The General Plan Update
HAS IT BEEN AN INCLUSIVE PROCESS?
WHAT OUR COUNTY’S ELECTED OFFICIALS ARE SAYING
As it limps to its completion, after 12 years, the General Plan Update is a premiere example of a public process gone terribly wrong. In early 2011, at the urging of many citizens, an overwhelming number of elected community boards and organizations came forward to ask the County Board of Supervisors to open the process to allow for true and complete public participation. The following are excerpts from their letters to the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors:
Humboldt Community Services District
“The proposed General Plan update does not include support of any HCSD jurisdictional changes as requested by District to County staff during this review process…the reason you are now receiving jurisdictional letters is because, although there have been ongoing public hearings, they have not been inclusive of local community interests/comments. . . it is impossible to determine what changes have been made to the General Plan because a ‘working document’ is not available for review. We support our sister organizations and city statements to form a Citizen Advisory Committee.”
Garberville Community Services District (Sanitary District)
“The Garberville Sanitary District passed a motion to support the Citizen Advisory Committees defined in the Humboldt County General Plan Section 1500 et seq. …The Board of Supervisors must include in the new General Plan the provisions of Section 1500 found in the existing General Plan, Volume 1, Framework Plan.”
Garberville-Redway Area Chamber of Commerce
“Started in 1999 and with expenditures now in the millions of dollars, it is still an incomplete document that is confusing. . .It is full of unnecessary complexities that add uncertainties to the land use activities surrounding our communities. . . We believe that Community Advisory Committees as provided for in Section 1550 et seq. of the current General Plan are a necessity. .
City of Fortuna
“The City has several concerns that the GPU does not interface and may not be compatible with Fortuna’s new General Plan. . .the City supports the implementationof Section 1500 of the current General Plan and requests the County either pause or stop additional revisions until additional input is requested and received from the cities and districts as well as private property owners. . .”
City of Rio Dell
” . . .express our concerns related to the General Plan process. . .we feel the process could be enhanced by including the use of Citizen Advisory Committees as provided for in Section 1550 et. Seq. of the current General Plan.”
McKinleyville Community Services District
“. . .requesting that the GPU process be paused and a Citizens Advisory Committee be formed. .and given the task of developing a document that will bring all sides of our communities together. . .We believe that without a fundamental change in the process for updating the General Plan that even with ten years and millions of dollars expended, the product will not receive public support and has the potential of not being implemented.”
City of Eureka
“We believe the Board of Supervisors should put the GPU process on hold. . .a more inclusive, well-drafted and less controversial GPU is possible to develop . . .in a manner that provides for future stability and sustainability of our county. . .It is incumbent upon us as elected representatives of our communities to ensure … this document does not fairly unburden any segment of our communities. . .Citizen Advisory Committees as provided for in Section 1550 et. Seq. of the current General Plan are a necessity in making this process inclusive.”
Greater Eureka Chamber of Commerce
“Even at this late date. . .there remain significant, legitimate concerns over the potential impacts on local governments and service districts. . .we respectfully request that you step back from the divisive course that this process has been allowed to travel. . .We strongly recommend that you ask your constituents and stake-hold-ers to provide you with reasonable compromise-based solutions. . .that has confounded this process from the beginning.”
After receiving these letters on April 12, 2011, the Board asked their Planning Staff to address these concerns and come back to them with recommendations to resolve these issues. At that meeting, they directed their staff to bring back a work plan to include the option for the use of citizen advisory committees to review and make recommendations on proposed General Plan Update changes in the McKinleyville and Eureka Community Plans or land use maps.
It wasn’t until their meeting of July 19, 2011, that they received and reviewed the staff ’s report on these items. Their report to the Board of Supervisors specifically stated that “planning staff is currently in the exploratory phase of development of a McKinleyville Advisory Committee. In addition,” for the Eureka Planning Area, planning staff proposed to work with local interest groups, HCSD Board and staff to solicit advice on how best to design this process.”
The Planning staff concluded their report: “To reach out to as many interested individuals and organizations as possible to assist in developing a well-thought out plan will take time. Staff is requesting an additional three to four months in order to complete this outreach process and develop a solid plan with our planning partners. Staff therefore anticipates returning to your Board in early October with a proposed work plan.”
Though ordered by the Board of Supervisors, there has been no introduction of a “plan” and the GPU has in effect now been completed. The draft EIR has been released. To review the EIR, go to: http://co.humboldt.ca.us/planning.
IMPORTANT: Two important Planning Commission meetings on the EIR will be held on Thursday, May 10th and Thursday, May 17th. Both meetings begin at 6:00 p.m. and will be held in the Board of Supervisors’ Chambers at 825 Fifth Street in Eureka.