Letters to the Editor, March 6, 2019

Why care about zoning?

Why care about zoning?

Because if you care about how Humboldt County plans for the health of its communities and resource lands, zoning is where the rubber meets the road.

Zoning regulates how land is used, specifically locations and densities.

The Humboldt County Planning Department’s is now developing new zoning regulations for 13,000 parcels covering half a million acres of land in order to comply with the updated General Plan. 

They have started with a series of public workshops, including one at McKinleyville’s Azalea Hall, 6 p.m., Wednesday, March 13.

The public input process seems rushed, given the 20 years it took to update this General Plan, and the fact that the Planning Department is allowing itself two years to complete the required zoning.

Perhaps they hope to avoid reawakening some of the contentiousness generated in the long General Plan Update process. 

One bone in that contention may be the homes that are now automatically allowable on the vast majority of county resource lands, further straining infrastructure and services, especially roads and fire.

Others might be the reduced protections of streamside areas or forested buffers between communities.

Everyone does have a stake in zoning.  Too bad it is so boring.  Most of us can’t get excited about understanding land use regulations until it directly threatens our comfort or finances.

But the threats of climate change are entering our comfort zones, and the financial impacts of disappearing natural habitats and their ecosystem services are closing in.

How land is treated by each family, each community, each state and country is becoming critical, and we need to start caring… even about zoning.

Joyce King

MCSD board pick highlights need for new, equitable appointment policies

Last month the McKinleyville Community Services District (MCSD) had to appoint a new board member after a duly elected member resigned over health concerns. The established process was followed: Members of the public were asked to apply, resumes were reviewed, and the board selected a qualified individual to fill the vacancy. 

Soon after the appointment was announced many people voiced dismay and revealed details of disturbing interactions with the appointee in online forums. These exchanges can be described as culturally insensitive at best, and racist at worst.

 In the end, McKinleyville residents of color and their allies were left feeling like the appointment served to reinforce the status quo of racial bias in our community despite efforts to challenge it.

The McKinleyville Alliance for Racial Equity (MARE) plans to use this moment to ask for a change. Not a change of heart, but a change of policy and procedure. Had this appointee been vetted more fully, we feel certain that testimony from the community would have foreclosed on her opportunity to be appointed. 

It is true that the meeting where she was selected was public and noticed, and it is true that no one showed up to oppose the nomination. However, it was unclear to the community who the lead applicant was – after all there were nine applicants, some of whom ran in the recent election and garnered significant votes.

To prevent similar situations in the future, MARE suggests that MCSD develop a policy for appointments that strives for more public input. Had the MCSD Board nominated the candidate and voted the following meeting, it would have given the community time to consider the individual and no doubt would have led to significant civic engagement by the community before a final vote. It’s a small difference in policy that in this case would have empowered the historically marginalized members our community and their allies to weigh in on the decision.

MCSD plays a big role in our community as they manage our water, our waste, and our parks. The character of the people who represent us in this context is really important. Whom we elect, or appoint, to govern us reflects our values. 

If McKinleyville is to embrace and celebrate our community’s diversity and move toward greater racial equity, we must ensure that even something as boring as the process for replacing MCSD board members is inclusive, fair, and results in leaders with the highest integrity serving in the interest of all community members.

Diane Des Marets, MARE and NAACP
S. Craig Tucker, MARE
Holly Scaglione, MARE




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