Critical County Election – 2012
Humboldt County 3rd District Supervisor Candidates
A) KAREN BROOKS
1. Under the current General plan, families have the right to build a home on their legal parcel as long as it meets reasonable safety, environmental, and building requirements. Do you support the reduction or elimination of this right? – No, not when planning staff distort codes and ordinances. County staff, not Fish and Game, deemed a boy’s backyard treehouse illegal because it was 80’ from a stream. They distorted the meaning of development in a stream management area (SMA). Supervisor Lovelace and Kirk Girard made an exception rather than dismiss this all together. Lovelace suggested amending the ordinance but has no exact plan to do so. When asked if the SMAs are expanding, Martha Spencer answered yes but couldn’t specify how much. Keep in mind, Lovelace was president of Humboldt Watershed Council which advocates expanding SMAs. As supervisor, Lovelace advocates policies that jeopardize the dreams of children’s treehouses as well as your right to build a home.
2. If you own more than one legal parcel of land, should the county be allowed to combine them into a single parcel without your permission? – No. The property owner has the right to determine what’s in their best interest. For the county to act without the permission of the landowner violates the property owner’s right to due process and could be considered an “illegal take” under eminent domain.
3. Why do you think there has been so much public concern expressed about the lack of citizen participation in the General Plan Update? – The Update’s four alternatives have made the process too confusing, complicated, intimidating and time consuming. For the folks living outside the Fortuna to McKinleyville areas it has been very difficult for them to participate. The planning staff, commissioners and public aren’t clear on what has been decided, what has been overlooked, and how the decisions were processed. The Housing Element was rejected yet again! The public has no confidence in the process or the outcome. Go to www.brooksforsupervisor.com to read my ideas on how we can fix and finish the GPU.
4. Nearly 50% of all the land in Humboldt County is currently owned by public agencies or controlled by owners who will never develop it. How much is enough? – When land is removed from private ownership the county receives less in property and sales tax to pay for needed services. As land become less available the prosperity of the community diminishes and when people can’t make a living they leave and take their capital with them. When Redwood National Park expanded Orick was expected to flourish. That hasn’t happened and today Orick is disappearing. An argument could be made that the amount of unusable land is higher than 50% if you consider stream management areas, set backs, roads, easements, trusts and the like. We have reached the tipping point.
5. Do you believe that outside monied entities that do not own property in Humboldt County have a place in influencing the elections or public policy decisions of Humboldt County? – The public values local control and independence. There’s an increasing influence of outside interests, such as the Resource Legacy Foundation giving Fish and Game millions of dollars to implement the Marine Life Protection Act. This puts the public process in question and places the public at a disadvantage. Locally, people have been paid by outside non-government organizations to participate in public policy while not disclosing this information. The public deserves a vigilant, local and transparent process to minimize or eliminate the influence of outside interests.
B) MARK LOVELACE
1. Under the current General plan, families have the right to build a home on their legal parcel as long as it meets reasonable safety, environmental, and building requirements. Do you support the reduction or elimination of this right? – Many people in Humboldt County buy land with the dream of building their own home, and I support their right to build so long as it meets reasonable safety, environmental, building and zoning requirements. It’s important to ensure that potential buyers are well informed about zoning and potential constraints that may make realizing their dream difficult or even prohibitive. It is a disservice to sell a property as being ‘principally-permitted’ if that promise cannot be reasonably fulfilled.
2. If you own more than one legal parcel of land, should the county be allowed to combine them into a single parcel without your permission? – We have tools for dividing the landscape. We need some tools to help put the landscape back together, too. I am a strong advocate of voluntary, incentive-based tools such as conservation easements and transferable development rights, and have helped many private landowners obtain funding to keep thousands of acres of working ranch and timber lands in family ownership.
The old General Plan includes an ordinance that requires merging parcels under certain conditions, but that policy is being reviewed as a part of the General Plan Update. Stopping the GPU would keep this ordinance on the books.
3. Why do you think there has been so much public concern expressed about the lack of citizen participation in the General Plan Update? – Over the years, public outreach for the General Plan Update process has included hundreds of public meetings, hearings, presentations and workshops of every kind, all around the County, from Garberville to Orick and Willow Creek. Thousands of residents have participated, but their input has been drowned out by a small number of well-funded special interest groups. I strongly encourage more regular citizens to get involved in this process and make their voices heard.
4. Nearly 50% of all the land in Humboldt County is currently owned by public agencies or controlled by owners who will never develop it. How much is enough? – Private property rights include the right to not develop the land, or to willingly sell the land for a fair price to a buyer who will not develop it. These conservation sales are a voluntary tool to help keep our working timberlands in resource production, so they can continue to provide jobs and pay timber yield taxes. I am proud to have helped numerous private landowners get fair market value for their land through such sales. ‘How much is enough’ will be determined by the marketplace, as willing sellers and willing buyers each exercise their own property rights.
5. Do you believe that outside monied entities that do not own property in Humboldt County have a place in influencing the elections or public policy decisions of Humboldt County? – I have been greatly concerned by the influence of organized big money in our recent local elections, led by a small cabal of special interests who have put tens of thousands of dollars into numerous campaigns around the County. Some recent campaigns have burned through nearly a quarter-million dollars, undermining the ability of regular citizens to run for office without being bought. I am proud to be running a modest campaign without accepting any money from these special interests.