Home > Land Use > Another HumCPR lawsuit against Humboldt County

Another HumCPR lawsuit against Humboldt County

20120412-215551.jpgProperty rights group HumCPR* is firing lawsuits at the County of Humboldt faster than you can say Barnum Timber.

The latest suit demands the county “stop the practice of shading parcels, or marking properties with an uncertain legal status,” according to the Times-Standard. Follow the link for more details.

The group filed another suit late last month seeking information on “the amount of taxpayers’ money that has been spent on attorney’s fees to defend itself or pursue lawsuits filed on land use and private property issues.” They say the county failed to respond to a December 5, 2011 Public Records Request.

Former CPR executive director Estelle Fennell is running for Humboldt County 2nd District Supervisor. She quit just before launching her second bid for the seat (she lost to Clif Clendenen in 2008).

By the by, there will be a debate between Clendenen and Fennell on Sunday at the Mateel in Redway, which will be broadcast on KMUD. If you know the time, please leave it in the comments. Starting time is 3:00.

Also, the Humboldt County Democratic Central Committee voted against endorsing Fennell to the dismay of Harbor Commissioner Richard Marks.
* As in HELP!

  1. Not an Expert
    April 12, 2012 at 11:40 pm

    Connect the dots:

    Lee Ulansey is trying to get appointed to LAFCO as the “public” member (as if he represents anything but the 1%). LAFCO has oversight of annexations and building new sewer/water infrastructure.

    Ulansey asked the Planning Commission to reclassify his 210 TPZ acres on Greenwood Heights into Rural Residential 5-20 acre parcels as part of the GPU. That plan was rejected–the Planning Commission said it needed more specific environmental review than it’d get just sliding it into the GPU.

    Ulansey’s agent in his application to the County–Sidnie Olson–has applied to be the Interim planning director for the County. Yes, the same Sidnie Olson who was the lead planner on Arkley’s Marina Center EIR, and who retired from the City of Eureka because the stress was affecting her health. Sidnie is the perfect tool to stop the GPU!

  2. Eric Kirk
    April 12, 2012 at 11:44 pm

    3:00 on Sunday. Go to the Mateel site for more information.

  3. April 12, 2012 at 11:46 pm

    Thanks, Eric.

  4. just middle class
    April 13, 2012 at 7:20 am

    If you ever found that you had a “shaded” parcel, as I did, you would not be complaining about this action by HumCPR. Humboldt County, just like everyone else needs to adhere to the law. As you see, HumCPR filed the lawsuit over the public records when there was no response for months, when the law requires a fast response. It is refreshing to see someone doing something about it.

  5. April 13, 2012 at 7:28 am

    It is refreshing to see someone doing something about it.

    It’s fun to see people talk about themselves in the third person.

  6. 713
    April 13, 2012 at 8:27 am

    Why won’t the county just tell them how much they have spent on the lawsuits? This is baffling to me. I am glad they filed the shaded parcel lawsuit. A friend of mine has a couple of parcels that were created by the park service. The county is telling them they are “shaded” until proven otherwise. Heraldo, you should see if somebody would post the letter the county sent out. They want to charge you to research your parcel to determine if it is illegal. Or you can hire your own consultant. It seems pretty backwards. If there is a problem, they should tell you the problem, not tell you there might be a problem and it is your job to figure out what it is.

    Meanwhile, people are grading roads out in the hills, leveling land, damming up creeks, and putting up greenhouses. No letters going out to those guys.

  7. Just Entitled Class
    April 13, 2012 at 8:33 am

    Shady parcels, shady politics, shady business: Welcome to Humboldt!

  8. High Finance
    April 13, 2012 at 9:30 am

    No word about the other lawsuit just settled ?

    Could it be because your hero, Garr Nielson, just cost the city $150,000 in that workplace harrassment lawsuit filed by one of his former female employees ?

  9. Anonymous
    April 13, 2012 at 10:14 am

    Funny HiFi I was pretty much thinking the same thing!

    What they don’t mention is the cost to the City of Eureka for the Santa Rosa law firm ? $60 K plus !!

    Hmmmmm I wonder if Garr has found a new job ??

