Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Eureka Rotary, Volunteers Go Rogue, Clean up Problem House

Posted By on Wed, Mar 22, 2017 at 10:39 AM

Before the cleanup. - SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
  • Before the cleanup.
After a day's work. - SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
  • After a day's work.













What a difference a day, a backhoe and 10 volunteers can make.

A couple of weekends ago, the Rotary Club of Eureka organized a cleanup of a long troublesome property on the corner of Summer and Del Norte streets. The place was a mess. A junk car sat in the driveway, almost consumed by piles of trash and debris, including an old stove, furniture, clothes and even a few hypodermic syringes.

The place has been vacant, save for one tenant is in the process of being evicted and some squatters, and some neighbors have reportedly taken to dumping trash in its front and back yards. The property itself is a foreclosure owned by Nationstar Mortgage, a Texas company with a portfolio of more than $400 billion in properties.

The city of Eureka is currently fining Nationstar $1,000 a day for code violations on the property. The tab is up to almost $100,000, according to Deputy Public Works Director Brian Issa.

“We started fining them as soon as the bank took over (ownership),” Issa said. “It’s very difficult to get these big banks to do something and I don’t like to spend taxpayer money cleaning up their messes. That being the case, I prefer just to fine them to the hilt … I have to admit, I get a little bit of a warm fuzzy out of it.”

Issa said the place on Summer and Del Norte is emblematic of a larger issue, which is that at any given time, there seems to be some property in Eureka owned by a national bank that is left unattended and winds up being a magnet for squatters and illegal dumpers. The city can procure a warrant and send in a crew to clean these properties up, Issa said, but it’s an expensive process (around $10,000) that demands a lot of staff time.

And, generally, Issa said that because the properties are vacant and unattended, they don’t stay clean for very long. Plus, Issa said he has a philosophical problem with spending taxpayer dollars to clean up a bank’s mess. Instead, the city opts for the $1,000 per day fines, which add up quickly.

“If they’re not going to take care of problems that they have all the resources in the world to do,
we’re going to soak them a little bit,” Issa said. “We’re going to make it hurt.”

Ultimately, Issa said the money collected from these fines — typically more than $100,000 a year — goes to other targeted enforcement actions by the department that it believes will have a more lasting impact.

But Issa said he realizes these properties have an immediate impact on those who live around them, which he said makes the recent Rotary volunteer day so welcome. The volunteers were able to do something that would have been much more difficult — and expensive — for the city to take on.

“Technically, what they did is not legal,” Issa said. “Technically, they trespassed. We can’t do that. But kudos to them. They took on a neighborhood problem and addressed it.”

Rotary Club of Eureka President Matthew Owen said about 10 people turned out for the cleanup event, including his wife and Fourth District Supervisor Virginia Bass. He said the local McDonalds provided breakfast for the volunteers, Pierson Company donated a backhoe and operator for the effort, and Humboldt Recology donated a large Dumpster to haul away the trash.

When people stopped by while the crew was working to ask what they were doing or thank them, Owen said he tried to stress that this is something any neighborhood group can do. He also said he spent some time later that week knocking on doors in the area and encouraging people to take ownership of their neighborhoods and get involved.

He said he was disappointed to drive by a few days later only to see trash again accumulating on the property. For his part, Issa urged anyone with a problem house in their neighborhood to call the building department at 441-4155 or its inspection request line at 441-4043. And he said people shouldn’t delay, as these houses can “spiral out of control quickly.”

Other folks looking to get involved with cleaning up Eureka can participate in a citywide cleanup from noon to 1:30 p.m. on March 25. The group will be gathering in the McDonalds/Park City parking lot near the Bayshore Mall and dispersing from there. McDonalds will provide free lunch to those who participate.

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Sunday, March 19, 2017

TL;DR: The Cannabis Issue

Posted By on Sun, Mar 19, 2017 at 8:02 PM

COURTESY OF THE CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE
  • Courtesy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife
Busy week? We get it. Here are some highlights from this week's cover package to get you caught up.

