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Received from the Humboldt County Planning Division yesterday; if you’re interested in commenting, note the date of the public hearing, which is tonight in Eureka.

This is a revised version from the draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Report (EIR) that was prepared in February and circulated in April.

According to its introduction, the Supplemental EIR was needed in order to make additions and changes in order to “comply with new State laws, such as the requirement to evaluate the project’s greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and to respond to new information such as the Humboldt County Health Assessment, prepared in 2007. There are also new policies in the Project (2009 Housing Element update), such as recommendations to implement Housing Opportunity Zones“.

It’s being recirculated to respond to comments received on the previous version, so the main new material should be found in Chapter 6 which presents the list of comments and commenters, and the responses to these comments.

NOTICE OF AVAILABILITY

RECIRCULATED SUPPLEMENTAL DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT REPORT

FOR THE DRAFT HUMBOLDT COUNTY HOUSING ELEMENT

SCH #2009022077

The County of Humboldt is in the process of updating the Humboldt County Housing Element, a required Element of the General Plan. The update is necessary to comply with State Law regarding Housing Elements, and to adopt local policy options to meet the documented housing needs. The project requires consideration and certification of a Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR). The County prepared a DEIR for the 2003 Housing Element and proposes to supplement the findings in this document with a Supplemental DEIR. An initial draft of the Supplemental DEIR was circulated in April, 2009; a revised draft of the Supplemental DEIR is now available for public review.

Project Description: The Housing Element describes housing needs of residents of all income levels, and includes discussion of housing needs of specific groups as well, such as seniors, owner-builders, disabled persons and the homeless. The findings that emerge from analyzing the housing information direct policies and programs which are a commitment to implement new measures to meet the County’s housing needs as well as to maintain the most effective on-going programs. The Housing Element contains policies that affect the kinds, locations and intensities of land uses and new development within the unincorporated areas of Humboldt County.

Identified Impacts: Policies and programs in the Element as well as other existing requirements administered by public agencies are sufficient to reduce potential impacts to a level of insignificance for hazards and hazardous materials, land use and planning, noise, recreation, and utilities and service systems. Implementation of the Element is expected to cause significant and unavoidable impacts to aesthetics, agriculture resources, air quality, biological resources, cultural resources, geology/soils, hydrology/ water quality, public services, transportation/traffic. The project will also likely result in significant unavoidable cumulative impacts. These impacts are similar those evaluated under the 2003 Element.

Project Location: This project will apply to all unincorporated areas of the County.

Review Period: Public comment will be accepted until August 2, 2009

Lead Agency: Humboldt County Department of Community Development Services

Direct Comments To:

Michael Richardson, Senior Planner
County of Humboldt
Department of Community Development Services, Planning Division
3015 H Street, Eureka, CA 95501
EMAIL: mrichardson@co.humboldt.ca.us

Public Hearing: On the Draft Housing Element by the Humboldt County Planning Commission, June 18th @ 6:00pm, Humboldt County Courthouse

Copies of the Supplemental DEIR are available on the internet at www.planupdate.org. Copies are also available for review at the main branch of the County library at 1313 3rd Street Eureka, California ( (707) 445-7284), and at Humboldt County Community Development Services, 3015 H Street, Eureka, CA 95501. Information or copies can be obtained by contacting Michael Richardson at (707) 268-3723 or email at mrichardson@co.humboldt.ca.us.

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Humboldt County General Plan Update news: the next “town hall”-style meeting is planned for June 11; it’s a continuation of the April 30 meeting.

Land Use Element “Town Hall Style” Continued Planning Commission Meeting

Humboldt County Draft General Plan – Land Use Element

June 11, 2009

The Humboldt County Planning Commission will host a public workshop on the Draft Land Use Element beginning at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 11, 2009 in the College of the Redwoods Forum Theater, 7351 Tompkins Hill Road, Eureka (Building #16 on the attached map). The workshop is the continuation of the April 30th Planning Commission meeting, and is presented as a forum for open dialogue between the Commissioners, planning staff, and the public. A format similar to a “town hall” meeting will be used to discuss the draft policies contained in the Land Use Element and the Plan Alternatives.