  10. anony-me
    April 13, 2012 at 10:47 am

    I know of people who’ve have an illegal non-permitted house on tpz land for 30 years. For decades they paid no taxes on the house. A couple hundred in taxes on the property is all. Now that the county has sent someone out to the property to tell them how to make the house legal, what were the consequences for these freeloading lawbreakers? A fine and a past due tax bill for the house

    Hell no. The county is making sure they feel NO PAIN. Their taxes will increase slowly over 10 years. The county is allowing the freeloading to continue and coddling the lawbreakers. WTF? Somebody, please explain this to me.

  11. Publishers Clearinghouse
    April 13, 2012 at 10:50 am

    Garr Nielson and Dave Gunderson are teaming up to write a tell-all book about law enforcement and courtroom drama here in HumCo. A historical perspective to include chapters on Bernie DePaoli and Dave Renner, as well as nude pics of ‘sleeping’ Ms. Gunderson, and a copy of Garrs severence check. Look for the review in the NCJ.

  12. Not an Expert
    April 13, 2012 at 10:58 am

    All counties have shaded parcels, it’s a remnant of the way things used to be done that doesn’t jibe with current rules. A shaded parcel simply means that whether it’s legal (meaning buildable) or not is unknown without more info. If title companies did what we pay them to do, they’d tell us when we buy the property–the county tried making a disclosure requirement, but guess what? The realtors and title companies fought it so it never went anywhere.

  13. Fact Checker
    April 13, 2012 at 11:54 am

    10:47 I believe the Assessor only goes back 3 years on property taxes and unlike the IRS, no penalties. The mean, mean County of Humboldt. When will they stop punishing us?

  14. Fact Checker
    April 13, 2012 at 11:59 am

    10:58 A shaded parcel could be a sale of a portion of the parcel without having applied for a lot split (permission from the County Planning Dept to split or merge parcels of land). The Realtors and Title companies did something to protect their wealth and screw the buyer? I am astonished!

  15. Anonymous
    April 13, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    No comment from Hearldo on suizie O getting all the cash and bennies ?

  16. Not A Native
    April 13, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    I’d like to know how much CPR’s lawsuits and demands for special treatment are costing HumCo.

    Fact is, HumCo government has traditionally taken a lazzez faire(hands off) approach to land transactions because ‘the land owner’ was considered to be the highest form of citizen whose judgements were not to be questioned. When zoning became a State law, HumCo complied only with the letter of the law, not the spirit, and land transactions remained essentially unregulated and unmonitored.

    Only recently, when knowledgeable ‘outsiders’ arrived, has the county begun to implement the law that land use planning isn’t the exclusive domain of land owners, its also the public’s business.

  17. Anonymous
    April 13, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    I thought the law suit was about Tyson, not Nielson..

  18. April 13, 2012 at 6:13 pm

    Estelle is funded by known land deal players…she will again go down in defeat to Mr. Clendenen, not enough $ to buy votes in So Hum, Cliff is a straight shooter and a positive force on the BOS, Fennell is a divider….check out her list of endorsers and donors…that will tell you all you need to know…

  19. Anonymous
    April 13, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    When someone tries to tell you that “all you need to know is…” it’s usually a dead giveaway that they’d rather you looked no further.

  20. Anonymous
    April 13, 2012 at 6:38 pm

    No the lawsuit was about Garr Nielsen

  21. Anonymous
    April 13, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    God damn title companies should have told people they were buying parcels not recorded with the assessor’s office. Too bad. Now everyone wants the county to fix this mess for free? I want to tell HumCPR to quit wasting taxpayers’ money.

  22. Anonymous
    April 13, 2012 at 9:26 pm

    Sorry 8:46, but that is not the responsibility of the title companies. We have a Recorder’s Office because the law requires Recorder’s Offices be permanently operated in all 58 California counties for the purpose of protecting purchasers. Whatever the Assessor or Planning Department people have hidden under their counters is not available for title companies to review. Period. Respectfully, you are not informed. The Planning Department is required by state law to record Notices of Violation of the Subdivision Map Act in the Recorder’s Office so title companies can find them. This is the law the County has violated for decades. Instead of recording the required Notices of Violation, the staff shaded Assessor Parcel Maps and kept those under a counter at their office, unavailable for review by the title companies. They did not keep any record of when the maps were shaded, or why. That is illegal When shown their error, this year the County sent letters to some 1500 owners telling them (but not the public by recording in the Recorder’s` Office as the law requires) that the owners had parcels “shaded” at the Planning Department office. The notices themselves violate the law. This is a legal matter, not a question of work by title companies. Nobody here at HH seems to understand this issue, so this thread has gone nowhere. Sigh. The Court will figure it out. The shaded parcel practice will end.

