Home > Lawsuits > Lawsuit claims lack of public input on GPU

Lawsuit claims lack of public input on GPU

It’s an accusation that’s been thrown around for years — even during public forums and meetings on the Humboldt County General Plan Update. Now someone is going to try to test the theory in court.

The Times-Standard reports Humboldt County resident Keith Carter is petitioning the court to declare the GPU — which is ten years in the making and not yet finalized — “invalid.”

The lawsuit was filed in Humboldt County Superior Court on October 7th. Carter is being represented by Eureka attorney Kelly Walsh.

From the T-S:

In addition, the suit states the “county has failed and refused to make available any citizen’s handbook mandated (by government code)” and “has used very little print and electronic media to educate the public.” It alleges Humboldt County Community Services Director Kirk Girard “grossly misrepresented to the board of supervisors and the citizens of the county the obligation of the Planning Department under his supervision to implement the requirements.”

T-S: Lawsuit filed Friday against Humboldt County; suit alleges county stifled public in GPU process

  1. Highly Suspect
    October 11, 2011 at 9:09 am

    After 60+ community input meetings put on by the Planning Dept., someone is still yelling about how their voice was unable to be heard? Have they been hiding in a shoebox for the last five years?

    Next thing you know, after this lawsuit is thrown out of court, the same people will be whining about how long the process has taken. At this point, the credibility of critics of the process is next to nil.

    My only question: what is the relationship of Keith Carter to Arkley, Bill Barnum, Tina Christensen, the Humboldt Association of Realtors (HAR) and the Northern California Assn. of Homebuilders? Did they put him up as their straw man, and are they financing this frivolous lawsuit?

  2. October 11, 2011 at 9:20 am

    The lawsuit claims the Planning Dept. is trying to “completely rewrite” the GPU which is a HELP/CPR/Realtor talking point. There is no doubt about who is behind this lawsuit.

  3. anotheranon
    October 11, 2011 at 9:47 am

    Those “60+ community input meetings” gave a new meaning to “community input”. Having attended some of those meetings, I never felt that my “input” was wanted or even noted. Developing the plan behind closed doors and THEN taking it to the community does not allow for input at the point where it could be most useful. Allowing the community to see the plan before it is adopted does not constitute “community input”. I doubt that Girard or anyone else could actually show you any portion of the plan that was changed because of “community input”.

  4. Plain Jane
    October 11, 2011 at 9:53 am

    Some people won’t accept they’ve had any input unless they get 100% of what they want.

  5. grouchy
    October 11, 2011 at 9:56 am

    This is completely crap. I googled this guy –he’s a real estate appraiser. Not that there’s anything wrong with being a real estate appraiser — but it hardly makes him just another Joe or Jane Citizen.
    Also the timing, isn’t it interesting the suit was filed and the announcement made the day before Kirk G’s performance evaluation?
    And yeah, there have been 10’s of 10’s of public workshops in various locations over the years, plus opportunities for people to comment in writing, which for some reason doesn’t seem to count with these folks.
    In SoHum we have 2 newspapers and a radio station closely covering this process and while it’s hard for people to get to hearings in Eureka, they could write — they could email — they could go ahead and form their own group(s) and send representatives to the hearings — they could do a lot if they put their minds to it but instead they swallowed the CPR Koolaid. I fearlessly predict all the small enviro-oriented landowners will be angry and miserable if what CPR really wants — virtually unlimited ability to subdivide resource land — happens.
    I am not saying the planning department’s process couldn’t be improved — short notice for workshops is a big gripe of mine — but it ain’t worth litigating. Something much bigger is behind this.
    The problem is that people don’t usually pay attention to such dry, detailed subjects as planning until there’s a perceived threat and the special interests have the means and the will to create a crisis out of an opportunity.
    And guess what? The people don’t speak with one voice. Not anywhere, not in Humboldt County, and certainly not in SoHum. So when people who don’t like the way things are going cry, “Our voices aren’t being heard!” that actually means “You’re not doing what WE want!”

  6. Anonymous
    October 11, 2011 at 10:18 am

    …what CPR really wants — virtually unlimited ability to subdivide resource land — happens.

    So we’re supposed to be scared of a “hidden agenda” so insidiously clever that nobody has even advocated for such a thing, nor is there the slightest chance of such a thing being passed by the Board of Supervisors?

