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Sept. 9, 2004
T H E
W E E K L Y W R A P
FLIGHTS TO LAX:
Air travel from Arcata to the Los
Angeles International Airport will become easier now that a Federal
Aviation Administration grant of $500,000 has been approved.
Chris Kerrigan, Fourth Ward City Council member in Eureka and
chairman of the Redwood Region Economic Development Commission,
spearheaded the effort and pushed the Eureka City Council and
RREDC to match grants of $5,000 each. Horizon Air will operate
the flights, which will stop off in Redding to pick up passengers
on the way to L.A. Currently travelers must stop in San Francisco
or Portland and change planes before traveling to Southern California.
The new flights will begin in mid-2005, and after one year the
success of the Arcata-L.A. connection will be reviewed by the
FAA to decide whether or not to continue the flights.
ANOTHER WEST NILE BIRD
Whitener, vector control officer for the county, confirmed last
week that another dead bird found in McKinleyville -- a crow,
this time -- has tested positive for the West Nile virus. Four
other specimens from around the county were tested at the same
time as the unfortunate bird; all others came up negative. Whitener
said that surveillance in the McKinleyville area shows that the
town's mosquito population is pretty well under control except
for the areas around Widow White and Strawberry creeks. Mosquito
season is scheduled to end in early October.
REDWOOD THEFT: After receiving a tip from a witness, Humboldt
Redwoods State Park rangers arrested Hydesville resident Sean
Reese Richardson around 11:30 p.m. Sunday on suspicion of grand
theft, possession of drug paraphernalia and resisting arrest
in connection with his attempt to remove old-growth redwood from
the park. The park has seen a sharp increase in what it calls
"resource crimes" over the last few years, with late-night
thieves splitting downed trees into shingle bolts and fence railings
and hauling them off, park rangers said. Park officials said
they will "vigorously prosecute" any offenders. Meanwhile,
the Humboldt Redwoods Interpretive Association is offering a
$500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction
of anyone stealing old-growth. Call 946-1801 with info.
GAS AND CASKETS? Now that Costco
has firmly established itself as a player in the gasoline business
in Eureka, can funeral supplies be far behind? Last month a Costco
store in Chicago began selling a spiffy steel casket in colors
ranging from lilac to Neapolitan blue for just $799.99, available
on just two days' notice. (Investor's Business Daily noted
that the funeral home industry's stock took a dip after the retail
giant's announcement.) Rob Ferguson, manager of Eureka Costco,
said his company does a lot of test marketing at special kiosks
-- "You know, like our drapery kiosk" -- but that doesn't
mean you can expect a casket kiosk anytime soon.
TODDLER WANDERING STREETS: Arcata police
reported last week that an apartment manager discovered a 2 1/2-year-old
child alone on a balcony at around 3 a.m. The manager went to
call police, then returned to find the child had left the apartment
and was crossing a street. Police said they determined that the
mother, Harie Cohn, was too intoxicated to care for the child,
who was taken into protective custody. Cohn was arrested on suspicion
of willful endangerment of a child and was booked into Humboldt
County Jail; she also had an outstanding warrant from southern
California, police said.
CAREGIVER FOUND GUILTY: Former Orick
resident Joseph Pierre Rollin was found guilty last week in Humboldt
County Superior Court of abuse, neglect and contributing to the
death of Joi Henderson-Wright in March 2002. Rollin was the registered
caregiver for Henderson-Wright, who suffered from multiple sclerosis
and was 42 at the time of her death. District Attorney Paul Gallegos,
who handled the case against Rollin, could not be reached for
comment. Rollin is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 30.
HUMCO'S NO CHILD LEFT
BEHIND SCORES: The California Department
of Education last week released a report detailing how well schools
are doing in meeting the requirements of the No Child Left Behind
Act. For Humboldt County schools, it appears that the answer
is: not bad. Fully 80 percent of local schools met their mandated
NCLB guidelines, including the difficult requirement that schools
must test 95 percent of their students. Parents are free to opt
their children out of standardized testing -- for some, an unpleasant
yearly ritual -- but schools are punished if over 5 percent do.
