McKMAC-MCSD-County triarchy a ‘new frontier’

Jack Durham
Mad River Union

McKINLEYVILLE – Back in 2013, the McKinleyville Community Services District unveiled a slogan, “A New Frontier in Government.” It was apt at the time, as the once-insular MCSD was embarking on a new strategy to improve facilities and services in the unincorporated community. 

The district was reaching out to lawmakers, lobbying for grant funds and trying to find ways get around the limitations that come from not being an incorporated city.

While the MCSD’s efforts continued, the slogan was only used for a short time and quickly faded away.

Now might be a good time to resurrect “A New Frontier in Government,” but this time it would apply to the unique relationships being forged between the MCSD, McKinleyville Municipal Advisory Committee (McKMAC) and the County of Humboldt.

The triarchy is evolving as part of an effort to give McKinleyville a greater voice, more influence over its destiny and to overcome the limitations of not being an incorporated community.

Both the McKMAC and the MCSD are taking a fresh look at governance, and are exploring a variety of possibilities.

McKMAC responsibilities

The McKMAC is studying its charter and may pursue changes to it.

The  committee took a break from its McKinleyville Town Center planning and instead took a deep dive into its rules and regulations at its Jan. 27 meeting.

The creation of the committee was called for in the town’s growth blueprint, the McKinleyville Community Plan, approved by the Board of Supervisors in 2002. However, it wasn’t until 2012 that the committee was created at the urging of then-Fifth District Supervisor Ryan Sundberg.

The committee has eight voting members. Three are appointed by the Fifth District supervisor, three are appointed by the Board of Supervisors as a whole, one is a member of the MCSD Board of Directors and one is the manager of the MCSD.

The committee is charged with gathering input and advising the County of Humboldt on the services it provides to McKinleyville, including policing, public works, health, safety, welfare and planning.

The rules, created in 2012 by the Board of Supervisors, assign responsibilities to the McKMAC, including:

• Reviewing, commenting and providing advisory recommendations to the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisor on proposed zoning amendments, and General Plan petitions and amendments located within the McKinleyville Planning Area related to conformance with the McKinleyville Community Plan. 

• Providing input on long-range planning issues.

The rules also limit what the McKMAC can discuss, including

• The McMAC is “not intended” to address countywide topics.

• McKMAC  cannot review, comment or provide advisory recommendations on subdivisions, conditional use permits, special permits, coastal development permits, or variances “unless they are part of a larger project which also includes a General Plan Amendment or Zone Reclassification.”

• The McKMAC  does not have “the authority to make, set, provide interpretation of or enforce county ordinances, policies or laws.”

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The McKMAC agreed at its Jan. 27 meeting to create a subcommittee to review the rules and return back to the committee at a later date with proposed changes. The subcommittee includes McKMAC Chair Maya Conrad and committee members Bonnie Oliver, Twila Sanchez and Barbara Georgianna.

Any changes in the McKMAC’s rules would need to be approved by the Board of Supervisors.

MCSD support for McKMAC

The McKMAC’s members are all volunteers. The committee has no budget, with support limited to the posting and distribution of agendas by the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors.

But the committee may get some help from the MCSD.

At its meeting tonight, Feb. 3, the MCSD may direct Manager Patrick Kaspari to draft a policy statement that formalizes meetings between the MCSD president, MCSD manager, the chair of the McKMAC and the Fifth District supervisor. The MCSD board may also approve a $3,000 stipend for the McKMAC for fiscal year 2021-2022. Some of the funding may be in the form of in-kind contributions from MCSD staff, such as making photocopies.

The MCSD may also agree to provide letters of support for grant funding sought by the McKMAC and may establish an annual meeting between the McKMAC and MCSD Board of Directors.

County support for McKMAC

At its meeting Jan. 27, the McKMAC voted unanimously to have McKMAC Chair Conrad submit a letter to the Board of Supervisors asking for financial support in the form of 10 hours a month of county staff time.

McKMAC members said they want an online archive of all the documents, agendas, minutes, recommendations and letters they produce. The committee also wants county email accounts for its members so they don’t have to use their personal emails.

Fifth District Supervisor Steve Madrone said that supervisors will begin budget deliberations this month.

“I recommend that you get something in right away,” Madrone said.

More info from planning, public works

A review of the McKMAC’s rules revealed that the Humboldt County Planning Division and Public Works Department are supposed to be submitting monthly reports to the McKMAC. This hasn’t happened.

The reports would give the committee and the community a heads up regarding proposed projects in town.

The rules state “The Planning Division shall prepare and [distribute] the ‘Current Projects Listing’ to the MMAC once a month. This document will include a list of all the discretionary permit applications, proposed zoning and general plan petitions and amendments currently under review.”

Public Works is required to submit a monthly document that “will include a list [of] all the proposed road and other infrastructure projects currently under design and implementation within the MMAC area, with sufficient detail for the MMAC to anticipate potential conflicts with existing or anticipated MCSD infrastructure.”

Latent powers

As the McKMAC looks at expanding its ability to obtain information and comment on issues, the MCSD is also taking a fresh look at its authority.

At a Feb. 3 meeting, the MCSD Board of Directors was to discuss a new report created by the district’s Latent Powers Committee. The report was created by former Director John Corbett, current directors David Couch and Greg Orsini and Manager Kaspari. 

The report looks at the district’s powers with regard to a library, law enforcement, community forest, reclamation, homeless people and the support of the McKMAC.

The report recommends that the district clarify its roles with regard to these powers and to determine what changes it wants to pursue. 

The MCSD board meets at 7 p.m. via Zoom. The Zoom meeting ID is 826 6940 6232. The phone number is 1 (888) 788-0099



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