McKinleyville CSD to LAFco: include us in your incorporation talks

Jack Durham
Mad River Union

McKINLEYVILLE – The McKinleyville Community Services District has issued a letter requesting that it be informed in advance about discussions on incorporating McKinleyville and that it be given a seat at the table.

The MCSD Board of Directors voted, with Director Shel Barsanti abstaining, on June 3 to send the letter to the Humboldt Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo), with copies also sent to the Board of Supervisors and Fifth District Supervisor Steve Madrone.

The board learned at its May 6 meeting that LAFCo had held a discussion about incorporation at its April 29 meeting. The MCSD, which is the closest thing the town has to a municipal government, was not informed in advance that incorporation would be discussed at the meeting.

“MCSD is concerned that our staff was not notified about this meeting and continued discussions. We believe that continued discussions without MCSD being given the opportunity to have a seat at the table is not in the best interest of our organization or the community,” states the letter the MCSD sent to LAFCo.

The MCSD has jurisdiction over sewer, water, streetlights, open space maintenance, parks and recreation in the unincorporated community. 

LAFCo is made up of representatives of local governments and is charged by the state with facilitating changes in local government structures and boundaries. If McKinleyville were to pursue cityhood, LAFCo would shepherd the town through the process. Ultimately, voters in McKinleyville would make the decision on whether to incorporate.

According to the draft minutes of the April 29 LAFCo meeting, the topic of incorporation came up during a discussion on the “Status of Current and Future Proposals.”

“Executive Officer [Colette Metz] Santsche stated that the next step should be a feasibility study conducted by an independent and impartial consultant, however, there are currently no funds dedicated for this type of study and it is unknown if the County, MCSD, LAFCo, and/or other entities would be willing to assist with funding,” states the draft minutes. “LAFCo will be looking into how much the feasibility study will cost and may be the appropriate entity to oversee an RFP process for the study. She also stated that the process is likely to take several years.”

David Couch

The MCSD learned about the discussion from MCSD Director David Couch, who also serves on LAFCo. 

“Commissioner Couch commented that the McKinleyville CSD would like to remain a part of the process as they will be the most affected by potential incorporation,” according to the draft minutes.  

The minutes also state that “Currently the MCSD Board is split on whether or not they support the incorporation of the area.”

That’s misleading. The board voted 3-2 on April 3, 2019 in favor of asking the County of Humboldt to track expenses within the town’s boundaries in order to evaluate the feasibility of incorporation. 

At the time, MCSD board members clearly stated that they were not taking a position on incorporation – they simply wanted more financial information.

The effort to get that information is being spearheaded by Supervisor Madrone. 

However, when he brought the matter to his fellow supervisors last year, they rejected his request, telling him he needed to show that there is community support for the effort.

Since then, Madrone has received support for his proposal from both the MCSD and the McKinleyville Municipal Advisory Committee.

Even though Madrone represents McKinleyville, he was also not informed that there was going to be an incorporation discussion at the LAFCo meeting.

“First of all let me offer my sincere apology for not communicating with your Board more often, and for not providing an update on the efforts to track expenses at the county for McKinleyville. I will do better,” Madrone told the MCSD board at its June 3 meeting. “Second let me say that I too was caught off guard by the LAFCo staff presentation. I also was not informed about this and agree that the Community Services District and the 5th District Supervisor both need to be in the loop when these discussions are happening. I do understand your frustrations with that.”

“Again no one is saying we should incorporate. Ultimately that will be a decision of the McKinleyville voters. That is an issue that is hard to discuss without good current data that does not exist. The county has not been tracking costs in McKinleyville. My proposal has and still is the same,” Madrone said.

“I believe I will have that support soon. My Board asked me to show support for the data collection from the community. I have done that and have provide this information to my Board,” Madrone said.





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