vacation for a couple of months and left Clendenen, Smith, and Sundberg to hammer out a compromise. Hey, it’s an idea…

  44. tra
    April 12, 2011 at 12:27 am

    So now Estelle Fennel, longtime environmentalist, former KMUD News director, stalwart progressive and respected SoHum leader, is being excoriated as part of a “troupe of power-hungry developers.”

    If you ever start to wonder why your side seems unable to build bridges to those rural environmentalists who should be your natural allies, try a little introspection. Demonizing and attempting to marginalize and apply guilt-by-association to respected members of the rural community, just because you can’t (or won’t) see the validity of their point of view — yeah, good luck with that.

  45. tra
    April 12, 2011 at 12:42 am

    How exactly is Healthy Humboldt forcing anything on anyone when they are simply giving input …

    The input that they are giving is that the county should force TPZ landowners into a discretionary permit process. So I think it’s fair to characterize HH as “trying to force” which is the actual phrase that I used.

    And no, I don’t think that in the end they’re going to be successful, but in the meantime they shouldn’t be surprised that those whose rights they are trying to get the county to take away are going to continue to oppose the attempt to strip away those rights.

    The hard-line Option A supporters also shouldn’t be surprised that if realtors and developers are taking the side of small TPZ owners (even though it may be for their own self-erving purposes), those TPZ owners are going to continue to welcome that help, even as they realize they may be on the other side of many other issues from those same developers and realtors.

    Essentially, the arrogant, overreaching approach of Healthy Humbolt crowd has driven these small TPZ owners to seek support wherever they can get it, which I guess in the estimation of HH true-believers magically transforms them from homesteaders, small ranchers, farmers, and so on into part of the “troupe of power-hungry developers.”

    Like I said above, to buy into the party line being furiously spun by the Healthy Humboldt crowd, one would have to believe that something like half of all Humboldt residents were developers and real estate agents. Fact is, like it or not, the opposition to the Healthy Humboldt approach is much, much more widespread than that, and has it’s roots in the hubris shown by HH and their allies.

  46. tra
    April 12, 2011 at 1:02 am

    And by the way, I’m quite willing and able to engage in a dialogue with anyone who wants to try to provide some kind of cogent response to the substantive points raised in any of my comments above, instead of sidestepping the message and attacking the messenger (a common tactic by those unwilling or unable to respond substantively).

    I think it’s safe to assume that there are at least a few Healthy Humboldt leaders and supporters who follow this blog, and I invite one or more of them to engage in a meaningful discussion that goes beyond their usual talking points about “it’s just a bunch of obstructionist developer and realtors.” That is, if they are interested in actually engaging on the policy questions, rather than just demonizing those they disagree with.

    In the past, I’ve run across a few such people in these comment threads, and the discussions have been useful. But lately they mostly seem to be caught in a “circle the wagons” defensive mentality where nothing but more of the same predictable bumper-sticker sloganeering seems to be forthcoming from that group.

  47. 11:43
    April 12, 2011 at 1:48 am

    two and one half questions and a statement…

    1) when was the last time you spoke with anyone from Healthy Humboldt?

    2) do you support subdividing or otherwise breaking up larger parcels of TPZ say down to 40 acre parcels – and the construction of a residence on every one of these parcels?

    I would imagine that you’d be able to convince many “option A” folks to ministerially allow residences on TPZ, so long as there are no further subdivisions or divisions by other means (i.e. certificates of compliance/patent parcels/lot line adjustments). Just a thought.

  48. Not A Native
    April 12, 2011 at 8:13 am

    Excellent points anonymous(11:43).

    My observation is that tra’s posts are like Pinocchio’s nose. The longer and more frequent they occur, the more you can be sure they’re spinning the truth. Just like the smearers here whose boogy man is ‘the proggies’, tra labels and casts aspersions on ‘the hard line Option A crowd’. In both cases the characterization is misleading and an unreasonable generalization intended only to cloud the substantive issues under discussion and replace them with a generalizing label.

  49. longwind
    April 12, 2011 at 8:45 am

    People keep asking the same question, and I keep answering it. (Sorry I’m not more punctual.) How was the public excluded? Like this for example, from Page 2 of the staff summary for today’s Board of Supervisors meeting:

    “The CACs were intended to support the Community Plan Development Program of the 1984 Framework Plan, which envisioned the preparation of 18 individual community plans to complement the countywide Framework Plan. The CACs were created for the McKinleyville Community Plan and the Eureka Community Plan. The Avenue of the Giants Community Plan did not make use of a CAC because the Board of Supervisors at the time wanted to use a different public input approach because of difficulties with the McKinleyville Community Plan Process.”

    Got that? We had 2 CACs, not 20 CACs, because of unnamed ‘difficulties.’ Can staff do this? Well, not according to the rules:

    1542 Access to Decision Makers

    3. The County shall encourage the formation of citizen organizations to provide input on specific matters in a format consistent with the adopted policies and procedures.

    4. The County shall encourage the development of Community Plans consistent with overall county policies in the Framework Plan (Volume I of the General Plan.)

    5. The County shall insure that the variety of views within an area are taken into consideration, to the extent expressed.

    The rules say the county “shall encourage” what the county shut down instead. For example. Public meetings with pre-determined outcomes were another discouraging feature of the GPU roll-out ten years ago. People who liked what had already been decided before public participation began joined the process. Most of us didn’t, because our desires were ‘off the table’ from the start.

    The anti-democratic chickens are coming home to roost, today at the Supes’ chambers.

    The purpose of public participation is to create general understanding and ownership of complex countywide issues and compromises. It worked last time, and should be permitted to work again.

    To be clear: Our General Plan is the county Constitution. We can’t just lop pages of rules out of our Constitution and claim to be following the law. We can change the law governing future activities, but we cannot just ignore the law when we don’t like what it tells us to do. Really.

  50. a non
    April 12, 2011 at 9:03 am

    Sorry Longwind, your argument does not show that the public has been excluded. If CACs were the only way to get public input, your point might have some validity.

    Dozens of interest groups and hundreds of citizens have given input to the GPU process. The fact that it did not come through a certain committee does not mean there was no input.