    It’s funny when the scaremongering is so transparent.

  7. Plain Jane
    October 11, 2011 at 10:21 am

    Right, 10:18. I mean, it’s not like any timberland owners who fund CPR have any plans to subdivide timberland. What a tool!

  8. tra
    October 11, 2011 at 10:38 am

    Meanwhile, a moratorium on the County’s ability to issue new permits is set to take force today:


    I’m not clear on exactly what the parameters of the moratorium will be…I’m not sure if Judge Reinholtsen has ruled on that yet.

    As you may recall, this is the fallout from the lawsuit originally filed by Arkley front-group Sunshine for Humboldt, which was later intervened in by Housing for All, with which the County reached a settlement agreeing to complete the multi-family housing component of the Housing Element.

    The moratorium is going into effect because the County failed to complete the multi-family housing component by the deadline they had agreed to under the settlement (and because, according to Housing for All, the plan the County completed does not meet state requirements).

    If this moratorium lasts any significant length of time, and especially if the Judge imposes a broad moratorium on nearly all new permits, this is going to put a lot of building trades workers out of work.

  9. Pitchfork
    October 11, 2011 at 10:56 am

    (the suit states the “county has failed and refused to make available any citizen’s handbook mandated (by government code)” ).
    This is the only part of the suit that has merit. The rest of it is rich boy whining. The remedy should not be to start over. Just print the damn handbook.

  10. The Big Picture
    October 11, 2011 at 11:48 am

    I attended every one of the Housing Element Workshops from the beginning.

    The developer crowd raise their concerns and EVERY DAMN CONCERN appears in the list of alternatives for the next meeting. Same with the one or two affordable housing advocates in the room.

    The supervisors make the final decision on what’s included, what’s discarded and any modifications…all in public view and with public

    For 40 years the development community has treated the public’s infrastructure as if it belonged to them to develop as they please. A ludicrous “God-given right” to maximize profits until 75% of the local public cannot qualify to own the homes they’re building.

    They already built several local cities into moratoriums, now the entire county has fallen under their greed.

    If we had community-interest TV news and newspaper, local citizens would understand this legacy and be outraged. They might even begin to register to vote.

  11. Not A Native
    October 11, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    Its the same ‘no progress’ obstructionists, Going to the courts first rather than working together respectfully with their neighbors and fellow citizens. They’re anti-American, trying to shut down the betterment of our community to further their ideology that land is theirs for their taking.

    Bout time we start calling these people out for what they are, antieverythings whose real agenda is to moneywrench the system.

    See how easy it is to concoct the same smears that these litigators make when the shoe’s on the other foot. They’re hypocrite finger pointers conducting a sneak economic war on everyone else.

  12. Decline To State
    October 11, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    I’ve got to agree with grouchy that it seems beyond coincidence that both the building moratorium and the lawsuit happen the day before Girards’s evaluation. I believe his removal is the ultimate goal here…and that we will never be given any reasons for it because it’s a “personnel issue.”

  13. Anon 2
    October 11, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    McKinleyville Community Services District filed a suit also that can be looked at on their web site which claims CEQA was violated and the EIR should be thrown out since there was not enough review and not enough mitigations. That was done earlier this month and was part the closed session of the Supervisors last week or the week before.

  14. Anonymous
    October 11, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    Hey, remember THE TRUTH DOCTOR who brought us the truth regarding the politicians who were running for office last year ?
    Well, here’s a preview of the next movie after ” J. Edgar ” movie that he was in & it’s called, ” John dies at the End “,

  15. Ben
    October 11, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    MCSD’s attorney submitted a detailed letter to the Board of Supervisors outlining the problems with the EIR and the District Manager testified to the problems at the public hearing. It is clear that the EIR is not sufficient for many reasons. MCSD did the right thing to challenge the adequecy and to force a correct analysis of impacts and mitigations of the project. Minimally the document should have current data, not start as an update of a plan from the 90’s. Many things have changed in all those years and Humboldt County would never allow a developer to do such a thing.

