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Why Care About Zoning?



The Humboldt County Planning Department is now developing new zoning regulations for 13,000 parcels covering half a million acres of land in order to comply with the updated General Plan ("On the Go-Slow," Jan. 24). They have already started with a series of public workshops, including one at McKinleyville's Azalea Hall 6 p.m., Wednesday, March 13.

Zoning regulates how land is used, specifying locations and densities, so if you care about how Humboldt County plans for the health of its communities and resource lands — zoning is where the rubber meets the road.

The public input process seems rushed, given the 20 years it took to update this General Plan, and the fact that the planning department is allowing itself two years to complete the required zoning.

Maybe they want to avoid reawakening some of the contentiousness responsible for the phenomenally long General Plan Update process. 

One bone in that contention may be the homes that are now automatically allowable on the vast majority of county resource lands, further straining infrastructure and services, especially roads and fire.

Others might be the weakened protections of water quality and forested buffers between communities, or perceived threats to neighborhood character and property values.

Everyone does have a stake in zoning. Too bad it is so boring. Most of us can't get excited about understanding land use regulations until it directly threatens our comfort or finances.

But climate change will soon enter the comfort zones of all of us, and the financial impacts of disappearing natural habitats and their ecosystem services are closing in, as well.

How land is treated by each family, each community, each state and country is becoming critical, and we need to start caring ... even about zoning.

Joyce King, McKinleyville

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