  23. Jack Sherman
    April 13, 2012 at 11:04 pm

    Got that folks?

    The successful Reich-Wing movement to divest from public services leaves every municipality underfunded. The Planning Dept. found a desperate way to, at least, enable property filings to trigger discovery of illegal parcels….like stopping the registration of a car some schmuck sold you that’s illegal to own or drive…making our streets a little safer in the process.

    Unfortunately, these schmucks are our own local good old boys and girls…well-healed pedigree born-here’s…documented club and church members, with valid registrations at the Chamber, Ingomar and Rotary, quick to bid on a bottle of wine at the KEET auction, anxious to show you their picture with Betty Chin. After generations of wheeling and dealing, they’ve become wealthy, well-connected, respectable businessmen, land attorney’s, speculators, property managers, realtors and brokers, expecting a walk on their land shenanigans while the county collapses into a disgraceful 23% home affordability rate.

    The Eureka Planning Department was recently notified of another illegal subdivision within the city limits by its owner Ken Bareilles. Tiny Eureka can’t keep track of its parcels either?

    Imagine that.

    Maybe HumCPR will join me in calling for diverting CAMP $$$ to finally reign-in the thousands of illegal subdivisions and structures blanketing rural Humboldt. With a small task-force, the Planning Department can utilize Google Earth to identify these structures and compare them to existing county records, in effect, exactly what the 2010 Census headquarters did, amid overwhelming shock and disbelief at the numbers.

    That should avoid any perception of unequal application of the law.

  24. Anonymous
    April 13, 2012 at 11:13 pm

    Or, the county could follow the law.

  25. tra
    April 13, 2012 at 11:20 pm

    “thousands of illegal subdivisions and structures blanketing rural Humboldt.”

    Oh yeah, it’s just wall-to-wall structures out there in the hills.

    Meanwhile, an actual subdivision, in fact a massive one, is being planned for Ridgewood. Foster-Gill, an out-of-area developer proposed to build more than 1,400 residential units, and more than 200,000 square feet of commercial space (about three times the size of the WalMart that’s coming to the Bayshore Mall) as part of a massive suburban subdivison 10 miles from downtown Eureka.

    But since this developer slapped the SmartGrowth (TM) label on it, and Mark Lovelace gave it an enthusiastic endorsement, this huge development is never mentioned by those who simultaneously shriek about how a single house on two acres of a 160 acre parcel constitutes “converting the parcel to residential,” conflate the selling of existing parcels with “subdivision” and concoct fearmongering, sky-is-falling scenarios about rural Humboldt being “blanketed” by out of control development, resulting in “Santa Rosafication.”

    But I guess Foster-Gill gets a pass from these folks, since they apparently blindly follow Lovelace and believe that anything he gave his blessing to couldn’t possibly be a massive suburban development and glorified strip mall, even though that’s exactly what the plan calls for. Of course it probably didn’t hurt that F-G dumped thousands of dollars into Bonnie Neeley’s ill-fated campaign.

  26. local
    April 14, 2012 at 10:09 am

    Mr. Sherman, keep drinking the kool-aid. Losing brain cells daily.

  27. Eric Kirk
    April 14, 2012 at 3:08 pm

    TRA – I’ve never been clear on this. Why does Mark support the Foster-Gill project? Is the smartgrowth just a label, or does the project actually integrate smart growth components?

    It is close to an urban area, so technically it is in-fill.

    I’ve spoken to a few Eureka progressives who refer to Cutten as “White Flight Corridor,” and have suggested that the primary opposition is coming from conservative NIMBY’s who don’t want undesirables moving in. Somehow I suspect that this is also an oversimplification.

    But you are comparing apples to oranges. The objection to homes on so many 160 acre parcels is based on concerns about the unique impacts of low density development. Smartgrowth focuses on compact development. Cluster development specifically. How does the Foster-Gill project not qualify?

    I haven’t looked at the project at all mind you, so I don’t know if the smartgrowth thing is overblown. And even smart growth isn’t always that grand. Skyscrapers South of Market could be regarded as smart growth, by definition.

  28. tra
    April 14, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    As far as why Mark Lovelace decided to publicly and enthusiastically embrace Foster-Gill, I can’t say for sure. This was before he was a Supervisor; I believe at the time he was working for Humboldt Watershed Council and/or Healthy Humboldt, though I’m not 100% sure about that, and in any event I think that he was speaking for himself, not as the representative of any organization.