The purpose of this meeting is to receive public input on the Land Use Element of the Draft General Plan. This meeting follows two staff presentations to the Planning Commission on the Draft Land Use Element. During the April 16, 2009 Planning Commission meeting, the Plan Alternatives – Key Issues and Comparison Charts for Sections 4.2 (Growth Planning), 4.3 (Urban Lands), 4.4 (Rural Lands) and the Land Use Classifications were introduced to the Planning Commission. During the April 23, 2009 Planning Commission meeting, the Plan Alternatives – Key Issues and Comparison Charts for Sections 4.5 (Agricultural Resources), 4.6 (Forest Resources) and 4.7 (Public Lands) were presented. Archived streaming of these meetings is available on the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors website, http://county-internet/board/.

Background on the Plan Alternatives – Key Issues and Comparison Charts:

The Plan Alternatives – Key Issues and Comparison Charts explain what the major issues are for these sections and list the goals, policies, standards, and implementation measures for Plan Alternatives A, B, C and D in one chart for comparison purposes. Copies are available on the GPU website at www.planupdate.org and will also be available for viewing at the Humboldt County Library (all branches), Kinkos and the Community Development Services Department front counter. Also available is a “Users Guide” that explains the format of the charts and how they will be used by the decision makers in their deliberation process for ultimately adopting a new General Plan for the County.

For further information, or to be placed on the email list to receive notices of workshops, please contact Martha Spencer by email at mspencer@co.humboldt.ca.us or by telephone at (707) 268-3704 or Tom Hofweber at 268-3738.

Recap of the four alternatives:

  • Plan Alternative A accommodates growth by promoting infill and by focusing growth in urban areas with adequate services. The alternative increases protection of resource production lands, and is considered the “environmentally superior” alternative. This alternative is generally more prescriptive, and has more detailed and specific policy sets associated with it.
  • Plan Alternative B (Proposed Plan) balances protection of resource lands with the need for residential development through focused development, appropriate urban expansion, and incentive-based clustering policies to encourage conservation of resource production lands.
  • Plan Alternative C is a higher growth and less regulatory alternative providing additional residential capacity. This alternative, particularly in rural areas, increases the amount of land planned for residential estate and rural residential uses. This alternative is generally less prescriptive, and has policy language that is more flexible.
  • Plan Alternative D — the No Action Alternative — is the existing 1984 Framework Plan.

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patrickspoint02

The draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Housing Element portion of the Humboldt County General Plan Update has been released. The EIR is required under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

And to kick off this part of the planning process, I will discuss the basics of the CEQA process in upcoming posts, including what is an EIR, when do you publish one, what is the difference between draft, supplemental, and final, what commenters should look for, etc. I will use the General Plan and other currently active projects as examples.

Re-posted from the Humboldt County Department of Community Development Services’ notice:

NOTICE OF AVAILABILITY
SUPPLEMENTAL DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT REPORT
FOR THE DRAFT HUMBOLDT COUNTY HOUSING ELEMENT

SCH #1996-052011

February 17, 2009

The County of Humboldt is in the process of updating the Humboldt County Housing Element, a required Element of the General Plan.  The update is necessary to comply with State Law regarding Housing Elements, and to adopt local policy options to meet the documented housing needs.  The project requires consideration and certification of a Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR).  The County prepared a DEIR for the 2003 Housing Element and proposes to supplement the findings in this document with a Supplemental DEIR.  The Supplemental DEIR is now available for public review.

Project Description: The Housing Element describes housing needs of residents of all income levels, and includes discussion of housing needs of specific groups as well, such as seniors, owner-builders, disabled persons and the homeless.  The findings that emerge from analyzing the housing information direct policies and programs which are a commitment to implement new measures to meet the County’s housing needs as well as to maintain the most effective on-going programs.  The Housing Element contains policies that affect the kinds, locations and intensities of land uses and new development within the unincorporated areas of Humboldt County.

Identified Impacts: Policies and programs in the Element as well as other existing requirements administered by public agencies are sufficient to reduce potential impacts to a level of insignificance for biological resources, hazards and hazardous materials, land use and planning, noise, public services and recreation.  Implementation of the Element is expected to cause significant and unavoidable impacts to aesthetics, agriculture resources, air quality, cultural resources, geology/soils,  hydrology/ water quality,  transportation/traffic, utilities and service systems.  The project will also likely result in significant unavoidable cumulative impacts.  These impacts are expected to be no greater than those evaluated under the 2003 Element, but since this Element carries forward many of the same programs as the 2003 Element, they are considered significant and unavoidable in this Element as well.

Project Location: This project will apply to all unincorporated areas of the County.