  16. Anonymous
    October 11, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    NAN or who ever you are, If it doesn’t go your way(RG) you sue and protest. Is that un American too? Anyone who went to all the GPU meetings is a flat out lier if they say concerns that were brought up were identified at the next meetings. I call bullshit on that! As long as HWC and HH were getting there way(Kirt’s way) everything was fine. You over played your hand on TPZ and the rest of us got a clear look at your motivies. Reality is now at play and you are crying us a river. The sups need to fire Kirk and start from scratch.

  17. tra
    October 11, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    Okay, so the lawsuits currently pending against the County related to these issues include:

    (1) The lawsuit that is the subject of this post.

    (2) The lawsuit by Foster-Gill.

    (3) The lawsuit (originally filed by Arkley’s group Sunshine for Humboldt) where the group Housing Now intervened, then the country settled but then missed the deadline agreed to in the settlement, which has now led to a moratorium on new permits being issued, and

    (4) The lawsuit by Mckinleyville Community Services District, described upthread.

    Are there any others that I’m leaving out?

  18. Not an Expert
    October 11, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    anyone who has followed the GPU could point to NUMEROUS instances where public input has been incorporated.

    Here is a recent example: the Humboldt Association of Realtors wanted the requirement for home energy assessments eliminated as a point-of-sale requirement. The Planning Commission agree, and poof, it was removed, just like that. HAR made their case and their request was granted, immediately.

    Soon you will see the relaxed standards for second units, which were developed with a ton of public input, and will be receiving more on Oct. 27. Be there, voice your thoughts, and find out for yourself, thre Planning Commission and the Planning Department really do take our input seriously.

  19. Local
    October 11, 2011 at 7:05 pm

    And there you have it. A concrete fact that demolishes the argument of the suit. Benefiting the realtors, no less.

    Not good for plaintiff Carter.

  20. heraldoo
    October 11, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    Input would mean put the plans to a public vote before proceeding, what a novel idea. We can then be insured that the GP will reflect the will of Humboldt residents and not special interests such as enviro-freeks, or builder-geeks.

  21. grouchy
    October 11, 2011 at 8:28 pm

    Voting on the General Plan: it’s a great idea, in theory. But how could it be done? The General Plan isn’t something as simple as, say, Prop. 19, and look how confused and conflicted everyone was over that.
    I just came from a meeting where everyone was complaining about not having enough input. One person said the planning dept should “motivate” the public to participate. Not just have plenty of workshops and notice them in a timely way — but MOTIVATE us to come to them. Free beer?

  22. tra
    October 11, 2011 at 9:09 pm

    Yes, Humboldt County voters ought to have an opportunity to vote up or down on whatever final GPU plan the Supervisors come up with.

    No, there is no provision in the law requiring such a referendum.

  23. Anonymous
    October 11, 2011 at 9:34 pm

    There are many, many, documents that show the public was ignored but I have one real good example: housing element. They were told numerous times the units weren’t there, yet they forged ahead, ignoring nearly everybody who ever actually scrutinized the numbers . 4400 in shelter cove, remember that? The only reason they changed their numbers is the state made them. Lo and behold, they didn’t have the units. How can you say they utilized public input when the public told them 100 times they didn’t have the units? where did that public input go and how can it be considered anything other than “ignored”?

  24. tra
    October 11, 2011 at 9:44 pm

    Anybody have any info on the “Housing For All” initiated permit moratorium that was scheduled to go into effect today? What kinds of permits are included or excluded from the moratorium? How long this moratorium is likely to last, what has to happen before it will be lifted?

    The Time-Standard had an article a couple of days ago saying that the moratorium waas supposed to go into effect today, and that Judge Reinholtdsen was going to rule on the scope of the moratorium, but I haven’t seen any follow-up story in the Times-Standard, or for that matter anywhere else.

    Anybody got an update / details?

  25. Anonymous
    October 11, 2011 at 10:12 pm

    Judge Reinholtsen granted the County the narrow moratorium they asked for.

  26. Not an Expert
    October 11, 2011 at 11:49 pm

    as far as I know the judge has not ruled on the moratorium–he has 60 days from Oct. 4 to rule. the Times Standard article today was confusing, since there was not any actual news to report.

  27. Not an Expert
    October 11, 2011 at 11:52 pm

    Correction, I mean the Times Standard article from yesterday, “Humboldt County building moratorium to take effect Tuesday.”

