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Mendocino County Today: Thursday, Jan 29, 2015

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Dear Friends,

KZYX is looking for someone to serve on its board of directors from the Ukiah area. Time is running short, as all applications need to be in by this Friday at 5 PM. My apologies if you don't live in Ukiah--I don't have my email list sorted by town.

Right now, no one is running for the Ukiah seat, but it is very possible that King Collins could file at the last minute and be slam-dunk elected because the seat is uncontested. As you may know, King has been thrown out of (or not re-elected to) almost every organization he has ever been a part of in Mendocino County. He has a knee-jerk habit of disrupting the functioning of organizations by opposing or trying to discredit the people who have decision-making power (usually the ones who are doing the bulk of the work). King has filed as a last-minute candidate in all recent KZYX elections and it is very likely he will do it again. If he does it will be a disaster for the board (in the opinion of many).

Bob Page, one of the board members, told me he welcomes inquiries from anyone who might be interested in making sure that King (or someone similarly disruptive) doesn't get elected. He implied that your duties as a board member could be minimal if that is your preference. To be eligible, you need to reside in the 2nd supervisorial district (meaning that John McCowan [sic] is your elected supervisor), and you need to be a member of the station.

So, if you appreciate KZYX, please do toss your hat in the ring. KZYX is an important community resource and we need to keep it moving forward. You can get more information on the website: or call the station at 895-2324. Stuart Campbell, the elections coordinator and current inland board members Bob Page, Ed Keller and Eliane Herring would be happy to talk to you and answer any questions you may have.

Kate Marianchild, Ukiah

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CATCH OF THE DAY, Jan 28, 2015

Anguiano, Blakesly, Crider
Anguiano, Blakesly, Crider

MANISHA ANGUIANO, San Francisco/Ukiah. Probation revocation.

ANTHONY BLAKESLY, Kelseyville/Redwood Valley. Drunk in public.

MIKAEL CRIDER, Fort Bragg. Battery, court order violation.

Ellis, Gonzalez-Ramirez, Johnson
Ellis, Gonzalez-Ramirez, Johnson

KIRK ELLIS, Willits. Battery, probation revocation.

JULIAN GONZALEZ-RAMIREZ, Ukiah. DUI, possession of pot for sale.

NOEY JOHNSON, Ukiah. Under influence of controlled substance, false ID, probation revocation.

Lancaster, Lehre, Medvin
Lancaster, Lehre, Medvin

DAVID LANCASTER, Redwood Valley. Court order violation, probation revocation.

PATRICK LEHRE, Brentwood/Ukiah. Domestic battery.

GREGORY MEDVIN, Ukiah. Dirk-Dagger, driving on suspended license, resisting arrest.

Nieto, Parfet, Retzloff
Nieto, Parfet, Retzloff

RAMON NIETO, Willits. Drunk in public. (Frequent flyer.)

JUSTIN PARFET, Arcata/Ukiah. Driving on suspended license.

WILLIAM RETZLOFF, Ukiah. Resisting arrest.

Vega, Venturi, Wasson
Vega, Venturi, Wasson

LUIS VEGA, Ukiah. Possession/sale of meth, possession of smoking-injecting device.

JOSSEPH VENTURI, Ukiah. Possession of controlled substance.

ERROL WASSON, Fort Bragg. Failure to appear, probation revocation.

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In Debra Keipp's column, she mentioned Mayor Earlygrow. It's really Raven Earlygrow who also wrote a column in the Mendocino Commentary, Other Words-Other Worlds; In addition to a wonderful writer, Raven was also my very best friend who died after a long, painful fight with cancer. I think of him often and our times together, trying to solve the world’s many problems.

Harry Blythe, Portland, Oregon

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The problem with America is we grew up in Wonderland. After World War 2, with no real industrial competition, with all the gold, with the world reserve currency, we RULED. A man with limited talent and a high school education could raise a family on his salary alone, live a good life, and retire comfortably. Now with all that gone, and gone forever, America is BUMMED. We don’t want our old country back, we want fairy tale land back, and it ain’t coming back. So we have become SEDATED. We’re like the kid who had everything and when he grew up had nothing. The pain is worse than if he had never had anything ever. A lot worse. It is nostalgia on steroids.