    Actually, relying on CAC’s as the source of public input is more restrictive. A CAC is comprised of a handful of people. During the McKinleyville Plan update, the CAC was dominated by real estate types. The public was invited to their meetings and could have their say. However, the public’s input was often ignored and not passed along to the Planning Department.

    CAC’s to not enhance public participation. They restrict it.

  51. a non
    April 12, 2011 at 9:05 am

    That is, CACs DO not enhance public participation.

  52. cogency
    April 12, 2011 at 9:11 am

    tra, look up two words: brevity and obsession.

    Strive for more of the first and less of the second.

  53. Anonymous
    April 12, 2011 at 9:37 am

    longwind is a whiner. Go form a CAC if you want one. Why do you have to wait for the nanny state to make one for you?

  54. longwind
    April 12, 2011 at 10:48 am

    a non, if I understand you correctly, you’re saying that your personal opinion of CACs trumps the mere law that requires them. And you don’t care that pre-determinations made other forms of public participation futile. Have I missed anything?

    9:37, am I still whining?

  55. 11:43
    April 12, 2011 at 11:04 am

    In my personal opinion, CAC’s as called for in section 1500, could be a positive influence in the GPU process. The GPU does not need to be put on hold in order for them to be formed (there’s probably at least another of public participation potential as it is). Importantly, as called for in section 1500, they should be formed WITHIN specific communities rather than appointed by the Supes, adding another layer of bureaucracy to an already bureaucratic process.

    PS – section 1500 does not REQUIRE CAC’s to be formed – it just suggests that they should be and offers guidance for doing so.

  56. 11:43
    April 12, 2011 at 11:05 am

    …at least another year of public participation…
    is what i meant to say

  57. Eric Kirk
    April 12, 2011 at 11:06 am

    One thing the CAC’s would have done was to bring the disparate groups into one room. Certainly each interest group can organize on its own, but this would have forced a process of discussion. Probably would have been lots of yelling, but maybe it would have generated some ideas for compromise.

  58. tra
    April 12, 2011 at 11:15 am


    (1) If you mean Healthy Humboldt leadership, well it’s been about a year. If you mean rank-and-file supporters, about 2 months. I’ve seen some of them since then, but we didn’t discuss the TPZ issue.

    (2) In general, no I do not support subdivision , in other words breaking up parcels into smaller parcels (such as breaking up a 160 acres into four 40 acre parcels). But if someone has several existing parcels under one ownership, and wants to sell off an existing parcel, I’m O.K. with that. That sort of thing is often mislabeled “subdivision,” though that’s not the right term for it, since the parcels are already legally “divided” into separate parcels and the owner is simply selling an existing parcel. I’ve noticed that this is often referred to as parcelization which I suppose makes sense.

    By the way, one place that I would tend to agree with HH, and, I think, disagree with HumCPR (though I’m not sure of their position on that) is that I think it would be desirable to have a different set of rules for large, industrial timber ownership, rules that would limit and/or disincentivize wholesale “parcelization” of large timber holdings and for that matter I’d be fine with imposing discretionary permits for building on Industrial TPZ. I’ll admit, though, that I haven’t studied that issue carefully and I’m not sure how feasible that is legally.

    By the way, I think you’re right that many of Healthy Humboldt’s rank-and-file supporters would support a compromise that allowed ministerial permits for building a house on an existing TPZ parcel. Of course, that’s exactly the status quo that HH leadership seems hell-bent on overturning. Rules for whether and when actual subdivision of an existing parcel is allowed is a separate issue (or at least has been up to this point) and I’d be fine with tightening those rules up considerably.

    I would add one caveat: I wouldn’t completely rule out lot line adjustments, since the original parcels were often layed out without any consideration given to natural landscape factors, and sometimes they just don’t make any sense. For example, one owner has 160 acres with 140 acres on the west side of a river or creek, but also 20 acres on the east side of a river or creek with no access from the rest of their property. An adjacent owner (or another parcel owned by the same owner) may be mostly on the east side of the river, with a small piece of it on the west side. A lot-line adjustment makes a lot of sense in that case, using the river as the new boundary. So I wouldn’t rule out lot-line adjustments in cases like that.

    O.K., so I think I’ve answered your questions, now here’s a few for you:

    Have you talked directly with leaders of Healthy Humboldt and asked whether they would agree to ministerial permits for building a house on an existing TPZ parcel (the status quo) in exchange for significantly tightening up the rules on subdividing, lot line adjustments, etc.? If so, when? Was it since Sept. 1, 2010? The reason I ask is because their official recommendations, submitted to the county on that date, are to the contrary — they were still insisting on forcing TPZ owners into the discretionary process.

  59. tra
    April 12, 2011 at 11:17 am


    Look up the word “substantive.”

    Now try to contribute something that could be described that way.

  60. a non
    April 12, 2011 at 11:20 am

    Longwind, if we made a list of laws that are ignored, especially laws designed to protect public trust resources, you would see how trivial this CAC issue is.

    As for provisions in the General Plan, how many “shalls” are ignored? Do you really want to go there?

    Longwind, the Section from the plan you quoted does not call specifically for formal committees. It does not say the county or any other government entity is responsible for making committees.

    “The County shall encourage the formation of citizen organizations to provide input on specific matters in a format consistent with the adopted policies and procedures.”

    Fact is, several citizen organizations and many individual citizens have been regularly providing input. The County has solicited and encouraged their input. Certainly, you can’t deny this. Therefore, the obligation of the County in this regard has been met.

  61. Random Guy
    April 12, 2011 at 11:39 am

    “We can’t just lop pages of rules out of our Constitution and claim to be following the law. We can change the law governing future activities, but we cannot just ignore the law when we don’t like what it tells us to do. Really.”

    Really…why not? What specific laws are you refering to? The state (ultimately feds) can be told to go screw themselves regarding their forced mandates on “growth”. Real estate and “development” enterprises are their bandwagon of cheerleaders, at everybody’s expense…economically and environmentally. Look how they’ve been dominating local politics forever, as if the only thing on our population’s mind is building more stuff and cramming more people into the area. Humboldt is poor BECAUSE of these enterprises, not in lieu of them. Slow growth advocates are told they’re creating gridlock, when the reality is they want to implement a different course of action, focus time and money on different industries. The rate of the nation’s growth is not sustainable vs. the rate of its decline. Stateside is even worse. All of this can be considered into the general plan, and moreso on a case-by-case basis of “development”.

