‘Delineations’: a soul-searing odyssey through land use regs

Jork Blorbflink
Mad River Union

McKINLEYVILLE/NEW YORK, APRIL 1 – Work on a McKinleyville Town Center ordinance has been put on hold, but for a good reason – Supervising Planner Michael Richardson and his much-loved presentation, Wetland Delineations and Their Impact on Zoning and Setbacks,  are headed to Broadway.

The Delineations presentation was made several months ago during a meeting of the McKinleyville Municipal Advisory Committee (McKMAC). 

As participants sat rapt and in awe during Richardson’s presentation, which included colorful zoning and wetland maps, famed New York producer Herschel Jennings inadvertently tuned in to the Zoom meeting. 

“I couldn’t believe my dumb luck,” Jennings said. “I punched in the wrong meeting code, but then I discovered this amazing show and incredible talent.”

Richardson describes Delineations as a “wild ride and a cosmic gut punch,” similar to simultaneously sitting through a meeting of the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo) while reading the Humboldt County General Plan and listening to the audio of the annual McKinleyville Community Services District Audit Report, but even better.

“I promise that Delineations will blow your mind,” Richardson said. “You’ll experience layer upon layer of profound revelations to the point that you may very well question your own existence. It's a kaleidescopic journey through the looking glass and to the core of your soul. You’ll never view zoning the same way again.”

Jennings said he was particularly moved by the part of Richardson’s presentation when he discussed the difference between one parameter and three parameter wetland definitions. “I had tears rolling down my cheeks. The words were so beautiful. Richardson makes Arthur Miller look like a hack.”

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Jennings showed the presentation to his colleagues in New York and within days the $25 million show got the green light.

Richardson is taking a leave of absence from the Humboldt County Planning Department so he can help oversee the Broadway production and make edits to the presentation as needed.  

“I’ve already made some tweaks,” Richardson said. “I’m trying to work iambic pentameter into each wetland parameter.”

Even though Delineations doesn’t premiere until this weekend, it’s already taken Broadway by storm and has attracted a cast of A-list celebrities. Brad Pitt has been tapped to play the part of Richardson, while George Clooney will play Planning Director John Ford. 

Producers are in negotiations with Julia Roberts to play McKMAC Chair Maya Conrad and Scarlett Johansson to play Barbara Georgianna.

No rehearsals are planned. “We don’t want to blunt the raw emotions in Delineations by rehearsing ahead of time,” Jennings explained. “We want people to walk out of the theatre with a feeling that they’ve had a glimpse of the divine, as well as having a full understanding of building setbacks and allowable densities. It’s all very organic.”

The play will be staged at New York’s prestigious Richard Rodgers Theatre, a move that has the producers of Hamilton scurrying to find a new venue. 

The Arcata Playhouse is now under consideration for Hamilton, as its producers expect reduced attendance at the show due to the feverish excitement generated by Delineations.

Stagehands are working quickly to put the final touches on the set for Delineations. So far, an estimated $5.3 million has been spent to make the set look just like the conference room at McKinleyville Middle School. 

“It’s amazing. I don’t know how they did it,” Jennings said.

Those wanting to see Richardson’s show may have to wait awhile, as presale tickets are sold out for the next six months.

“Looks like the McKinleyville Town Center project will be delayed,” Richardson said. “Once I rack up a few Tonys, I’ll get on a Greyhound bus, head home and we can finish up the Town Center ordinance.”

But don’t hold your breath. Richardson has already begun adapting a previous presentation, titled Zoning Text Amendments and Zone Reclassifications to Implement the General Plan, for the stage, and has sold the movie rights to Warner Brothers.

Who knows, maybe Text Amendments will become the next Delineations. Stay tuned.







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