Home > Land Use > Treehouse family stumped at order to tear down

Treehouse family stumped at order to tear down

Two Jacoby Creek boys have learned the ways of the chop saw and other building skills by erecting a tree fort on an old stump on the family property.

But Humboldt County building officials say the fort must come down by the end of February due to its proximity 85 feet from a year-round stream. Structures within 100 feet require a permit, they say.

The county appears to have learned of the fort from a complaining neighbor.

The Humboldt Herald is aware that other unpermitted structures — complete with septic systems — may exist in Humboldt County, and wonders if focus on the kids’ tree fort might be misguided.

What say you?

[Photo credit Jose Quezada.]

  1. Debbie
    January 31, 2012 at 9:45 am

    OMG! Leave the tree house and the folks alone! Nosie neighbors!

  2. longwind
    January 31, 2012 at 9:54 am

    Here’s yesterday’s story about these typical code criminals:


    I don’t think they should be penalized before the county completes its Phase 1 treehouse fort proposed regulatory framework. Good thing there’s no public participation!

  3. Carla Baku
    January 31, 2012 at 9:58 am

    Way to go, Mrs. Cravitz–you’re the neighbor of the millenium. You got that bad, bad treehouse in the bureaucratic crosshairs. Proud of yourself?

  4. Mitch
    January 31, 2012 at 10:25 am

    Clearly, the irresponsible parents should be jailed for a minimum of fifteen years (one per infringing foot) and the children sent to foster care after they are released from juvenile hall.

    The planners involved should be rewarded with medals for heroism.

    Seriously, sometimes I think there is no more stupid government on the entire planet than that of Humboldt County.

  5. SNaFU
    January 31, 2012 at 10:36 am

    County Nazis badge flashing again.
    Mitch has it right, they need to receive a metal of heroism then tared & feathered.
    Gladys Kravitz should be exposed and receive the glorious snitch award~!

  6. tra
    January 31, 2012 at 10:48 am

    Education, health care and social services have been cut to the bone (and now we’re sawing away at the bones) yet somehow we have enough money to pay for tree fort cops? Amazing.

  7. Scott
    January 31, 2012 at 11:02 am

    So the neighbors were so upset with a tree house they complained to the County so they have to waste their time with this? Really, it was that disturbing to you? Can’t we all just get along and be neighborly? Sheesh!

  8. Anonymous
    January 31, 2012 at 11:12 am

    I haven’t seen anyone sticking up or the nosy, Scrooge, rule-follower neighbors yet, and I won’t be either. My dad built a fort in a stump for me behind our house when I was growing up and I spent hours daily in it and around it, doing healthy stuff like climbing trees, inviting friends to play in it with me, using our imaginations, and just plain being outdoors. A tree fort is as American as apple pie and this sort parents providing healthy play choices for kids are becoming rarer. A big thumbs down for neighbors like that, and for officials who would enforce it. This is not what the rules were made for. Why don’t they enforce them for the important violations?

  9. Jim White
    January 31, 2012 at 11:17 am

    I have to agree with Heraldo on this.

    Anyone involved in the 2010 Census remembers the mind-boggling number of structures on Google Earth not officially listed in Humboldt County.

    Generations of Good Ol’ Boy politics ensure lax enforcement of kid-glove ordinances until our streams, rivers, and the wildlife dependent upon them diminish, our cities are forced into moratoriums, citizens can’t safely walk or drive our streets, and our toilets flush into the wetlands and bay.

    It’s as if this slow process hadn’t already occurred everywhere else in this state, nation and globe.

    Tearing down a kid’s tree-house, (or the protest at the county courthouse), is WAY easier than confronting an entrenched ideology no matter how illegal or damaging it is.

  10. Me
    January 31, 2012 at 11:20 am

    I think the blame for this rests entirely on the neighbor that reported it. The County has an obligation to look into a complaint from the public. If this really is counter to regulations, they cannot at that point “look the other way”. I seriously doubt the county would even care about this unless they were forced to investigate. I’m sure they believe it to be ridiculous also.