    The course we’re on needs to change, the sooner the better.

  62. Eric Kirk
    April 12, 2011 at 11:44 am

    In general, no I do not support subdivision , in other words breaking up parcels into smaller parcels (such as breaking up a 160 acres into four 40 acre parcels). But if someone has several existing parcels under one ownership, and wants to sell off an existing parcel, I’m O.K. with that. That sort of thing is often mislabeled “subdivision,” though that’s not the right term for it, since the parcels are already legally “divided” into separate parcels and the owner is simply selling an existing parcel. I’ve noticed that this is often referred to as parcelization which I suppose makes sense.

    According to the legal descriptions in the recorded documents, or patent parcels? They aren’t necessarily congruent (in fact, some legal descriptions which were recorded before the Map Act split patent parcels up), and this is a key issue.

  63. Random Guy
    April 12, 2011 at 11:49 am

    …and longwind, you really are barking at a wall by telling people who disagree with your claims that they’re not participating enough. I have a life and LOTS of other stuff to do, THIS is my input and I speak for lots of people who provide even less. An individual’s universe doesn’t have to revolve around city council meetings, nor should it. We’re thankful for those who do participate, yet expect infinitely more from our elected officials. That’s the job we hired them to do.

  64. Cogency
    April 12, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    tra, you confuse redundancy with substantive. As previous comments have cogently explained, repetition of the same ideas and arguments does not increase their validity.

    You may reject the advice given by your fellow bloggers, and continue with your bloated, self indulgent style of communication. Others may skip reading them.

    Just some well meaning advice. Take it or leave it.

  65. Not A Native
    April 12, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    Fugetaboudit Cogency, your good advice will be ‘leaved’. You can’t stop obsessions and compulsions by simply pointing out that they exist.

  66. April 12, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    NAN (7:14pm) and Eric (10:19) have it exactly correct. As one who has spoken before at least the City Council on many occasions, I sometimes remain under the delusion that those wonderful cogent arguements of mine MUST sway others to see my point of view and act accordingly. Sadly it just isn’t so. When folks give input, either spoken, in writing, or through some group, they assume that their arguements MUST be so good that the entire process should shift to accomodate them. That’s a lot of what I’m hearing here. The provisions for input seem adequate. Anyone could, at ANY point, write a letter to the Commission on any point they wished to make. Or, of course, they could give it their 3 minute shot (hey, it’s enough for the Eureka City Council so it must be enough!). Input doesn’t carry a guarantee that it will change or even affect the outcome.

    Forming “advisory Committees” seems like it would actually DILUTE any one person’s input. His/her ideas would have to be further filtered through the group process even before being submitted. Remember that a Camel is a Horse put together by a Committee!

    I’m still laughing at the notion of a few small downtrodden landowners imploring the developer/realtor crowd to please please help them against the big bad county as TRA suggests. Who is leading this parade, anyway? I’d bet dollars to donuts that the funding and leadership of groups like HumCPR and HELP doesn’t come from “the little guys”.

    The Planning Commission has and continues to get more than enough input to properly do their jobs. Let’s get on with it. Any process can be derailed but that accomplishes nothing.

  67. a non
    April 12, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    Forming “advisory Committees” seems like it would actually DILUTE any one person’s input. His/her ideas would have to be further filtered through the group process even before being submitted. Remember that a Camel is a Horse put together by a Committee!

    A-Nony, that was exactly the point I made in previous comment. I think creating that filter is one of the objectives of the crowd that is now pushing for CACs.

    Advisory committees that deal with development tend to be populated mostly by people who have a vested interest in maximizing development. If the county relied mainly on input from these committees, that input would not be representative of the community as a whole. It would be biased toward development.

  68. tra
    April 12, 2011 at 9:16 pm


    You still haven’t contributed anything of substance, just more redundant whining about my writing style. Care to try again?

  69. 11:43
    April 13, 2011 at 12:40 am

    you talk about the “leaders” of Healthy Humboldt being “hellbent” on a particular outcome. perhaps if you’d reach out to have a reasonable conversation, you might see it differently.

    i have spoken with the “leaders” within the last year. from my perspective, Healthy Humboldt staff have worked hard to address their concerns and are receptive to creative solutions. i personally think that incorporating language into the General Plan that stops subdivision/parcellization of TPZ lands (including divisions due to recognition of historic “patent parcels”), would address many of the concerns that “option A hardliners” have – and you’d probably find that the “leadership” would then not be “hellbent” on discretionary permits for residences on TPZ. And i think this would be doubly true if there were increased protections on industrial timber parcels (i.e. discretionary permits for residences on industrial timber lands).

    PS – it does not help anyone’s cause to use inflammatory language. I respect your perspective on a lot of things, and with all do respect man, watch your language when it comes to folks you may not have a full perspective on.

  70. tra
    April 13, 2011 at 1:05 am


    With all due respect, you’re not making sense. If the leadership of Healthy Humboldt wants to drop their insistence on requiring discretionary permits for homes on TPZ parcels, and instead focus on stopping actual subdivision of parcels, what’s stopping them from doing that, and from publicly announcing that they’re doing that? They’re waiting for me to phone them up and ask them nicely?

    Look, if they decide to change their postion on discretionary permits for TPZ parcels, I’ll be the first to congratulate them for doing the right thing — better late than never. In the meantime, their demand for a discretionary permit process for all TPZ homes (as outlined in their comments on TPZ policies made just last September in a letter to the Planning Commision) are a matter of public record, and until they state otherwise publicly, I think it’s fair to assume that this is still their policy. If not, they should say so.

  71. 11:43
    April 13, 2011 at 9:17 am

    fair enough. but my point was to convey that other people’s solution-minded suggestions can make a big difference, whether input is directed at Healthy Humboldt or within the GPU process. If people stopped spending so much time criticizing and attacking others and instead offered constructive ways of moving forward, we’d all benefit.

  72. Anonymous
    April 13, 2011 at 9:24 am

    tra – should a ministerial permit be allowed for construction within a stream side buffer on a TPZ? Or in a fish bearing watershed that already has too much water being drawn from it to support fish?