    If I had to guess why he would go out of his way to embrace this proposal, my guess would be that he and others in his clique were feeling a lot of pressure due to being labeled “no-growthers,” and in response they wanted to be able to point to some kind of growth that they could get behind. And Foster-Gill probably made a pretty good pitch. This was early on, before the proposal was widely known about and therefore before significant public opposition had developed.

    It may “technically” be infill (it has been pointed out that the piece of land already has suburban growth all around it), but I think it’s safe to say that it’s not what most people think of when they think of the term “infill.” It is certainly a “cluster” (must…resist…urge…to…attach…the…obvious…suffix).

    Since the proposal includes more than 200,000 square feet of commercial, it can also be called “mixed use.” There is some (maybe) affordable housing as part of the proposal. By clustering the units closely together, it “preserves” some open space (of course that’s mostly the steep ravines they couldn’t build on anyway) and apparently some walking trails are part of the proposal.

    So, put that all together, and proponents can describe it as a “mixed-use, infill/cluster SmartGrowth development, which includes affordable housing and preserves open space.” All of which is true…at least sort of. When it’s portrayed in those term, anyone would have to admit that it’s a pretty impressive collection of buzzwords.

    It is also accurate to describe it as “a massive suburban subdivision development with a glorified strip mall three times the size of Eureka’s WalMart, to be located ten miles from downtown with massive impacts on traffic and infrastructure.”

    Where the proponents run into trouble is that no matter how many buzzwords are applied, there is no denying that it would be 1,400 residential units and 200,000+ square feet of commercial, way out at the edge of the suburbs.

    That’s why I call it “SmartSprawl.” This kind of project is definitely part of the sprawl phenomenon, though it may not be the dumbest kind of sprawl possible.

  29. Scott
    April 14, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    Mr. Sherman- The Assessor already uses Google Earth or similar gis aerial photo system. I had a nice visit from them last year asking about a shop I had built. No, I didn’t get a permit, so they weren’t in the loop but they do drive around rural sohum investigating. They just wanted the tax dollars. They put it in the books but didn’t tell the building dept. Now I pay taxes on my unpermitted shop.

  30. Eric Kirk
    April 14, 2012 at 11:35 pm

    I guess I have to look at the project proposal. By “commercial” do they mean retail, or does it include industrial?

  31. 713
    April 15, 2012 at 8:43 am

    Retail. Smart growth is supposed to have the people who live there working there so they don’t have to travel via car. It doesn’t work well unless you have a critical mass of population. As in the total population of the county in the footprint of eureka. It will not work in cutten as intended because most of the people will drive to eureka or Arcata for work and the workers will drive from eureka or Arcata to cutten for their minimum wage jobs.

    It almost never works as intended. I think they have had success in Portland.

  32. Anonymous
    April 15, 2012 at 10:16 am

    TRA, why don’t you just call Mark and ask him? Or better yet, have lunch.

  33. tra
    April 15, 2012 at 10:35 am


    I think the 200,000 square feet of “commercial” space would include both retail and office space.

  34. 713
    April 15, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    It is 227,000 sf of retail and 100,000 office, mostly above the retail. 327,000 total.

    About the size of a large Walmart in retail space.

  35. tra
    April 15, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    Thanks for the clarification, 713.

  36. Anonymous
    April 15, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    “TRA, why don’t you just call Mark and ask him? Or better yet, have lunch.”

    If only it were that simple. I have called Mark, written letters, and stopped him in the hall, asking to meet on various issues over the last several years and never received a single response and I live in the Third District too. To be fair I have for some time given up on any attempt at conversation or compromise with him. Mark clearly has no interest in sitting down with anyone who might disagree or fail to pay him propper homage.

  37. Anonymous
    April 15, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    It is easy for an anonymous to make that kind of accusation and have it be total BS. I have never heard that from any real person. Please post one real name of a person that has had the experience that you are talking about. TRA, have you tried to talk to Mark?

  38. Eric Kirk
    April 15, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    I talk to Mark all the time. For what it’s worth.

    And re Foerster-Gill – thank you TRA. I have to admit that 227,000 of retail is large for Cutten, and could have a major impact on local traffic. And considering that we can’t fill the existing retail space, that doesn’t seem economically productive.

