Letters to the Editor, June 5, 2019

Rentals running riot

Dear Trinidad City Manager,

 I wanted make a plea to you to listen to our concerns and make a priority of community safety and quality of life for those who live and work here in Trinidad. Many residents are frustrated and feel their voices are not being heard. 

Residents are not making reports of Short Term Rental (STR) problems due to their fear of retaliation and the lack of timely follow up by the City of Trinidad. The lack of law/code enforcement seriously compounds these problems. 

Residents of Trinidad no longer report STR issues to Property Managers (PM) or the City of Trinidad. Ongoing problems with the PM and the City in resolving STR complaints made by community members has created a situation of retaliation and distrust. 

Residents have been repeatedly subjected to retaliation by PMs, often receiving letters threatening litigation for complaints they have made. 

The city provides no real time “witness” (code enforcement or law enforcement officer) to respond to a problem at the time it is occurring. Any enforcement of the STR ordinance clearly cannot happen. 

When neighbors make complaints, PMs deny the problem occurred ad/or threaten the complaining party with a lawsuit. The City clearly has no adequate enforcement process and has not moved to correct this problem. 

Residents voice concerns that complaining would just cause more trouble for them, from STR owners and managers. This will only worsen as we head into another summer rental season.  

Recent STR renter behaviors have included: 

• Dogs barking while no one is in residence 

• Being awakened after 10 p.m. STR people arrive to the vacation rental, unpack, and gather in the driveways, opening and shutting car doors. 

• Daytime noise. One STR occupant was heard shouting. When the neighbor investigated the noise, the occupant, a NAKED man on the deck was making the noise.  

• Suspected occupancy overages at the STRs. 

• STR occupants smoking near their property, he smoke to drift onto neighboring properties. 

• No “Meet and Greet” or property orientation being done by PM as is required by the City ordinance. 

• Vehicles parking up the streets /blocking alley’s/trails with STR occupants and their guests. 

Unfortunately, law enforcement issues also abound in Trinidad. The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) does not follow up on Trinidad STR ordinance issues. 

The lack of law enforcement presence, and the increase of incidents in town related to theft, panhandling, burglary, gas siphoning, car break-in’s, combined with transients in our neighborhoods, have degraded our neighborhood, community and quality of life. We are left feeling unsupported and unsafe in our homes. 

Issues with the HCSO, including the repeated lack of contract deliverables by the Sheriff, as per our City contract, are ongoing. Trinidad is contracted for 1.5 full-time employee Sheriff officers. 

The contracted time is not being fulfilled. Law enforcement issues with the STR issues combined, create serious safety and quality of life problems for the people who live and work in Trinidad. We never know who is coming and going next door.

 In 2018, the Humboldt County Civil Grand Jury investigated Trinidad and these issues. These recommendations are a year old now and have yet to be implemented.  

The Humboldt County Civil Grand Jury offers the following recommendations to the City Council and to the citizens of Trinidad to consider for the peace and comfort of residents and visitors.

• the city of Trinidad and the citizens of Trinidad follow the steps outlined in Ordinance 2016-03 to solve complaints in reference to Short Term Rentals.

• the city of Trinidad consistently and strictly adhere to Ordinance 2016-03 to manage the short-term rental application and renewal process.

• the City of Trinidad allocate a portion of Transient Occupancy Tax revenue to hire seasonal enforcement staff to deal specifically with Short Term Rental issues by December 31, 2018

• Trinidad City Council members who own or manage Short Term Rentals always recuse themselves when STRs are considered, discussed, or voted upon. Said recusals should be recorded in the meeting’s minutes.

• the Trinidad city manager notify complainants in writing within seven working days of all city decisions on Short Term Rental complaints and appeals. This should begin no later than Oct. 1, 2018.

 Assure the residents of Trinidad that you are addressing STR issues. We need the help of the City to resolve these problems. I look forward to working with you, together with the residents, toward increasing community livability, and the quality of life in Trinidad. 

