Rural Living Special News Edition VII
Clicking on this photo or using the link below it will take you to a 2.99MB PDF file of the Winter 2014 Newsletter. Or you can just read the newsletter articles online below.
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Winter 2014 Newsletter Articles
A Message from The HumCPR Chair
Why all the lawsuits?
HumCPR versus the County of Humboldt
The Humboldt Coalition of Property Rights (HumCPR) was established in the fall of 2007 in response to an attempt by the Planning Department and Board of Supervisors to strip timberland owners of one of their most basic constitutional rights; the right to live on their own land. Their effort began with a 45 day “emergency” building permit moratorium on all TPZ lands in the County; their goal was to prohibit landowners from living on their own timberland. As a result, you, the landowners of Humboldt County, became the founding members of HumCPR by banding together to fight this display of governmental over-reach. Together, we exceeded the capacity of the Supervisors chambers, filled the lobby, courthouse steps, and lawn the day the Supervisors met to make their 45 day moratorium a permanent restriction. That day, the Supervisors listened to the sleeping giant they had awakened, and voted against the restrictions, deciding instead to fold it into the General Plan Update. Since that time, HumCPR has closely followed the GPU process, as well as the other attempts to strip property rights.
As a result, you, the landowners of Humboldt County, became the founding members of HumCPR by banding together to fight this display of governmental over-reach. Together, we exceeded the capacity of the Supervisors chambers, filled the lobby, courthouse steps, and lawn the day the Supervisors met to make their 45 day moratorium a permanent restriction. That day, the Supervisors listened to the sleeping giant they had awakened, and voted against the restrictions, deciding instead to fold it into the General Plan Update. Since that time, HumCPR has closely followed the GPU process, as well as the other attempts to strip property rights.
About a year ago, we decided that the landowners and taxpayers in Humboldt County had a right to know the amount of tax dollars and how many County Counsel hours had been spent on lawsuits involving the GPU, as well as land use and planning decisions between 2002 and 2012. County Counsel hours and expenses pale in comparison to the outside legal counsel we are continually hiring; including expenses incurred from both local and out-of-town attorneys, whose travel and lodging costs quickly add up.
We initially filed a California Public Records Act request seeking this information from the County. Seemingly, it would have been a straightforward matter to simply comply with the law, and give us the information we requested. We did not ask for specific details of any case, nor the substance of any suit, nor any case-by-case breakdown; yet County Counsel objected to the release of the information, and denied that we were entitled to it.
County Counsel’s obstruction left us with no alternative but to file suit. The reason for filing was twofold; to obtain the information requested, and to educate County Counsel of their responsibility to comply to requests by the public for information we are entitled to as taxpayers, regarding the operation of the County government which we employ.
Finally through a settlement, we learned that the County has spent over $3,000,000.00 on land use lawsuits. We also learned that in the past, virtually no records were kept of time spent by County Counsel in prosecution of cases. How they would ever know what administrative costs to charge in any code enforcement or other action, is a mystery. We believe that a proactive approach by the Board will take the results of this lawsuit far beyond
what the most obvious issues are. Instead of merely providing the records requested, the Board can take significant steps to correct the problems identified within the County Counsel’s office for the future.
Our other suit with the County involves Shaded Parcels. The issue of Shaded Parcels is explained in this issue as well. To summarize, since 1976 the Humboldt County Planning Dept has failed to follow State law in prosecuting illegal land divisions as they became aware of them. Some might be surprised that HumCPR supports enforcement of these laws, but the laws were created to protect people buying land and homes. The County’s failure to follow the law has resulted in as many as 1500 current owners being harmed. These people have paid market value for land which they presumed to be legal parcels, and have then dedicated years of hard work, and in most cases, a lot of hard earned money making them into a home. They have also paid their property taxes, which were also based on full market value.
Imagine their surprise in 2011 when they received an “Important Notice” in the mail from the County letting them know that their parcel may not be legal.
The County told these owners that they could choose to do nothing about the problem until they wanted to get a permit, while intending to finally pursue the Notice of Violation on any who did not come in as a result of the Notice. The Notice does not comply with State laws in place since 1976. The fact that the County knew about the problems but kept the information to themselves until sending out this Notice, is negligent at best.
It is time for the board of Supervisors to recognize and acknowledge the harm which has been done to people during the past 37 years, and get creative about a solution. The County has been working on an amnesty plan for houses built without permits over pretty much the same time frame. The county needs to find a similar solution for shaded parcels. Hopefully this will be the last suit HumCPR ever has to file to protect the rights of landowners and taxpayers.
Continue Reading the newsletter:
Pg. 1 – A Message from The Chair – Why all the lawsuits
Pg. 2 – A Snapshot of Our Water Rights Over Time
Pg. 3 – Shaded Parcels – The Problem With Them
Pg. 4 – Clarity on Trails
Pgs. 5 through 9 – Humboldt County Supervisor Questionnaire by District
Pg. 10 – What’s Our Water Doing On Their Land?
Pg. 11 – Water Use Requirements