    Just relocate it 15 feet (closer to the neighbor) and move on.

  11. tra
    January 31, 2012 at 11:26 am

    But Scott, don’t you see? If they were allowed to keep this unpermitted, potentially watershed-destroying tree fort, who knows what kind of horrors they might inflict on the community in the future. It could be a tire swing, or even — gasp — a lemonade stand! If that worst-case scenario came to pass, we can only hope that some vigilant, community-minded neighbor would immediately contact the County Planning Department, the Public Health Department, the Centers for Disease Control, and the IRS.

  12. Anonymous
    January 31, 2012 at 11:28 am

    The county should be forced to demonstrate, at least explain, the potential for actual harm to the stream from the existence of the tree house. My bet: they cannot. This is blind obedience to a rule set devoid of reason.

    Also, for a neighbor to see the treehouse and thus be able to complain about it, would the neighbor have had to trespass? If so, open an investigation.

  13. Mitch
    January 31, 2012 at 11:29 am


    Read the T-S article — it’s built on an old redwood stump and can’t be relocated.

    If the inspector had two brain cells to rub together, he or she would have figured out a way to let this situation pass. But either the neighbor has “pull,” the inspector is an idiot, the inspector doesn’t like the people with the treehouse, the inspector’s managers are idiots, or some combination of those things.

    Hey, what’s going on with the Airport Lady?

  14. Plain Jane
    January 31, 2012 at 11:29 am

    Jeezus! Can you imagine having so little to worry about that you make a complaint about a kid’s tree fort? The county should waive the permit fee and grant permission since there is no plumbing, no electricity and no sewage. The neighbor should find something constructive to do or at least mind their own business.

  15. January 31, 2012 at 11:54 am

    Actually that stump is a set-aside for wildlife habitat
    which last I checked did not include feral youth.
    The rules are marginal, and wildlife is losing big.

    Recognize simple boundaries, we will all be happier for it.

  16. Inspector Clouseau
    January 31, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    Arrete! If you peoples allow ze building of illegal tree houses, you will be soon dealing with whole illegal houses and ze generateurs of electricite from le diesel for the propagation of ze weed. And then you will be soon thereafter dealing with the balloon tracque’s wastes and allowing les developeurs to leave it feelthy.

    Non! Vous must certainment stop this disasteur exceptionellement! Tout de suite! I will be coming on the next boat. Please to have a car waiting at the dock of the bay. I will telefon when I arrivee.

  17. High Finance
    January 31, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    Now you get just a small inkling of what the rest of us have to go through in California to build anything anywhere.

    The Humboldt County Planning & Building Department is there only to drive all of us out of business.

  18. January 31, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    What we have here is economic apartheid. They do it for the nicest of reasons. It’s just so everybody can get along. Everybody is equal. It’s just that rich people are more equal. We need a system. I’m not against having a system. But systems have to have priorities, an agenda. Zoning regulations get corrupted faster than any other laws, something about a king and his castle. Wonder why people are homeless? See above.

  19. just middle class
    January 31, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    Let the record show I agree with Plain Jane! In the current General Plan, I believe that there is language that says that common sense should prevail. The streamside management area is intended to protect the stream from sediment. From the photographs it looks like two beams touch the ground that may be a total of less than one square foot and no soil is disturbed, so common sense would say that do damage no harm. I wonder if the neighbor is Planning Commissioner Faust?

  20. Inspector Clouseau
    January 31, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    Ah, oui. My dear friend and colleague Monsieur Le Haught de Finance. HdF has often rescued moi from les difficulties. He is every beet as brilliant, non?, as moi. You les peasants should listen avec de diligence extraordinaire, as M HdF is, as you Americans say, “special.”

  21. Thorstein Veblen
    January 31, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    Good thing it is not in the coastal zone too.

    Yeah, if people complain formally, then the county pretty much has to look into it. I suspect that there is more to the neighbors complaint than an unpermitted tree house, more going on here between these neighbors, or at least the kids and the neighbor

  22. Inspector Clouseau
    January 31, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    If nothing else, these comments will reveal which pseudonyms belong to those who have it in themselves to be county bureaucrats. The rest of the pseudonyms belong to people capable of thought.