Thank you, 

Kathleen Lake
Trinidad Resident

 

Fish farm folly

Daniel Mintz’s recent article in the Union, about the Norwegian company that wants to site a fish farm on Humboldt Bay, reads more like a press release than a news story. It favors a transnational corporation that seeks to exploit the grand tradition of colonizing Humboldt County’s resources. 

The problems with these fish farms (chemicals, disease, concentrated wastes, ocean outfall, etc.) are well known and were at Mintz’s fingertips, but they didn’t show up in his story. For instance, it took me 15 seconds to learn that, in Maine, the Sierra Club and other groups are trying to stop the same company, Nordic Aquafarms, from building a fish farm there. 

Last year the Organic Consumers Association concluded that the Maine proposal, which differs little from the one proposed for Humboldt Bay, “will be a massive industrial factory fish farm, and qualifies as a “CAFO,” a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation. It will have the same types of environmental impacts effects as a Southern factory pig farm (or) a sprawling midwest beef feedlot…” Why was this important information not in Mintz’s story?

A proposal such as a fish farm in an area that is attempting to recover wild salmon and steelhead populations is an insult. In addition, the proposal could actually hinder salmonid recovery by contaminating Humboldt Bay and the ocean where outfall is expected. Then there’s the general satisfaction of knowing that a bunch of “salmon” are being produced right here in Humboldt, so why are wild stocks needed? Yes, this happens.

Occasionally the question arises: What, then, do we do with all that unallocated water from the Mad River? Were the county willing to wrangle state water authorities, there is little doubt that that resource could be used to sustain one of California’s last summer runs of wild steelhead. 

Rather than further damaging local fish stocks with a demonstrably destructive aqua farm, we could turn that proposal around and instead support our diminishing wild fish populations. This is the rational and right thing to do. 

Greg King, Executive Director
Siskiyou Land Conservancy
Arcata

 

Visiting pros give Pacific Union students lots to think about

Pacific Union School just completed its eighth yearly series of their After School Visiting Professionals Program. Fourteen local professionals shared their expertise and passion with the after school kids, stimulating their ideas for potential careers and hobbies. 

KNOWLEDGE SHARING Ximena Gil
and Korinna Domingo, from the Mountain Lion Foundation, share their expertise with an after school Pacific Union student. Submitted photo

We sincerely thank the following list of presenters, who gave the children, from kindergarten to eighth grade, lots to think about:

• Pete Haggard (Helpful Garden Insects)

• Jon Pedicino (College of the Redwoods – Astronomy)

• Lena McCovey (United Indian Health Services – Native Traditional Foods)

• Paul Johnson (Bead Collection)

• Neil Kalson (Arcata High School – Culinary Arts)

• Jack Sheppard (Humboldt County Office of Education Trades Program – Small Engines)

• Bryant Kellison (Humboldt Ukulele Group)

• Rwimu “Nanny” Baro and Tejashri “Tej” Avinash Mahajan from India, and Supitra “Rung” Dusaddevijai from Thailand (Arcata High School AFS students)

• Maia Cheli (Schatz Energy Research Center – Solar Power)

• Korinna Domingo and Ximena Gil (Mountain Lion Foundation)

• Marla Joy (Zumba)

• Sam Crivelli (Portrait Art)

We are blessed in this area to have so many generous and caring professionals, who are willing to give up their valuable time to expose kids to jobs and opportunities that they may not have ever thought of.  Planting those seeds early can make a big difference for our children’s future.  We thank you, and the kids thank you.

Lucy Salazar, Pacific Union volunteer

Elizabeth Simovich, Pacific Union staff

Arcata

 

Bringing indigenous cultural context to the classroom with Project Learning Tree

A big thank you to the educators from the McKinleyville School District, Klamath Trinity Joint Unified School District, Laurel Tree Charter School, Northern Humboldt District, Northern Humboldt Indian Education, and student teachers who used their personal time to attend the May 9 workshop hosted by the McKinleyville Land Trust (MLT) at the MLT Dow’s Prairie Educational Wetland. Located in McKinleyville on traditional Wiyot land and adjacent to a historic trail used by the local peoples, the MLT Dow’s Prairie Educational Wetland is an official U.S. Fish & Wildlife Schoolyard Habitat outdoor classroom for the adjacent Dow’s Prairie School use. 

