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Supes Approve Out-of-County Corporate Contribution Measure for June Ballot

Nathan Rushton, Eureka Reporter
February 8, 2006

Get Involved Today!The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors cleared the way Tuesday for voters in June to decide whether to limit outside-county corporations' from contributing money in local elections.

The Humboldt Coalition for Community Rights ballot measure, called the Humboldt County Ordinance to Protect Our Right to Fair Elections and Local Democracy, is supported by several area elected officials, including Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos.

Humboldt County Recorder-Clerk Carolyn Crnich told the board during the meeting that she recommended that the county accept the certificate of sufficiency acknowledging that an adequate number of valid signatures were collected to put the measure on June's ballot.

"It is not an endorsement of the measure," she added.

With regard to the measure, area attorney and former Board of Supervisors candidate Sara Senger told the board she strongly believes in campaign reforms and limits on campaign contributions in elections.

However, she said she did not support the proposed ballot measure.

Senger told the board the measure violates the Constitution's First Amendment, is discriminatory and may also have unintended consequences that its drafters didn't anticipate, such as keeping out nonprofit agencies like the Sierra Club. "I urge the voters to vote against it," Senger said.

Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap, who represented HCCR, said that just because the current laws say one thing, that does not necessarily mean that is the way things should go forever.

"We know what the consequences will be," Sopoci-Belknap said. "We worked on this ordinance for over a year."

That work included consultations with lawyers, she said.

The measure would be legal, Socopi-Belknap said, because it falls within the exception of what the courts have said is reasonable for communities to do to limit corporate involvement in elections as long as it is done in a way to curb corruption.

In other business, the board approved the county's Community Development Services Department to begin work on specific housing plans as part of the county's General Plan update process.

Community Development Services Director Kirk Girard said the specific housing plan would incorporate the best planning practices, which are based on recommendations of the state's Housing and Community Development Department.

The goal of the project is to increase housing production by increasing land availability and infrastructure capacity countywide, but Girard said it would concentrate growth in three areas currently served by water and sewer, which are referred to as the urban studies area.

Girard said the plan would address key concerns from the community. "There is concern that we might draft a number of broad policies, but when it comes down to the actual implementation, we don't follow through with that implementation," Girard said.

The other concern is the availability of land that can be adequately serviced by infrastructure.

"I think that people agree that there is quite a lot of land in the proper zoning, but they disagree at how available that is for building," Girard said.

The main thrust of the plan would be to develop cooperation with the county, the municipalities and the service districts.

"Locally, free-market mechanisms aren't driving the construction of infrastructure," Girard said.

Currently, Girard said, for the small projects that are being proposed, the costs are too large for developers to build the necessary infrastructure.

If the area's market forces aren't driving infrastructure improvements, Girard said collaborations between the government entities that are zoning the property and the jurisdictions that are providing services to them could provide a viable mechanism.

Under that approach, he said public entities would be collectively choosing the places to invest in infrastructure and making that available for the private market at a rate that can be shared among them in an economical way.

Girard said the "aggressive" timetable for completing the plan and getting the partnerships with the municipalities and service districts would take place within the next two months, as well as hiring a consultant by May and having the Specific Housing Plan completed by November.

First District Supervisor Jimmy Smith said that overall, the proposed plan looked good, but he wanted to make sure that areas of Ferndale and Loleta, which have existing subdivided areas that were logically suited for growth to occur, but lacked all of the necessary infrastructure, would also be considered in the plan.

"I want to make sure the door is open," Smith said.

Girard said areas known as water-only study areas would be considered under the plan.

In addition, Smith raised concerns that Girard's schedule might be too aggressive and may not be able to have the important transportation element completed within the proposed time frame.

Girard said that without the funding of an experienced consultant to coordinate the work, the timetable wouldn't be met, but assured the supervisors that an alternative plan and contingencies would be addressed.

Fourth District Supervisor Bonnie Neely said the plan would go a long way toward addressing a lot of concerns brought up in the public about how the county is going to address housing needs of the future.

During the afternoon session, the board heard several comments regarding the McKinleyville-area William Landis subdivision appeal hearing, but voted to continue the matter at the Feb. 28 meeting to allow Planning Division staff to complete traffic mitigation measures for the project.

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Humboldt County Leaders Endorse Measure T!

Democratic Party of Humboldt County

Green Party of Humboldt County

Central Labor Council of Humboldt and Del Norte Counties

American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local #1684

Building and Construction Trades of Humboldt and Del Norte Counties

Carpenters Union Local #751

Operating Engineers Union Local #3 AFL-CIO

Paul Gallegos, Humboldt County District Attorney

Peter LaVallee, Eureka Mayor

Chris Kerrigan, Eureka City Council

Dave Meserve, Arcata City Council

Harmony Groves, Arcata City Council

Paul Pitino, Arcata City Council

Bob Ornelas, Former Arcata Mayor

Connie Stewart, Former Arcata Mayor

Elizabeth Conner, Former Arcata City Council

Julie Fulkerson, Former Humboldt County Board of Supervisors

... and hundreds of other individuals and local businesses! Join us today!

View the full list of public endorsements!


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Pros and Cons of Measure T

Learn more about Measure T in a Pros and Cons Video, produced by Eileen McGee (51 mins)


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Chris Kerrigan, Eureka City Counsel, and Kate Christensen, owner of The Garden Gate, support Measure T! (1 min)


Paul Gallegos, Humboldt County District Attorney, and Nezzie Wade, community member, support Measure T! (1 min)


Larry Glass, owner of The Works, and Dennis Rael, owner of Los Bagles, support Measure T! (1 min)