I attended the Humboldt County Planning Commission meeting on the Housing Element Thursday evening, March 13, and it was a real eye opener to what happens when private agendas drive a public process. The Humboldt Association of Realtors, for instance, has the willing ear of the majority of the commissioners and is urging ordinances that would allow second units as a right on all parcels in the unincorporated areas without the need to notify neighboring parcels and with reduced permit requirements.
HAR also recommends doing away with provisions that protect the rights of residents of mobile home parks and elimination of solar shading provisions. In the absence of public participation, the special interests of realtors and builders are becoming an adjunct of the commission itself.
As they did with the GPU, the commission wandered all over the map in discussing Housing Opportunity Zones and pushed for turning the entire county into an HOZ. Twice, county counsel advised them that what they were proposing would violate the law and open the county to legal action but Chair Robert Morris and Commissioner Lee Ulansey ignored her and seemed to feel they knew better. It seems unlikely that this commission will be able to complete the Housing Element any more than they were able to do the job requested of them on the GPU.
Anyone concerned about the future of housing in the county should be watching these meetings or, even better, showing up in person to see for themselves what happens when private agenda missionaries take over a legislative body.
Mary Ella Anderson, Arcata
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