I designed the workshop “Project Learning Tree in the Classroom, in Nature, and within Local Indigenous Cultural Contexts” to emphasize the importance of local Indigenous community partners to STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics) and place-based learning including the use of “Project Learning Tree” (PLT) Curriculum. 

PROJECT LEARNING TREE Marlene’ Dusek, Trinidad Rancheria cultural resources tech, and Rachel Sundberg, Trinidad Rancheria tribal historic preservation officer. Photo by Nanette Kelley | Project Learning Tree

PLT lesson plans, which enhance environmental education with outdoor activities and utilize trees and forests as a lens to increase students’ understanding of the environment, were key to the workshop. In addition, attendees learned the importance of applying local Indigenous cultural contexts to environmental studies. In other words, the local Indigenous peoples’ traditional practices and languages are inseparable from land educators utilize for environmental education; therefore, a “land acknowledgement” and inclusion of Indigenous community partners is vital to any on site environmental education curriculum. 

Land acknowledgements are vital to teaching tolerance and indigenous place names should always be defined. In the face of broken treaties, a land acknowledgement is recognition bestowed with words or a gesture and is an appropriate way to recognize sovereign, Indigenous peoples’ traditional occupation and practices on their homelands. I designed the workshop as a land acknowledgement to local peoples and as recognition of the tribes’ and greater community’s value to the ongoing educational and restoration endeavors at the McKinleyville Land Trust Dow’s Prairie Educational Wetland.

Another big thank you to community partners who contributed to the workshop including Rachel Sundberg, Trinidad Rancheria tribal programs director, tribal historic preservation officer, and cultural resources specialist/ board president of the Native Women’s Collective, a grassroots nonprofit organization that supports the continued growth of Native American arts and culture through public education, workshops, exhibits, research, cultural preservation projects, programs, and technical assistance; Marlene’ Dusek, Trinidad Rancheria cultural resources tech; David R. Narum, Ph.D., curriculum coordinator, Blue Lake Rancheria Pathmakers Program, developed by the Center for Tribal Innovation and Entrepreneurship and a consortium of the Blue Lake Rancheria, the Northern Humboldt Union High School District, and the Humboldt County Office of Education in association with regional Native American Makers will provide STEAM-focused, culturally responsive makerspace programming for Native and non-Native youth grades K-12; Liisa Schmoele, Arcata U.S. Fish and Wildlife service habitat restoration program manager/schoolyard habitat rep.; Denise Seeger, visitor services assistant, Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge; Haley Davis, education coordinator, Scrap Humboldt which, in part, aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards, helps educators learn how to implement creative reuse and STEAM lessons in their classrooms, and Monica Bueno, McKinleyville Land Trust boardmember. 

Guest speakers introduced local Indigenous and Environmental study resources which could enhance state curriculum (which lacks regional social studies and natural history content): Resources discussed included appropriate books, arts, guides and materials representative of local natural history and indigenous cultures, introduction to local Indigenous plant use interpretative sites, Indigenous language in regional place-based curriculum, the MLT Dow’s Prairie Educational Wetland Indigenous Traditional Use Plant Guide, and Project Learning Tree Curriculum. (Wiyot cultural resource representatives were unable to attend due to a seasonal schedule conflict and we hope to have them present at the next PLT workshop.)

The next “Project Learning Tree in the Classroom, in Nature, and within Local Indigenous Cultural Contexts“ workshop will be held this fall at the Dow’s Prairie School Library, date TBD; interested educators and student educators can send inquiry about the upcoming free workshop to [email protected]m.

Nanette Kelley is the MLT Dow’s Prairie Educational Wetland Team Leader, a Project Learning Tree Educational Facilitator, and dual citizen of the Osage and Cherokee Nations who resides in both McKinleyville & Oklahoma







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