  73. tra
    April 13, 2011 at 12:07 pm


    Thanks for the constructive dialogue. I do hope that some sort of constructive compromise can be reached, where the concerns about too many subdivisions of TPZ parcels and the concerns about the potential for wholesale parcelization of industrial timberlands can be addressed in a meaningful way, but without owners of individual TPZ parcels who want to build a home on their own parcel becoming the collateral damage in the process.

    I just wish that the Healthy Humboldt folks could have made such a policy their goal from the beginning. Some have suggested that HH and Option A fans “had to” push for the abolition of the ministerial permit process on all TPZ parcels in order to have a hefty “bargaining chip” in negotiations that would eventually yield a compromise more or less along the lines we’ve been discussing in this thread.

    I understand that line of reasoning, but there’s no question that the attempt to impose an expensive, time-consuming and unreliable discretionary permit process on a broad population of rural residents and TPZ owners is, in large part, what has created such outrage and animosity towards the GPU process, and resentment of Healthy Humboldt and their allies among so many rural residents.

    I don’t really know if the attempt to impose the discretionary permit process on all TPZ parcels was something that HH leadership still sees as crucial and is going to continue to puch for ’til the bitter end, whether they originally were commmitted to it but have now been forced to rethink what they push for (but haven’t yet made it to the point of officially changing their public position), or whether it’s alwasy been their intention to use it as a “bargaining chip” to gain leverage in the overall outcome.

    I do think that if it’s the latter, that would be an example of arrogance and insensitivity, because this strategy would entail playing games with people’s homes and livlihoods, and creating a lot of unnecessary angst among a large number of people who would be affected by the policy that has been publicly advocated for by HH, and which was still their public position as of their Sept. 2010 recommendations to the Planning Commission.

    I guess we’ll see where it goes from here.

  74. Anonymous
    April 13, 2011 at 5:44 pm

    The effectiveness of the development community’s megaphone is clearly illustrated by the widely repeated fallacies framing this issue.

    Rapidly diminishing watersheds, infrastructure and biodiversity, is the collateral damage caused by the “rural lifestyle”, as opposed to the “collateral damage” by a county that’s FINALLY grappling to regulate it. (All of Humboldt County is rural).

    It’s as if, somehow, Humboldt County residents have evolved beyond the undisputed legacy of human impacts being repeated ad nauseum!

    Without serious water-capacity research, strict ordinances imposing low-impact technologies, and adequate sources of infrastructure funds, fiddling around with ministerial or principally permitted rights to plop more buildings onto OUR headwaters,(or new subdivisions 10 miles from downtown), is simply too little, too late.

    While the development community dominates the agenda, a complicit “community media” NEVER interviews a scientist, as close as HSU! Unable and unwilling to challenge the deluded orthodoxy of a world of “plenty”.

    It’s the emperor’s new GP.

  75. tra
    April 13, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    Great scaremongering, 5:44. Congrats.

  76. Anonymous
    April 13, 2011 at 9:46 pm

    tra says – “11:43,

    Thanks for the constructive dialogue.” But I will continue to attack HH for five more paragraphs.

  77. Anonymous
    April 13, 2011 at 9:49 pm

    tra seems to be in complete denial that building in impaired watersheds or in stream side buffers will have a negative impact, so long as it is done on TPZ land.

  78. Random Guy
    April 13, 2011 at 9:53 pm

    Mark these words: in 2013, the shit is going to really start hitting the fan regarding the environment. There will be NO denying it. And it will get progressively worse every year after that for who knows how long. And it’s all from what’s already been done. Zero Growth in Humboldt.

  79. April 13, 2011 at 9:57 pm

    Thanks for the constructive dialogue.” But I will continue to attack HH for five more paragraphs.

    Yes, tra isn’t so reasonable when it comes to Healthy Humboldt.

  80. tra
    April 13, 2011 at 10:46 pm

    With all due respect, constructive criticism isn’t the same thing as “attacking.”

    For example, calling Estelle Fennell part of a “troupe of power-hungry developers,” as one commenter did above, well, I think that qualifies as an “attack.”

    Suggesting that Healthy Humboldt should have, in the past, taken a different policy position than they did and should take a different policy position now…I think that’s well within the realm of the “reasonable.”

    That said, I’ll certainly own up the fact that I have a negative impression of Healthy Humboldt that colors my views of their actions, and that at times my criticisms may be unfair, and/or language too harsh. Hey, nobody’s perfect.

    At such times, I don’t at all mind a little constructive criticism being directed my way. It’s all part of the give and take of having a meaningful conversation, as opposed to just “taking shots” and “scoring points” with meaningless one-liners.

    I would just request that those who offer that criticism do me the same courtesy that I (try to) do others…give a specific example or examples, rather than just a broad generalization.

    In the present case, I don’t really think my 12:07 comment qualifies as an “attack.” I conceded that I don’t know for sure whether, or to what extent, the discretionary-permit-for-TPZ-homes issue is being used as a “bargaining chip,” but I included that last paragraph for two reasons:

    (1) Another commenter on this thread has suggested that HH might well be willing to compromise on that point if, in exchange, they got what they wanted in other provisions, for example the issue of actual subdivisions of TPZ (and other) parcels and the issue of the potential for wholesale “parcelization” of large timber holdings. The implication seemed to be that they were holding back on a concession on the TPZ permit issue in order to win these other concessions — in other words using small TPZ owners as a “bargaining chip” to win the other concessions.

    (2) A commenter in a previous thread (a few months ago) made that argument explicitly, claiming that HH was simply following smart bargaining/compromise practices by asking for much more than they “really wanted” and then using the more expendable demands as bargaining chips.

    Both that commenter, and the one on this thread, claimed to have spoken to HH leadership, and both suggested that if I spoke to HH leadership privately, I might well be told something different than their publicly-stated policy. However, that opens a whole different can of worms that I’d rather not open, so for the time being I’m just going to go ahead and assume that the HH folks have enough integrity that they don’t make private promises that are different than their public pronoucements, and that if they are going to drop their demand for a discretionary permit requirement for all TPZ parcels that they will go ahead and do so publicly.

