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Transcript of 4-8-2008 Humboldt County Board of Supervisors discussion on motion to create the CETF after public comment ended.

Jill Geist
There are a lot of distant issues that were brought up, from my perspective right now, I hope that people can perhaps understand and appreciate that a lot of the discussions we have had here today have been multifaceted because it involves the planning department, it involved the building department, it involves the environmental health, as far as waste water issues.
There is also the relationship that exists between the district attorneys office and the county council office, who does work for us, the community development, as well as the sheriff and standing off here to the side is of course the ever present silent elephant in the room called marijuana.
But this agenda item was placed specifically before the floor at the request of CLMP and I really appreciate them making this request because I think there was an awful lot of information that we had heard bits and pieces of but it has been very helpful to hear from the community at large as far as the various issues. And it is going to take us a little while to disentangle and have a better sense for how we can make these improvements.
So I think that a lot of folks are hoping that we are going to have an immediate answer right here and right now and I just have to be honest that Im not going to have all the answers to all of the questions but that being said I can say that you have our assurance to try and find a way that we are going to resolve many of these issues. So Supervisor Smith.

Jimmy Smith
Thank you Madam Chair. I agree we have a lot of work ahead of us. We heard a lot of from our constituents today who carried a heavy message. And we listened carefully. I know that I have pages and pages and pages of notes here. And I wanted to run over a few things, that actually some these things have been in the works for quite some time. But they were brought up today. Because a motion was made by my colleague from the second district I wanted to see in the discussion that is ensuing should this motion move ahead, that these are things that I have heard and am committed to helping with.
So one of those is I dont know if I have ever said anything like we are going to have to tear a few houses down. That is not in the cards for me. That is not a question to be dealt with. There were a lot of things, discussions about grandfathering and amnesty programs. Those I think we are going to have to address in this conversation if this task force is formed. Helping people get up to code how we can use even potentially use our economic development staff. How can we come up with some array of mechanisms to help people get through it and give them time frames that are reasonable and dont over extend those who dont have the ability to pay. How can we make that happen?
I think that those are definitely signals that I have heard and I know I have I know I have thought about for along time. There was discussion of, I dont want to take this away from Supervisor Rodoni because I know that he has thought about this one long and hard from his satellite office which evidently existed a long time ago and I think is really a wonderful idea to help expedite the permitting to help people get up to code or help them with problems what ever it might be.
The fear of filing a penalty case if you come forward. Those are discussions that we are going to have to have so that people are not afraid and we can help them, honestly help them through a difficult process for whatever happened in the past.
Emergency permits have been a pet project of mine thats now going through review its actually been in the works for a very very long time but it speaks of people who have had fires, suffered from floods, slides, trees falling on their houses, whatever, and they need a permit to come in and do the work but when the inspector comes they find it in violation. So the violation triggers then a lack of issuing the permit until the violation is corrected. What I am interested in is, and the boards support too, is a pathway. I know our staff is working on that. The house whether its in illness or anything like that so it can be retrofitted, fixed, rebuilt, built, whatever it takes. And they would simply sign a form that acknowledges that there is a problem thats going to be taken care of in the future. I am committed to doing that. And lastly I know that there is a whole lot so I am not going to hog the forum here. I do want to say I heard lot about code enforcement today. I can answer some detailed questions in the format that are represented here earlier.
I do want to tell you a long time ago, actually a short time ago, code enforcement was de-budget. It went out. It came back with a lot of public demand. It came back to us, the reason being that we had a number of drug houses. Let me give you an example. King Salmon. I had trailers on the side, raw sewage on the streets; I had abandoned vehicles and garbage blowing down and I had 130, I realize there are more than that here, angry people in one room who said I want you to clean this up.
So it took some kind of action to be able to get in there work with people in the neighborhood and clean it up. Same thing existed on Thomkins Hill Road, I worked with Supervisor Rodoni on that one. 26 abandoned vehicles, needles you could not believe, It was just terrible. So that was the intent when we marched ahead to try and resolve those things, dumping at the Eel River, going into the streams, I could go on and on.Code enforcement specialized in helping me, I couldnt tell you the number of occasions in my district to go after the needles, to go after the problems that existed around kids and schools. I could go on and on. Thats where we were at.
Thank you Madam Chair for giving a couple minutes. Appreciate it and I would like to hear more.

Jill Geist
Thank you supervisor Smith. And I would say for context purposes, the places you were talking about were specific to your district and I think all of us have similar issues. Certainly we had huge community meetings where people were concerned with the amount of solid waste and dumping and vehicles. We had to clean up 45 vehicles on one sight alone and those were in streams. I think throughout all of our districts I believe there have been a number of issues when talking about when bringing code enforcement back into being it was trying to find that balance and before I turn it over to Supervisor Rodoni and I wound ask that folks recall that part of what we are talking about is how do we find that balance and making sure that we have a level playing field. So its not just the playing field but its also the standards.

Roger Rodoni
Thank you Madame Chair. And I would like to say briefly that I probably have a little more experience with his issue than the rest of you. Even if it was just a very interesting interlude last Friday. And I bring that here, among these copious notes, to say that I put some numbers, I quantified the task force, I would like to add that to my motion as an amendment. So that the task force with consist of two members from CLMP, one member from the CAOs office, one from the sheriff, two supervisors, three at large, so we would make a task force of 9. And to have the entire motion prefaced by the following sentence and that would be a motion to stop code enforcement unit inspections pending review the following procedures with the exception of cases under the review of a court or judge.

