Panel discusses legal encampments

District 2 Commissioner Richard Leamon is retiring from the Humboldt County Human Rights Commission. The June 1 meeting was his last.
District 2 Commissioner Richard Leamon is retiring from the Humboldt County Human Rights Commission. The June 1 meeting was his last. Ruth Schneider — The Times-Standard

The Humboldt County Human Rights Commission discussed several issues of relevance to Southern Humboldt County, including homelessness and the installation of needle disposal boxes at Thursday night’s meeting.

Few concrete decisions were made aside from extending the time ad hoc committees will spend addressing certain issues.

Homelessness

Lance Morton provided a report on the activities of the ad hoc committee formed to discuss homelessness issues in Southern Humboldt.

Morton reported the committee met with Humboldt County Sheriff William Honsal to discuss complaints of vigilantism and the possibility of legal encampments.

“We asked him about the allegation of criminal activity from Citizens on Patrol,” Morton stated and said Honsal suggested talking to Sgt. Jesse Taylor, who oversees the Garberville office of the sheriff’s office.

“The sheriff is not aware of an increase in electric contacts with Citizens on Patrol,” Morton said.

Morton also stated Honsal appeared supportive of the idea of legal encampments for homeless in Southern Humboldt.

“He said he thought there are some circumstances where it could work very well,” Morton stated.

“I’m really interested in formal encampments,” Morton stated.

The term of the ad hoc committee was extended for another month and will report findings at the July 6 meeting.

Needle disposal

District 3 Commissioner Brandie Wilson recused herself from discussions about needle disposal because of her efforts with Humboldt Area Center for Harm Reduction to install the collection units in Southern Humboldt. She did, however, make herself available for questions on the issue.

“I would like our big kiosk in each town/city/hub,” Wilson said.

She said her organization is also pushing for “safe consumption sites.”

She added there is no cure-all.

“There is no whole solution to any drug problem,” Wilson said. “We need them all.”

District 2 Commissioner Richard Leamon stated there was work being done to curb the issue in Rio Dell and Fortuna.

“Rio Dell has two people who walk around picking up these things,” he said.

“It looks like the county may participate in bringing the syringes to me and then I dispose of them,” Wilson said.

Wilson said Humboldt Area Center for Harm Reduction has submitted a proposal for the implementation of the disposal boxes for Measure Z funding for the past two years. Both times, the proposal was not approved.

She told the rest of the commission she would like to see a letter “stating you support this project as a way to help Southern Humboldt address syringe litter.”

The commission voted to draft a letter to be reviewed at the July 6 meeting and the term ad hoc committee on the issue will be extended another month.

Other business

• Leamon is retiring from the Humboldt County Human Rights Commission. “If I weren’t 82 years old and nearly blind, I’d serve on here forever,” he said after a letter of recognition for service was read. “I’m going to miss all of you.” The resignation leaves two vacancies in District 2 after Chris Weston was dismissed from the commission in late April. There are a total of three vacancies on the 15-member commission.

• The commission elected members to officer positions on Thursday night. James Glover was reappointed as chair of the commission, Lance Morton is vice chair, Byrd Lochtie is treasurer, and Philip Anzada and Lelehnia Du Bois are sharing the duties of secretary.

• Discussion of race relations following the death of a Humboldt State University student in April were moved to the July 6 meeting because of time concerns.

Ruth Schneider can be reached at 707-441-0520.

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