    If they want to continue to advocate for tightening up the rules on actual subdivision of rural parcels (even banning them entirely, except for perhaps a few very exceptional cases), and if they want to continue to advocate for a different set of rules preventing the wholesale parcelization and residential development of large industrial timber holdings (such as in MAXXSCAM’s ill-fated joke of a plan), I’m right there with them on those goals.

  81. tra
    April 13, 2011 at 11:20 pm

    Anon 9:49,

    A ministerial permit does not mean that “anything goes.” You still have to follow all the regular rules about setbacks, construction codes, water and sewer, and so on.

    I do agree that the “too many straws sucking at the creeks during the summer season” issue is a real one, and an important one, and that just because we have a few years of good late rainfall and therefore not-too-bad shortages does not mean that we should rest easy and ignore those issue.

    However, I would just point out that real and entirely feasible solutions to the dry-season-water-use issue, including winter water storage (we get plenty of rainfall here to support plenty of rural residences, it’s just that most of that rainfall comes in the winter and spring, leaving things awfully dry in late summer and early autumn), better water conservation, use of waterless waste systems like composting toilets, etc.

    I would just say that before we try to use a burdensome and potentially punitive regulatory approach, we ought to at least try getting rid of the existing barriers to voluntary improvements.

    So, for example, if in order to legally install a winter storage tank, you have to jump through too many hoops, and maybe have the inspectors/code enforcers use the water storage tank installation as an opportunity to ding you for an unpermitted shed or composting toilet or something like that, well in a case like that the current regulations and enforcement regime are acting as barriers to voluntary improvements and we should look to eliminate those sorts of barriers before we just pile more regulations on top.

    Composting toilets are themselves another example of where current regs and enforcement regimes disincentivize voluntary improvements (or at least disincentivise people from getting a permit for their voluntary improvements).

    The permit process for getting a composting toilet approved is so ridiculously time-consuming and expensive (including the infamous “bowel movement tax” that the owner of a composting toilet must pay) that, to my knowledge, no one has ever actually received a composting toilet permit in Humboldt County, though doubtless there are thousands in use in the rural parts of the county.

    Last I heard, they would only even consider a permit for a composting toilet if the owner already had a standard water-wasting flush toilet / septic tank system on their property, and the composting toilet was just “extra.” That’s obvioulsy pretty self-defeating from a water-conservation standpoint and basically makes no sense, except as a disincentive to voluntary compliance.

    If the county wanted to streamline the process, gain voluntary compliance, and promote best practices and help conserve water, they could simply look into pre-approving a number of simple, effective, safe composting toilet designs that are succesfully used all around the world (some of them built with U.S. foreign aid money for developing nations) rather than treating each composting toilet as if it were some kind of unique engineering feat requiring an elaborate regime of design evaluations and inspections. They could develop a policy that would allow anyone who used one of these standard, pre-approved designs to get a permit under a much more streamlined and less expensive process.

    Beyond removing barriers to voluntary improvements, we could also look to improve public education on the importance of water conservation and winter water storage, and perhaps even look at the possibility of providing incentives (interest-free or low-interest loans, for example, which would help lower-income rural residents pay the up-front costs of a winter water storage system and then be able to pay it back over time, which would make it much more feasible for these people).

    At any rate, the point is that when it comes to the issue of dry-season water withdrawls there are lots of potential solutions out there…assuming one is looking for solutions.

    If, on the other hand, one is merely looking to use the water issues to back up a predetermined and inflexible absolutist position against any additional rural homes, then one may tend to look right past those solutions, since their adoption will tend to undercut the overall campaign to convince others that rural living is inherently unsustainable. (To be clear, I’m not assuming you’re one of those folks, 9:49, but I do think that dynamic is at work in some cases).

  82. Anonymous
    April 13, 2011 at 11:47 pm

    None of the environmental groups exploding in popularity in the U.S. are free from criticism. However, it’s time to err on the side of the environment for a change…if it’s not too late and for many species, it already is.

    By invoking a childish one-liner response of “Scarmongering”, TRA betrays a deep ignorance.

    Over the last 40 years, I have personally witnessed dramatic decreases in biodiversity in Humboldt County’s rivers and tributaries, from crayfish and clams to blue tailed skinks and King Snakes…wild creatures,large and small are disappearing with the salmon and water-flows, long after the logging industry collapsed.

    While the absence of water carrying-capacity research might give TRA some solace, it has the rest of us GD furious considering the human impacts on fresh water sources worldwide….little wonder Humcpr isn’t clamoring for such research.

    Many who worked at the 5-county HQ for the U.S. Census in Eureka, can tell you that “L.A.” arrived in Humboldt County long ago. Olympic pools, trout farms, vineyards, pot farms, and man made lakes, have no business sucking the life out of The People’s headwaters.

  83. Anonymous
    April 13, 2011 at 11:55 pm


    You have mentioned before that you are associated with HumCPR in some way. Just curious why HumCPR hasn’t put forth any creative solutions to deal with the issue of parcellization of TPZ lands – in the past HumCPR has said they are not for “subdivisions” of TPZ but still support the JTMP process that allows for subdivision of TPZ down to 40 acres, with a house ministerially allowed on all parcels and a second unit ministerially allowed on parcels of 160. From what I’ve heard, HumCPR also supports the right to build a house on every legal parcel including historic patent parcels – which is how Barnum is able to chunk up his land without technically “subdividing”.

    it seems to me that certain concerned parties may be struggling with how best to deal with the patent parcel/certificate of compliance issue and minimize parcellization and subsequent residential development on TPZ lands. from my perspective some have therefore gone the route of recommending discretionary permits on all TPZ lands to address it. if anyone has other ideas, it’d be great to hear them.


  84. tra
    April 13, 2011 at 11:56 pm

    Anonymous 11:47,

    See my 11:20 comment, starting from the second paragraph and continuing through to the end. Then let’s talk.

  85. 11:47
    April 14, 2011 at 12:06 am

    I did. Fine ideas, but your post does not even begin to answer the question re: parcellization. Answer that, then let’s talk.

  86. tra
    April 14, 2011 at 12:24 am

    tra, You have mentioned before that you are associated with HumCPR in some way.