For more info, go to http://ayp.cde.ca.gov.
CURRY COUNTY TO THE RESCUE: The Curry
County Public Transit system has filled up a portion of the gap
left when Greyhound abandoned its Crescent City-Portland route
last month. On Tuesday, the first CCPT bus departed Crescent
City bound for Brookings, Ore., where residents could catch easy
transfers up to Coos Bay. From there, Porter Stage Lines operates
a bus inland to Eugene and the Greyhound main line on Interstate
5. "We're trying to get as much of a network set up as possible,
so people can get around with a minimal amount of inconvenience,"
CCPT General Manager Bill Dooley said Tuesday. Locals who want
to travel this route should catch the morning northbound Greyhound,
which departs Eureka at 6:40 a.m. Monday through Saturday.
DEAN DUMPS ON FRANCESCONI: Eureka native
and St. Bernard's graduate Jim Francesconi is facing a surprisingly
difficult battle in his mayoral bid in the city of Portland,
Ore. Last spring, Francesconi was the front-runner in the race
--he had raised nearly $1 million and had racked up endorsements
from across the political spectrum. But he was surprised in the
March primary, finishing second place to former police chief
Tom Potter, who refused to accept campaign donations of greater
than $25. And last week former presidential candidate Howard
Dean showed up in Portland to stump for Potter, going door to
door with the candidate to sing his praises. But don't count
Francesconi out, says his cousin Debra Kingshill, personnel director
at the Humboldt County Office of Education: "Definitely,
he's still in it 155 percent," she said.
OLD GROWTH BILL DIES: The state
Assembly's last day to approve new legislation passed last week,
and with it went any chance for the California Heritage Tree
Preservation Act of 2003. The act, which would have banned cutting
of old-growth redwood, passed the Senate last summer, but died
on the Assembly floor without a vote. The fact that legislative
leaders did not call for a vote was particularly irksome to local
activist Susan Moloney, executive director of the Campaign for
Old Growth. "Those Assembly members who would have been
a `no' vote are not on record as voting `no,' so I think that's
unfortunate," she said. Moloney said that supporters of
the bill would likely introduce it again in the next legislative
A KENNEDY ON THE TRINITY: Rep. Patrick
Kennedy (D-R.I.), son of Sen. Edward "Teddy" Kennedy
(D-Mass.), took a spin through Hoopa last Thursday, enjoying
a rafting trip down the Trinity and talking water issues with
locals. Danielle Vigil-Masten, administrative assistant for the
Hoopa Valley Tribe, said that the congressman came at the tribe's
invitation. "His family has supported Indian country from
the very beginning," Vigil-Masten said. "Tribes have
a good relationship working with the Kennedy family." Representatives
of numerous local tribes -- including the Yurok and Karuk as
well as the Trinidad and Elk River rancherias -- turned out for
a fund-raiser that evening. Vigil-Masten said that only that
the fund-raiser was "very successful," and that the
advertised suggested donation for the event -- $2,000 to $4,000
-- applied to tribal governments only.
ARCATA HIGH GOES SOLAR: Thanks to
two grants received this summer, Arcata High School will install
a 30-kilowatt solar electric system with more than 200 solar
panels on its roof, as well as two solar hot water systems and
energy audit equipment. The solar panels will be funded by a
$178,106 Solar Schools grant from the California Energy Commission;
the hot water system and audit equipment by a $10,000 "A
Plus for Energy" grant from BP. The panels will be installed
this school year, said Arcata High science teacher and district
grant-writer Louis Armin-Hoiland.
VICTOR SCHAUB MEMORIAL
LECTURE: State Senator Wesley Chesbro
(D-Arcata) will give a speech Monday entitled, "The Role
of Local Politics in an Election Year" as part of an annual
lecture series in memory of former Arcata Mayor Victor Schaub.
