Ulansey named to county planning commission; Lovelace opposes board's selection

Grant Scott-Goforth

Times-Standard

Lee Ulansey, the president of the Humboldt Coalition for Property Rights, was named to the at-large seat of the Humboldt County Planning Commission last Tuesday in a hearing that ended in Ulansey trading barbs with 3rd district supervisor Mark Lovelace.

Ulansey was appointed in a 3-1-1 vote, with Lovelace dissenting and 5th district supervisor Ryan Sundberg abstaining. Following brief public comment, the supervisors suggested their top picks from the seven applicants who applied for the position, vacant since longtime commissioner Mary Gearheart retired in June 2012.

Ulansey was the first choice of 2nd district supervisor Estelle Fennell, 1st district supervisor Rex Bohn and 4th district supervisor Virginia Bass.

"I got a significant amount of input from my constituents," Fennell said. "It was important to me that the person have experience, a good grasp of land use issues and also that they live on the land and enjoy country life."

Lovelace said it was important to appoint someone "who doesn't bring a particular agenda" and is "acceptable to the broad community."

Following the meeting, Sundberg explained why he abstained from the vote despite naming Ulansey as a second choice.

"I wanted to have someone from McKinleyville be on there," Sundberg said. "McKinleyville is the largest population in unincorporated Humboldt County."

Lovelace referred to concerns that HumCPR is currently suing the county to disclose the costs of hiring outside counsel in several land use cases. The county announced last week it would release the records after the state supreme court chose not to review an appellate court decision in a similar case in Los Angeles County.

Ulansey was the second HumCPR board member appointed to the planning commission this year. Fennell appointed HumCPR treasurer Bob Morris to represent the 2nd district in January.

Several supervisors acknowledged concerns about seating two members of HumCPR on the commission.

"If people were both members of the chamber of commerce we wouldn't be having this discussion," Bass said. "I had a very in-depth discussion with Mr. Ulansey - those are the concerns that we covered."

Fennell said the HumCPR lawsuit amounted to "someone standing up for the rights of the people to be informed."

Bass supported Ulansey's appointment to the Eureka Planning Commission in 2009 and said he brought "talents, knowledge and passion."

Following a motion made by Bass to appoint Ulansey, Lovelace again called for an appointee that the entire board could agree on.

He said Ulansey was the one person he was unable to support and said the commission was a quasi-judicial group that made "decisions based upon the law not based upon an ideology."

"This is not exactly an appointment that would bring the county together," Lovelace said.

Following the appointment, Ulansey thanked Bohn, Fennell, Bass and Sundberg for meeting with him to discuss the potential appointment.

Turning to Lovelace, Ulansey suggested the 3rd district supervisor did not call him and was unresponsive to requests to talk.

Lovelace said Ulansey never took the initiative to contact him and that he was always receptive to meet - which Ulansey disputed. As Ulansey walked out of the supervisors' chambers, Lovelace repeated that he had no record of Ulansey reaching out to him.

In other business, the county approved a new fee for "cottage food operations," which sell products prepared in private kitchens. The state legalized cottage food operations this year and county health departments are tasked with registering, permitting and investigating the businesses. The fee is designed to cover the county's increased oversight costs.

Grant Scott-Goforth can be reached at 441-0514 or gscott-goforth@times-standard.com.

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