Categorized | Local, Politics

Dead Plan Walking

 

Matters Get Tense as New Majority of Supervisors Prepare to Kill General Plan Update

 

By Thomas Bradshaw
Humboldt Sentinel

 

A carefully constructed facade of collegiality came crashing down today in the Humboldt County Supervisors’
Chamber.

The new conservative majority flexed its political muscle, with Supervisors Ryan Sundberg and Rex Bohn leading a shocking about-face against the Humboldt County General Plan draft adopted by the Planning Commission — one which has claimed 12 years, millions of dollars and multiple political careers.

Today’s plan update hearing went according to plan at first, with staff presenting pretty much the same report they did four weeks prior — since there were no straw votes taken on any of the land use policies looked at on Aug. 13 at the insistence of Bohn, who said he needed a month to catch up on the material.

But once the hour or so of public comment was aired, featuring the usual line-up heavy with the developer and real estate lobby, the meeting swerved right off agenda; Sundberg led the way with charges that the document was just too big and unwieldy to digest and then justify to the public.

“At the end of this, we’re just going to get sued,” he said. “At the end we’re going to find out we can’t even afford to implement it.”

Supervisor Clif Clendenen, serving out the final year of his term before leaving office, characterized the plan as a clock at a quarter to midnight; he offered to compromise on some optional elements, but protested the prospect of starting over the entire process.

“We’ve got all this input on this plan, I don’t think that would be in the public interest,” he said.

Bohn went to bat for Sundberg right off the bat, saying a month wasn’t enough time for him to familiarize himself; he compared the General Plan to a building with misplaced bricks that’s tilted and bound to fall.

“I think we can afford a Yugo and we’re building a Cadillac here,” he said. “I made promises to people that I would protect people’s property rights and property values and I have to stand by that…I’m the newbie but I’m pretty set protecting the rights of the people.”

To audible gasps, Bohn finished by saying: “We’re going to have to start a new one in a year anyway.”

Long a champion of the plan update process before assuming his seat in 2008, Supervisor Mark Lovelace was visibly shaken by the turn of events and lashed out in response.

“None of us has any basis to say we can’t hack it,” he said. “I’m sorry, but this is the job we signed on to…the idea of even beginning to throw away twelve years of process is just not acceptable.”

Sundberg fired back, telling Lovelace he objected to being chastised.

“I think it’s borderline rude to say we’re not willing to hack it,” Sundberg said. “I’m asking the question of whether we can pare [the General Plan] down to where it’s understandable.”

Coming back to the center of the dais, Supervisor Virginia Bass said the conversation underway was one that should have happened some time ago.

“It’s something I have not had the guts to say,” she said. “I want to thank Ryan for bringing it forward.”

Lovelace backtracked, apologizing for how his thought was expressed, but still stuck to his guns, echoing Clendenen’s point that the General Plan had to be adopted as a whole and not piecemeal.

“Anything other than the process we have before us is a strawman,” Lovelace said. “The vast majority of the policies before us aren’t controversial.”

County staff attempted to not take sides on the ideological flare-up; interim Planning and Building Director Martha Spencer said her department was simply following the work plan laid out by Supervisors.

“If the Board wants to change the work program, that’s another topic,” she said. “Whether we want to do another 10 or 12 years, I don’t know.”

With the meeting rolling towards a 4:15 p.m. cut-off imposed by Bass due to the child care needs of Deputy County Counsel Davina Smith, Supervisors scrambled to come up with a motion to direct staff as to what to do at the next General Plan Update hearing on Sept. 17 — only to be told by Smith that, since nothing on today’s agenda mentioned a re-write of the update process, a formal motion would run afoul of the Brown Act.

Lovelace attempted to suggest a workshop on “Planning 101″ and how to work through the materials, which Sundberg took umbrage with, saying he just wanted a clean and clear comparison between the “Framework Plan” adopted in 1984 and the present draft.

“Can we know what the difference between an update and a rewrite looks like?” Sundberg asked.

County Administrative Officer Phillip Smith-Hanes said he had clear enough consensus from the Board to include an overview and possible redirection of the GPU process on the Sept. 17 agenda.

This sets up next Monday as possibly the final showdown on the General Plan draft; whether or not it gets shredded, the illusion of consensus amongst the new set of Supervisors lies in tatters.

17 Responses to “Dead Plan Walking”

  1. 713 says:

    Its about time somebody said it. The current plan is a mess. You got it right that staff “attempted” not to take sides, but they did take sides. To state an update that sundberg suggested could take anther 12 years is total BS. What is wrong with providing a concise comparison between what we have and what is proposed? While they are trying to craft a plan to halt the nonexistent development and spending millions, the only real development in the county goes on illegally and in a completely unregulated manner. And Lovelace wants to talk about a straw man?

    • Duh says:

      Rex Bohn & Ryan Sundberg want the GP to say,”single family residences are approved unconditionally for all TPZ parcels without restriction.”

  2. traci bear says:

    it is REDICULOUS to say the plan is not good enough. It is just a guidline!!! It will never be good enough for some!!! BUT DON’T WE KNOW that monkeywrenching the general plan WAS THE REASON Rex Bohn was run and elected by the developers.

    I attended 5 years of meetings… 2002-2007. I feel that my input was included in the meld. ARE YOU SAYING I WAISTED THOSE YEARS??? WELL, the county will be SUED NO MATTER WHICH WAY IT GOES!!! In the mean time… How much state $$$ are we losing out on by not having an update in place???

    • Patrick says:

      Katherine and i attended several years of meetings in the beginning and found that none of our input was included. Everything we thought was important was sidelined. Everything we thought would be wise was considered unimportant. Feeling as we do, how would you suggest we proceed?

