Home > Humboldt County, Land Use > SHADED PARCELS: The map

SHADED PARCELS: The map

Go to the Lost Coast Outpost to check out Hank Sims’ interactive map of “shaded parcels” in Humboldt County.

He posted it along with HumCPR’s latest chest-pounding promise to rescue land owners from the mean, mean county bureaucracy via a new Public Records Request.

  1. Bolithio
    October 14, 2011 at 8:25 am

    I work with many people who have been ‘shaded’ and chest pounding is not a fair characterization. From the perspective of one dealing with county ‘bureaucracy’, Id describe the feeling more like wanting to pull all your hair our or slit your wrists.

    BTW, that map is pretty cool. However its the tip of the iceburg. There are many more parcels that are effectively shaded, in that you will meet copious amounts of hurdles if you try to do anything by their books. The ultimate result? The prevailing culture of ‘outlaw’ is further enabled. So illegal parcels or not, we have people who will build, construct, and push dirt with no planning, over site or permits.

    Dont you think it would be better to have a permitting process that actually encouraged people to do it right? Just changing the tone for ‘cant’ to ‘can’ in planning would go a long way.

  2. Anonymous
    October 14, 2011 at 8:42 am

    “Dont you think it would be better to have a permitting process that actually encouraged people to do it right?”

    Seems that just about any process other than saying yes to everything will get many to say they get a “feeling more like wanting to pull all your hair our or slit your wrists.”

    I include myself in that category. Bureaucracy and regulation sucks. Having our fish go extinct sucks more.

  3. Bolithio
    October 14, 2011 at 9:09 am

    Having our fish go extinct sucks more.

    I dont get it… Does recognizing patent parcels as legal or accepting subdivisions lead to take?

  4. Bolithio
    October 14, 2011 at 9:18 am

    Also, the ‘short of nothing but saying yes to everything’ bit is BS. Thats not what people are saying. To flip it like that doesn’t help, either. And in my mind, bureaucracy and regulation are important. But County planning is not very good at implementing either, and is notorious for odd interpretations of rules and underground regulation.

    What people want is a clear path forward. “These are the problems, thee are the solutions.” Staff and managements ‘feelings’ or personal bias should not effect the process either – which is certainly the case now.

  5. tra
    October 14, 2011 at 9:50 am

    Bolithio,

    I think the implication is that recognizing patent parcels as legal and accepting subdivisions will lead to more homes being built on those parcels, which will involve more water use and other negative impacts on the watershed.

    [By the way, “take” is not a term that everyone is going to recognize the meaning of. I realize you’re familiar with it from your forestry work, but to a lot of people they’re going to look at that sentence and it just isn’t going to make any sense to them.]

  6. Not an Expert
    October 14, 2011 at 9:57 am

    Regular people may want a clear path forward, but every idea for a solution seems to have insurmountable problems. People need to stop looking for someone to blame and start talking about how to get out of this mess before the salmon are extinct. It may be too late for Coho but we might be able to change in time for the others.

  7. Bolithio
    October 14, 2011 at 10:15 am

    TRA, is water use inherently bad for watersheds? There are allot of unsubstantiated opinions regarding impacts to ‘watersheds’. But if we assume some activities are bad, encouraging outlaw development – which is what the county does by making the due processes painful and unreasonable – is not leading to healthier watersheds. In fact, I would say it leads to an overall adverse effect. .

  8. tra
    October 14, 2011 at 10:32 am

    I agree with you, Bolithio, I was just pointing out the argument that (I assume) was being implied in Anonymous 8:42’s comment.

