DAN GJERDE, newly elected 4th District supervisor, provided crisp, to-the-point answers to several questions we put to him this week:
AVA: Are you commuting to Ukiah from your home in Fort Bragg?
GJERDE: I sometimes spend the night in Ukiah. Supervisors get a monthly car allowance. I could also get reimbursed for two motel nights a week because I live so far from the County seat. What I’m doing is I’m getting the car allowance but I’m not also claiming the two motel nights, so if I stay in a motel I pay for it myself.
AVA: So, it's fair to say that the reimbursement practices of your predecessor do not guide yours?
AVA: How do you find the job so far?
GJERDE: In many ways it's like when I was on the Fort Bragg City Council for the first time. I'm talking to new people about new issues and learning about new things. After 14 years on the city council it was still enjoyable but a number of issues were coming up over and over again. It's stimulating to be working on new things with new people. The County has a thousand employees and lots of ancillary non-profits. You don't have that with Fort Bragg where there are less than 60 people working for the City. I'm happy to say that the City of Fort Bragg has operating reserves. When I was first elected the City had a general fund deficit of about $600,000 or about two months operating budget; now it has operating reserves equal to about six months operating expenses. It's interesting to hear some people debate whether or not the County should attempt to get its operating reserves up to $10 million, which would be about less than one month's operating budget.
AVA: How much local road money has been diverted to the Willits Bypass?
GJERDE: Mendocino Council of City Governments (MCOG), made up of representatives from the County and the four incorporated cities, have put in between $32 and $33 million. I joined MCOG in 2003 as a full voting member. By that time MCOG had already put $18 toward Willits Bypass, and had voted to pay 15% of the total project cost. Caltrans came back twice with revised figures for the project. I did vote twice for more money for the Bypass. However, if I lived in Willits, I would propose to solve the Willits traffic problem in Willits. But I also look at the fact that a majority of the people who have been elected to the Willits City Council, and each of the three supervisors from that area, have consistently voted for the Bypass. It's not the solution I would have proposed if I represented Willits. But I'm not elected from Willits so I've voted the way people from Willits have voted.
AVA: Were you and your MCOG colleagues aware all along of the route and means, a two-lane viaduct?
GJERDE: Originally they were proposing a 4-lane freeway, and the state said they were not going to fund four lanes. Caltrans regrouped and proposed the 2-lane project at about $300 million. This is an example of the state paying more than $200 million to divert something like 5,000 vehicles a day around Willits. That's a very large investment for 5,000 vehicles, less than what Caltrans is projecting. At Laytonville the count is 6,000 vehicles a day, which you can say is about the number of vehicles that will use the Bypass. The traffic going to Highway 20 and Brooktrails will still go through Willits.
AVA: The Willits Bypass is an ancient proposal, just as old as the clamor for the Cloverdale Bypass. If the protests hold up the Willits Bypass, and someone at the state level suddenly wakes up and says, “Hey! We're spending more than $200 million to divert 6,000 vehicles” and the Bypass money is diverted to much higher priority projects, does Mendo's road money return to Mendo?
GJERDE: My understanding is that about half of our money has been spent on right-of-way acquisitions. Those funds would not revert; they would go to the state's general fund. The other half hasn't been spent on rights of way and is earmarked for the construction phase of the project, and that money would again be available to us. I would support that money going to fix the problem in Willits. We've already written off that money, $33 million, to fix the problem in Willits, so it would makes sense to use it to fix the Willits problem. I wouldn't support re-directing it to some other area of Mendocino County if somehow the project collapses. The problem in Willits is a combination of poor planning over the years by both Willits and the County. We've had all this development in the Willits area with all of it feeding in and off Highway 101 with none of the development of parallel roads you'd normally have. It's a self-inflicted problem.
AVA: Supervisor Pinches, even before he was supervisor, proposed way back that the rail line become the Bypass route. That suggestion was ignored in favor of the fantasy, promoted by the Northcoast Democrats, that some day a train would again run between Eureka and Sausalito. But… But here we are with a cockamamie two-lane viaduct sunk into unstable lake bed.