Review Period: Acceptance of public comment will be extended to April 6, 2009

Lead Agency: Humboldt County Department of Community Development Services

Direct Comments To:

Michael Richardson, Senior Planner
County of Humboldt
Department of Community Development Services, Planning Division
3015 H Street, Eureka, CA  95501
EMAIL: mrichardson@co.humboldt.ca.us

Public Hearing: On the Draft Housing Element by the Humboldt County Planning Commission February 19th, 26th and March 5th @ 6:00pm, Humboldt County Courthouse

Copies of the Supplemental DEIR are available on the internet at www.planupdate.org. Copes are also available for review at the main branch of the County library at 1313 3rd Street Eureka, California ( (707) 445-7284), and at Humboldt County Community Development Services, 3015 H Street, Eureka, CA 95501. Information or copies can be obtained by contacting Michael Richardson at (707) 268-3723 or email at mrichardson@co.humboldt.ca.us.

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Copyright 2009 Sophie Lagacé

Continuing with the public review of the Housing Element of its General Plan update, the Humboldt County Planning Commission sent an invitation on Monday to attend a town hall meeting tomorrow, Thursday February 5 at 6pm at the Humboldt County Courthouse in Eureka, to discuss the proposed policies and background information contained in the 2009 Draft Housing Element.

The Humboldt County Planning Commission will host an informal public workshop on the 2009 Draft Housing Element Update beginning at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, February 5, 2009 in the Humboldt County Courthouse, Eureka. The workshop is intended to provide for an open dialogue between the Commissioners, planning staff and the public similar to a “town hall” meeting format.

This meeting follows three separate staff presentations to the Planning Commission on the Draft Element: 1) an overview of the Draft Element and the process was presented during the January 8, 2009 meeting; 2) the residential land inventory was presented during the January 22, 2009 meeting; and 3) a more detailed review of the proposed goals, policies and programs included in the Draft Element was presented at the January 29, 2009 meeting (all of which were open to public testimony). This upcoming meeting is open to discussion of all the proposed policies and background information contained within the 2009 Draft Housing Element.

According to the Planning Commission’s schedule, its next three meetings (February 19 and 26, and March 19) will be dedicated in part or in whole to analyzing the proposed Housing Element, deliberating, and reaching a decision.

I don’t think I’ll be able to attend tomorrow’s workshop since I had already committed to giving time for a charitable fundraiser, so I’d appreciate any observations from those who can attend.

Links of interest:

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houseThe Humboldt County Development Services Department just issued its review guides for the Draft Housing Element of the General Plan update:

Review Guides for the 2009 Hearing Draft Housing Element are now available for distribution. The Review Guides are designed to assist the public and Planning Commission with the process of reviewing the draft Housing Element.

There are two sets of charts; the “Summary of Key Issues and Review of Alternatives” and the “Plan Alternative Comparison Charts”.  The first chart identifies the key topics and major policy issues within the Draft Housing Element. This chart is intended to provide a broad overview of the issues the Plan needs to address and the range of alternatives. The second chart provides a detailed comparison of the goals, policies, standards and implementation measures for each plan alternative. Together these charts provide the big picture and the details necessary to consider alternative policy approaches for the key topics and issues of the draft Housing Element.

Copies of the document are available on the internet for download at www.planupdate.org (on the Housing Element page) and for purchase at the Humboldt County Community Development Services Department.  Information or copies can be obtained by contacting Michael Richardson at (707) 268-3723 or by writing to him at the Humboldt County Planning Division, 3015 H Street, Eureka, CA 95501-4484 or email at mrichardson@co.humboldt.ca.us.

Here is a direct link to the new Review Guides (PDF format, 41 pages).  They are essentially the step-by-step analysis grid the County will use to support its decision process.

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Happy New Year! That’s 2009 CE, as of yesterday, and 1430 AH as of last Monday; I’ll wish it again in a few weeks for the Year of the Ox. As we start a brand new year, it’s also business as usual and I’m following up on a few stories I discussed earlier.

Humboldt County 2025 Housing Element

The Planning Commission Hearing draft of the 2009 Hearing Draft Housing Element, which I discussed in December, is now available for public review and comment. You can download it from the Humboldt County General Plan Update page; you can view it at all branches of the Humboldt County Library, Kinko’s, and the Community Development Services Department front counter; or you can buy a copy of the entire document from Kinko’s for the printing costs.