Schaub, a civil attorney who was involved in county politics
for 20 years and served as Arcata's mayor from 1990 to 1995,
drowned in April at age 61 after attempting to save two of his
grandchildren who were nearly swept out to sea while the family
vacationed in Hawaii. The HSU department of government and politics
is hosting the event. Chesbro, who was a friend of Schaub, will
speak at 7 p.m. in the Goodwin Forum at HSU.
Commission to choose growth model
County appears to shy away from
AFTER SEVERAL YEARS OF PREPARATION
and months of lobbying from environmental and building interests,
the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors is preparing to decide
the shape of future development in unincorporated areas.
And despite heavy pressure from
Humboldt Economic and Land Plan (HELP), a group made up of members
of the building community, it appears that the county is moving
away from the idea of significantly expanding residential construction
into farmland or forests.
The board's upcoming choice
among the county planning staff's "sketch plans" --
broad-stroke visions of the county's growth patterns over the
coming 20 years -- will be a critical step in the county's general
plan update. The choice will determine whether the county will
focus on modest growth, largely confined to existing communities,
or vast and rapid housing expansion designed for some 60,000
At a meeting of the planning
commission last Thursday, the county's Community Development
Services director unveiled three new sketch plan options, all
of which shied away from suburbanization of resource lands to
one extent or another. Director Kirk Girard said that the public
overwhelmingly endorses the idea that future growth should be
accomplished through "infill" -- or denser development
within already existing communities -- wherever possible.
"One of the major take-homes
from this stage is that the alternatives that were on the table,
which allowed for extension of water lines and rural residential
subdivisions, were not supported by anybody," Girard said.
"That finding was, in part, what led staff to overhaul the
sketch plan alternatives."
The three new sketch plans,
now called "A," "B," and "C" to
distinguish them from their four numerical predecessors, all
curtail the amount of development that can be done in rural regions.
Plan A would essentially ban all residential building in areas
not served by municipal water and sewer lines. It would likely
involve "down-zoning" many properties in the outskirts
of existing town, restricting existing landowners' rights to
subdivide their parcels, while it would increase the allowable
density of residences in already existing urban areas.
Sketch plan C meets one of HELP's
goals in that it provides enough land to accommodate a growth
rate of 2 percent per year -- 18,000 new homes over the next
20 years -- but it would tightly pack that large number of residences
into a dense area in and around already existing communities.
In short, it wouldn't seem to provide HELP advocates with anything
close to the amount of raw land they have been demanding. (Plan
B is a mid-point between the two extremes, but like plan A it
is based on the state's official estimate of a 0.6 percent per
year growth rate in Humboldt County.)
No members of HELP were available
to comment on the new sketch plans when they were unveiled. The
group's spokesperson, insurance agent Mike Harvey, was attending
the Republican National Convention at the time. On Monday, Harvey
said that the group would be meeting to discuss the new options
over the coming days.
"We're in the process of
regrouping a little bit with these things," he said, noting
his preliminary approval of the fact that the county took HELP's
preferred growth rate into consideration when developing the
new sketch plan C. "We asked for a new sketch plan, which
I guess they've kind of done."
In recent months, HELP has given
public presentations, printed up full-color brochures and launched
a Web site to present its message -- that the county needs to
foster a friendlier business environment, and that the quickly
rising cost of homes in the county can be tempered by opening
up additional opportunities for residential development. In addition,
the group commissioned a Portland, Ore., firm to conduct a poll
of residents' attitudes toward development. The group says that
the poll results back up their message.
Despite their apparent success
in advocating infill, the Healthy Humboldt Coalition -- an organization
comprised of the Humboldt Watershed Council, the local chapter
of the Sierra Club and the Northcoast Environmental Center, along
with support from allied groups such as the Alliance for Ethical
Business -- is carefully watching the remainder of the process.