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There were multiple reports (8:30 - 9:00 am) to the CHP of a red "Semi" truck (pulling a white trailer) driving erratically over SR 253 cutting off other vehicles and going into other lanes at high speeds.

The semi was last reported heading west (toward the coast) on SR 128 at the Boonville Fairgrounds.

(Courtesy, MendocinoSportsPlus)

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Wedenesday 1:08 pm; estimated magnitude: 5.7; centered about 25 miles southwest of Ferndale.

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Supervisor Dan Gjerde writes regarding the opening of Coast trail link joining Noyo Harbor with the old scenic Haul Road along the ocean front north of the old mill site: “Wow. My hometown can finally enjoy its coast. Sunshine welcomed hundreds of people who enjoyed Fort Bragg's coastline. Along the trail, you could see rocks that are part of the California Coastal National Monument."


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Kidnapping Suspects Linked to Anderson Valley

[Anderson Valley Advertiser, January 5, 1983]

by Betty Malmgren, Editor

Right before Christmas several Anderson Valley residents got a surprise. They read about an 11-year-old Vietnamese boy who escaped and led authorities to a parked van in San Francisco where two suspects were arrested and three-year-old Tara Burke was found. Little Tara had been kidnapped last February 6 from a shopping center. The television news had tearful close-ups of her being reunited with her family. Bay Area newspapers had pictures of the van where the two children had been held captive.

The boy and girl were allegedly beaten and sexually abused by the two suspects. Police were also reported to be investigating whether the case is connected to a larger child pornography ring. Since the arrest, there has not been much news coverage from the Bay Area — one concern already expressed was that the suspects get a fair trial.

One Anderson Valley resident said, "When I saw that van I knew right away." What she knew was that the suspects, Luis "Tree Frog" Johnson, 33, and Alex Cabarga, 18, had lived in Boonville, had played with her child.

The suspects' connection with the Mendocino Coast — especially the Albion area — was quickly established. Once we learned the suspects had lived in Anderson Valley, it was not difficult to find Boonville residents who remembered them. However, most did not wish to be identified.

We got the same impressions of "Tree Frog" from several different people. The picture those who knew him paint is of a drifter, a "moocher," someone who hangs around until asked to leave. And he hung around with several different Boonville families over a period of several years. "He was a flake, light fingered — he never grew up," was one comment.

One Boonville resident remembered Cabarga was about 14 when she last saw him here. "He was like Tree Frog's son. I wondered where they got money to live on. I think Alex's mother gave him [Tree Frog] $300 a month to take care of him but he was secretive. They went from house to house until he wore out his welcome." The same woman described him as coming on "like a friend of kids," and recalled expensive gifts he brought Alex.

Another Boonville mother met Tree Frog through Alex, who was known here by the nickname "Hadario." While she wasn't sure of the spelling of that nickname, she recalled the day he knocked on her door and asked her to play with her son. Tree Frog often played games with younger neighborhood children and she was impressed that he would take responsibility for the younger Hodario. She also recalled meeting Hodario's mother.

She said at the time she felt positive about her son being exposed to Tree Frog since there are so few blacks in the valley. He seemed to be good with children until an incident aroused her suspicions. She also recalled Tree Frog told lots of stories of trips taken to Mexico and had expensive movie equipment and expensive gifts he tried to give her son. Another Boonville woman also recalled his expensive camera equipment but said, at the time, she didn't question it.

Few Boonville residents who knew the pair expressed surprise over their arrest for the kidnapping and various sex charges. "He [Tree Frog] was not a violent person so I was a little surprised," said one. "I think it's real possible," said another adding, "he was kind of a nut, some of the stories were a little crazy. I was kind of afraid of him." A third woman who said she met the pair in 1978 said his attitude was one of "get what you can. I'm sure he's guilty. He [Alex] was his first victim."

