Daily Archives: December 5, 2012

County: State Says County Housing Element Complies with Law

Press release from the county:

State Says County Housing Element Complies with Law

Phillip Smith-Hanes, County Administrative Officer, 707-445-7266

December 5, 2012 – Sacramento, CA – The State of California Department of Housing and Community Development today issued a letter finding the County of Humboldt’s Adopted Revised Housing Element to be in “full compliance with State housing element law (Article 10.6 of the Government Code).”

The letter from Assistant Deputy Director Glen Campora to County Administrative Officer Phillip Smith-Hanes goes on to state that, “The Department’s review found the adopted revisions to the housing element to be substantially the same as the draft revisions reviewed by the Department on August 24, 2012 and determined to comply with statutory requirements.” Later, the letter notes: “The County now meets specific requirements for several State funding programs designed to reward local governments for compliance with State housing element law.”

“Obviously, we are pleased with the State’s determination,” said Board of Supervisors Chair Virginia Bass. “The County has gone through significant challenges to meet the requirements of State law. We certainly have more work to do, but I am excited to focus on the challenge of actually getting housing constructed.”


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Sheriff’s Log 12.5.12 – Burglars run wild in McK; Car windows smashed all over town

Sheriff’s Log from the Dec. 5, 2012 issue

Thursday, Nov. 22
11:24 a.m. – An outbuilding was burglarized on Idlewood Drive in Trinidad.
Friday, Nov. 23
8:56 a.m. – A resident on Hedge Rose Court filed a complaint about receiving annoying phone calls.
10:08 a.m. – Over on Cottonwood Street a window was smashed and a car burglarized.
11:10 a.m. – On Linda Way another car was burglarized.
2:47 p.m. – Michael Allegra was pulled over in the 1600 block of Central Avenue and cited for allegedly speeding, not displaying a license plate and being in possession of nitrous oxide.
4:56 p.m. – There was a domestic dispute on Silverbook Court. Deputies arrived and arrested Stephen Martinson on suspicion of public intoxication and exhibiting a deadly weapons (not a firearm.)
Saturday, Nov. 24
12:09 a.m. – Over on Wolf Road there was some sort of domestic dispute, but deputies were unable to determine which person was the primary aggressor.
5:32 p.m. – Deputies were summoned to a domestic disturbance in the 1200 block of Railroad Drive. They ended up arresting Jennifer Hermanski on suspicion of public intoxication and resisting a peace officer.
Sunday, Nov. 25
12:37 a.m. – Someone lost a wallet at or near the Denny’s, located on Anna Sparks Way at the Mill Creek Marketplace.
7:36 a.m. – A burglar took stuff from a vehicle on Vine Avenue in McKinleyville.
8:34 a.m. – Someone’s tires were slashed at Cher-Ae Heights Casino near Trinidad.
9:48 a.m. – Burglars spread their misery through town again, with a resident on Dragonfly discovering a car with a smashed window and items stolen.
Monday, Nov. 26
6:49 a.m. – Over on Holly Drive a resident awoke to discover that his or her vehicle had its window smashed in during an attempted burglary.
Tuesday, Nov. 27
9:48 a.m. – A student at McKinleyville High School was cited for being under the influence of marijuana and in possession of a stolen cellphone. The student was referred to Juvenile Diversion.
3:11 p.m. – A report came in from the Big Kmart that there was a man causing some sort of problem. Deputies arrived and arrested Charlie Adams on suspicion of public intoxication and violation of probation. He was carted off to the Pink Palace and lodged in the drunk tank.
6:44 p.m. – A residential burglary was reported on Turner Road in McKinleyville.
7:14 p.m. – A resident of Orick reported that pain medication was stolen.
7:22 p.m. – A woman on Timothy Court suspected that her ex-boyfriend had stolen her laptop computer. She contacted pawnshops around the county was able to recover the computer, which had been pawned, as she suspected, by the ex-boyfriend.

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McKMAC wants a say in how many homes are built in McKinleyville