Jimmy Smith
So I think I am good with- I will second that- I am just curious though with the explanation that I just gave. Many of those cases have already been identified so those are covered, those are existing drug houses and the problems that have gone along with them.

Roger Rodoni
Right, the obvious spirit of this motion is to stop that for a 45 day interim here, if we feel that that is an appropriate time, with this exception.

Bonnie Neely
Thank you those are good amendments, Supervisor Rodoni, with that I can support the motion. Like Supervisor Smith I have had some different experiences with code enforcement. They have closed many drug houses in my district. I represent mainly the city of Eureka which has their own enforcement program. But also Samoa and the unincorporated areas and the Myrtle town areas. People in my district are screaming for assistance to close these public nuisances in their area. They have really stepped up to assist.
It seems like after the discussion today that the first thing that really needs to happen in addition to the motion on the floor, is to separate the civil part of code enforcement from the criminal part. That is it. We are members of the board of supervisors and we are not here to enforce the marijuana laws. That is the district attorney and the sheriff. Those discussions and reports should include having something come from them. I am not pointing fingers I am just saying this program has been in place for maybe ten years and we are having issues now. There have been a lot of, well it sound like, some of the referral agencies, which can be state or federal agencies, like the bureau of land management or the sheriffs department or whatever sort of tag teaming onto whatever code enforcement is doing.
I think that it would be great if you could amend your motion to separate those two right now. And we can actually clearly look and see what is civil and leave the criminal piece and sheriff and the district attorneys purview.

Roger Rodoni
I have no problem with that, but wording, I may need help with that.

Bonnie Neely
It wouldnt be very long just that we would separate out the civil process from the criminal process. and that wed take that action now.

Jill Geist
Can I make a suggestion which is in your verb age you stated that with the exception of those cases that is in court or before a judge that you discern between civil and criminal activities or action. We will get a verification from Nancy when we are all finished with the final motion to make sure that we are clear.

Bonnie Neely
The only comment I had in regards to the task force, I supported what Dan Toronto asked for which was to have more meaningful process for those 45 days to try and include as many members of the public as we could. Thats just a discussion point maybe we could maybe debate that now. And decide how that would happen.

Jill Geist
Well I think that relative to that these grow pretty large; I think that the group that weve got, with the nine members. That nine member group could perhaps go forward and have some of those meetings and do some work. It sounds like with Peter and Dan that they have some experience on this and see if we can make improvements on the overall processes. Would that be agreeable?

Bonnie Neely
That is right. And I guess that that would be another thing with in terms of the oversight, the sheriffs designated representative would be on the oversight. Its up to the board. I like my suggestion for separating out the civil so then that means in regards to our own team that we would be directly supervising that we would focus on that area, just in the civil area; to have more civilized ways of contacting people who live in the district.

Jill Geist
I want to clarify. Wait, Wait. When we are in a board meeting, we have to have people on the record when they are speaking. And because the public comment portion is now closed we cant have the back and forth. Its awkward but its part of the structure we need to have so the board can engage in the discussion. Hear your points, and there are some good ones but Supervisor Neely needs to finish her thought. So you would like to propose that

Bonnie Neely
Well I already proposed it and Supervisor Rodoni accepted it and so did the second so I am good with that.

Jill Geist
That the sheriff would be removed from the task force.

Bonnie Neely
Well I just brought that up for those folks to debate because its in the motion and the second but I am really happy with separating out the civil and the criminal.

Roger Rodoni
Well I have no problem with that but I do prefer that it be a 9 member group so I suggest we have 3 members from CLMP, one CAO, 2 supervisors, and 3 at large.

Jill Geist
Board members have any additional comments or questions; I am going to put Nancy on the spot.

Supervisor Rodoni motioned to stop code unit inspections, pending review of policies and procedures, and to separate the civil issues from the criminal process. To conduct a review by task force, a task force comprised of a 9 member representation, that would include 3 CLMP, one CAOs office, 2 supervisors and 3 at large members. To examine the code enforcement manual and other appropriate procedures, evaluate the coordination of the community development services, the county council, and code enforcement unit, DA and sheriffs department and to return to the board within 45 days with findings and recommendations.

Roger Rodoni
Probably strike the sheriffs department.

Jill Geist
Strike the Sheriffs department and I was going to suggest perhaps our referral to environmental health because of water, and waste water and solid waste issues.

Bonnie Neely
So it is number 3 on your motion of the task force You are going to evaluate the coordination between the different departments, is that where you are going to drop the sheriffs department?

Supervisor Rodoni
I believe that we have discussed to drop the sheriff and include the environmental health, yes?

Jill Geist
Is that good with the seconded of the motion. Is there any additional questions for the motion on the table? Supervisor Smith?

Jimmy Smith
So I guess I want to answer one of the things that came up twice on my list of question, I think I heard supervisor Rodoni say it, it says whos in charge, I think we are taking charge.

Jill Geist
I would like to add one more so that folks understand, we have definitely heard the complaints and have taken them with great seriousness. And some of the more serious concerns, if you will, have to do with some personnel related issues and I need to let you know that we dont deal with personnel issues from the dais, however, we do understand and I want to assure people that we are taking those up because they are personnel related and we will be conducting investigations accordingly.
So it has been a very long day, and I really want to thank everybody for your patience, maybe more importantly for your responsiveness, when we come back in, people have been very quick to come back into your seats, and I really appreciate that because that has not always been the case with some groups.
So thank you for all of your work. I have a motion and a second on the floor. All those in favor say aye, all opposed. And with that, that particular item is adjourned.