GJERDE: Anything's possible, but my guess is Caltrans does not want to reconsider the Bypass. But if transportation decision makers at higher levels in LA and the Bay Area hear about the $300 million for Willits, they may say, “Wait a minute. We have real transportation problems in the urban areas of the state and we want that money redirected.
AVA: Brooktrails. We agree with Supervisor McCowen when he says that the annual turnover of unbuildable lots at Brooktrails amounts to the County's involvement in a real estate scam.
GJERDE: When McCowen brought up de-Teetering Brooktrails recently I requested that the County try to bring in the Planning Department on this to talk about the bigger issue, which is: Are there parcels out there that are not viable?
AVA: Yes. Hundreds of them, many purchased over and over again and soon defaulted on by distant buyers unaware they could never build on them.
GJERDE: If there are parcels that aren't viable, what could the County do to consolidate some of those parcels so when parcels are sold people are buying buildable parcels? As an outsider and a newcomer on the Board of Supervisors, it seems to me to do this is beyond the scope of the Brooktrails Board. It is the County of Mendocino that authorized the Brooktrails subdivision, which is really a failed subdivision. There are parcels that aren't buildable and someone is going to have to rectify that and that someone is going to have to be the County.
AVA: Will the County get anything from Prop 30? (Sales and income tax increase approved by voters in November of 2012) GJERDE: Kind of wait and see situation at the moment.
AVA: On County finances, you raised the issue the other day of off-the-books structures.
GJERDE: As you know, historically, County roads have been funded out of the property tax, and the property tax is half the County's general fund revenue stream. Coming from Fort Bragg where about 20% of the City's revenues come from the sales tax, every year the City has a company come in and audit businesses to make sure the City is receiving its share of the sales tax and to make sure the sales tax is being collected. Every four years the City makes sure the City's lodgings — motels, inns, bed and breakfasts — is reporting their bed tax because it's also 20% of the City's revenue. I'm a little shocked that the County of Mendocino, which receives half its revenue from the property tax, has not done a top-to-bottom evaluation of every parcel in Mendocino County maybe ever. We have six appraisers but they only get around to looking for new buildings when they have time to do it. But Prop 8 assessments have doubled their work load so they don't have the time to do what is normally a routine part of their job to make sure that if a building pops up without a building permit to make sure it gets on the County tax rolls. If you don't live in an incorporated town you have a good chance of getting by without a building permit.
AVA: What do you see coming up as a hot issue?
GJERDE: County roads. Trying to make the County's pension system more sustainable and affordable. County health. Mental Health.
AVA: Mental health outreach van? At present, the mental health budget is large, very large, but the Sheriff is doing the mental health heavy lifting…
GJERDE: There are County people looking at crisis intervention strategies. A staffer recently attended a session in Sonoma County that offered ways of assisting the mentally ill without incarcerating them.
AVA: It's very difficult for people in a county as large as this one to keep abreast of county-wide developments at the Supe's level. As you may know, ahem, the AVA is the only media in the County that tries to follow, and follow closely, the Supervisors, and we're the only paper that reaches every area of the County, much to the chagrin of our many detractors. But I've encountered constituents of yours, Mr. Gjerde, who weren't even aware that there was a County board of supervisors, all be them drawn from the more primitive sectors of Fort Bragg's otherwise brilliant and attractive population.
GJERDE: Here's what I've seen in my first few months as a supervisor: Obviously this organization is bigger than the City of Fort Bragg where all the council people are drawn from the same voter pool. Here, we're elected from a district. It's not like we're totally unknown outside our own district, but a supervisor does not have the same relationship with the voters that a councilperson does. Not an issue now with the supervisors where we all are getting along and trying to get along. Also, at the city level, everyone works for the city manager. They could lose their job if, say, they weren't showing up for work or weren't doing their job when they did show up. But at the County level, a good number of people are led by people who are independently elected. I wrote a memo to one elected department head and she never responded. Called her, learned she did nothing. Sent her a follow-up email, no response. You can see the problem with lines of accountability and getting people to follow-up on things.