Humboldt County's biggest industry is in flux as it moves from the shadows out into the light. This week, in the Journal's first ever issue dedicated almost entirely to the industry, we look at various aspects of the cannabis business, including efforts to regulate its bad actors, its impact on local cultures and communities, the micro-industry springing up to help growers get legit and how a rural plot of land with a cultivation permit attached to it has become akin to a winning lottery ticket.

Here are five quotes that combine to summarize our cover package and offer insight into the industry at a unique moment in its history.
A Budding Industry” explores the business of consultants, scientists and lawyers who are helping cannabis farmers get legal. As Henry’s comment indicates, it’s a growing industry, with new businesses cropping up all over to help the 2,300 growers who are looking to go legit work their way through the county’s permitting process, as well as those of the regional Water Quality Control Board and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. But as one consultant warns, “there’s a lot of snake oil salesmen out there,” with some “consultants” simply looking to fleece growers.


40 Acres and a Permit” looks at how the prices of rural parcels with a cannabis cultivation permit pending with the count of Humboldt have skyrocketed. Take the 200-acre property in Kneeland with three permit applications. It appraised for $437,000 in 2013 and just sold for $4.64 million. Or there’s the ranch in Maple Creek with 4 acres of permits that sold eight months ago for $1.7 million but is now back on the market for $11.9 million. Meanwhile, the market for permitless parcels seems almost nonexistent, with one real estate agent telling the Journal that “it’s hard to even give them away.”


Culture Change” tells the story of two men in two towns at opposite ends of the county who share a similar vision. Rio Anderson and Mark Rowley love their towns, Garberville and Willow Creek, respectively. But both lament the impact the black market marijuana industry has had on the local culture. Both desperately want to see community replace secrecy and isolation and share their thoughts on how to get there.


The Carrot and the Stick” begins with a look at some hard numbers, followed by a question. By law enforcement estimates, there are about 10,000 marijuana farms in Humboldt County. About 2,300 of them have applied for the permits needed to legitimize. What’s being done to weed the other 7,700? It turns out, not much. As the story explains, regulator agencies are spread too thin to make much of a dent and no one is volunteering the resources to crack down on Humboldt County’s black market grows.


The Strain Name Game” pores through the 285 names and phrases that include the word “Humboldt” and have been federally trademarked — they range from the winky (Baked in Humboldt) to the direct (Humboldt Hash). The interesting thing is that none of these trademarks are actually for marijuana products. That’s because you can’t trademark something that’s against federal law, explains Cohn. Instead, all these trademarks are a way of priming the pump — people and companies making sure that if the federal prohibition is lifted they have a foot in the door with a name they can capitalize on.


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HumBug: In the Key of Bee

Posted By on Sun, Mar 19, 2017 at 3:00 PM

A honeybee (Apis mellifera) on a blossom. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • A honeybee (Apis mellifera) on a blossom.

We've finally had three days of warmish weather and the garden is abuzz with the sounds of busy bees. If you listen carefully, you can hear each species with its own pitch and rhythm. There is, of course, the familiar drone of the honeybee and the heavy bass of the yellow faced bumble bee (Bombus vosnesenskii). This is the biggest bee I've seen in my yard and the one with the lowest pitch. This species is actually reared commercially to pollinate certain crops which do best with something called “buzz pollination.” Tomatoes, for example, do not release their pollen unless the blossoms are vibrated at a certain frequency. Honeybees just can't do it as well as these guys.
Yellow faced bumblebee (Bombus vosnesenski), the largest bee in my yard, and fairly common. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • Yellow faced bumblebee (Bombus vosnesenski), the largest bee in my yard, and fairly common.
A counterpoint to the above fairly relaxed themes are the large carpenter bees (genus Xylocopa). As big or nearly as big as bumblebees, these are glossy black and much more and active, quickly zipping from one blossom to another even feeding while on the wing. The ones in my yard are not so big as the biggest bumblebees I've seen, but significantly larger than honeybees.
A giant carpenter bee (genus Xylocopa). Although common, this is the first time I've noted them in my yard. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • A giant carpenter bee (genus Xylocopa). Although common, this is the first time I've noted them in my yard.
Even more allegro are the mining bees, (Anthrophora pacifica). The same size as those carpenters, these hirsute ladies and gents take the cake for quickness, making getting a good shot all the more difficult.
A male mining bee (Anthrophora pacifica). - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • A male mining bee (Anthrophora pacifica).
I'm working on identifying numerous smaller, quieter bees that lend their distinctive higher pitched voices to the choir. Although I'm learning to tell them apart I don't know of any references which use sound to identify them.
Osmia or mason bees, another species which is native but also raised commercially to pollinate crops. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • Osmia or mason bees, another species which is native but also raised commercially to pollinate crops.