From the Dec. 5, 2012 edition


By Jack Durham
Press Editor

McKinleyville is entering into a bureaucratic thicket – and potential political brawl – which may play a role in determining how many apartments and low-income dwellings are constructed in town.
The McKinleyville Municipal Advisory Committee (McKMAC) discussed something called the “Regional Housing Needs Allocation” at its Nov. 28 meeting. The McKMAC is tentatively scheduled to hold another meeting on the topic Dec. 19 and take a position on the methods used for determining how many homes should be mandated for McKinleyville.
County Director of Planning and Building Kevin Hamblin explained to the McKMAC that the process of allocating state-mandated housing numbers to individual communities is “an exercise.”
Although the issue is heavy with bureaucratic gobbledygook, it could ultimately affect local zoning, as McKinleyville discovered last year when the county rezoned some properties in town for multi-family housing in order to make its Housing Element comply with the state mandate. The zoning changes resulted in the McKinleyville Community Services District filing a lawsuit against the county. The lawsuit is still active.
Every five years the California Department of Housing and Community Development comes up with a number of new dwellings that counties must zone land for to provide housing for mostly low and moderate income residents.
After reviewing 2010 U.S. Census data and other information, the state determined in June that the Humboldt County Association of Governments (HCAOG) needs to “provide” 2,060 units of housing between 2014 and 2019. By “provide” the state actually means that the members of HCAOG need to designate areas where the housing can be placed should developers decide to build them. There’s no guarantee that the houses will actually be built, but the land is designated for housing on paper.
The members of HCAOG include the cities of Arcata, Eureka, Blue Lake, Trinidad, Fortuna, Ferndale, Rio Dell and the County of Humboldt. Each member gets one seat on the HCAOG Board of Directors, which gets to decide how these housing numbers are divvied up between its members.
Using formulas involving the size of the communities and the availability of jobs, HCAOG has come up with various options for how many housing units each member must provide,
The County of Humboldt could be responsible for providing from about 39 to 44 percent of the homes, based on a draft proposal from HCAOG. That’s 811 to 906 homes, depending on which option is ultimately chosen.
The County of Humboldt is made up of all the unincorporated areas and does not include the cities. The only two major areas with buildable areas and sewer and water service are McKinleyville and the Cutten area outside Eureka.
That means that McKinleyville is bound to get a major chunk of that housing. How much of the housing, however, is unclear.
Also, with slow growth rates over the last several years, it’s possible that the properties identified for low and moderate income housing in past years could still be considered eligible for helping communities meet their housing goals in the future.
Fifth District Supervisor Ryan Sundberg pointed out that although the unincorporated area of the county may have to provide almost half of the mandated housing, the county only has a single seat on the eight-member HCAOG Board of Directors. The county’s representative is the chair of the Board of Supervisors, Virginia Bass.
MCSD Director John Corbett spoke about the issue at the McKMAC meeting.
He made it clear that he’s not against low income housing, and pointed out that he was involved in the development of low-income homes.
But, he said, “we need a fair and more balanced allocation than the past.”
One of the problems is that if one community wants its share of housing lowered, then the other communities have to pick up the slack. Fewer housing units doled out to McKinleyville would result in more housing units placed in Eureka or another HCAOG member community.
“So we’re at each other’s throats because of these numbers,” said Hamblin, the who was recently hired by the county and replaces controversial Planning Director Kirk Girard, who took a job in the San Francisco Bay area.


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McK Animal Shelter Slammed With Dogs; Open House on Saturday

shelterpicMara Segal with shelter dogs, Woody and Simone.

From the Dec. 5, 2012 edition

By Daniel Mintz
Press Staff Writer

An influx of dogs at the county’s animal shelter isn’t being met with adoptions and the facility is getting overbooked.
When interviewed last week, Sgt. Kym Thompson, the Sheriff’s Office’s animal control and shelter supervisor, said 70 dogs were at the McKinleyville-based shelter, which only has room for 50. There were 40 cats being sheltered, well below a capacity of 90 but the number is steadily increasing.
Thompson said the situation isn’t unusual at this time of year, when adoptions slack due to holiday preparations and travel. Failure to spay and neuter pets results in higher abandonment rates, she continued.
Eight puppies were born at the shelter at the time of the interview. Six more puppies were recently dumped at the side of a road in the Carlotta area.
Earlier in November, 13 puppies were found in a cardboard box next to a school bus stop in the Dyerville area.
Six of the puppies are up for adoption but the rest are too young and need enhanced care that volunteers are giving them.
“Thank God for kind people who are willing to take puppies home and hand feed them and take care of them so they can survive,” Thompson said.
“I totally understand that it can be expensive to spay and neuter pets but for people who want to and can’t afford it, there are avenues for assistance,” she added, as the Humboldt County Spay/Neuter Network and the Humboldt Area Foundation offer vouchers for sterilizing pets.
Sometimes abandonment of pets isn’t intentional. The owners of some of the dogs at the shelter are recently homeless or destitute or have been arrested. They often don’t have family members or friends to pick up their pets.
“Some go to state prison, some are arrested on warrants outside of the county and transferred to jails in other counties,” said Thompson. “It’s not that they’re not good pet owners, it’s that they have no choice,” she continued.
One man came to the shelter for his dog but explained he only had 67 cents in his pocket. “We gave him his dog,” Thompson said. “We try and work with people and waive or reduce fees to reunite people with their pets – it’s not always a lost cause.”
She suspects the shelter is holding animals that are being sought by their owners but they haven’t looked there. The facility has a website, petharbor.com, that posts photos and descriptions of incoming animals so owners can check for them online.
Thompson recommends a proactive approach – microchipping pets is inexpensive and “tags with owner information help us so much,” she said. Pets that aren’t reunited with their owners are eventually given to new ones, as the shelter has never euthanized an adoptable pet since it opened in 2004.
The shelters’ euthanasia rate is at five or six percent, Thompson said, with unadoptable feral cats accounting for much of it. By law the shelter must offer feral cats and even vicious dogs to rescue groups but if they can’t take them, they’re put down.
“But our rescue groups are wonderful and take a lot of animals that otherwise would not have a chance,” said Thompson.
Mara Segal volunteers with one of them, Redwood Pals Rescue, which has sent out an e-mail “rescue plea” along with the It’s a Dog Life rescue group. She was interviewed the day the plea had been launched and said there had already been an adoption response.
Segal also volunteers at the shelter, walking dogs and “working on training them to improve their quality of life.” A Redwood Pals raffle event raised money for a second playpen at the shelter, which will be installed soon, she said.
The group joins others that offer additional shelter services for animals that are injured, sick or need readying for adoption. “None of us have enough space in our homes to take care of all the dogs that need rescuing.” said Segal.
The spike of intakes at the shelter has emerged as it prepares for its annual open house event from noon to 4 p.m. on Dec. 8. It’s a fundraising event featuring a raffle, sales of Memorial Star displays to honor pets, tours of the shelter and adoption opportunities.
The shelter is located at 980 Lycoming Avenue in McKinleyville, which is near the Arcata-Eureka Airport. It’s open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and until 7 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. For information on spay/neuter vouchers, adoptions and volunteer opportunities, call the shelter at 840-9132.

