Supervisors go back to sequential order on GPU deliberations

The Humboldt County board of supervisors decided on Tuesday, April 1, to proceed with their review of the sections of the General Plan Update (GPU) in sequential order, use two upcoming meetings to deliberate on the Housing Element, and reschedule the GPU mapping sessions in each district as necessary at the end.

The board had previously considered changing the order of their deliberations of sections of the GPU to have time to review the Housing Element after the planning commission was done with it and still be able to begin GPU mapping meetings in the districts, which were to begin with Southern Humboldt in August, as staff had tentatively scheduled.

Second district supervisor Estelle Fennell said it would be better to proceed with the GPU review "A to Z" and schedule the mapping meetings at the end, whenever that may be.

County council Wendy Chaitin said the board could use some of their upcoming meetings to review the Housing Element after the planning commission is done. Planning director Kevin Hamblin told the board he had met with the commission and said they were concerned about timing because the Housing Element must be submitted to the state by the required deadline of July 1. He said the commission planned to be done with their review of the Housing Element in mid-April, after planning staff had time to rework the 34 implementation measures to be consistent with the principles the commission changed in the Housing Element.

The supervisors voted to review the Housing Element on April 21 and May 5. They will take up the GPU Open Space and Conservation Element again on May 19.

In public discussion of the item, Scott Greacen executive director of the Friends of the Eel River, suggested that the board "set right the malfunctioning process" by replacing planning commissioner Lee Ulansey of the Humboldt Coalition for Property Rights, who he said represents the most extreme view of absolute property rights, with somebody who reflects the values of Humboldt County as a whole.

Jennifer Kalt, policy director of Humboldt Baykeeper, expressed concern about the institutional memory loss in the shifts of the planning commission and pointed out that the date the Housing Element is due has been known for years. She noted how difficult it is for the public to follow all the changes in scheduling. The planning commission does not listen to planning staff, to county council or to the public, she said.

If the changes made by the planning commission to the Housing Element require a recirculation of the environmental impact report, it will not be done by July anyway, Kalt said.