What do you like most about Humboldt County? Walks in the forest? Stroll on the beach? Fishing? Hunting? The views? Even if you live in one of our cities, you’re always close to the land. To keep it that way and to preserve our way of life with good stores, services and cultural activities, we need en economy that’s growing at a moderate but steady rate. We must attract just enough new businesses to create more jobs than we have today.
If we do that, more of our young people can stay, get married and begin new families. That means more money pumping through our economy--more prosperity for all.
An economist once said, “If you’re not growing, your shrinking.” Though some folks think we can preserve our Humboldt lifestyles by preventing growth, they’re mistaken. In a community’s economic life it’s impossible to stand still.
Except for some of our food, most of the things we buy here come from somewhere else--mostly by truck. U.S. Highway 101 is our county’s economic lifeline.
As 101 passes through Richardson’s Grove, it creates a bottleneck for trucks bringing us the things we need. It’s too narrow to allow today’s standard-size trucks.. Thus, products must first be off-loaded on to smaller trucks. This adds time and cost for local businesses and adds to the prices we pay.
CalTrans proposes to solve this problem by widening Highway 101 as it passes through the Richardson’s Grove area. This will allow standard-size trucks to go all the way to our cities and towns. One result: a large saving of fuel and carbon emissions. To complete the project, CalTrans must remove some trees, but none of them will be large redwoods, let alone “old growth” trees.
This beam of sunshine is on the County Board of Supervisors for approving grants to its own Community Development Division from the Headwaters Fund for normal County operations, something forbidden by the Fund’s charter.
The board approved two grants totaling $58,000 in 2005 and ‘06. to streamline the Division’s land use and building permit process. For years, the division has been notoriously slow in processing permits.
Making the process more efficient is something the Division should have been doing right along. The board of supervisors, by helping itself to money from the Headwaters Fund for this purpose, violated the Fund’s charter. Circumvention of the charter is the result of a cozy arrangement by which the board handed this Division oversight of the fund’s management. The division’s head hired the executive director of the fund. One hand washed the other, or so it seems.
To avoid even the appearance of conflicts of interest, the Headwaters Fund office should become completely independent of any unit of the county government.
If you care about jobs and housing, keep a close eye on what our county officials are doing.. There will be sunshine or dark clouds, depending upon the final shape of the county's updated General Plan.
State law requires every county to have a general plan that governs land use, open space, housing, conservation, circulation, noise and safety. Humboldt's plan was adopted in 1984. The board of supervisors is expected to adopt a new one before the end of the year
Three options are under consideration. “A” is the most restrictive, especially as to housing. “B” is less restrictive and “C” would allow residential expansion. Not often mentioned is “D” which would keep the 1984 plan as is.
If you're a property owner (or would like to be one), ask yourself this question: Do you want to make decisions about your land, or do you want a bureaucrat to make them for you' Visit the County's web site, then call your county supervisor with your opinion.
This minute is brought to you by Sunshine for Humboldt, a non-profit civic association dedicated to the betterment of our communities.
The county General Plan to be adopted this year includes a Housing element. This will set policy governing the building of houses in parts of the county not covered by cities or special service districts.
Of the three versions of the General Plan under discussion, Option “A” is the most restrictive. Many worry that our county supervisors favor this version. Option “A” says that housing needs will be met--QUOTE--”solely through infill of areas currently served by existing water and sewer lines.”
The cruel joke is that a large portion of rural Humboldt County's not served by existing water and sewer lines. Many rural residents rely on wells, springs and septic tanks.
County officials downplay the problem. They say there are 16,000 buildable properties, but other parts of the draft General Plan hedge this number with restrictions (such as land in Timber Processing Zones).
Such contradictions need clarity--sunshine. Let your elected supervisor know what you think--today.
Trouble is, fisherman, jet skiers, even kayakers might some find of their recreational sunshine taken away by the Marine Life Protection Act.
This law was passed 10 years ago. It calls for regional study leading to to the creation of marine reserves along the state's coast Some of these could reserves prohibit fishing and other recreational activities altogether.
The state department of Fish & Game plans to hold public meetings in Eureka and Crescent City this summer. The Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District is forming its own working group to give maximum voice to Humboldt's interests.
A spokesman for the Humboldt Area Saltwater Anglers says if people don't speak up the north coast could end up with a string of offshore state parks, all of them “no-fishing” zones.
So, if you care about fishing and water recreation, get ready to speak up.
Now a minute of sunshine for Humboldt. The federal government's so-called stimulus program may bring a mix of economic sunshine and clouds. Humboldt County's asked for $4 million. Separately, the California Transportation Commission is expected to allocate about two million for road projects. Now, that would stimulate the economy while making our roads safer.
As for the federal program, about a third of its $700 billion will be spent this year--when it's needed most. The rest will be spent long after most economists say the recovery will be well underway.
Meanwhile, much of the money the county hopes to receive will go to programs which, while worthy, will not stimulate the economy. Such things as food stamps, subsidized employment for needy families and increased federal payment for mental health services.
In another application the sheriff's office seeks stimulus money to add five deputies. Problem is, when that runs out, how will the county pay for the deputies' Like all so-called gifts from the government, the stimulus funds may have hidden costs or strings attached.