KYLE EDWARD STORNETTA, 32, of Manchester-Point Arena will plead guilty in Ten Mile Court, Fort Bragg, to poaching steelhead from the Garcia River where the Garcia runs though Stornetta family property near Manchester. The fish were found in his freezer during a marijuana raid on Stornetta's home in March of 2012. Stornetta, represented by Keith Faulder of Ukiah, faces fines and restitution payments for the marijuana charges of some $40,000. Poaching on the Garcia threatens to undo ongoing efforts to restore the once lush Garcia fishery.
BUILD THE BYPASS, NO MATTER HOW BAD IT NOW IS. … OR: “OUTTA THE WAY, HIPPIES!”
From the March 26 BOS agenda packet.
(Notice the nice touch that the signature block is: “Dan Hamburg.")
(Also notice the phrase: “A small segment...” aka “A small but vocal minority...” aka, most Willits residents who have actually examined the project and area aware of its many flaws.)
SUBJECT/ITEM: Approval of Letter to Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty Expressing
Continued Support for the Willits Bypass Project
Previous Board/Board Committee Actions: Reoccurring support via the County’s Federal Legislative Program; September 23, 2008: Approval of new Freeway Agreement; March 6, 2007: Board discussion of CTC’s action to eliminate funding for the Willits Bypass project; February 27, 2007: Letter to CTC in support of funding Willits Bypass; January 13, 2004: Letter of Support of TEA 21 Reauthorization Funds; August 20, 2002: Resolution to CDOT regarding alignment; August 22, 2002: Resolution to CDOT regarding L/C Alignment; September 21, 1999: Resolution to State of California regarding fund project study; October 5, 1999: Resolution reconsideration (99-200) regarding approve and fund project study report; March 10, 1998: Discussion/direction regarding use of SB45 Funds; March 17, 1992: Proposed Willits Bypass - Caltrans considering reducing funds.
Summary Of Request: In light of recent delays to the Willits Bypass project, it is requested that the Board of Supervisors approve a letter to Malcolm Dougherty, Director of Caltrans, reaffirming the County’s position on the project, and also urging Caltrans’ collaboration with the necessary agencies to ensure the project moves forward without further impediment.
Sponsor: John Pinches
DRAFT OF LETTER
March 26. 2013
Malcolm Dougherty, Director, Caltrans
1120 N. Street, PO Box 942873
Sacramento, CA 94273-0001
Re: Continued Support for the Willits Bypass Project
Dear Director Dougherty,
Despite 14 years of environmental studies and six years to obtain the necessary permits from resource agencies, the U.S. 101 bypass of Willits remains a controversial project within a small segment of the local community. This letter is intended to remind you of the local need and commitment to the conclusion of this project. Since the first studies were underway, the Mendocino Council of Governments, the Willits City Council, and the County Board of Supervisors have each consistently endorsed the Willits Bypass. Additional backing has come from counties to the north. Furthermore, the California Transportation Commission unanimously supports the funding for this project. At this time, the public process for the Willits Bypass has concluded and the construction phase has begun. Please work with the appropriate agencies and take the necessary actions to allow the contractor and their employees to move forward without further delays and additional unnecessary costs to the tax payers. Sincerely, Dan Hamburg, Chair Board of Supervisors
CALTRANS was doing site-prep to begin construction on the Willits Bypass most of the day Friday. Three tree-sitters, including the senior sitter, Warbler, aka Ms. Amanda Senseman, have been warned that they face arrest. The tree sits are cordoned off behind a hastily-erected but stout fence. How the sitters will be extracted from their trees is not known. 8 people were arrested yesterday.
THE AVA'S WILL PARRISH was scooped up in the Bypass arrests yesterday. He writes: “I got out around 2pm. Thanks for checking. I woke up this morning (Thursday) under the tree at about 7 with about 15 CHP officers surrounding me. The amount of officers they deployed in Willits today was insane. I estimate about 30 squad cars and 50 officers. It felt like a military occupation, with them even setting up checkpoints along East Hill Rd. and Center Valley Rd. Most of them are sticking around for another day apparently and guarding the construction work. Fortunately, my experience in jail wasn't bad at all. I got cited and released with a misdemeanor.”