      • longwind says:

        I too went to the first public GPU meeting, on forestry policy at the Samoa Cookhouse more than 10 years ago. I’ll never forget more than 100 people shouting and gesticulating at then-Planning Director Kirk Girard, who told us again and again that what we were asking for wouldn’t be provided, that the decisions were already made. People were furious. This was the very beginning of the Update’s public unveiling. At that time there was no disguise whatsoever, the public be damned. So the public waited, and the public voted.

        This is no surprise.

  3. "Henchman Of Justice" says:

    Heck 713, many insiders (especially acting supes and staff) PREVENTED it from being debated by themselves until “CERTAIN OUTSIDERS” (whom know more than the supes, no doubt on this political stuff) became too familiarized in acknowledging the many problems of the GPU years prior to these supes, the previous supes, etc….. all the “political wordplay” is “best explained as” uncited plagiarisms of other community involved people’s FACTS and insights. So, no credit goes to any supe (past or present) for something mentioned rudely that they SHOULD HAVE DISCUSSED prior to and while campaigning, as well as, sitting in office out-the-gate AND within an appropriate period of time, saying really nothing when jobs, jobs, jobs was the campaign pitch versus environemnt, environment, environment. Blogosphere is where enough of the “elected officials and public employees” read and plagiarize from. Learn it, live it, deal with it!

    For clarification, is it the “whole” GP or the “Circulation Element” only? The BEST point made as read was Rex Bohn’s……that another GPU process is coming soon. If so, then hold onto your hats cuz it is gonna get a bit breezy with all the back and forth “rude accusations” between the supes. It is fresh to see DEBATE, but better by those who really meant it before these supes even discuss it; and, these supes don’t really mean chit (just following local lobbyist demands as a campaign kick-back to hijack certain and specific processes) due to their perpetrations and political games to stay mum to get elected, just to end-up again and again and again each election cycle to “pull faces” upon the citizenry whom elected them (mostly based upon the “well-publicised” endorsements of politically elected insiders and the monied). Many duopolist supporters are gonna MAY have to “re-assess” how they vote (enough don’t really care since they were “trained” to vote duopolist) ……too ironic! So, the show goes forward. – HOJ

  4. "Henchman Of Justice" says:

    As far as a workshop, that is a great idea FOR THE MANIPULATIVE SUPES, especially before hitching a helicopter ride to make allegationes when ya don’t even know the development process as pitched during campaign season, flip-flopping on environmenal enforcement stances and such, creating an environemnt based upon family unit prejudices, etc. while single people continue to be discriminated against. All the supes are willfully deaf and blind to the abuses they oversee; and, they use privacy laws and other government trickeries of law to “stay silent without being prosecuted”. Just take notice at how local government HAS BECOME A FOLLOWER OF HOW THE FEDS AND STATE PULL THEIR LEGAL SHENANIGANS in order to end discussions or prevent them to begin with! – HOJ

  5. skippy says:

    Nice report, Thomas. This is a perfect storm in the making. The last minute about-face should come as no surprise given the Board’s newly seated makeup. Since taking the interim bully pulpit yielded by former Supervisor Smith, Mr. Bohn certainly wasted no time changing directions and establishing a new agenda of a wholly different flavor, even if he does ‘need a month to catch up on the material’.

  6. Patrick says:

    No one is suggesting a 12 year do-over. What is being suggested is a bit of peace-making. Rapprochement, reconciliation. Too many citizens feel unfairly victimized by the plan as proposed. We have seen our own properties down-zoned, left unclassified and unresolved. Perhaps with some assistance from the University we might try to repair our relationships and build mutual respect toward perfecting our plan within a year. Is that a problem?

  7. Ceasare says:

    There were some very strange things went on with the plan as I recall. The planning Commission voted on the Circulation Element, but the final wording was not that which was approved in open meeting. Could be simple sloppiness, who knows? A lot of the things that were obviously influenced by the other interests of the people who volunteered to write parts of that element were the items voted out then put back in after the Commission voted. There was certainly a lot of disinformation presented during the discussions, engineering decisions made on the basis of rumor or tainted data. Perhaps the most unusual thing to happen during the process was when one Planning Commission member who had missed several meetings demanded that his comments one matters already voted on be included. That was the same individual who threatened the representative from CalTrans with “You will do it our way or I’ll be sure you never get anything past the Coastal Commission again.”

    But hey, this IS Humboldt County!

  8. longwind says:

    Can the Sentinel upload the video of the Monday meeting? It’s not on the County or AccessHumboldt websites, and it seems like it’d get some hits . . . Thanks!

  9. DC says:

    Rob Arkley is flexing his political muscles on this one

  10. Common sense says:

    Why can’t “input” be considered for the revision? Why can’t it be explained in laymen terms that anyone can understand. As one poster answered, “There is money in confusion.” Pretty much sums up the last 12 years.

  11. Mary Anderson says:

    How about asking staff to come up with a GPU for Dummies? Some of the commenters on this blog could benefit from that version as well. This is the predictable outcome of the swing to the right in this county. Voters repeatedly make bad choices.

  12. Melissa says:

    This was… how do you say it? Relevant! Everything I suspected all along. A Dead Plan.

    Appreciate it!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] The Humboldt Sentinel reports on a very contentious special meeting of the Board of Supervisors, and it looks like the new conservative majority is ready to scrap the whole plan and start over.  So far no coverage from the TS or any of the other media blogs. Like this:LikeBe the first to like this. [...]

  2. [...] And we’ve given it our previous Pith and Punch treatment, too.  We predicted that with the incoming majority Supervisors it would change and be a “Dead Plan Walking.” [...]


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