While many who knew the pair in Boonville said they had not seen them for about three years, several persons reported seeing them as recently as two or three months ago. One woman said she saw a Tree Frog in the AV Market and that his "cohort" was waiting in the van. Other Boonville resident who had known him reported seeing him here about the same time although they couldn't remember exactly. Concern was expressed that perhaps the young kidnapped Tara was with them. "If we had only known," was one thought.

At least one source reported seeing Tree Frog here more recently — perhaps as recently as a month ago. Some of those we talked to had also been questioned by Sheriff's Deputy Dennis Miller. However, Miller was unavailable for comment at deadline.

Meanwhile, in the Bay Area the two suspects are being held and court dates being scheduled.

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Note: With the discovery that the Bay Area kidnap suspects had lived in Boonville, one can't help but think of other former residents who made headlines here: Jim Jones, Charles Manson and one is reminded of the Parnell kidnap case, Leonard Lake's storehouse of weapons — crimes and individuals like those may be routine in large cities but here they seem to hit harder — perhaps because in such a small area often residents knew those involved personally. With this latest case we have heard more than one resident ask why the Valley attracts such "kooks." Is that a fair question? We would defend the area pointing to all the good news here, the good people who will never make headlines. —B.M.

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(LA Times, September 3, 1988)

208-Year Term in 1982 Child Molestation Case Rejected

by Philip Hager

A San Francisco-based state Court of Appeal, ruling in a notorious 1982 child molestation case, has upheld the convictions of two men for the sexual abuse of a 2-year-old girl who was abducted and held prisoner for 10 months in a filthy van.

But the panel overturned the 208-year sentence of Alex Cabarga, who was a teen-ager when the crimes were committed. The court found that Cabarga, now 22, had been dominated and abused by co-defendant Luis Reynaldo (Tree Frog) Johnson who taught him that child molesting was "normal" and struck him when he disobeyed orders.

The court affirmed all but 64 years of a 527-year term imposed on Johnson, 39, who was convicted of 100 counts of sex offenses and other crimes involving the girl, and a boy, then 10, who escaped and led police to the van where the girl was being held.

The court also upheld the conviction of Cabarga, who the panel noted had been turned over by his parents to Johnson as a youngster. But the court overturned Cabarga's sentence as cruel and unusual.

"A sentence of life imprisonment for Cabarga, who the evidence overwhelmingly discloses was Johnson's 'third victim,' is constitutionally excessive," Appellate Justice Jerome A. Smith wrote in an opinion joined by Appellate Justice Allison M. Rouse.

In dissent, Appellate Justice J. Anthony Kline, while agreeing that Cabarga's conviction should be upheld, said Cabarga should never have been tried as an adult and that he was entitled to a new hearing to challenge a ruling that he was legally sane.

"If the record makes anything clear it is that Alex Cabarga is as tragic a victim as (the 2-year-old girl); a victim not just of Tree Frog Johnson but of the misguided parents who delivered him to that monstrous pedophile at the age of about 10," Kline wrote.

Alan M. Caplan of San Francisco, Cabarga's attorney, said he was "ecstatic" that the court had overturned the sentence. "It's about time someone in the system recognized Alex was a victim too," he said.

Caplan said that in future proceedings, he will ask a trial court here to issue a short sentence that will allow for parole or release of Cabarga immediately under stringent conditions in which he would receive mental therapy. Cabarga is being held in Soledad State Prison.

The girl, now 9, was kidnaped from a shopping center in February, 1982, while her parents were in a store. Two months after the girl was kidnaped, the boy moved into the van with Johnson to escape his parents, according to testimony in the case. After his escape, the boy told authorities that he and the girl had been kept prisoner and repeatedly abused, with the girl being forced to perform sex acts in exchange for food.