  9. Commenter
    October 14, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    The argument about water has little to do with the issue. The issue is how Humboldt County handled parcels that they considered illegal. When the County is suspicious that a parcel was not created legally, then they have the responsibility under state law to notice the property owner and establish a process consistant with the law to determine the status of the parcel. If the parcel can be shown to be consistant with the law, then the parcel gets a certificate of compliance.
    The issue is that Humboldt County did not contact property owners but shaded the parcel on the assessor’s map and awaited the property owner to come in for some permit, then informed them that their property was possibly illegal and required the property owner to basically proove that their parcel was legal.
    Some of these parcels were identified when the Assessor assigned a new AP number and others were shaded when a whole area was shaded, like the land on Redwood Creek and Titlow Hill.
    Kirk Girrard told me personally over 10 years ago that “they looked the other way” in Garberville and Redwood Creek, esentially admitting that they knew of the divisions and chose to do nothing about them.
    Now, today, they want to clean up their act, but they were complicit in the problem and now put the burden, inconsitent with the law, entirely on the property owner.
    The real issue is how to resolve the problem and not fall for the County’s Gosh I just discovered this, answer. If the County has been aware of these parcels for many years and did nothing, and now wants to clean up the problem, they bear some responsibility for the problem they helped create.
    About 20 years ago I purchased a parcel and found when I went for a building permit that it was shaded, I went through the determination of status process and obtained a Certificate of Compliance. At that time the entire area around me was shaded and there have been a significant number of sales of those parcels since then with not a comment from the County.

  10. tra
    October 14, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    Here’s my question:

    I understand that if you have the County go through the determination of status process and they determine that the the parcel is indeed a legal parcel, then they give you a Certificate of Compliance and that clears things up.

    But what happens in those cases where they determine that the parcel isn’t a “real” parcel? If, for example, the county determines that whoever sold you the parcel years ago (or even decades ago) failed to go through the proper process? Let’s say someone divided their land into a number of “illegal” parcels and sold them off 20 years ago, and now the original seller is long gone and some of those parcels have changed hands once or twice?

    What’s the remedy for that situation? Merging the parcels, making each of the owners a part-owner of the merged parcel and having them pay their taxes collectively? That seems like it would be a legal and logistical nightmare for all involved. Going through some kind of remedial subdivision process now, 20 years after the fact? That seems kinda pointless. Or do these “illegal” parcels just remain in limbo in perpetuity?

    Seems to me that the most logical approach would be simply grandfather in all the parcels that are currently “shaded,” and focusing on making sure that in the future the legal status of every parcel is clear at the time of sale.

  11. anotheranon
    October 14, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    I agree with you tra. “[S]imply grandfather in all the parcels that are currently “shaded,” and focusing on making sure that in the future the legal status of every parcel is clear at the time of sale.”
    But what about all the landowners who have paid the money to the planning department and who would, under your suggestion, be grandfathered? Is there a reasonable and fair resolution to this? I wonder if the planning department is going to continue to ‘make the rules as they go along’ until someone tests it in court. I realize there are other issues (Williamson contract) in the Buck Mountain Ranch case, but as I recall, Mr. McKee was selling patent parcels. Patent parcels, being granted to someone by the soverign should have some priority. Isn’t that the “creation document” the planning department wants landowners to bring them in order to prove their parcel is legally created?

  12. Ben
    October 14, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    Good point TRA, If the County knew that these were questionable parcels for years, for over 20 for the ones I know, then how do we clean up the mess? The real reason to clear this up is that down the road a new owner will find the same problem. The parcel I bought had three owners before me and there was no clue of the “shading” until I wanted a permit.
    Patent parcels are legal parcels if they have not had a change to thier property lines since the patent..
    This would not be a problem today if the County had just followed the law. Now they are a part of the problem and bear some responsibility to fix it.
    Probably the best way to get this cleared up is for the “shaded” parcel people to band together and hire a good attorney.
    One of the other silly things the County has done is to declare that remainder parcels from a government taking is an illegal parcel. When the State took land for the Alton interchange, the land that the property owners had left after the state took land is now considered illegal by Humboldt County. Property owners who had a portion of their land taken for the Redwood National Park now have had notices that their land is not a legal parcel. The law clearly states that in these cases the action is exempt from the Subdivision Map Act, but good old Humboldt County thinks different, again another example of how Humboldt County’s County Council gives political not legal advice.

  13. tra
    October 14, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    If the reason someone’s parcel is “shaded” is that part of it was aquired by some federal or state agency, then it’s obviously unfair to charge the landowner a fee just for the county to consider whether they are still willing to consider it a legal parcel. That is just absurd.

