The California Coastal Commission approved a six-month extension on legalizing the commercial cannabis industry in the coastal zone at its monthly meeting on Friday in Half Moon Bay.
It also voted to approve giving the Trinidad Civic Club up to four years for the Memorial Lighthouse to find a new permanent home.
Humboldt County commercial cannabis industry is still illicit in coastal zones simply because there have not been any regulations implemented. It could be another six months before those rules are put in place after the commission voted 9-1 Friday morning to extend the deadline by six months.
County Planning Director John Ford send a letter to the commission expressing frustration about the impending delay.
North Coast Commissioner Ryan Sundberg initially pushed Friday morning for a three-month delay, stating the county sought to move forward and noting the lack of rules puts local cannabis farmers in a tough position.
“The request I had from the county this morning was to do a three-month extension and not the one year,” Sundberg told the commission. “We’ve got people in Humboldt who have invested millions of dollars in projects and this keeps getting held up and held up. I understand where they’re coming with a sense of urgency because of many, many jobs and lots of money invested.”
Jack Ainsworth, executive director of the commission, shot down the idea but said the commission is committed to having a public hearing on the issue in May.
“We made a commitment here to a May hearing. We intend to make that,” Ainsworth said. “… I don’t want to bring something to you half-baked.”
Jennifer Savage, who said she was representing Humboldt Baykeeper and Friends of the Eel River, spoke during the public comment period and backed the extension.
“The potential to degrade coastal resources is too great to rush forward without a public hearing and we hope that lessons from the implementation of the inland cannabis ordinances need to be fully incorporated with input from the local communities,” she said.
“And on a personal note, as a 21-year resident of Humboldt County, I know very well how all things cannabis are intertwined with all things Humboldt and I absolutely urge you to give the necessary time and allow the local community to weigh in as it takes to get this right,” she added.
A motion was made, amended and ultimately approved 9-1 giving a six-month extension.
The California Coastal Commission unanimously voted to extend permits for the relocation of the Trinidad Memorial Lighthouse and bell that were moved to an area at Trinidad State Beach in January 2018. The commission also approved a permit for the removal of the foundations at the former bluff-top site on Edwards Street.
The Trinidad Civic Club’s Patti Fleschner told the commission Friday morning that it would like the permits approved without a clause that required the civic club to be responsible for costs and attorney fees related to liability.
“There is no budget for memorial legal fees,” Fleschner told the commission, noting the civic club is a nonprofit comprised of 20 women who range in age from 50 to 90.
She said the club is over budget for the current fiscal year and raising $80,000 for the relocation of the lighthouse and bell last year was a feat. She cited dozens of projects approved by the commission in recent years that do not require a nonprofit to assume liability costs, something that the commission agreed to drop before the final vote was taken.
Fleschner said because of the sensitive archaeological nature of the spot on Edwards Street where the memorial used to sit, “hand tools” will be used to remove the concrete slabs that remain.
The Trinidad Rancheria’s Shirley Laos said the tribe supported the civic club’s requests and had been integral in the relocation efforts.
“We’re offering a permanent home on the Trinidad Rancheria property,” she said. “During the removal of the lighthouse, the rancheria assisted financially.”
Multiple people noted the lighthouse is important in Humboldt County, and images of it are used not only by local municipalities but by businesses as well.
“It’s a huge icon for our town, our community, our county,” said Trinidad resident Joe Moran.
Ruth Schneider can be reached at 707-441-0520.