  23. Anonymous
    January 31, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    When you have a disagreement with your neighbor, sick the government on him. That’ll show him!

  24. Mitch
    January 31, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    Sorry, 12:21 was me.

  25. Mitch
    January 31, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    The first 12:21, that is. N’est ce pas?

  26. January 31, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    This is something the Planning Department made the decision to investigate? Fire whoever is at the top of this heap! You would think they would realize this would cause an uproar. Micro-Governing. And chances are the tree fort builders were compliant, but now the proof is on them and it may cost thousands to fight.

    The real question is this. Do you think the Humboldt County Planning Department is prcticing “Smart growth?” Tell you County Supervisors to stop the madness that is the Planning Department!

  27. Anonymous
    January 31, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    Do you think the Humboldt County Planning Department is prcticing “Smart growth?”


    This has nothing to do with smart growth issues. Way to segue into a totally unrelated political pet peeve.

  28. January 31, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    SS 12:38 These enforcement policies are meaningless unless they are enforced.
    It reads 100′ not 85′ , do you think we can now second guess long-term management plans? Why be so miserly with the already meager wildlife habitat?
    Are we not losing wildlife habitat fast enough?
    The beneficiaries of wetland and riverine protections are
    going to be those two boys and their children.

  29. Plain Jane
    January 31, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    Of course, 12:50. Do you really think Richard doesn’t know the name of the person at the “top of this heap” that he wants fired? . Public opinion can encourage bending the law, but you don’t fire department heads for enforcing laws just because you disagree with the law or hate the person in charge. Don’t exploit these kids and their tree house for your own political agenda.

  30. What Now
    January 31, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    Plain Jane says:
    “Jeezus! Can you imagine having so little to worry about that you make a complaint about a kid’s tree fort? ”

    Good Point.!

    InspectorMarples says:
    “Actually that stump is a set-aside for wildlife habitat
    which last I checked did not include feral youth.
    The rules are marginal, and wildlife is losing big.”

    Excellent point!

    I’m delighted to know that there are no issues more critical to eaxamine in todays news that this.


  31. tra
    January 31, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    According to the Times-Standard article, the Planning Department is claiming that, once they received the complaint from the neighbor and became aware of the tree-fort, they had no choice but to order its removal, due to provisions in the county’s “Streamside Management Area Ordinance.”

    So even IF the Planning Dept is correct in it’s interpretation of the law, it doesn’t sound like this is an example of the county being compelled to enforce some state law that is beyond our immediate control. If the problem is a county ordinance, then presumably the problem could be solved by having the Board of Supervisors amend the ordinance to clarify what counts as “development” for the purposes of that ordinance, and what does not.

    After all, if a children’s tree-fort counts as “development,” subject to a permit process costing thousands of dollars, then what about a swing-set? Or a picnic table? Or for that matter, a woodpile?

    If I were in their shoes, I wouldn’t spend a dime on submitting to the permit process, I’d take it straight to the Board of Supervisors, who are ultimately responsible for both the ordinance itself, and for the leadership of the county department charged with enforcing the ordinance. One way or the other, it looks like the buck stops with the Supes.

  32. January 31, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    “I’d take it straight to the Board of Supervisors”
    What crap Tra.
    Not that I’d doubt you would express this onto an already sadly flummoxed Board of Supes, but that you would expect them to undermine the very plan that they are charged with enforcing.
    Sorry to be harsh, I’ve seen this before.

  33. neomoderate
    January 31, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    Feral youth. That’s funny. Or sad. Mostly kind of angry and pathetic. Put ’em in front of a video game where they belong.

    The 100 foot buffer is for sediment control and riparian habitat conservation. The number is essentially pulled out of the air. The fort impacts neither, and the law was never intended for stuff like kid’s play structures. Sticking to the “letter of the law” is a dangerous thing to do, and it’s generally the domain of the intellectually lazy.

    Somewhere there is a planning supervisor with his head in his hands, downing another tums trying to figure out how to deal with this. I’m sure county council is involved by now, which never improves things.

