FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Lee Ulansey
April 12, 2012
(Eureka, CA) The Humboldt Coalition for Property Rights (HumCPR) announced today that it has filed a lawsuit against the County of Humboldt to compel them to stop the practice of arbitrarily and unjustifiably declaring over a thousand parcels of privately-owned land effectively “illegal.” The County refers to this land as “shaded parcels.” The act of “shading a parcel” puts a cloud on the legal status of the parcel, with no legal notification of this act to the landowner. This “shading of parcels” has been practiced by the County for over 20 years and is not authorized by any law.
“This practice requires a landowner, once they become aware of their status, to pay money to the County and prove their land entitlements are in order,” HumCPR President Lee Ulansey explained. “In other words, Humboldt families have been declared ‘guilty’ by the County in many cases, without the County having performed any research or analysis to justify the ‘shading.’ By doing so, the County has declared you guilty and you must pay the County to prove yourself innocent. Anyplace else this might be called extortion, but in Humboldt our County Counsel has blessed the process.”
Typically, when a county legitimately becomes aware that an illegal division of land has occurred it is required by law to follow a specific process. This process is designed to notify and protect the public, especially future purchasers of such land where there is a justified question regarding the legal status of the parcel. The law requires the County to notify the owner that the parcel was illegally created and then give them an opportunity to prove otherwise.
Our Planning Department, instead of timely notification to property owners (or potential purchasers of these parcels), only informs affected people when someone applies for a permit. Then the planners unveil their map and make the “shaded” status of the parcel publicly known. When the property owner becomes aware of this determination by the County, it is the landowner who must undertake a process to prove their parcel is legal (no matter who, when or how the parcel may have been created). In most cases the County doesn’t even have a record of why or when the parcel was shaded or even who did the shading.
“Most of us believe a person is innocent in this country until proven guilty,” said Ulansey. “Unfortunately not all of our County officials got the word. Even worse, they have been told by our County Counsel that this is acceptable. We wholeheartedly disagree”
“We believe that hundreds of property owners have had the value of their property placed in jeopardy and potentially have been harmed through this illegal process,” said Petitioner’s Attorney Timothy Needham, from the law firm of Janssen, Malloy LLP, and Co-Counsel with William Barnum of Barnum Law Office. Both firms have stepped forward to represent HumCPR in a concerted effort to force the county into legal compliance and uphold the property rights of Humboldt County landowners.
“It is unfortunate that it is necessary for a lawsuit to be filed in order to get the county to follow the law,” continued Needham. “We would hope that this will encourage collaborative efforts by the county to resolve the problems that this practice has created.”
“What a shame that private citizens must spend their hard-earned money to force the County to stop this unauthorized practice,” Ulansey said. “There is a process outlined in law to handle situations like these and the County needs to follow the law just like all the rest of us.”
HumCPR Seeks Answers for Humboldt County Property Owners