    Sorry, but you must have me confused with someone else. I’m not a HumCPR member, or affiliated with them in any way, and haven’t even had any contact with them, other than a couple of friendly conversations with Charlie Custer at a couple of hearings. Personally I think HumCPR founder Lee Ulansey is a rhetorical bomb-thrower, and, yes, at times a scaremonger. Sometimes even when I agree with an overall point he’s making, I have to cringe at the level of hyperbole he utilizes in making his arguments.

    I do have a lot of respect for Estelle Fennel and think she makes a good spokesperson for actual rural residents. That’s about the extent of it. I actually have had at least as many conversations with Healthy Humboldt supporters about this issue as HumCPR supporters, probably more. Fact is, I’m more of a “lone wolf” on this issue (or perhaps “loose cannon” is a better phrase) rather than a “team player,” and frankly I prefer it that way.

    Just curious why HumCPR hasn’t put forth any creative solutions to deal with the issue of parcellization of TPZ lands…

    Well, I think it’s quite possible that they may be playing the same game as Healthy Humboldt may be playing, namely holding off on making any concessions in hopes of using some of their original demands as “bargaining chips” as the process nears conclusion.

    If so, I guess that’s just smart hardball politics and all, but sometimes I wonder if both sides aren’t perhaps being “too clever by half” and needlessly creating greater conflict and division in the community than would otherwise exist (of course to some degree such organizations, as well as politicians, thrive on exacerbating such divisions, as this fires up their grassroots bases, motivates donors, and so on).

    As far as the issue of different kinds of parcels, with varying levels of recognition under the law, I think we can all agree that’s a godawful mess.

    I’ll admit that I’m not as well-versed on the details as I could be, but I’ll state that my overall feeling is that if you bought it as a parcel, the county recorded the sale as a parcel, and they tax you on it as a parcel, well then as far as I’m concerned it’s a parcel. To now come along and tell people that their land is not the “right kind” of parcel seems unfair to me. If the county wants to encourage and incentivize the merger of certain parcels, I think that’s fine, as long as the decision is ultimately up to the landowner and the decision isn’t coerced through penalties or other punitive measures.

    For those who want to “crack down” on the recognition of certain types of parcels, the thing that I’d like to hear them explain is what people are supposed to do if they’ve owned a patent parcel or “shaded” parcel, or whatever, for many years, paid taxes on it, live on it, and so on, and then the county decides to start enforcing a rule that your parcel isn’t really a parcel and therefore your residence can’t be permitted. Pack your bags and move out, and ask the seller of 20 years ago (or their heirs) to please refund the purchase price and reimburse you for improvements made in the meantime? How exactly is that supposed to work?

    But as I said, I’m not as well-informed on this as I’d like to be, so I’m certainly open to hearing what you and others have to say about the issue of the different kinds of parcels. I’ll check back later and see what you have to say about it.

  87. tra
    April 14, 2011 at 12:42 am


    Your 11:47 comment referred a lot to water carrying capacity, not directly to parcelization. I do realize that the two can be connected, but it wasn’t clear to me that you were asking me to address that issue.

    But at any rate, as I stated in previous comments (for example at 10:46), I’m all in favor of having a different set of rules to deal with the potential problem of wholesale parcelization of large timber holdings (or large ranch holdings, for that matter). But if someone happens to own, let’s say, a couple of 160 acre parcels, and wants to sell one to someone else, I don’t think that level of “parcelization” should be considered a problem. I think there’s a reasonable compromise to be made along these lines, though it won’t make the large timber companies happy, nor will it make the hard-line anti-TPZ-residence faction happy either.

    By the way I think it’s important to keep in mind that the alternative to small, locally-owned, sometimes owner-occupied timberlands is generally going to be large, corporate owned Big Timber, with it’s more frequent harvests, more clear-cutting, herbicide use, helicopter logging of steep slopes, and so on.

    I’m sure you realize that a good deal of the habitat damage and water quality degradation you have observed locally over the past several decades is due to the practices of Big Timber. I’m not saying that owner-occupied Small Timber is without its own problems, I’m just pointing out that the choice is for the most part not between Small Timber and pristine wilderness, it’s between Small Timber and Big, Industrial Timber, which as you know can create significant problems of its own.

    Anyway, I hope I’ve made my position on “parcelization” fairly clear: No to wholesale parcelization of large timber holdings (or other large resource-land holdings), yes to smaller landowners having some flexibility in buying and selling individual parcels.

  88. Ed
    April 14, 2011 at 1:51 am

    County health codes require a flush toilet and approved septic system before allowing compost toilets. If one has adequate percolation for health and safety and to protect streams, then an alternative system can be added. It’s up to the user which one is used.

  89. tra
    April 14, 2011 at 2:43 am

    Ed, you are correct that this is what the county’s rules are with regard to composting toilets: they want you to have a flush toilet / septic tank system first, and the composter can only be permittted after that (and after you go through a lengthy and expensive process for them to approve your design as if it was some unique and newfangled invention, then do a series of inspections, charge you various fees and finally, of course the “bowel movement tax”).

    But if you think about it, the rule about having a standard septic system first makes absolutely no sense. How does the presence of the flush toilet / septic tank system make the operation of the completely separate composting toilet any safer than if one has a composting toilet and doesn’t have a flush toilet / septic tank? Answer: It doesn’t. Not one bit.

    But it sure does create tens of thousands of dollars in needless costs for someone to have to put in a whole expensive flush toilet / spetic tank system that they never intend to use, just so that they can apply for a permit for their inexpensive, safe, and effective composting toilet system. Perhaps that’s one reason why nobody’s rushing out to get county permits for their existing composting toilets.

    Now, imagine if they could instead spend some of that wasted money on something more useful, such as a winter water storage tank and a graywater system, better graveling and grading of their roads, decommissioning old logging roads and ranch roads, installing solar panels, or something else that actually did lighten their ecological footprint and/or improve the health of the ecosystem. Well, in reality, some folks are in fact doing some of those things with the money they’ve saved by ignoring the county and not putting in a water-wasting flush toilet when they have no intention of ever using it.

    The county needs to change this idiotic rule requiring a standard septic system before any permit for a composting toilet can be approved, and as mentioned above, the county also needs to significantly simplify and streamline the process for obtaining a permit for a composting toilet.