  34. tra
    January 31, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    I would be interested in learning how the inspector, and/or their supervisors within the Planning Department, went about determining that the tree-fort was not allowable. Did they make that determination on their own, or did they consult with the County Counsel’s office on how to interpret the language of the ordinance? Is this a case where the obviously absurd outcome is the result of an unclear, overbroad, poorly written ordinance, or of an overreaching bureaucracy?

    Normally I would view this kind of thing as indicating that the regulators ought to have more discretion in how they apply the law, but first I would need to be convinced that they didn’t already have the discretion to allow this and just chose to exercise that discretion in a way that is completely at odds with common ssense. If thats the case, then giving them more discretion wouldn’t be the answer.

  35. January 31, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    FYI: The new “Streamside Buffer Zone” being proposed in the new General Plan is 300 feet. Think about the implecations for existing tree houses (and real houses for that matter) that are built without permits. It’ll probably be fine cuz we know we can trust the Planning Department…

  36. January 31, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    Generally Tra, these things are site-specific-OF COURSE.
    Have you visited the site? Or is this all from your backside?

  37. January 31, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    anon4cec says:
    January 31, 2012 at 1:55 pm
    FYI: The new “Streamside Buffer Zone” being proposed in the new General Plan is 300 feet.

    The 100′ was insufficient, still people refuse to behave. Hell Tra is off to talk to Mark now. Barbarians. They do it ‘for the kids.’

  38. tra
    January 31, 2012 at 2:15 pm


    I’m going by the published report. There was nothing in the published report about anything “site-specific,” just the apparently non-site-specific 100 foot rule.

    No, I haven’t visited the site. Have you?

  39. tra
    January 31, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    So now contacting your elected representatives about the rules they pass makes you a “Barbarian.” Good to know.

  40. January 31, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    No Tra, a Barbarian fails to protect those things
    that cannot speak for themselves.
    Generally, if you understand the ‘rules’ before advocating their demise, you come off a lot smarter.

  41. tra
    January 31, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    You’re right, thank heavens that we have folks willing to bravely stand up for “those things that cannot speak for themselves” by opposing the terrible scourge of “feral children” and their watershed-destroying tree-forts.

  42. Plain Jane
    January 31, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    So the best solution seems to me to be for the county to allow the tree fort and the family to mitigate loss of wildlife habitat and / or stream bank degradation, if any.

    Isn’t this every kid’s dream backyard? Reminds me of mine, but our forts were kept secret even from our parents. There were lots of them in the “woods” of my neighborhood.

  43. just middle class
    January 31, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    This action by the Planning Department raises the issue of the proposed change to 300 feet, just think of the problems that will cause. Most folks are completely unaware of the impacts of the new plan until something happens like this. If this can happen with the current 100 feet, just consider the problems with 300 feet. I hope this wakes up the general public about what is in the proposed plan.

  44. January 31, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    “If this can happen with the current 100 feet, just consider the problems with 300 feet” JMC

    Are you happy, Tra? It was for the kids, right?

    We lose our wildlife and stability at 100′, whereas if we step back we help stabilize slopes and wildlife. Seems if one really cared for kids, they would certainly take care of natural resources, this isn’t about kids, it’s about adults who behave like kids.

  45. Not A Native
    January 31, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    My image of a kids treehouse is out of the comics with a few boards on a branch for a floor, some cardboard pieces for walls, maybe a board on the branch above for a roof. Something built from scrap in a day or two. that probably needs to be rebuilt every year by the next crop of kids. Something like what the local treesitters construct, except much lower.

    Looking at the TS pics, this one(only partly finished) is a framed structure of dimensional lumber, a pier and truss foundation, glass windows, intended long term durability. I expect they’re planning a durable roof. I’ve seen people living around here in less well built and water tight structures.

    Its more like a fancy permanent hunter’s blind than my image of a adolescent’s treehouse. Maybe the neighbor was disturbed by the ongoing sounds of those chop saws and hammering that are far from finished..