At last week's meeting of the
Planning Commission, Mark Lovelace of the Humboldt Watershed
Council expressed concern that the county would consider any
expansion outside the boundaries of towns, which Healthy Humboldt
believes is the most expensive, as well as the most environmentally
"We need to look at the
fact that we can accommodate lots more within our existing areas,"
Lovelace told the commission. "Let's keep looking within
Healthy Humboldt's apparent
success may be in part due to the fact that some groups not traditionally
allied with the environmental movement -- the Humboldt County
Farm Bureau, for example -- have also championed infill over
John LeBoyteaux, Farm Bureau
vice president, told commissioners that agricultural interests
believed in protecting agricultural lands from suburban-style
development. He said new growth should be focused in areas that
have municipal water and sewage systems available.
"The Farm Bureau has long
advocated providing growth focused within and adjacent to existing
serviced areas," he said.
Much work will still need to
be done to flesh out the complete general plan after the supervisors
pick a sketch plan alternative. It will likely take more
than a year for county staff to finish the complete plan, develop
a zoning ordinance to codify regulations envisioned by the plan
and write and circulate and environmental impact report, which
is required by law.
The Planning Commission is expected
to pick its favorite among the new sketch plans at its regular
meeting tonight (Sept. 9). The commission also is likely to make
recommendations to the Board of Supervisors on additional "policy
options" in the new general plan -- new regulations developed
in tandem with the new general plan and designed to promote affordable
housing, protect agricultural and timber land, support the Port
of Humboldt Bay and address the export of county water, among
The Board of Supervisors is
scheduled to hear the Planning Commission's recommendations and
take further public comment at a special session Monday night.
It may decide on the plan that evening or at a later meeting.
But both HELP and Healthy Humboldt
are promising to stick around and follow the general planning
process meticulously, even after the winning sketch plan is chosen.
Their mutually antagonistic
advocacy may make mincemeat of Planning Commissioner Bruce Emad's
hopeful words at the conclusion of last week's meeting.
"What we will come up with,
at best, will disturb and make everyone unhappy -- within reason,"
Emad said. "Everyone will walk away and say `This is not
what I want, this is not exactly what I had in mind.' But they
won't be disturbed enough to come in here with pitchforks and
throw tomatoes at the board."
general plan hearings
Thursday, Sept. 9, 2004, 6 p.m.
BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
Monday, Sept. 13, 2004, 6 p.m.
Both meetings will take place in
the Supervisors' Chambers of the Humboldt County Courthouse,
825 5th St., Eureka.
What is a general plan?
One of the most important powers of cities
and counties in California is broad control over land use within
their jurisdictions. A general plan, often called a "constitution
for development," is a state-mandated document, rewritten
approximately every 20 years, in which local governments lay
out their visions for their communities' future.
Humboldt County's general plan, which was
last updated in 1984, covers all the land under county jurisdiction
-- in other words, outside the limits of the county's seven incorporated
cities, each of which has its own general plan. A little over
half the county's population lives outside the cities, including
residents of McKinleyville, Cutten, Willow Creek, Westhaven,
Orick and Garberville/Redway.
General plans must address many issues
in determining how to meet future needs of residents, including
transportation, public safety, open space and even noise levels.
Each of these topics, along with others that governments may
wish to address, is covered by a separate chapter (or "element")
in the plan.
The most important elements of a general
plan, though -- the ones that set the pace for all other issues
-- deal with land use and housing. The land use element of Humboldt
County's plan defines what sorts of activities will be permitted
on each parcel of land in the county's jurisdiction. Any piece
of land may be designated for housing, industry, timber production
or agriculture, for example, and owners of that parcel are subject
to restrictions on what sort of development they may undertake
on their properties. The land use element of the general plan
is implemented through the county's zoning ordinance, which spells
out those restrictions in detail.
The housing element of the general plan
is subject to greater oversight by the state government than
other elements of the plan and must be rewritten at least every
five years. Local jurisdictions must demonstrate to the state
government that they are adequately prepared for population growth.
If this test is not met, the state may
reject a jurisdiction's housing element and send it back to the
drawing board. The land use element of the general plan must
set aside enough land for construction to meet the needs projected
in the housing element. Humboldt County's last housing element
update was passed in December of last year.
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