  28. Anon
    October 11, 2011 at 11:55 pm

    here’s another example of public input being acted upon: the developer/realtor lobbyists called or only voluntary landowners to have parcels rezoned for multifamily, and the Supervisors agreed. So the only landowners remaining on the list are those who WANT their property rezoned so they can build apartments or condos.

  29. Anonymous
    October 11, 2011 at 11:56 pm

    NaEs, nice try but no soup for you!

  30. Anonymous
    October 12, 2011 at 5:16 am

    The old general plan calls for a bottom up approach. Gather info from citizens, formulate based on public input.

    Instead, they wrote the plans and presented them for public comment.

    Not the same thing.

    And for anybody to say they can see where things changed based on public input, that is pure BS. They do not even track the changes in a way that you can understand. There are no line outs, or other indications of changes from one versions to the next in the documents like you would expect.

  31. Anonymous
    October 12, 2011 at 8:42 am

    I am anonymous from 10:12 last night.

    I spoke with Judge Reinholtsen personally.

  32. tra
    October 12, 2011 at 8:48 am

    I still haven’t seen anything in the news or on any of the blogs confirming the status of this moratorium. If a moratorium has gone into effect, it seems to me that this would be newsworthy.

  33. Eric Kirk
    October 12, 2011 at 11:22 am

    After 60+ community input meetings put on by the Planning Dept., someone is still yelling about how their voice was unable to be heard? Have they been hiding in a shoebox for the last five years?

    Well, they claim that there was inadequate input which made it’s way into the GPU proposal framework because citizens advisory groups weren’t employed. It’s one thing to be allowed to speak at a meeting, but if there isn’t an active process by which the input is processed and incorporated into formal consideration, then they may have a point. It will come down to the language of whether the CAG’s were mandatory or discretionary.

    But you’re right. These meetings were fairly well attended from the beginning and if anything the developers were better represented than other interest groups.

    Okay, so the lawsuits currently pending against the County related to these issues include:

    (1) The lawsuit that is the subject of this post.

    (2) The lawsuit by Foster-Gill.

    (3) The lawsuit (originally filed by Arkley’s group Sunshine for Humboldt) where the group Housing Now intervened, then the country settled but then missed the deadline agreed to in the settlement, which has now led to a moratorium on new permits being issued, and

    (4) The lawsuit by Mckinleyville Community Services District, described upthread.

    Are there any others that I’m leaving out?

    There is Robert McKee’s counter-suit in the Tooby Ranch case.

  34. Eric Kirk
    October 12, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    tra – sometimes it pays to check the local paper.


  35. Plain Jane
    October 12, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    In defense of TRA, not that he needs it, that story wasn’t available earlier this morning. Guess that’s why they call it “breaking news.”

  36. Anonymous
    October 12, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    Problem was Kirk, that any info or positions that staff didn’t want or like or foul’d the plan was simply left out,misplaced or ignored. Ask about the meetings that M Richardson stopped taking notes when ever a CorD option was supported. Then started again when an A option was supported.There were many.

  37. Eric Kirk
    October 12, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    Well, the formality of a CAG wouldn’t necessarily change that verdict. The staff is supposed to take input, but ultimately their recommendations are supposed to be based upon what they perceive the needs of the community to be, not necessarily the desires of any portion of the community. The input is supposed to be objectively useful. Therefor, the fact that an idea wasn’t integrated does not mean that it wasn’t considered. Generally speaking you take notes when there is new information to be considered.

    But I agree. The CAGs would have formalized the process. We still would have the option A proposals in the mix.

  38. Anonymous
    October 12, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    Nice try Kirk but you did not see the abuse spoken of and when did a staff person ever get the authority to perceive the community needs. Especially when the F’ing commu nity is there telling you their needs. Spin it anyway you like , Kirk and crew screwed the pouch and if they’all hadn’t over reached in the TPZ deal they might just have succeded in the final death nail to our rural way of life. As it stands CCappelseed ,the midget and jimmy limp wrist still might destroy humboldt county.

  39. tra
    October 12, 2011 at 5:23 pm


    I appreciate the link, if not the snarky way in which it was offered. (As P.J. pointed out, that story was not up on the Times-Standard’s website as of this morning. Looks like it was posted at 12:50 this afternoon, long after my 8:58 comment).