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Saturday, March 18, 2017

Alleging Public Defender is Already Failing Clients, Attorney Asks to Fast Track Lawsuit

Posted By on Sat, Mar 18, 2017 at 3:40 PM

FILE
  • file
Eureka attorney Patrik Griego is asking a judge to expedite the process of determining whether newly hired Humboldt County Public Defender David Marcus meets minimum state qualifications to hold the post.

Griego, who filed a lawsuit earlier this month challenging the county’s controversial hiring of Marcus, is asking a Humboldt County Superior Court judge to allow him to serve subpoenas immediately, forgoing the 20-day waiting period usually required in similar cases. In a motion filed with the court Friday, Griego argues it’s imperative that the case be resolved quickly, alleging Marcus is already making mistakes that compromise his clients’ rights.

“He has appeared in court unprepared and has failed to secure continuances for clients based on a failure to follow court rules,” Griego writes in the motion, adding that “attorneys working for Mr. Marcus are gravely concerned about the well-being of the office and the indigent clients it serves.”

Continue reading »

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Friday, March 17, 2017

Sessions: Marijuana Only 'Slightly Less Awful' than Heroin

Posted By on Fri, Mar 17, 2017 at 1:52 PM

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. - GAGE SKIDMORE/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons
  • U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions tossed some more shade on marijuana this week, adding to growing concerns that a federal crackdown is looming for the $7 billion industry.

Speaking about efforts to combat violent crime and “restore public safety” before a group of state and local law enforcement in Richmond, Virginia, Sessions spoke about the need to curb the nation’s growing heroin epidemic.

“So we need to focus on the third way we can fight drug use: preventing people from ever taking drugs in the first place,” Sessions said in the prepared speech. “I realize this may be an unfashionable belief in a time of growing tolerance of drug use. But too many lives are at stake to worry about being fashionable. I reject the idea that America will be a better place if marijuana is sold in every corner store. And I am astonished to hear people suggest that we can solve our heroin crisis by legalizing marijuana — so people can trade one life-wrecking dependency for another that’s only slightly less awful. Our nation needs to say clearly once again that using drugs will destroy your life.”

Continue reading »

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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Sundberg Selected for Coastal Commission

Posted By on Thu, Mar 16, 2017 at 2:54 PM

Ryan Sundberg - COUNTY OF HUMBOLDT
  • County of Humboldt
  • Ryan Sundberg
Gov. Jerry Brown’s office announced today that Humboldt County Supervisor Ryan Sundberg has been appointed to the North Coast regional seat on the California Coastal Commission.

Sundberg will be the first Native American to serve on the powerful commission charged with determining the fate of California’s 1,100 miles of coastline.

The McKinleyville resident replaces Del Norte County Supervisor Martha McClure, who suffered a resounding defeat at the ballot box in June. He sought out and was recommended for the post by supervisors in Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties, as well as the Humboldt County Mayor City Select Committee, which also forward the name of Trinidad Mayor Dwight Miller.

Sundberg takes the seat following a time of upheaval on the quasi-judicial body, including the controversial firing of the former director last year and a series of news reports on the cozy relationships that some commissioners had with lobbyists and developers, including McClure.