  46. January 31, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    Bingo 3:36

  47. neomoderate
    January 31, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    Sorry Marples, that fort isn’t decimating any wildlife – you’re going to have to prove it to us beyond a bunch of vague, alarmist rhetoric. This is a case of someone, (maybe you?)with an axe to grind, using existing regulations to grind that axe. It happens all the time. Hopefully good sense will win in the end.

    Does anyone else mental image of the King and Queen from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang when they read the “Barbarian” and “Feral Kids” comments? Makes me smile every time.

  48. tra
    January 31, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    “We lose our wildlife and stability at 100’…”

    Because of a tree-fort? How so?

    By the way, I’m totally fine with the idea of a generous streamside buffer, as long as it’s only applied to things that actually matter, like logging, grading, road-building, septic systems, manure piles, chicken coops and other animal pens, and actual residences or places of business.

    But a childrens’ tree-fort? Requiring thousands of dollars of permitting and analysis for something as obviously trivial as that…well, it just seems like big waste of time and money. Remember, every dollar spent on enforcement against trivial matters is a dollar that can’t be spent on something more important.

  49. January 31, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    What a phony, neomod.
    Who said anything about decimation?
    My beliefs say you are not ‘helping’ kids when you ignore
    natural resources, you cripple their future.
    They, the children, become the beneficiaries of our restraint.
    No ax to grind. Eyes wide open.

  50. walt
    January 31, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    The article indicates they COULD get a permit. Then the county wouldn’t have to tear it down, and the tree-partyers don’t have to march on the Courthouse. Wanna pony up for the permit fees (and penalty for non-compliance)?

  51. Huck Finn
    January 31, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    This topic sucks the life out of me and those defending the removal (or advocating for 300 feet) are crushing my spirit one dumb gubermint regulation at a time.

    The Random Death Lottery crowd shouldn’t wait to remove themselves from the stock if kids cannot build a treehouse.

    I agree that the neighbors probably heard saws and called that in as a concern. If they saw the treehouse then called it in, to hell with them too.

  52. January 31, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    “But a childrens’ tree-fort?” Tra

    What a silly goose. What kids build tree forts
    sixteen inches on center? Twelve year-old laying-out
    walls for sheet material? Beautiful, but not innocent.

  53. Mitch
    January 31, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    tra and others,

    I.M. is just trolling — read more closely. Nobody really thinks like that.

    (Also, if you check his/her pseudonym, you get the same “arcata” non-email address that is usually associated with intelligent comments. Someone’s just having a good time, but parody is next to impossible in today’s society.)

  54. tra
    January 31, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    “What kids build tree forts sixteen inches on center?”

    Kids whose parents care about their safety and are willing to take the time to teach them and work with them to create a play space that is safe.

  55. walt
    January 31, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    And what about that 200-amp service, siphon in the creek and package treatment plant? Maybe that stump is hollow. . .just the place for that depleted uranium!

  56. Mitch
    January 31, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    Everybody knows the depleted uranium is going from the port over the mountain to I5 by train, walt. Get a grip. :)

  57. January 31, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    Tra, is it a tree-fort or a cabin? Grow-up!
    Sorry Mitch, there is a point to be made.

  58. tra
    January 31, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    Tra, is it a tree-fort or a cabin?

    Yes. Now, whatever you want to call it, treehouse, tree-fort, playhouse, stump-cabin, whatever, please explain how its presence causes us to “lose wildlife and stability.”

  59. Anonymous
    January 31, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    “If this can happen with the current 100 feet, just consider the problems with 300 feet” JMC

    Are you kidding, the buffer zone isn’t near the biggest problem. If you spend enough at the Planning Department, do the studies, pay for remediation and generally are rich enough you could permit the treehouse. But from the picture it looks like the treehouse property might be zoned TPZ if so the new general plan won’t allow any treehouse at all even if there was no creek for a mile. Faust and Lovelace agree, rich and poor are alike nobody gets even a treehouse on their timberland.

  60. tra
    January 31, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    Picnic tables can be solidly constructed and last for many years, too. So should we require wildlife surveys, environmental impact statements, and a building permits for those as well?