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"SONGS OF CIVIL WAR": Sheet music display opens First Friday at Grace Hudson Songs of loss and loyalty:

Sheet music from Civil War reveals Grace Hudson's family heritage

by Roberta Werdinger

The Grace Hudson Museum's monthly First Friday at the Museum series continues on Friday, February 6th, from 5 to 8 pm, with the opening of an exhibit in the Spriggs Foyer titled "Songs of the Civil War: Sheet Music from the Museum Collections." The exhibit features 15 pieces of original printed music composed during the Civil War from the Museum's collection of items belonging to Grace Hudson's family. They will be displayed alongside a 19th-century reed organ, called a melodeon, which belonged to Grace's mother. The exhibit and evening at the Museum are free to all as part of the City of Ukiah's First Friday Art Walk events, and refreshments will be served.


"The staff of the Grace Hudson Museum wanted to commemorate the Sesquicentennial (150th anniversary) of the Civil War because Grace Hudson's family had many ties to it. Using the sheet music to do that allows us to share a part of the collection that is usually hidden from view," explains Karen Holmes, Acting Curator of the Museum.

In addition, First Friday Art Walk participants can enjoy "Jules Tavernier: Artist & Adventurer--The Illustrations," now on exhibit in the Museum's main gallery. This gathering of wood engravings and paintings by French artist Jules Tavernier (1844-1889) ably captures the drama of the westward move of European settlers in the 1870s and the dramatic encounters with native cultures and animals that ensued.

The Museum will also present a live concert of Civil War music on Sunday, March 8, featuring songs from the sheet music collection and a performance on the melodeon that is on display. March 8 is the last day that both "Songs of the Civil War" and "Jules Tavernier" will be on exhibit.

The Grace Hudson Museum is at 431 S. Main St. in Ukiah and is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 am to 4:30 pm, and Sunday from noon to 4:30 pm. For more information please go to or call (707) 467-2836.

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January 23, 2015

Benjamin Mayes, Kristopher Kellem, Brian Gatton, Austin Young, Fredrick Tiempo, Johnny Vega, Robert Casey, Jose Jesus Gonzalez, Wyatt Galton, Jorge Jacinto, Jordan Milani-Matthews, Joshua Miller, Brandon Mendenhall-Jack, Daniel Campbell, Kyle Pinson, Wade Sizemore, Jake Walton, Diego Lopez, Jason Ius, Richard Maldonado II, Makenzie Gould, Cristal Tapia, Andrea Pennebaker, Dalton Olson, Peirce Thomas, Alejandra Valderama, Danielle Ward, Jeremy Whitaker

Ukiah — Over 400 family and community members attended the CalFire graduation ceremony at Ukiah High School Friday, January 23. The 2015 class of 28 high school and adult students were honored for their completion of the Basic Wildland Fire Fighting Academy sponsored by CalFire and Mendocino County Office of Education. All of the students successfully completed 180 hours of firefighting training at the CalFire Howard Forrest training center. Each student was able to earn up to 14 certifications provided by CalFire to qualify for the application process to be a seasonal firefighter in Mendocino County for the upcoming 2015 fire season. The ceremony began at 6:30 PM with bagpipes accompanying the graduates into the cafeteria. The adults graduating were from the coast, inland and north Mendocino County. The high school students represented Ft. Bragg, Ukiah, Willits and Laytonville high schools. The partnership of CalFire and Mendocino County Office of Education has produced and certified over 70 seasonal local CalFire firefighters in the past three years. During the 2014 fire season, 100% of graduates were offered employment in the fire service and made a significant difference in a season filled with many critical fire events in our county. For more information on the Wildland Fire Academy, or other Career Technical Education opportunities, contact Carlee Prine at 467-5123 or

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On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair

Warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air

Up ahead in the distance, I saw a shimmering light

My head grew heavy and my sight grew dim

I had to stop for the night

There she stood in the doorway;

I heard the mission bell

And I was thinking to myself,

"This could be Heaven or this could be Hell"

Then she lit up a candle and she showed me the way

There were voices down the corridor,

I thought I heard them say...


Welcome to the Hotel California

Such a lovely place (Such a lovely place)

Such a lovely face

Plenty of room at the Hotel California

Any time of year (Any time of year)

You can find it here


Her mind is Tiffany-twisted, she got the Mercedes bends

She got a lot of pretty, pretty boys she calls friends

How they dance in the courtyard, sweet summer sweat.