Read the announcement from Brown’s office below:
Ryan Sundberg, 41, of McKinleyville, has been appointed to the California Coastal Commission. Sundberg has served as a member of the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors since 2010. He was a tribal council member at the Trinidad Rancheria from 1994 to 2010 and an insurance agent at Farmers Insurance from 2003 to 2010. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $100 per diem. Sundberg is registered without party preference.

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Milk Run in the Sun

Posted By on Thu, Mar 16, 2017 at 9:39 AM

Runners take off on the Foggy Bottom Milk Run on Sunday. - JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • Runners take off on the Foggy Bottom Milk Run on Sunday.
There wasn't much in the way of fog in Ferndale when runners of all ages pounded the Victorian Village's pavement during the Foggy Bottom Milk Run on Sunday. In fact, the 4-mile, 10-mile and 2-mile loops began and ended under blue sky on Main Street, which was lined on both sides with clusters of cheering onlookers.

The day's winners included Michael Guerrero for the men's 4-mile with a time of 23:22 and Lanore Bergenske for the women's 4-mile at 29:16. First over the finish line for the 10-mile were Aaron Campbell at 56:44 and Tami Beal at 1:10:15. August Garcinero finished the 2-mile in 10:27 and Elsa Nolan covered it in 13:05. Complete results will be posted on the Six Rivers Running Club website
Michael Guerrero, winner of the 4-mile, still had enough energy for this move. - JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • Michael Guerrero, winner of the 4-mile, still had enough energy for this move.

Lanore Bergenske was the first woman of the day to cross the finish line in the 4-mile. - JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • Lanore Bergenske was the first woman of the day to cross the finish line in the 4-mile.
At 2 p.m. the street was packed for the shortest of the day's races, the 2-mile. Instead of lightly bouncing pros with sinewy calves and hi-tech shoes, the starting line was packed with kids of all ages. They jostled and chatted, hooting and clapping for the last runners from the 10-mile. Mike Pigg announced to the crowd that this year's goal was to not have anyone fall down, then led the countdown to the start.

The 2-mile race was a younger crowd overall. - JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • The 2-mile race was a younger crowd overall.
Serious runners wove their way to the front of the pack and the crowd spread out. Once over the finish line, participants big and small (a few in strollers) headed for the tent stalls for orange wedges and cartons of chocolate milk, taking photos with their medals in the sunshine.

Mike Pigg informs the kids up front that this year's goal is to have nobody fall down at the start. - JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • Mike Pigg informs the kids up front that this year's goal is to have nobody fall down at the start.

Post-race cool down in the afternoon sun. - JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • Post-race cool down in the afternoon sun.


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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Puppy Plucked From Humboldt Bay to be Adopted by Rescuer

Posted By on Tue, Mar 14, 2017 at 1:17 PM

This puppy was plucked out of Humboldt Bay after being dropped from the Samoa Bridge by an unknown suspect. She is set to be adopted by one of the fishing crew members who helped rescue her. - COURTESY OF THE SHERIFF'S OFFICE
  • Courtesy of the Sheriff's Office
  • This puppy was plucked out of Humboldt Bay after being dropped from the Samoa Bridge by an unknown suspect. She is set to be adopted by one of the fishing crew members who helped rescue her.

One of the fishermen who rescued a puppy thrown off of the Samoa Bridge is set to adopt her.

The Humboldt County Sheriff's Office is currently looking for the man who dropped the young dog off the bridge's middle span around 9:30 a.m. on Monday. The suspect is described as a white male, late teens to early 20s, wearing a red-brimmed baseball hat with yellow writing. He fled the area on a black and white bike.

The puppy was rescued by a fishing crew that witnessed the incident and boated over to help the dog.

Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff's office.

Press release from the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office:
On Monday, March 13, 2017, at approximately 0930 hours, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office received a report that someone had dropped a puppy off the middle span of the Samoa Bridge. A fishing crew on a boat witnessed the incident and was able to rescue the puppy from the water. An Animal Control Officer responded to investigate, and took custody of the puppy.

