Humboldt Coalition For Property Rights

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Humboldt Coalition For Property Rights > Issues > Planning Department > Planning and County Counsel Manipulation of the GPU Process

Planning and County Counsel Manipulation of the GPU Process

P.O. Box 47
Eureka, CA 95502
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ISSUE: Planning and County Counsel Manipulation of the General Plan Update Process

11/29/07 Supplemental staff report

In support of the Humboldt County Planning Commission meeting of November 29, 2007, Humboldt County staff (County Counsel’s office and the Planning Department) prepared a Supplemental Staff Report, which recommended approval of an amended TPZ ordinance.

The Supplemental Staff Report was signed by Kirk Girard, Planning Director, and as a general policy procedure, would have been reviewed and approved by the County Counsel’s office before being submitted to the Planning Commission. The staff report developed recommendations for a Planning Commission Resolution recommending to the Board of Supervisors that they adopt an amendment to the TPZ Regulations within the Humboldt County Zoning Ordinance.

The proposed Ordinance intended to amend the existing Zoning Ordinance to make the construction of a residence on lands zoned Timber Production Zone (TPZ) subject to a Conditional Use Permit, as opposed to a Principally Permitted use, as is set forth in the current General Plan and Zoning Ordinance, as well as adding additional burdens of required findings including that any residence must be “necessary” for the management of timber resources, among many others.

The Ordinance as submitted in the Supplemental Staff Report provided rationale to support Staff’s position that the changes to the Zoning Ordinance were not subject to CEQA environmental review because:

"Pursuant to section 15061(b)(3) of the CEQA Guidelines, the Planning Division, as lead agency, has determined that the ordinance addressing conditions required for building permits in lands zoned for timber production (TPZ) is not subject to CEQA because:
The activity is covered by the general rule that CEQA applies only to projects, which have the potential for causing a significant effect on the environment; and
There will not be a direct or foreseeable indirect physical change to the environment due to the ordinance revisions; and
The activity is not a project as defined in Section 15378 of the CEQA Guidelines.

The report and proposed ordinance continues, saying:

"Section 15378(a)(1) specifically states: "Project" means the whole of an action, which has a potential for resulting in either a direct physical change to the environment, or a reasonably foreseeable direct physical change in the environment".

This quotation of Section 15378 intentionally deletes language from the applicable state statute, which directly negates the position that the ordinance is not subject to CEQA. The entirety of Section 15378(a)(1) reads (bold added for emphasis to show portions omitted in the staff report):

"Project" means the whole of an action, which has a potential for resulting in either a direct physical change to the environment, or a reasonably foreseeable direct physical change in the environment, and this is any of the following:
(1) An activity directly undertaken by any public agency including but not limited to public works construction and related activities clearing or grading of land, improvement to existing public structures, enactment and amending of zoning ordinances, and amendment of local General Plans or elements thereof pursuant to Government Code Sections 65100-65700..

It is clear, even to a lay person, that the Staff Report conclusions provided an opinion that is not supported by law and that these deceptions were meant to intentionally mislead the Planning Commission, Board of Supervisors, and general public in order to achieve the ends that the Planning Department and County Counsel sought (immediate passage and enactment of the amended ordinance). In our view this is direct evidence of county staff’s malfeasance because it involves dishonesty, as county counsel and planning staff specifically deleted the express language that negated the county’s position. These actions cannot be considered an error by mistake, negligence, or inadvertence under these circumstances.

The Humboldt Coalition for Property Rights (HumCPR), feels it is imperative to determine who is responsible for the intentional subterfuge and deception contained within the Supplemental Staff Report signed by Mr. Girard for the Planning Commission Meeting of November 29, 2007, and whether these actions constitute mis-, non-, or malfeasance of duty. WE WILL NOT REST UNTIL THIS MATTER IS RESOLVED, AND THOSE RESPONSIBLE ARE HELD ACCOUNTABLE.