  61. neomoderate
    January 31, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    My fort wasn’t 16 on center. It was 24. A-frame style with a tin roof.
    Spent a great summer of afternoons building it with my dad, when he got off work. Pretty sure many of my friends lost their virginity in there… sorry kids, your Mom needs to go in with eyes wide open.

  62. Heraldo
    January 31, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    From the LoCo:

    Tomorrow morning on KSLG-FM: Treehouse scofflaws Rachel Robinson and her son Will will be speaking with John Matthewsm, and you are invited to listen in. That’s at 7 a.m., bright and early, on KSLG — 94.1 FM, streaming at kslg.com.

  63. richwmorris
    January 31, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    Humboldt County showing their stupidity again going after a couple boys doing what boys do, build treehouses. Time to vote the good old boy network out of office. I bet every supervisor either built a treehouse in their youth or had a friend who built one but now that they no longer have any sense want to destroy something a couple young boys built. Maybe Humboldt County would be happier if the kids were out committing crimes in the community rather then building tree houses!

  64. jr
    January 31, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    Or maybe it is going to be an inn like the Out n About Tree Resort in Takilma, Oregon. (The Tree Resort was built without a Josephine County permit and thus they were unable to legally operate an inn. So they sold guests a Tree Shirt for $100.00 which allowed the guest to stay for “free”.) Maybe this is their plan.

  65. Foulmouth
    January 31, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    Perhaps the neighbors can see that ugly goddamned thing. I wouldn’t want to have to look at it either. We didn’t need a lot of power tools to build a tree fort when I was a kid, and our folks wouldn’t have allowed us to waste useful lengths of good lumber.

  66. tra
    January 31, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    None of which relates, in any way whatsoever, to the actual reasons given by the county for why it supposedly needs to be torn down.

  67. January 31, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    Excuse me Tra@5:57 but you are an idiot. I am sorry that I could not come up with a more gracious way to express that.
    I’ll turn in my badge now.

  68. SNaFU
    January 31, 2012 at 6:52 pm

    County building inspectors, county supes & attorneys can be replaced by laboratory rats…
    1) You don’t get attached to them.
    2) There’s more than enough of ‘um….
    3) There’s some things a rat won’t do…..

  69. Jim White
    January 31, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    “The Humboldt County Planning & Building Department is there only to drive all of us out of business”.

    What a lie.

    County and city officials have bent over backwards to allow development beyond infrastructure capacities, keeping developers in business despite several cities, and now the county itself, facing moratoriums.

  70. 713
    January 31, 2012 at 8:57 pm

    Which cities have or are facing moratoriums?

  71. Anonymous
    January 31, 2012 at 10:30 pm

    Don’t get out much, eh?

    Humboldt County, Ferndale, Fortuna, Orick, are a few I know of.

  72. Not A Native
    January 31, 2012 at 10:53 pm

    tra, at 11:26 you wrote “we can only hope that some vigilant, community-minded neighbor…”. That was sarcasm, and by association ridiculed the tree house complaining neighbor. Well, foulmouth 5:28 gave some very plausible reasons why the neighbor may well have valid and reasonable concerns. But you changed the point to bring it to your pet peeve about officials who actually enforce the codes that elected representatives enact.

    You seem to advocate a system where officials ignore the particular laws that the citizens you favor choose to violate. In essence you’re advocating to vest more authority in hired officials than elected legislators. I see that as the worst kind of tyranny.

  73. tra
    January 31, 2012 at 11:12 pm

    Read the rest of my comments NAN. I’m not sure whether giving the Planning Department more discretion would have helped or no in this case, because I’m not sure if they had the discretion to allow this or not. If they did have the discretion and just decided to go after this trivial matter anyway, then more discretion wouldn’t have done any good.

    It could be that what’s needed is a clearer definition of what actually counts as “development,” and therefore requires a permit, under this Streamside Management Area Ordinance. As I said in a previous comment, if the problem is with the ordinance — either too much discretion or not enough — the Board of Supervisors can and should remedy the situation.