MENDOCINO COUNTY PRESS RELEASE: Congressman Jared Huffman Presentation to County Board of Supervisors
The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors will receive a presentation by Congressman Jared Huffman, representing the 2nd Congressional District, during its scheduled Board Meeting on Tuesday, March 26, 2013.
Congressman Huffman will provide a certificate and an award for bravery to a local high school student, Austin Morris, who saved a fellow crew member’s life while working on a research vessel off the coast of Japan during the summer of 2012. Following this presentation, the Congressman will update the Board of Supervisors on high priority items at the federal level such as sequestration and the debt ceiling. “We welcome our new congressional representative to our boardroom. We need a strong advocate for counties in Washington, DC and hope that Jared Huffman will be that person,” stated Board Chair Hamburg.
Congressman Huffman was elected to serve the 2nd Congressional District in November 2012, covering Humboldt, Trinity, Mendocino, Del Norte, Marin and Sonoma counties. Congressman Huffman previously served in the California State Assembly from 2006-2012, where he chaired more than 60 pieces of successful legislation. During that time, he also received numerous awards for his legislative leadership. Congressman Huffman said “I look forward to returning to Mendocino County to meet with the Supervisors, share an update about what is going on in Congress, and to hear about the county's legislative priorities.”
The public is encouraged to attend all Board of Supervisors meetings. Congressman Huffman is scheduled to speak at approximately 3:00 p.m. The Board of Supervisors Chambers is located at 501 Low Gap Road, Ukiah, CA. For additional information, please contact the Mendocino County Executive Office at 707.463.4441. Released by:
Carmel J. Angelo, Chief Executive Officer
GARDEN STARTS at Boonville Winter Market The time is here to begin thinking about growing your own veggies and herbs. Come on down to the Boonville Winter Market to pick up some starts. Petit Teton - farm-made fare, eggs, veggies, pork AV Community Farm - chicken eggs, duck eggs, goose eggs, kale, cabbage, kraut, and plant starts Alice - olives and strawberry, nettles and artichoke plants WildeAcre Farm - kefir, herb starts and gluten-free chia seed muffins Every Saturday until the end of April in front of the Boonville General Store, 10 - 12:30, rain or shine
OCEAN RECREATIONAL SALMON SEASON WILL OPEN APRIL 6
Salmon Season Alternatives Adopted For Review
by Dan Bacher
Three alternatives for 2013 ocean recreational and commercial salmon fisheries were adopted for public review at the March Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) in Tacoma, Washington. Detailed information on these ocean salmon fisheries will be available on the Council website (http://www.pcouncil.org) in the near future.
The Council will make a final decision for all ocean West Coast salmon fisheries for the May 1, 2013 through April 30, 2014 season at its April 5-11, 2013 meeting in Portland, Oregon.
For the month of April, the regulations are as follows, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife:
Humbug Mountain (OR) to Horse Mountain:
• Closed * (season will be decided in April)
Horse Mountain to Point Arena (Fort Bragg):
• Opens April 6-30, 2013
- 2 salmon per day of any species except coho
- minimum size limit: 20 inches (total length)
Point Arena to Pigeon Point (San Francisco):
• Opens April 6-30, 2013
- 2 salmon per day of any species except coho
- minimum size limit: 24 inches (total length)
Pigeon Point to U.S.-Mexico Border (Monterey Bay south):
• Opens April 6-30, 2013
- 2 salmon per day of any species except coho - minimum size limit: 24 inches (total length)
The current options for the season below Point Arena starting May 1 employ a mixture of size limits and days off the water during the summer to reduce impacts on Sacramento River winter run Chinook salmon.
The majority of impact on regulations will be felt in the Monterey/Santa Cruz area, the region responsible for 60% of the winter-run stock impacts. Half Moon Bay, the Bay Area, and Bodega Bay region will also be impacted, since 40 percent of winter run impacts take place in this region.
Option 1 for the San Francisco and Monterey South areas features fishing for 5 days per week in June and the first two weeks of July.