During the month of January the Planning Commission is conducting three hearings on the 2009 Housing Element Update. On Thursday, January 8, 2009 at 6:00 p.m. the Humboldt County Planning Commission will receive a staff presentation regarding the goals, policies and programs in the 2009 Humboldt County Housing Element, a required Element of the General Plan. On Thursday, January 22, 2009 at 6:00 p.m. the Planning Commission will receive an additional staff presentation regarding the residential land inventory in the 2009 Housing Element. On Thursday, January 29, 2009, at 6:00 p.m., the Planning Commission will review the entire 2009 Housing Element. Public comment will be accepted at each meeting.

According to the Humboldt Herald and the Times-Standard, the Housing Element drew the ire of developer Rob Arkley. It’s amusing but entirely unintentional on my part that Mr. Arkley also provides a tie-in for my next two update items. He’s simply that prominent and involved in a lot of planning and politics in Humboldt County.

Marina Center Development EIR

If you are interested in the Marina Center Development draft environmental impact report (EIR), which is currently available for public review, you may be interested in visiting the site. There will be a Balloon Tract Discovery Walk on Saturday, January 24, starting at 9:30AM (rescheduled from December 27).

Meet at the Compass at the foot of F street on the Eureka Boardwalk for a Discovery Walk around the Balloon Track and an “on the ground” view of the site of the future Marina Center development. Discovery Walks are for enjoyment, information, education, with no social or political agenda. NOTE: Handicapped access is not guaranteed, some sections of this walk have no sidewalks, and may have excessive traffic and/or noise.

The Balloon Tract is of course the proposed location for the controversial proposed Marina Center commercial development.

In related news, one of the key elements of the Marina Center would be a Home Depot or other “big box” store, acting as anchor for a retail/commercial center. Although economic aspects are not directly subject to environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) for which the draft EIR was prepared, their indirect effects — such as urban decay — can be if they intersect environmental aspects.

One of the arguments against the project on that count is that the new commercial center would compete against the already threatened Bayshore Mall. A casual visit to the mall shows an alarming number of closed stores and available space; one of the anchor store, Mervyn’s, just closed after filing for bankruptcy, although the Times-Standard recently announced that Kohl’s would move in as a replacement. (Kohl’s specializes in low-budget department stores, a sort of missing link between a traditional department store and a mass merchandiser.)

Proponents of the Marina Center believe either that (A) there is enough business for Bayshore Mall and other local retail centers like Henderson Center, etc. to survive along with the new stores the Marina Center would bring in, or (B) a sort of Darwinian struggle between businesses will be for the overall good of the community.

For my part, I believe there is not enough business, especially with the newly acknowledged recession we are in, for new and old stores to survive. I think new locations can only thrive at the expense of existing merchants — or fail to establish a sufficient customer base. Either way, I think this would lead to a lot of new boarded up storefronts in the area.

There are indications that the Bayshore Mall would be particularly at risk because it is owned by General Growth Properties, Inc. (GPP), which is already under severe debt burden. After a disastrous Christmas shopping season nationwide, many malls are expected to fail in 2009 even without the threat of new competition — and GGP is watched closely as needing an extra cushion of healthy tenants.

The Times-Standard’s editorial page

Apparently, I’m not the only one to deplore that the chief legacy of the recently defunct Eureka Reporter is an editorial page practically free of local content, twice a week.

Seriously, the ER’s local content was interesting and generally well done. So why is it that all that survived per the coffin-nailing agreement was the part that had the least local input? Could it be that everything else in the ER, no matter how good, was nothing but lipstick on the suid that was that edito-rail page?

If it has to be right-wing, that’s fine — I’m sure we’ll find enough rebuttals in Humboldt County — but could it please be local? Unless, of course, no one here cares to develop the ideology those Wednesday and Sunday editorial pages are currently devoted to…

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HC 2025 coverI recently discussed the Humboldt County General Plan 2025. A public review draft of one of the key components, the Housing Element, will be released in a week at meeting of the Humboldt County Planning Commission. The Housing Element is bound as a separate document and serves as the housing element portion of the General Plan for unincorporated areas. The Housing Element is on a different update schedule from that of the General Plan: State law requires the Housing Element to be updated no later than August 31, 2009.

At that meeting, the Planning Commission will also hold a study session on the Planning Commission Hearing Draft of the General Plan released on December 18, 2008. At the study session, documents designed to support the review of the Draft Plan will be made available. During the study session information will be provided that explains how the current Draft Plan was changed from the Preliminary Planning Commission hearing draft and how public comments affected the changes. A discussion of the proposed timeline and the process for review and adoption of the Plan by the Planning Commission will also be presented.

Links of interest:

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