Before asking residents to vote for them to serve on the McKinleyville Community Services District Board of Directors, candidates have a responsibility to do their homework. They need to attend numerous meetings, read the monthly board packets and become familiar with the district’s mission and what it actually does in the community.
Of the four candidates running for three open seats on the board, George Wheeler, David Couch and Dennis Mayo have the advantage of being incumbents with years of experience on the board. They’re clearly schooled on the district, its functions and the challenges it faces.
On the flip side is their challenger, Erik Rydberg, who by his own admission has only attended a single meeting. Rydberg may, someday, make a fine board member, but first he needs to learn the basics.
Some of Rydberg’s goals, if elected to the MCSD, are to create a town center and build a solar array at the California Redwood Coast Humboldt County Airport. Asked what the district’s biggest failure has been in the last five years, Rydberg stated “The continuing lack of movement on the completion of the McKinleyville Community Plan and ideas set out in the Humboldt General Plan from years ago.”
While some of these are worthwhile projects, they have nothing to do with the MCSD, which oversees sewer, water, streetlights, open space maintenance, parks and recreation in the unincorporated community. It’s a CSD, not a City Council.
The town center is a planning issue under the purview of the County of Humboldt.
Also, not to get too wonky, but there’s no need to actually create a town center. It already exists. The zone extends from Pierson Park to McKinleyville Avenue, and from Railroad Drive to an area just south of Hiller Road. It also includes the commercial area north of Heartwood Drive where the Burger King and other businesses are located.
What must be created is not the town center, but a town center ordinance, as called for in the McKinleyville Community Plan, approved in 2001. That ordinance would dictate town center development standards, which would mostly apply to the undeveloped properties behind the McKinleyville Shopping Center and along the south side of Hiller Road.
That ordinance would be entirely a county matter, with input from the McKinleyville Municipal Advisory Committee and approval by the Humboldt County Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors.
Likewise, the solar array at the airport is a county matter, as is the McKinleyville Community Plan, which is already completed.
Voters in McKinleyville would be wise on Nov. 6 to give Couch, Mayo and Wheeler four more years on the board.
Rydberg, meanwhile, should prepare himself for future openings on the MCSD board – attend the monthly meetings, read the board packets, give the board input on issues, and apply for openings on the McKinleyville Recreation Advisory Committee. Given the choices, OJT as someone learns the work isn’t much of a value proposition for the people of McKinleyville.
If he studies up, Rydberg could adequately fill a seat on the board in a future election or if there’s an unexpected vacancy.