Option 2 features a Chinook minimum size limit of 24 inches total length through July 31 in the San Francisco area and a 26” minimum length in Monterey South during June and July.
Under both options, the season would run from April 6 through November 10 in the San Francisco area and April 6 through October 6 in Monterey South.
Option 3 features a Chinook minimum size limit of 24 inches total length through July 14; 20 inches thereafter in both the San Francisco and Monterey South areas.
The season would be April 6 through June 2 and June 8 through November 10 in the San Francisco zone and April 6 through July 14 and Aug. 1 through Oct. 6 in Monterey South.
The Sacramento River Fall Chinook ocean abundance is 834,200, slightly above last year’s forecast, according to Dr. Michael O’Farrell of the National Marine Fisheries Service. The number is based on the number of jacks (two year old fish) that returned the previous year.
Unfortunately, the winter run Chinook continues its struggle to survive, due to massive water exports out of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, and the low numbers will impact fishing seasons below Point Arena. Spawner escapement of endangered winter Chinook salmon in 2012 was estimated to be only 2,529 adults and 145 jacks.
The Klamath River abundance forecast is 727,682 fall run Chinooks, not the record abundance forecasted last year, but still above the long term average. A record run of 302,108 fall adult Chinook salmon returned to the Klamath River in 2012.
The California Fish and Game Commission will review the ocean recreational seasons and choose the in-river salmon season regulations at their April meeting. For more information, go to: http://www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/salmonpreseason.asp
The following is the remaining actions in the process for selection of the alternatives:
Mar. 12-31: Management agencies, tribes, and public develop their final recommendations for the regulatory alternatives. North of Cape Falcon Forum meetings are tentatively scheduled for March 13-14 and March 26-28.
Mar. 20: Council staff distributes Preseason Report II: Proposed Alternatives and Environmental Assessment Part 2 for 2013 Ocean Salmon Fishery Regulations to the public. The report includes the public hearing schedule, comment instructions, alternative highlights, and tables summarizing the biological and economic impacts of the proposed management alternatives.
Mar. 25-26: Sites and dates of public hearings to review the Council’s proposed regulatory options are: Westport, Washington (March 25); Coos Bay, Oregon (March 25); and Eureka, California (March 26). Comments on the options will also be taken during the April Council meeting in Portland, Oregon.
Apr. 6-11: Council and advisory entities meet to adopt final regulatory measures at the Sheraton Portland Airport Hotel, Portland, Oregon. Preseason Report II: Proposed Alternatives and Environmental Assessment Part 2 for 2013 Ocean Salmon Fishery Regulations, results from the public hearings, and information developed at the Council meeting is considered during the course of the week. The Council will tentatively adopt final regulatory measures for analysis by the STT on April 7. Final adoption of recommendations to NMFS is tentatively scheduled to be completed on April 11.
Apr. 12-20: The STT and Council staff completes Preseason Report III: Analysis of Council-Adopted Management Measures for and Environmental Assessment Part 3 2013 Ocean Salmon Fishery Regulations (Available April 22). Council and NMFS staff completes required National Environmental Policy Act documents for submission.
Apr. 22: Council staff distributes adopted ocean salmon fishing management recommendations, and Preseason Report III is made available to the public.
May 1: NMFS implements Federal ocean salmon fishing regulations.
Thank you to the hard-working and brilliant (yes, Dan, it’s true) 4th District Supervisor Dan Gjerde. Here’s the latest from Willits Weekly this morning on the protests against the Caltrans bypass around Willits: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=497981903591222
Check it out – you do NOT have to have a Facebook account to view this “business” Facebook page, you can read it like any other website.
Warbler is still in her tree, despite local talk, seemingly confirmed by a Press Democrat story posted at 4:30 last night: “Authorities prepare to arrest tree-sitters in Willits bypass fight.” Despite the headline, no “authorities” in the usual sense of the word were quoted in the story. The original odd phrasing stating: “Caltrans read Senseman her rights” (yes, I do have a screenshot, I thought it just odd enough to preserve), was just changed on the web site to: “Caltrans warned her.” I don’t know which version, if any, made it into today’s print edition, but would be happy to know if anyone can tell me.