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Weather Chart 12.5.12.

We ran out of room in the last edition for the Weather Chart. So here it is.


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Superintendent statement on MUSD bonds

McKinleyville Union School District Superintendent Michael Davies-Hughes released the following statement regarding MUSD bonds. This is in response to the recent controversy triggered by a story that appeared on the Lost Coast Outpost website on Friday. An article about the issue will appear in an upcoming edition of the McKinleyville Press. Stay tuned.

From Davies-Hughes:

Over the past several months there has been increased scrutiny for the use of Capital Appreciation Bonds (CABs) by school districts and other public entities in financing school construction projects. The information below reflects the general obligation bond program of the McKinleyville Union School District.

In June 2008, voters approved the passage of Measure C – a general obligation bond with an authorization amount of $14,000,000. Proceeds from the bond issuance were to be used for much-needed improvements to the three schools within the McKinleyville Union School District (MUSD). At that time the State of California provided limited funding opportunities for school capital improvements, and a bond measure was a logical step in ensuring that the District could modernize the aging buildings and upgrade other infrastructure within the District.

When the first series of bonds ($7,000,000) were issued in March 2009 the California housing market was healthy and the municipal bond market was stable. In this environment it was prudent to use a 25-year Current Interest Bond (CIB) at an interest rate of 5.5%. Unfortunately, by the time the Series B bonds were issued in March 2011, the housing crisis had put such strong downward pressure on assessed values the remaining MUSD projects’ needs were more than the tax base could support. Additionally, interest rates were on the rise as the bond sale date neared. The credit rating of the State was poor, and the bond market environment was unstable.

With the bond projects in the District well underway (both Morris Elementary School and Dow’s Prairie School completed, and McKinleyville Middle School ready to begin) the board recognized the need (for necessary capital to complete the projects) to move forward with assumptions that allowed for the full $7,000,000 second series of bonds to be issued. Only $4,000,000 would have been authorized at that time using Current Interest Bonds (staying under the $30 per $100,000 assessed value tax rate limit required under Prop 39) – an amount insufficient to complete the projects. Therefore, on February 9, 2011 the MUSD Board of Trustees took action to approve the issuance of a 40-year Capital Appreciation Bond (CAB). The board recognized that these CABs had a high interest rate (8%), but also understood that these bonds could be restructured well before the debt service escalation would be realized.

McKinleyville Union School District intends to be a responsible steward of the monies generated through the passage of Measure C and its tax burden on the residents of McKinleyville. To this end, it will seek restructuring of the bonds to stop the accretion of interest and reduce the debt service payments in the long term.

Numbers at a glance:

Series A Bonds

Authorized Amount: $7,000,000
Term: 25 Years
Interest Rate: 5.5%
Debt Service Total: $14,353,212
Debt Repayment Ratio: 2.05:1
Series B Bonds

Authorized Amount: $7,000,000
Term: 25 Years
Interest Rate: 8%
Debt Service Total: $71,626,331
Debt Repayment Ratio: 10.2:1

Bond Program as a Whole

Authorized Amount: $14,000,000
Debt Service Total: $85,979,543
Debt Repayment Ratio: 6.14:1

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