Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The County's Guiding Principles in Time-Lapse

Posted By on Wed, Oct 9, 2013 at 4:02 PM

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Arguments at the county government level don't get much more fundamental or important than the ongoing debate over the guiding principles in Humboldt County's General Plan Update. In essence it's an argument about priorities for future land use. In planning for the next 20-odd years do we want to emphasize environmental protections and productive resource lands by focusing development near existing services such as water and sewer? Or should we favor individual property rights, allowing landowners more freedom in choosing where to live and how to be stewards of the land?

In this week's issue we look at the latest contentious revisions to those guiding principles. For background see our previous coverage here and here. Below you'll find a list of the original principles, most of which had been in place since 2004, along with new versions drafted by members of the current majority on the Board of Supervisors. (Current version in bold.)

Principle #1
  • Original: Ensure that public policy is reflective of the needs of the citizenry as expressed by the citizens themselves.
  • June 3 revision: Ensure that public policy is reflective of the needs of the citizenry as expressed by the citizens.
  • Sept. 23 revision (approved unanimously)Ensure that public policy is reflective of the needs of the citizenry of a democratic society as expressed by the citizens themselves.

Principle #2:

  • Original: Preserve and enhance the character of Humboldt County and the quality of life it offers.
  • June 3 revision (approved unanimously): Preserve and enhance the diverse character of Humboldt County and the quality of life it offers.

Principle #3: 

  • Original: Provide sufficient developable land, encourage development of affordable housing for all income levels, and prevent housing scarcity under a range of population growth scenarios.
  • June 3 revision: Promote and facilitate the creation of new housing opportunities to mitigate the decline in availability of affordable housing for all income levels.
  • Sept. 23 revision (straw vote 4-1 with Lovelace dissenting): Promote and facilitate the creation of affordable housing opportunities to meet current and future demands for all income levels.

Principle # 4:

  • Original: Ensure efficient use of water and sewer services and focus development in those areas and discourage low-density residential conversion of resource lands and open space.
  • June 3 revision: Cooperate with service providers in delivering efficient water and sewer services and infrastructure and support scientifically proven waste management systems in areas not served by public sewer.
  • Sept. 23 revision: Cooperate with service providers and promote efficient use of roads, water and sewer services by encouraging development in areas with existing infrastructure and discouraging conversion of resource lands and open space to other uses. Support home construction methods and alternative wastewater systems that are proven to minimize threats to human health and safely with a goal of reducing energy and water usage.
  • Oct. 7 revision (straw vote 4-1 with Lovelace dissenting)Cooperate with service providers and promote efficient use of roads, water and sewer services by encouraging development that is consistent with land use maps contained in the General Plan. Support home construction methods and alternative wastewater systems that are proven to minimize threats to human health and safety with a goal of reducing energy and water usage. 

Principle # 5:

  • Original: Support the County's economic development strategy and work to retain and create living-wage job opportunities.
  • June 3 revision: Support economic development and work to retain and create living-wage job opportunities.
  • Sept. 23 revision (approved unanimously)Support the County's economic development strategy and other efforts to retain and create living-wage job opportunities.

Principle #6:

  • Original: Protect agriculture and timberland over the long-term, using measures such as increased restrictions on resource land subdivisions and patent parcel development.
  • June 3 revision: Encourage, incentivize and support agriculture, timber and compatible uses on resource lands.
  • Oct 7 revision (straw vote 4-1 with Lovelace dissenting)Encourage, incentivize and support agriculture, timber, ecosystem services and compatible uses on resource lands.

Principle #7: 

  • Original: Protect natural resources, especially open space, water resources, water quality, scenic beauty, and salmonid habitat.
  • June 3 revision: Honor landowners' rights to live in urban, suburban, rural or remote areas of the county while using a balanced approach to protect natural resources, especially open space, water resources, fisheries habitat and water quality in cooperation with state and federal agencies.
  • Oct. 7 revision (straw vote4-1 with Lovelace dissenting): Support individual rights to live in urban, suburban, rural or remote areas of the county while using a balanced approach to protect natural resources, especially open space, water resources, fisheries habitat and water quality in cooperation with state and federal agencies.

Principle #8:

  • Original: Include actionable plans for infrastructure financing and construction.
  • June 3 revision (straw vote 4-1 with Lovelace dissenting): [eliminated]

Principle #8/9:
 
  • Original #9: Adhere to a practical strategy that can be implemented.
  • June 3 revision, now #8 (approved unanimously): Adhere to practical strategies that can be implemented utilizing constructive cooperation and common sense. 

Principle #9/10: 

  • Original #10: Provide a clear statement of land use values and policies to provide clarity in the County's permit processing system and simplify review of projects that are consistent with the General Plan.
  • June 3 revision, now #9 (approved unanimously)Provide a clear statement of land use values and policies to provide clarity in the County's permit processing system and simplify review of projects.

Principle #10/11:

  • Original #11, now #10 (approved unanimously): Maximize the opportunities to educate the public about the planning process, in order to have meaningful participation in the development and maintenance of the Plan.

Principle #11/12:

  • Original #12: Support a broad public participation program at all levels of the decision-making process; including study workshops, hearings and plan revisions.
  • Oct. 7 revision, now #11 (approved unanimously): Support a broad public participation program at all levels of the decision making process; including study, workshops, hearings, a citizens handbook and plan revisions.

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Ryan Burns

Ryan Burns

Bio:
Ryan Burns worked for the Journal from 2008 to 2013, covering a diverse mix of North Coast subjects, from education, politics and marijuana to human suspension, sex parties and amateur fight contests. He won awards for investigative reporting, feature stories and news coverage.

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