    That’s not “advocat[ing] a system where officials ignore the particular laws that the citizens [I] favor choose to violate,” it’s advocating that the elected representatives modify the law to suit what they and/or the majority of their constituents think is the best approach. If they look at this case and decide that the current policy, as outlined in the current ordinance and as interpreted and enforced by staff, is appropriate, then it’s up to the voters to decide whether that reflects their own values and preferences.

    I totally agree with the idea that vesting more power in hired officials (for example planning department staff) instead of in elected officials, can create a tyrannical bureaucracy, where folks with no direct accountability to the public end up having way too much power.

  74. Davey Jones
    January 31, 2012 at 11:35 pm

    It is sadly ironic to see officials enforcing a modest 100-foot encroachment barrier for county streams that have lost much of their flow and biodiversity….following official’s historic legacy of failing to enforce the law.

  75. 713
    February 1, 2012 at 5:08 am

    The possible county moratorium is due to a lawsuit, not infrastructure. Orick and fern dale are facing moratoriums due to developers building so much there? Wow, I never noticed all the construction.

  76. Ponder z
    February 1, 2012 at 6:00 am

    Now that you all see how stupid big/any government officials can be, you know why we conservatives-Tea Party-capitalists- and Libertarians, despise all government. We dont trust it to manage itself form idiotic shows like this.

  77. February 1, 2012 at 8:45 am

    .”…following official’s historic legacy of failing to enforce the law.”

    When they attempt to enforce what meager protections-
    that are on the books, to sustain wetlands, there are Tra’s galore with reasoning straight from their rear-ends to cause interference and grief.

  78. Not A Native
    February 1, 2012 at 8:51 am

    Again tra just goes on and on about his pet peeve.

    The pont he he blithly ridicules and distracts away from is that the neighbor complained to the responsible authority. Its been offered here that the neighbor likely had reasonable concerns that the officials were obligated to redress. When someone harms you, its not too important what infraction the offender is cited for as long as you get relief. With a given set of facts, there are often many choices for officials to take in trying to achieve a fair outcome. Providing citizens relief from their reasonable grievances is the first job of Government.

  79. neomoderate
    February 1, 2012 at 8:58 am

    And yet they still fail to produce any evidence that the project in question produces a negative impact to the stream.

    Science is site specific in these cases. Statute is what you lean on for enforcement when science shows a negative impact. I deal with this stuff on a daily basis – you’re going to have to try pretty hard to convince me that this treehouse impacts the stream. This is a little like citing a kid for sitting to tie his shoes on the plaza when a no sitting ordinance is in place.

    Wetland protections are vitally important. This is not wetland protection. This is something else.

  80. February 1, 2012 at 9:11 am

    Neo, isn’t that 100′ a ‘riparian’ setback?

    Then it is wetland protection, sorry.

  81. Bolithio
    February 1, 2012 at 9:36 am

    The county has more discretion than they admit. But who do they send out to evaluate these issues? Building inspectors. The county should have a staff RPF, and perhaps a CEG and wildlife biologist. No disrespect for the inspectors, but who do we want making these calls? I think these decisions require people who know what the function of riparian area is before they can say wither or not there is an impact.

  82. Bolithio
    February 1, 2012 at 9:45 am

    … vesting more power in hired officials (for example planning department staff) instead of in elected officials, can create a tyrannical bureaucracy, where folks with no direct accountability to the public end up having way too much power.

    Can??!! Are you kidding me? This IS how it is now!

  83. February 1, 2012 at 10:04 am

    “No disrespect for the inspectors, but who do we want making these calls? ”

    This is not a ‘call.’ Quite simply this is construction in
    a riparian setback. Not an option.
    Do we play by these ‘meager’ rules or do we manipulate?

    This regulation works best when EVERYONE is on board,
    and NO ONE is given a pass. It’s called fairness and equity,
    not discretionary.

  84. Bolithio
    February 1, 2012 at 10:23 am

    Everyone isn’t on board. Most people dont agree with a tree house as being ‘construction’ nor the utility of preventing insignificant practices from occurring within a riparian area which is designed to prevent significant impacts to water quality. Tell me the impact to riparian function in this case?

