Aaaah, Shelter Cove. Always a controversy of some sort. ("Mailbox," July 17.)
I consider myself a native. I was born in Garberville but was raised from birth at the Cove. I have spent a fair portion of my life living there, and have also been a property owner more than once. My family has been, and is, an integral part of the community. No matter where I live now, I call the Cove "home."
I believe if there is historical blame to lay, it belongs to the original developers, the Shelter Cove Sea Park, for proposing a subdivision with such small lots and without apparent regard for the terrain. The then-Humboldt County officials should share some of that blame for buying into the Sea Park's plan, perhaps seeing the tremendous increase in property tax assessments on 4,000-plus lots versus just one. It is also no secret that much of work (culverts, roads, etc.) done by the Sea Park was substandard and required significant upgrading.
Shelter Cove is a unique community in one of the most beautiful areas in the county. Considering the current population of several hundred people, it has more to offer in services than most Humboldt County communities of comparable size: paved roads, a modern sewer treatment plant, a standby generator serving a portion of the Cove during power outages, a golf course, its own utility company, a water treatment plant, a well-developed and outfitted fire rescue team, a fair portion of the subdivision set aside as greenbelt, not to mention some of the most spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean anywhere on the California coast.
None of the original developers of the Sea Park currently own any interest in it. Talcon Auctioneers has been the principal firm auctioning lots for many years now, though apparently there are other auctioneers involved, some on the Internet. Talcon auctions on an annual basis, at least. When they do, every lot for sale is well-marked. Detailed maps are available.
Not all are "undisclosed, unbuildable lots." There are still some bargains out there and I personally know folks who have found them. And it does not take an auctioneer to rip someone off. Private sellers can do just as much damage. The responsibility now lies, and always has, with the buyer -- to do the research, to personally inspect the property and determine the building requirements. That old adage "Buyer Beware" could not be more true today. Re-read the Journal's April 2004 article ("Buyer Beware!" April 22, 2004) and you will see that those ripped off bought sight unseen.
Mary Ann Machi, Eureka
Sweet Spot: Mary Ann Machi wins a Bon Boniere sundae for sending our favorite letter of the week.