  14. tra
    October 14, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    Over at Lost Coast Outpost, Hank linked to a very informative article by Virginia Graziani at the Redwood Times. According to the article, here’s what will happen if the county determines that a given “shaded” parcel was created illegally:

    “When the owner brings the documentation to the planning department, Johnson will research the conditions required for a building permit at the appropriate time. He will issue a Conditional Certificate of Compliance that sets out the conditions for building on the parcel.

    If the owner purchased the property after it was subdivided, they must meet the conditions in force at the time of purchase.

    If the owner was a party to the subdivision — meaning they were either the seller or buyer of a newly subdivided property — they must meet the conditions in force at the time of subdivision.

    No property owner who goes through this process will be denied a Conditional Certificate of Compliance, Johnson said, although he added that in some cases the physical characteristics of the property, such as a lack of water, may make the conditions extremely difficult to meet.”

    http://www.redwoodtimes.com/garbervillenews/ci_19097854

  15. tra
    October 14, 2011 at 7:43 pm

    In my opinion, they county should only be allowed to charge the fee if the owner of the parcel was a party to an illegal subdivision that led to it becoming a “shaded” parcel.

    If it’s “shaded” simply because the parcel lines changed due to CalTrans or some other state or federal agency aquiring part of the parcel for a road project or something, obviously the landowner shoulnd’t be penalized by having to pay a fee to the county to “unshade” a parcel that never should have been “shaded” in the first place.

    And if the current owner bought the parcel legally, years after the original illegal subdivision, the county recorded the change of ownership and levied taxes on the new owner for years, and nowhere along the line did the county inform the new owner of the parcel’s “shaded” status, then I don’t think those owners should be charged a fee either.

  16. Bolithio
    October 15, 2011 at 8:26 am

    The county will receive plenty in fees resulting from the conditions they put on the CoC. Minor Subdivision, JTMP, ect…

  17. anonymous
    October 15, 2011 at 8:59 am

    Bolithio writes “But if we assume some activities are bad, encouraging outlaw development – which is what the county does by making the due processes painful and unreasonable – is not leading to healthier watersheds. In fact, I would say it leads to an overall adverse effect. .”

    LIke when logging companies, like the one you work for, clearcut and sell land to dense subdivision developers. You’re a shit rag, bolithio.

  18. Grow Government
    October 15, 2011 at 9:08 am

    Its another opportunity to keep staff working and billing their time to taxpayers even though taxpayers already fund the county. Girard expands his department yet again. Some of the supervisors call that a victory when government expands. Give Kirk a raise, way to keep the government employees employed.

  19. Bolithio
    October 15, 2011 at 9:53 am

    LIke when logging companies, like the one you work for, clearcut and sell land to dense subdivision developers.

    Ah…, I dont work for a logging company, friend. =)

    And, are you just making that shit up? Where did that happen?

  20. anonymous
    October 15, 2011 at 10:24 am

    Of course not, bolithio, you’re an independent contractor. You’re beyond full of shit.

  21. Bolithio
    October 15, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    What exactly am i full-of-it about? Anything specific or just in general? You haven’t really brought anything to this conversation yet – other than the shit rag part (which was brilliant!) Are you going to join us or just throw poop?

    We are still waiting for you to enlighten us as to where this dense development is occurring on recently clear-cut forests….

  22. Anonymous
    October 15, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    Anyone, including me, who buys land or property, does so as a speculator. And if it turns out it is ‘shaded’ or there are other things we don’t know about, then that is due to the non-due-diligence of the speculator or fraud and/or ignorance on the part of the seller or sellers agent. Too bad, it happens, just like with stocks or anything else you buy for an investment. Quit whining, pay your fees, and do your work like the rest of us. I as a tax payer do not want to pay county staff to fix your problem that you were too ignorant or uneducated to ask about at the time of sale.

  23. Anonymous
    October 15, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    Amen 12:54,but you forgot “too greedy”

  24. Anonymous
    October 16, 2011 at 9:25 am

    Even a smart greedy person understands the risks they take on land speculation.

  25. tra
    October 16, 2011 at 10:13 am

    Anyone, including me, who buys land or property, does so as a speculator.

    A lot of people buy land to live on, which is not what most people would call being a “speculator.”

    Of course people should still do the research first to see whether the parcel is buildable.