The female puppy was transported by the Officer to a local veterinarian and is in good condition. The puppy is currently at the Humboldt County Animal Shelter and will soon be adopted out to one of the persons who rescued her.

The suspect is described as a white male adult, late teens early 20’s, wearing a black baseball hat with a red brim with yellow writing and a white flannel jacket The suspect left the area in an unknown direction riding a black and red bicycle.

Anyone with information for the Sheriff’s Office regarding this case or related criminal activity is encouraged to call the Sheriff’s Office at 707-445-7251 or the Sheriff’s Office Crime Tip line at 707-268-2539.

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Sheriff Downey: 'It Has Been An Honor to Serve'

Posted By on Tue, Mar 14, 2017 at 11:27 AM

Sheriff Mike Downey addresses members of  his office and local officials during a departmental review Monday before his retirement in May. - COURTESY OF THE SHERIFF'S OFFICE
  • Courtesy of the Sheriff's Office
  • Sheriff Mike Downey addresses members of his office and local officials during a departmental review Monday before his retirement in May.
Humboldt County Sheriff Mike Downey thanked the men and women under his command during a departmental review on Monday as he counts down to his last weeks in office and the end of a three-decade-long career in law enforcement.

“It has been an honor to serve the people of Humboldt County. It has been an honor to serve you guys,” he said.

More than 100 members of his department and local officials attended the noon gathering at the Sequoia Conference Center, with Downey personally shaking hands and speaking with each person as he walked down the line of seats set up in the room.

The sheriff, who was first elected in June of 2010, announced last month that he would retire in May.

Downey said he’s seen a lot of changes during his 31 years with the sheriff’s office in Humboldt County, but the main tennent and vision of law enforcement remains the same: providing “good reliable service to the public.”

“You can never forget that,” he told the members of his department.
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Monday, March 13, 2017

Sunday Crash on 101 Leaves 1 Dead, 1 Injured

Posted By on Mon, Mar 13, 2017 at 4:54 PM

chp-patch.gif
An Oregon man was killed and his passenger suffered major injuries when the car they were in veered out of control before hitting the guardrail south of Tompkins Hill Road just after noon Sunday in a crash the CHP described as DUI related.

According to witnesses, the driver — 45-year-old Johnnie David Evenson of Roseburg, who died at the scene — was speeding and using both lanes of southbound U.S. Highway 101 to pass traffic just before the crash. Crescent City resident Loretta Doolittle, 46, was taken to St. Joseph Hospital for her injuries.

Press release from the Sheriff's Office:

On March 12, 2017, at approximately 1209 hours, California Highway Patrol (CHP) responded to a traffic collision southbound on US-101 south of Tompkins Hill Road.  The 45 year old deceased male was positively identified by the Humboldt County Coroner’s Office as Johnnie David Evenson of Roseburg, Oregon. This investigation is being conducted by CHP and all inquiries related to this case are being handled by CHP.
Press release from CHP:

On March 12, 2017, at approximately 1209 hours, a 45 year old male was driving a 2002 Kia Optima southbound on US-101 south of Tompkins Hill Road. Per witnesses, the driver of the Kia was traveling at a high rate of speed, using both southbound lanes to pass traffic. For reasons still under investigation, the driver veered sharply to the left, losing control of the Kia. The Kia continued out of control across both southbound lanes before colliding with a large section of guardrail. As a result of the collision with the guardrail, the driver sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced deceased at the scene. The passenger, Ms. Loretta Doolittle, suffered major injuries and was transported to Saint Joseph Hospital by City Ambulance. The name of the deceased is being withheld until notification of the next of kin can be made by the Humboldt County Coroner's Office. Emergency personnel from the California Highway Patrol, Humboldt Sheriff Department, Humboldt Bay Fire, Loleta Fire, and City Ambulance responded to the scene. DUI is a factor in this collision and further toxicological analysis is pending.

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