  85. February 1, 2012 at 10:48 am

    Bo, really? In Humboldt we have a dearth of info.
    I approached a BLM Rep. with a wetland complaint and literally had to spell C-o-w-a-r-d-i-n for her. This person worked in wetlands
    with a Ph.D!

    Humboldt is seriously behind in wetland science. Violating what little efforts Humboldt does expend on wetlands, even pretending riparian
    zones are not wetland, all works against us in the long run.

    If you want to defend ‘kids’ treehouses, you get no beef from me,
    a cabin on a stump in a wetland, well that is quite different.

  86. Anonymous
    February 1, 2012 at 11:09 am

    What a waste of public resources, send the bill to the neighbor.

  87. February 1, 2012 at 11:37 am


  88. Bolithio
    February 1, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    Last I checked there is a fairly straight forward methodology to delineating “wetlands”. Riparian areas, which act as buffers to streams, are not synonymous with wetlands – especially not in forest settings. Wetlands tend to occur is areas of gentle topography where water can settle and thus provide the habitat for the plant communities that live in wetlands. The purpose of protecting wetlands is to maintain functional wildlife habitat. The function of riparian habitat is much more dynamic and complex where there is more going on than simply obligate plant species and birds.

    BTW, if you want to talk wetland, dont call BLM. Call WQ or DFG. Or if you want to get all crazy and call everything a wetland you can call the Army Corp.

  89. February 1, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    From the T-S story: “The California Department of Fish and Game said the county’s Streamside Management Area Ordinance was created to evaluate projects in close proximity to streams and limit development on top of them. The ordinance discusses culverts, sewage systems, grading for roads and timber harvesting practices.”

    Help me to understand how any of the four items “discussed” in the ordinance apply to a tree house, which also, at 85 ft. away, is hardly “on top” of the stream nor can it, in any possible way, be construed as a “development”. This is simple bloody-minded harassment. Hope someone “outs” the whining neighbor.

    Wish the county inspectors had been half as conscientious when they approved the improperly constructed slab and incompetently and incorrectly installed radiant floor in our new house some years ago.

  90. Dan
    February 1, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    Bo., the Army Corps of Engineers are restricted
    to ‘fill.’ If you are concerned about a wetland and the problem has naught to do with ‘fill’ they can NOT be involved.

    It’s weird but alas it is true.

    As far as your summation of riparian not being wetland-
    you may want to reconsider that one, even and especially in a forest setting.

    “The purpose of protecting wetlands is to maintain functional wildlife habitat. The function of riparian habitat is much more dynamic and complex where there is more going on than simply obligate plant species and birds.” 1:10

    I’d state that differently; If your wetland is functioning your habitat will take care of itself. I mean if you haven’t already begun an erosion process or screwed-up a waterway.

    Beautiful day.

  91. February 1, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    “Wish the county inspectors had been half as conscientious when they approved the improperly constructed slab and incompetently and incorrectly installed radiant floor in our new house some years ago.”

    I’d talk to my contractor and leave those poor overworked souls at Planning and Building to do the job they are paid to do.

  92. tra
    February 1, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    Here’s today’s interview with the tree-fort-scofflaw Mom, from KSLG:


  93. tra
    February 1, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    Just listened to the interview. In addition to the Mrs Robinson her son, will, Matthews also spoke with Mark Lovelace, who was out of town at the moment, but sounded confident that something could be worked out, both for this current situation, and to avoid similar situations in the future. Understandably, he was careful not to make any iron-clad promises, pointing out that he hasn’t had the chance to get into the details. I guess we’ll see where it goes from here.

  94. 713
    February 1, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    it depends on who made the complaint.

  95. Harold Knight
    February 1, 2012 at 11:00 pm

    “Most people dont agree with a tree house as being ‘construction’”.

    …except for the next dimwit who builds anything illegally close to a stream…their lawyers will turn that tree-house into a “condominium” as they show how the county fails to apply the letter of the law equally.

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