  26. grouchy
    October 17, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    What about real estate people? What about title companies? It seems like their attitude has been “don’t ask, don’t tell.” A little research — at least a call to the planning department — to find out if a parcel is shaded every time someone wants to sell a piece of property would save a lot of heartache to potential buyers. Who takes responsibility for resolving the issue would be negotiable between buyer and seller.
    I agree that the county brought this problem on itself through negligence, or an unillingness to deal with what everyone knows is a terrible gnarly problem. I also agree that legacy shaded parcels should be grandfathered unless there’s some obvious reason that would disqualify the parcel for a building permit to start with, i.e., no water, steep slopes.
    But even back in the day there were land speculators who simply gave deeds to credulous buyers, knowing perfectly well that they were violating the Subdiv Map Act. Not the innocent buyers, but the landowners (if they’re still around) should be called to account. Ideally, this would be by paying fines to cover the costs of resolving outstanding cases of innocent buyers. But I doubt there’s a legal remedy for that if the statute of limitations has run on the illegal subdivision, which in most cases it probably has.

  27. October 17, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    “What about real estate people? What about title companies? It seems like their attitude has been “don’t ask, don’t tell.”’

    That isn’t so. At the last Supes meeting two women from Humboldt Land Title, did their best to make aware the supes and citizens of potential hazards associated with these shaded parcels. My hat is off to them.
    Serious stuff, they were cutoff before they could finish.

  28. longwind
    October 17, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    What the news reports don’t make clear is that shaded parcels only matter to the Planning Department. Title companies aren’t in the business of nudging refractory county departments to do their jobs, and aren’t affected when they don’t do them. They insure title, not competence.

    In Humboldt, where enforcement is almost as dodgy as policy, and unwritten policies are vastly more important than the ones on the books, title companies would go out of business hiring enough Kremlinologists and astrologers to feign responsibility for work ignored over 50 years.

    It’s hard to appreciate how long and hard our micropolitan culture of Humboldt Bay has sneered at and ignored our rural cultures. Everyone’s got to be better than someone. This is harder to get away with as economic tides turn, and rural areas for the first time control their own resources, which have always been the source of micropolitan prosperity.

    As long as our supervisorial districts are gerrymandered to create a crushing majority of HumBay residents in all 5 districts, respectable Humboldt will continue to be clueless about the economic issues facing our county, where wealth now as always flows to the Bay cities from the countryside. But no one respectable cares.

    Oh well.

  29. Plain Jane
    October 17, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    I hadn’t thought about that before, Longwind; but it is as close to county-wide voting as they can legally get, giving one favored group political dominance across the county. Sort of like city-wide voting in Eureka.

  30. longwind
    October 18, 2011 at 7:57 am

    That’s an apt comparison, Jane. I don’t understand why Eureka’s unusual charter, which crushes neighborhood representation, isn’t more controversial. It’s easy enough to change (in Eureka) but democracy advocates haven’t tried. You’d think they’d see what’s in it for them.

  31. October 20, 2011 at 9:39 am

    “County Planning”

    “[S]imply grandfather in all the parcels that are currently “shaded,”

    Then wonder why the police, the fire department and health services are stretched beyond repair. Wonder too what happened to that litlle creek that use to run there or that natural spring that seems to have dried-up.
    I won’t even start on the illegal roads and driveways.

  32. tra
    October 20, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    “Then wonder why the police, the fire department and health services are stretched beyond repair.”

    But whatever you do, don’t expand your analysis to include things like massive military overspending, huge tax cuts to the rich, outsourcing of good jobs, etc. Just keep your focus on resenting your rural neighbors, since they’re obviously the real reason that our economic system is crumbling.

  33. October 20, 2011 at 11:09 pm

    Tra, those rural neighbors are my friends.

    So is the watershed.

    Be assured, I am no fan of war or military spending.
    Did you intend to mix warbucks with watershed stewardship?

  34. Anonymous
    October 21, 2011 at 12:10 am

    “A lot of people buy land to live on, which is not what most people would call being a “speculator.””

    You may not call it that, but that is what it is. When you buy land to live on, you are speculating that it will have or will give you some value that you will benefit from. Maintaining or increasing that value is virtually always at the front of any land/home owner’s mind. When you buy, you are speculating that you can do that.

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