    Even office space is not in short abundance. I’m concerned that it could gut downtown Eureka even further.

    But if they would dedicate the space to light industry, or a large part of it, I would probably support the project.

  39. 713
    April 15, 2012 at 7:13 pm

    That’s why it isn’t smart growth. If it was downtown eureka, it would be smart. The idea of smart growth is supposed to be to use existing areas and redevelop them into high density, mixed use. That way the residents are near transit and job centers and the developer cleans up a part of town that is blighted or otherwise in needs of improvements. Much like the marina center, which is “smarter “than ridgewood.

  40. Anonymous
    April 15, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    If Eureka would promote (or even allow for) residental growth downtown (like Arcata) maybe growth wouldn’t be so pushed to the outside of town. Maybe that’s the point.

  41. Eric Kirk
    April 15, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    Well, smart growth doesn’t necessarily include a big box, but it doesn’t necessarily exclude it either. But another big box would gut downtown’s economy much more profoundly than a suburban draw.

    My problem with both proposals is the obsession with retail as some sort of local economic development strategy. We need to make things, not import more to sell.

  42. Anonymous
    April 15, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    Bingo. If the value of the goods and services produced in a region are less than the value of the goods and services that have to be imported from outside the region, the region will soon end up either being impoverished, or dependent on wealth re-distribution from other regions, or often some of both.

  43. tra
    April 15, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    That was me at 8:09

  44. 713
    April 15, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    We need the retail so some of the pot money can circulate in the local conomy. Its the only way we are going to get any tax money. Don’t forget we have a billion dollar export industry.

  45. tra
    April 15, 2012 at 8:51 pm

    There’s plenty of retail here to meet our needs, and plenty of vacant retail space available to meet the need for expanded retail, should that need arise. Building a Big Box by the Bay, or a glorified strip mall in Ridgewood won’t bring in more retail dollars, it will just divert those dollars from other retailers. I guess you could argue that the Big Box may offer lower prices on some items, but that will mean less sales tax revenue, not more.

    The billion dollar ganja export industry is, indeed, the crutch that is keeping us on our feet, and has been for quite some time, but it’s not something we should count on. We need to diversify our exports to include a much wider range of products, and there are some success stories to look to — like Cypress Grove Chevre, Mad River Brewery, Holly Yashi, Lost Coast Brewery, etc. — companies that produce high-quality goods and export them for sale to markets near and far.

  46. Anonymous
    April 17, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    oops, somehow posted this in another thread, meant to go here:

    I’m pretty clueless to the drama, but after reading this, here’s what I want to know:

    1,000 or so shaded parcels in humboldt. Who’s complaining, specifically? That is, how many of these parcel owners are complaining (and how many parcels do they individually own) and what are they attempting to develop on the land? Given such a relatively small nuber, it should be very easy to determine whether or not some bulk developers are looking to blow up a bunch of land all at once. Are there true to form back to the landers in the mix?

  47. Jack Sherman
    April 20, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    Scott says:
    April 14, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    “Mr. Sherman- The Assessor already uses Google Earth or similar gis aerial photo system. They put me in the books but didn’t tell the building dept. Now I pay taxes on my unpermitted shop.”

    That sounds very generous, but it wasn’t my point. Far more building restrictions are needed immediately for all future developments, especially, near riparian areas.

    I’ve attended dozens of contentious Planning Commission hearings and NOT ONE of the rural homesteaders claiming to practice well-known “low-impact” lifestyles, called for regulations that would codify them!

    It’s as if we didn’t have a world-full of examples of what generations of well-meaning homesteaders, their livestock, their trout farm, their Olympic pool, their orchards, their winery, pot, etc, etc, etc, have done do countless aquifers and streams.

    For 40 years I’ve witnessed wildlife diminish along with the rural streams that became silted and polluted from rural residents.

    We need low-impact regulations NOW, we need water carrying capacity studies NOW, or, I guarantee we will go down the same path as So.Cal. had100 years ago.

    You merely needed to talk with one of the former employees at the Eureka 2010 Census HQ on 4th Street. The sheer quantity of unrecorded structures in rural Humboldt was impossible for the large Census staff of administrators, supervisors, enumerators, and 50 computers with a refrigerated mainframe to research and visit these cites, nor were they welcome.

    It would take Humboldt County’s tiny Assessor’s staff the rest of their lives on Google Earth to attempt the same.

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