2/6/18

Resolutions introduced in each state house by North Coast legislators Assemblyman Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg) and state Sen. Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg) formally oppose the Trump administration’s plan to allow new offshore drilling leases off the coast.

Both resolutions call on Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke to remove California from the list of states that could be opened to new offshore drilling.

“The Trump administration continues to attack California on many fronts and now they are opening up our coastal waters to the environmental vulnerabilities of oil drilling, a coastline we have fought to protect for decades,” Wood said in a statement sent to the Times-Standard on Monday. “To ignore the environmental devastation done by oil spills and dismiss the critical importance of working toward independence from fossil fuels is irresponsible and, frankly, feels vindictive.”

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2/6/18

Eureka, Arcata and McKinleyville officials are set to discuss a controversial project by Mercer-Fraser Company to construct a cannabis manufacturing facility near the Mad River about 1,000 feet upriver from a water pump that provides drinking water to two-thirds of the county’s population.

The Eureka City Council will be the first to discuss the project this week, followed by the Arcata City Council and McKinleyville Community Services District Board of Directors on Wednesday.

The proposed Glendale cannabis facility has raised significant concern from the county’s main water supplier, the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District. District officials have said that the facility and proposed zoning change on the parcel could possibly contaminate drinking water for about 88,000 county residents the district serves. The district has since appealed the project to the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors, with a hearing expected to take place later this month.

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1/31/18

Two weeks ago, at a festive reception and awards ceremony in downtown Sacramento, First District Supervisor Rex Bohn was installed as chair of the Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC).

Four of the county’s five supervisors were in attendance, along with several prominent local business leaders, some members of county staff, State Senator Mike McGuire and others. 

Some of these folks drove down to the state Capitol. But others traveled in private planes on flights donated by two local business leaders. One plane, a 2004 Pilatus PC-12, is owned by ACV Group LLC, a corporation whose CEO, Justin Zabel, is president of local construction firm Mercer-Fraser — a company with a controversial project currently pending before the Board of Supervisors.

Fifth District Supervisor Ryan Sundberg was on that flight, though he opted to pay for his seat (more on that later). A second plane, belonging to Shafer’s Ace Hardware owner Jack Rieke, carried Second District Supervisor Estelle Fennell, D’Amico and Sheriff William Honsal.

Mercer-Fraser, as you may recall, is currently petitioning the county with a controversial re-zone request for property it owns along the Mad River near Glendale. The Eureka construction firm wants the zoning on its 13.5-acre parcel changed to heavy industrial so it can build a 5,000-square-foot commercial cannabis extraction manufacturing facility (a hash lab, effectively) onsite.

Now that cannabis operations are legitimate business in California, established business leaders like Zabel are getting in on the game. And they have friends in high places. Supervisors, Lee said, come into office with “a whole set of relationships in the community. It’s generally why they get elected.”

Bass made a similar point. “We all know each other in this community; we’re all friends,” she said. “A lot of us have been friends way prior to our political world.”

But Jennifer Kalt, director of Humboldt Baykeeper and a critic of Mercer-Fraser’s Glendale project, said personal relationships shouldn’t be allowed to influence public policy.

“I’m constantly shocked how people just shrug and act like the oligarchy of developers around here is just the way it is, like there’s nothing we can do about it,” she said. As for Sundberg’s flight to Sacramento, Kalt said, “I think it’s outrageous.”

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1/19/18

The Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District Board of Directors voted this week to appeal Mercer-Fraser Company’s proposed construction of a cannabis edibles and concentrate manufacturing facility that the district claims has the potential to contaminate drinking water for 88,000 county residents.

The district’s main concern, as brought up by its board members at the Planning Commission meeting, was not the construction of the cannabis facility, but a proposed zoning classification change that would allow the facility along with other industrial uses to be allowed along the site. The proposed zoning change would be from “agriculture general” to “qualified heavy industrial.”

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1/16/18

The governing board for Humboldt County’s main water supplier is set to decide Wednesday whether to appeal the construction of a Glendale cannabis edibles and concentrates manufacturing facility that would be located near one of its drinking water pumps on the Mad River.

Last week, several district representatives urged the county Planning Commission to reject the project and a proposed land use zoning change on the property because they have the potential of contaminating drinking water for about 88,000 county residents.

“It’s a simple question for us: Are there other properties where this facility might be better suited?” Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District John Friedenbach said Tuesday on why the district plans to appeal. “... This one is literally right on top of the drinking water source.”

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