    At any rate, I can see why Housing for All is not happy about the way this moratorium is structured. If I understand correctly, this moratorium won’t stop anyone from obtaining permits for single-family housing, it just prevents permits from being issued for multi-family housing projects that are less than 16-units-per-acre.

    It’s hard to see how preventing some 12-units-per-acre or 14-units-per-acre projects from being built is going to result in more multi-family housing, or in more affordable housing. It appears that under the conditions of this moratorium, more single-family homes will be built, and fewer multi-family homes. Isn’t that pretty much the exact opposite of what Housing for All has been trying to achieve?

    If HFA’s hope was that a broad moratorium that would have held up virtually ALL permits would have put pressure on the county to accede to Housing for All’s demands (whatever those are at this point), it seems that the judge wasn’t going for that. Which, in my view, is just as well, because it looked like there could have been a whole lot of “collateral damage” to innocent parties in the meantime.

    Meanwhile, there may still be some collateral damage, both to builders and property owners and to prospective buyers or renters of housing that would be multi-family but not quite at the density demanded by HFA. I am having a hard time seeing any “winners” in the way this has worked out, but I guess at least there are fewer “losers” than I had feared there might be.

  40. Eric Kirk
    October 12, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    Nice try Kirk but you did not see the abuse spoken of and when did a staff person ever get the authority to perceive the community needs.

    Uh, well, that’s their authority (and responsibility) under the law really. That’s why it’s their task to write up the proposals. And “the community” is quite diverse in opinion as to the needs, in case you hadn’t notice, so if your view is that they are simply authorized to take dictation and pass it on to the Planning Commission and B.O.S., well, I’m not quite sure what that would look like, but I doubt you would like it any more than I.

  41. tra
    October 12, 2011 at 8:27 pm


    You mentioned Bob McKee’s countersuit against the County. What’s he alleging in his countersuit? And what’s the status on that (how far along in the process is it, etc.).

    I’m just curious…I have kinda lost track of where that whole Tooby Ranch saga has ended up.

  42. Anonymous
    October 12, 2011 at 8:39 pm

    Good grief Kirk, you are sure drinking the kool-aid.

  43. 5th St. Businessman
    October 13, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    It does not matter what the final outcome will be after all of these lawsuits. It will be the same. Progs will be poor and renting and conservitives will be your landlord. The lack of building in this county is only compounding the lack of affordability. I am willing to bet that out of all the identified parcels slated for high density, they are owned by non progressives. They will control your rent and make the rules. They love the density requirements. You dumb asses are only making fools of yourselves. Ask yourself, who owns the most apartments in Arcata? Or, who owns a majority of empty parcels in the county? Answer #1 Kramer and Strombeck. Answer #2 Danco or some part of Dan Johnson’s multiple partnerships. Humboldt County has always had affordable housing. Rio Dell, Manila, Orick, and any trailer park. You folks that are complaining, just need to open your wallets and start putting your money where your mouth is. Start developing affordable housing in the larger metropolitan areas…oh thats right, there are no parcels there. Shoot. I guess we are back to where we will always be. The haves and the have nots. Enjoy being poor progs.

  44. Anonymous
    October 13, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    You forgot to mention some of your groovy Arcata libs like Alex Stillman. At least she had the gumption to go out and get gove’ment money and hussel her ass to own something. All progs are equal only some progs are more equal than others(animal farm)

  45. Anonymous
    October 13, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    Julie Fulkerson ain’t to bad off either.

  46. Anonymous
    October 13, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    Ya but both of them inherited money and/or fucked for their money. They made it the old fashion way.

    Gosh, lets also look at prog’s like Ken Miller, Salzman( he’s on the payroll), you think Pete is doing badly, Kirk lives in a gated community on Baywood golf course, Kalt not so much cause even the prog’s don’t much like her, and then there is Bill Pierson. We of course know where his money originated.

  47. Anonymous
    October 14, 2011 at 12:07 am

    Housing prices are at a long time low actually. They can’t sell what they have. We don’t need to build more.

  48. Plain Jane
    October 14, 2011 at 5:17 am

    Right 4:40, as opposed to Arkley, Kramer and Johnson who all had to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, gold bootstraps of course.

  49. Anonymous
    October 14, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    Change your panties PJ. There in a bunch. LOL!

  50. Anonymous
    October 14, 2011 at 8:09 pm

    sorry, not there. they are

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