”It's really something to celebrate,” Spencer said. She noted that 78 meetings had been held since April, 2009, and over 1,000 public comments logged, along with 420 comment letters. The draft, she said, combined the 26 separate planning documents of the current plan, including new maps to replace old indistinct maps done in crayon. The result, she said, is a more accessible and understandable document that would protect the quality of life in the area, a goal she said was repeated over and over again in public comments.
In the absence of retiring planning commission chair Mary Gearheart, vice-chair Ralph Faust formally passed the draft GPU on to the supervisors, noting that it reflects the diversity of the area and the many points of view presented at the meeting. He said the GPU is the place where many points of view come together. He noted that the majority of commission votes were unanimous, but that in some areas consensus could not be reached.
”We did out best,” Faust said. “We did what we could and we appreciate being of service.”
Planning commissioners Mel Kreb and Denver Nelson also addressed the supervisors. Kreb said he was honored to have been part of the process. Nelson said he had brought his own bias of believing that Humboldt County is the “best place in the world to live” and that he wanted to see it stay that way. He said also that he was not in the employ of the United Nations, referencing a charge leveled by Kay Backer of the HELP group.
”In a democracy you get your say, but you don't always get your way,” he said.
In summarizing the impact of the draft document, Spencer said it provides support for mixed use development, includes a new village commercial designation, is less car-centered and more focused on multi-modal transportation, and has better protection for residents from noise pollution. The entire document is seven inches thick. Copies of it are available at the Garberville library and can also be ordered from Pigmint Press in the Evergreen Industrial Park.
”We are pleased to take this off your shoulders,” Supervisor and chair Virginia Bass said. She then asked her fellow supervisors to consider what “we want the process to look like.”
The supervisors took public testimony from the audience. Representatives of the Humboldt Builders Association and the Real Estate community, who have been present at all planning commission meetings, said they would like to see the process slowed down. Another speaker told the supervisors that the document was “a violation of the public trust” that promoted family planning, smart growth and sustainable development. She said that all the public input was just for show as the ideas presented were being imposed by the United Nations. She charged the supervisors were “working to undermine our sovereignty.”
Redway resident Barbara Truitt said she had taken the time to drive up from Southern Humboldt to urge the supervisors not to delay the document. She said she thought the planning commission had done a very thorough job and was “dismayed” by attempts to derail the process. She said she felt that those calling for delay had no respect for democracy.
Weott resident Barbara Kennedy said that suggestions that the process has not had good public input were “not founded in fact” and urged them not to follow recommendations to extend the comment time limit from three minutes to six minutes.
”If you can't say it in three minutes, you ought to put it in writing,” she said.
Jen Kalt, representing Humboldt Baykeepers, said that instead of extending the comment time limit, the supervisors could watch the recordings of the planning commission meetings as “all the same things will be said.”
Farmer John LaBoyteaux spoke on behalf of the 175 members of the Farmers Markets Association, who want the document moved forward. Dave Ferrell, a farmer from Blue Lake, echoed LaBoyteaux's remarks.
Brian Mitchell urged the supervisors to slow down and include the two new supervisors in the process.
Dan Taranto suggested the supervisors print the GPU on newsprint and make it available to all citizens.
Several speakers suggested making some of the meetings in the evening to allow working people to attend, and to allow more interaction between the supervisors and those making comments.
When the public discussion closed and the supervisors discussed the schedule of meetings among themselves, chair Bass said she thought the timeline presented by staff was “a bit aggressive.” The supervisors decided to give themselves some downtime between hearings to catch up and do their homework.
A schedule of meetings on the GPU was approved that includes two afternoon and evening meetings and a suspension of rules to allow more discussion between citizens and supervisors. (See sidebar for details.)
Written comments can also be submitted to the supervisors; online at the board of supervisors website, http://co.humboldt.ca.us/board, and by mail at the County Courthouse, 825 5th St., Eureka, 95501.