McKinleyville continues its quest for greater influence

From the April 4, 2012 edition

By Jack Durham
Press Staff Writer

There was a time when the McKinleyville Community Services District pretty much kept to itself and narrowly focused on its core powers – sewer, water, streetlights, park and recreation.
But over the last year or two, the MCSD has branched out. It actively comments on planning issues and is seeking greater influence with other agencies.
As reported in the Press last month, the MCSD is asking for a seat on the Humboldt County Association of Governments (HCAOG), which is a key player in transportation planning in the county. The MCSD has also lobbied for the creation of a McKinleyville Municipal Advisory Committee (McKMAC), which will soon be brought before the Board of Supervisors.
At its meeting tonight, April 4, the MCSD will take more actions in an effort to expand its influence.
The board is scheduled to vote to have one of its own members become a member of the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO).
According to LAFCO’s own website, the commission “is responsible for coordinating, directing, and overseeing logical and timely changes to local governmental boundaries, including annexation and detachment of territory, incorporation of cities, formation of special districts, and consolidation, merger, and dissolution of districts. In addition, LAFCO is charged with reviewing ways to reorganize, simplify, and streamline governmental structure.”
At its meeting on Feb. 1, the MCSD board voted to nominate MCSD Director Helen Edwards to LAFCO. Edwards and two other candidates – Jeff Pauli of the Humboldt No. 1 Fire District and J. Bruce Rupp of the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District – are vying for a single seat on LAFCO.
At tonight’s meeting the MCSD is scheduled to cast its vote for Edwards in the three-way race. Ballots must be returned by May 4. Whoever gets the most votes from all the local agencies that participate in the election will be seated on LAFCO on May 16.
Also at tonight’s meeting, the board is scheduled to weigh in on the selection of a new interim director for the Humboldt County Planning Department.
The Board of Supervisors recently split the county’s Community Development Department into two departments – planning and building, and economic development and natural resources.
The Kirk Girard, who was the controversial director of the Community Development Department, was made the director of economic development and natural resources.
The county is now looking for an interim director for the planning and building, the department which handles permits for McKinleyville, which is unincorporated and doesn’t have planning powers.
MCSD Manager Norman Shopay drafted a letter that would be sent to the county and to all the supervisors. It states:
“In light of the recent rejection of Humboldt County’s Housing Element by the state Housing and Community Development Department and the ongoing CEQA litigation which has impacted the proposed Multi-Family Zoning Project, the upcoming appointment of an Interim Planning Director presents the Board of Supervisors with a unique opportunity to address these issues and ‘reset’ its relationships with state government and local communities.
“An effective candidate would be an outsider who brings a fresh perspective to the challenges confronting the Planning Department. They would have extensive “real world” experience running a planning agency, but they would also understand and appreciate the North Coast and its diverse communities, while critically analyzing the issues facing our region.
“We believe there is a rich pool of candidates living locally who would serve the county well. We would also urge the board to include retired administrators in that pool, many of whom are widely respected, and whose independence and reputation would go a long way toward restoring credibility to the Humboldt County planning process and lifting the legal and regulatory cloud that hangs over the Planning Department today. We thank you for your consideration.”
At the end of tonight’s meeting, the board is scheduled to go into closed session to discuss its lawsuit against the county of Humboldt over its effort to rezone properties in McKinleyville for high density development.
Tonight’s meeting begins at 7 p.m. at Azalea Hall, 1620 Pickett Road, McKinleyville.

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