    Make the rules at least rational and fair, and you’ll get a lot more voluntary compliance, and therefore be able to encourage best practices. Keep the rules so byzantine, so completley arbitrary, and so without rational justification, and few people will comply unless forced to.

    And let’s face it, the county doesn’t have the enforcement personnel or resources to force compliance, except on tiny percentage of unlucky people that the county can afford to “make an example of” each year through Code Enforcement. (And as we saw a couple of years ago, when the county has tried to get too agressive and overreaching with the Code Enforcement Unit, some kind of fiasco and backlash becomes pretty much inevitable.)

    So, making rules that make sense, aren’t overy onerous, and don’t exacerbate other problems can often lead to more compliance, and on a voluntary basis, than nonsensical and self-defeating rules that lead to far less compliance, even with aggressive enforcement.

    Something to keep in mind in the GPU process, as well as with specific issues such as permits for composting toilets.

  90. Anonymous
    April 14, 2011 at 4:50 am

    “I would just say that before we try to use a burdensome and potentially punitive regulatory approach, we ought to at least try getting rid of the existing barriers to voluntary improvements.”

    Because that works so well in the Mattole watershed. You could ask the fish what they think of that idea, if there were any left.

  91. Ed
    April 14, 2011 at 7:43 am

    I agree it’s expensive and redundant TRA. My point is it’s County Environmental Health that makes the rules to which code enforcement and planning must adhere. Also, unless one owns their property outright, the lender {bank or other person} will have a vested interest in the property and it’s improvements. They might not agree to a compost toilet.

    April 14, 2011 at 7:57 am

    Exactly Ed about lenders,

    they also don’t favor other types of property violations as per county codes. Lawsuits against property owners who violate county codes are attached to the lender as they also own a share or valuation of the home until final payment is secured and lienholder release paperwork is filed.

    The composting toilet issue is really saddening in that denials of such composting toilet systems is mostly due to the FACT that other people won’t get to earn a perpetual living off another AND the composter is not, like TRA states, paying into someone elses pocket so to speak bya nd way through fees, charges, being on an account with minimum charges (even if you don’t use a single drop of water, etc….

    Lastly, it don’t look good for service districts when someone does not need the service. Built in costs destroy those agencies that depend on human bodies to subsidize it – another reason why composting toilets are not more prevalent.


    April 14, 2011 at 8:02 am

    I loved it when former Planning Commissioner Mayo explained what others in the community were saying – just rent a porta-potty. Then, the thought came out while breaking down how the county would usurp their position. It could be like this – ummm, you need to get an engineer to design a hold-down system for the porta potty in the event it could tip over and spill, requiring an environmental impact report or negative declaration through some development project standards or something. Always tricks up the sleeves in order to force some sorta porta potty process.


    April 14, 2011 at 8:08 am

    Tra says,

    And let’s face it, the county doesn’t have the enforcement personnel or resources to force compliance, except on tiny percentage of unlucky people that the county can afford to “make an example of” each year through Code Enforcement.

    Response: Ummm, the county has the resources and man power. They fail to want to charge fees and penalties after the fact like the current General Plan allows for. The funding for enforcement IS ENFORCEMENT, 100% – obviously a proven violation and not some false innuendo complaint.

    Also, the county picks on the politically involved or the weak, not family units, or political insiders, not those who engage in many public/private tax dollar funded projects getting kick-backs, etc… The people being harassed are generally those for which politics has something to gain or hide, it is that simple and obvious, really.


  95. tra
    April 14, 2011 at 11:10 am


    The Mattole watershed is a couple of years into a small pilot program incentivizing use of winter water storage. It may or may not “work great” in time, we don’t know yet.

    And passage of new mandatory requirements with a punitive / enforcement approach is not the same thing as everyone (or even most people) actually complying with that approach. The County has shown itself quite incapable of even enforcing the rules it already has, much less enforcing a whole new regulatory and enforcement regime.

    Simply passing “tough new requirements” is not the same thing as getting people to comply with those requirements. Such rules, and enforcement regimes to force compliance, might yield better results than a voluntary / incentive-based system over the long run, but I have my doubts. It might well be even less effective than the approach that is being tried in the Mattole watershed, and just like a voluntary / incentive approach, a mandatory / punitive approach will take many years to implement.

    The fact is, these are hard issues, and what will actually work, and work best, is not clear. In the meantime, if I could wave a magic wand and everyone would go out tomorrow and install winter water storage tanks of course I would do that. The reality is that the County is in nearly the same position — they can wave their “magic wand” of new regulations, and if passed many people will think they’ve solved the problem, but that doesn’t mean that the problem will actually be solved.

    The County has little more than it’s “magic wand,” wishful thinking, and enough enforcement resources to go after a tiny proportion of rural residents who they can “make an example of.” If that was enough to yield solid results, and quickly, then we wouldn’t already have thousands of unpermitted rural homes in our rural areas…yet we do.

    So it’s not as simple as “voluntary / incentive based system doesn’t ensure full participation and takes a long time” vs “mandatory / punitive approach instantly ensures full participation.” The latter approach does not guarantee full participation either, and might well result in even less participation, and will certainly take many years to ramp up, at least as long as a voluntary / incentive-based system, and likely quite a bit longer.

  96. 11:47
    April 14, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    just to let you know, there are a few others commenting on this thread. i did not write the posts on watershed carrying capacity although i do agree with a lot of what was said.

    as to the points you bring up in your above two posts, and particularly those in the latter, i find them very reasonable and i agree with the majority of what you said. i fully support making it easier for folks to incorporate water-saving strategies whether in the hills or in town. i also agree that many of the issues we are talking about do not have a simple solution. i really do appreciate you putting your thoughts out there and wish i had more time to respond fully tonight on the parcelization issue – i do want to hash that one out further. i will post a more thorough response within the next few days.

  97. tra
    April 14, 2011 at 10:56 pm

    Thanks for engaging in this converstation. I’ll keep an eye on this thread for your further thoughts on parcelization.

  98. 11:47
    April 14, 2011 at 11:51 pm

    One thing, I don’t view parcelization as one landowner selling one of their existing parcels to another. Parcelization is the act of dividing up an existing parcel (e.g. 160 acres into four 40s).

