Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Developer Group Seeks to Rewind General Plan Update

Posted By on Tue, Nov 19, 2013 at 5:36 PM

In the wake of the recent rewrites of the guiding principles for the county's general plan update, a politically active contractor association is asking the county to rewind the entire update process by sending the plan back to the county planning commission, a body that's been stacked with the group's political allies.

The Humboldt Builders' Exchange, whose associated Political Action Committee is chaired by O & M Industries co-owner Rob McBeth, submitted a letter today (via its Sacramento attorneys) to Humboldt County Board of Supervisors Chair Ryan Sundberg. The letter (pdf  here ) argues that the supes have made so many changes to the plan over the last year and a half that it has been fundamentally altered.

"Therefore, as a matter of law, the Board is required to remand the GPU back to the Planning Commission for further review and consideration before final adoption," the letter states.

This is the same Humboldt Builders' Exchange whose PAC donated $4,500 to Sundberg's 2010 election campaign. McBeth, the PAC's chair, gave another $1,500 to Sundberg's campaign. Last year, McBeth contributed $1,000 to the campaign of 2nd District Supervisor Estelle Fennell and, according to reports, helped round up donations for other pro-development candidates in partnership with Lee Ulansey, founder of the Humboldt Coalition for Property Rights (HumCPR).

Following this so far? Good.

After being elected, Fennell, who served almost three years as HumCPR's executive director, appointed her former HumCPR colleague Bob Morris to the planning commission. And shortly thereafter, the supes appointed HumCPR founder Lee Ulansey to the commission. (For more detail on this twisted web, see "HumCPR Rising.")

The only supervisor to object to the recent rewrite of the guiding principles was 3rd District Supervisor Mark Lovelace, who said, "The whole plan is based on these principles" and argued that revising them was "like being 90 percent done with building a house and asking for a new blueprint."

Now that the changes have been approved, over Lovelace's objections, the Humboldt Builders' Exchange is using those very words as justification for tearing down and rebuilding the house. (That's the general plan update, in case you lost track of the metaphor.) And its allies are now holding hammers. 

"Given that the whole GPU is based on these Guiding Principles," the letter says, "it is clear that the whole GPU must be remanded to the Planning Commission for reconsideration and further recommendation." And the Humboldt Builders Exchange is threatening legal action if the board fails to do so.

Note: This post has been corrected from a previous version that conflated the Humboldt Builders' Exchange with its Political Action Committee.
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Ryan Burns

Ryan Burns

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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