    This can be done in a number of ways including through the subdivision map act (a true “subdivision”) or through patent parcels where the landowner breaks up their property based on historic maps and patents that predate land use laws without undergoing any environmental review. This is how tens of thousands of acres have been broken up in the last decade (e.g. Barnum and Eel River Sawmills lands).

  99. tra
    April 15, 2011 at 12:30 am


    I may be mistaken, but I believe that breaking up an existing 160 acre parcel into four 40 acre parcels is the classic example of subdivision. My understanding of the reason for this terminology is that the land is already divided into parcels, so when you break up one of those parcels into pieces, you are subdividing it. I am, generally speaking, against the subdivision of TPZ parcels, and rural parcels in general, unless there is a particular reason why the current parcel lines make no sense (such as the parcel is divided by a river, or other landscape factors).

    My understanding of the term parcelization is that this refers to dividing up land that is currently under one ownership, but already consists of multiple parcels, along its existing parcel lines.

    Thus, if Timber Company X owns 16,000 acres of land, made up of 100 existing parcels of 160 acres each, and they wish to sell off each each existing parcel, one at a time, there is really nothing currently stopping them from doing that (you noted the case of Eel River Sawmills). The land is already “divided” into parcels (and, yes, in many cases we’re talking about the original homestead parcels from long ago, which were bought up by the timber companies but the underlying parcels were never merged) so it is not “subdivided,” but it is “parcelized.” At least that’s my understanding of the way these two terms are generally used.

    MAXXSCAM’s joke of a development plan, which set off this whole TPZ debate, was to divide (not SUBdivide) up a whole bunch of their timberlands along their original parcel lines, and sell them all off as “trophy ranches.” That’s the sort of thing I meant by using the phrase “wholesale parcelization of industrial timberlands” and I’m against that sort of thing, at least at that kind of scale.

    On the other hand, if one person (or perhaps a family) owns, let’s say, 3 or 4 existing parcels right next to one another, and for whatever reason they want to sell off 2 or 3 of their parcels, well I guess you could call that “parcelization,” too — but at that scale I don’t have a problem with it at all. I mean what are we going to do, tell people that they must either continue to own all 4 parcels or otherwise none of them? So different rules for large timber holdings versus the smaller owners makes sense to me.

    By the way if you think that I am using these two terms, subdivision and parcelization incorrectly, we can talk about it further.

  100. Anonymous
    April 15, 2011 at 12:43 am

    We can’t make anyone do anything, so what the hell, ministerial permits for all. The only punitive action being proposed by tra is against the fish.

  101. Random Guy
    April 15, 2011 at 1:39 am

    “MAXXSCAM’s joke of a development plan, which set off this whole TPZ debate, was to divide (not SUBdivide) up a whole bunch of their timberlands along their original parcel lines, and sell them all off as “trophy ranches.”

    Appropriately put. “Green” Diamond “Renewable Resource” Company…(ha!) a “family owned” corporation…payed very close attention to the whole maxxSCAM debacle while they were still Simpson Timber. LOGGERS. Now look at their bullshit spin on the same activities. Maxing MANDATE while trying to convince us they’re doing more good than bad. A brilliant example of modern day corporate propaganda.

  102. tra
    April 15, 2011 at 1:40 am

    Go on, dance with that Straw Man, 12:43. You look ridiculous, but what the hell, as long as you’re enjoying it, by all means carry on.

  103. Anonymous
    April 15, 2011 at 10:17 am

    tra – direct question. Should a ministerial permit be granted for development of a TPZ parcel in a watershed where we know that endangered fish populations are significantly impacted by low flows, sediment and/or temperature? Yes or No?

  104. tra
    April 15, 2011 at 1:50 pm


    Thanks for the direct question. I like those. I’ll try to be as direct as possible in my answer:

    For an individual TPZ owner, yes.***

    Why? Because I don’t believe that removing the ministerial permit process for the owner of an individual TPZ parcel, or a few parcels, is going to be an effective way to go about protecting our watersheds (see my comments above, for example at 12:42, 2:43, and 11:10). At the same time, it will be certain to have a negative effect on many of our rural residents, and may well end up having unintended consequences that could make some of the water quality and habitat problems even worse (see below).

    First of all, as I argued above, we should not automatically assume that a mandatory approach will be more effective in actually mitigating water quality issues, than an approach of removing existing barriers to voluntary action, doing more public education to increase voluntary action, providing resources and incentivizing best practices.

    Ideally a comprehensive incentive-based approach to forest restoration, water conservation, water storage, and road and stream-crossing improvements — building on and improving on the MRC’s small but promising pilot program — should be implemented on a much larger basis throughout the county.

    I certainly agree that water quality in our rivers and streams is very important. However, I don’t think that pushing ahead with a requirement for a discretionary permit process will necessarily improve the situation, and may in fact make the situation worse due to poor compliance and inability to enforce, combined with the unintended (?) consequences of moving more TPZ ownership into the hands of Big Timber for industrial logging purposes (and the significant negative watershed impacts that will involve), and into the hands of the wealthy, for wasteful “trophy ranches.”

    If our moderate-income (“land-rich, but cash-poor”) TPZ owners cannot afford the cost and risk of an expensive, lengthy, and unreliable (you might get the permit at the end of the process, or you might not) discretionary permit process just to reside in a house on their own parcel, many will be forced to sell off their property (and those with the least resources will be hit the hardest, as they will be forced to sell out sooner, in a collapsing market where the change in permit requirements will render their property less valuable on the open market).

    And who will be buying these now difficult-to-afford-to-live-on parcels? Well, chief among those potential buyers would have to be the two groups I just named: (1) Big Timber, and (2) wealthy folks looking to build a trophy home (who have deeper pockets and can afford to spend money on lawyers and consultants, go through a lengthy discretionary process, and take the chance on eventual approval).

    Some folks may be O.K. with that kind of land ownership outcome; I’m not. And I seriously doubt that sort of outcome would result in improved habitat and water quality.

    *** As stated above, I’m fine with having a different set of rules for Big Timber, to avoid a MAXXSCAM-type wholesale parcelization/liquidation scenario.

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