Some dance to remember, some dance to forget


So I called up the Captain,

"Please bring me my wine"

He said, "We haven't had that spirit here since nineteen sixty nine"

And still those voices are calling from far away,

Wake you up in the middle of the night

Just to hear them say...


Welcome to the Hotel California

Such a lovely place (Such a lovely place)

Such a lovely face

They livin' it up at the Hotel California

What a nice surprise (what a nice surprise)

Bring your alibis


Mirrors on the ceiling,

The pink champagne on ice

And she said "We are all just prisoners here, of our own device"

And in the master's chambers,

They gathered for the feast

They stab it with their steely knives,

But they just can't kill the beast


Last thing I remember, I was

Running for the door

I had to find the passage back

To the place I was before

"Relax, " said the night man,

"We are programmed to receive.

You can check-out any time you like,

But you can never leave! "

--Don Henley, Glenn Frey

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The below comments are excellent. The first is news to me--fish and game urging the city against this lame brain wrote back saying it wont use much water!!!

Hope you can use it.

Am ailing today, will watch the meeting on line — Alice Chouteau

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From: Margaret Reiter <>

Date: January 28, 2015 at 11:46:01 AM PST


Subject: Comments in Opposition to Hare Creek Project

Attached are my original comment, which I filed yesterday, and an addendum I filed today after reading the Fish and Wildlife letter and FB response to it.

Hope they can be of some use to your husband tonight. I don't think anyone will see them except the commissioners because I just filed them, and probably the proponent of the development. So it may be helpful to raise some of the points I mention that make the staff determination on the definition of a big box retail dead wrong. Which if it is, means they need to do a full analysis of the impact on commercial businesses, etc., even if we can't get them to do a full EIR.

Margaret Reiter

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Comment on File # 15-006

Coastal Development Permit (CDP 8-13), Design Review (DR 7-13), Use Permit (USP 5-13) and Lot Line Adjustment (LLA 3-2014)

FILE DATE: October 21, 2013

APPLICANT: Group II Real Estate

OWNER: Bill Patton


Fort Bragg’s Coast General Plan has as a major goal, Goal LU-4, to “Promote the economic vitality of the City’s existing commercial areas.” In evaluating the policies under this goal, the staff report both incorrectly interpreted those policies and failed to address a variety of deficiencies in the documents submitted by the applicant.

  1. The Development is a Big Box Retail and Should Be Reevaluated under the Requirements for that Type of Development

Although staff found that the proposed development meets most criteria that would require analysis as a big box retail, staff erroneously stated that two criteria do not apply. Failing to apply the correct big box requirements means staff has also failed to evaluate fully the impact of the development.

  1. The Development Meets the Size Generally Considered a Big Box Retail Development under the Coastal General Plan Land Use Policies

A “big box retail” is defined as

“A large formula retail establishment that is generally located on an arterial or collector roadway, requires a site of one acre or larger, and generally contains one or several businesses or structures totaling 30,000 or more square feet. They may operate as stand-alone facilities, but also in a type of shopping center called a ‘power center’ or ‘value mall’ having common characteristics including large warehouse-sized buildings and a reliance on auto-borne traffic. Warehouse retail stores that emphasize the packaging and sale of products in large quantities or volumes, some at discounted prices, where products are typically displayed in their original shipping containers. Patrons may be required to pay membership fees.”

Additional requirements would apply if the development fit this definition.[1]

The staff erroneously states that the development is not a big box retail.

In pointing out how the planned development does not meet the definition, staff draws attention away from the full size of the development by focusing attention to the size of only one building at 15,000 square feet. Staff Rpt. p. 3. The definition, however is based not on the size of one building, but on the total size of all of the “structures.” It appears that the portion of the development planned for retail, at 29,500 square feet, was carefully planned to just avoid the part of the definition that notes a big box retail “generally” contains . . . 30,000 or more square feet.

The staff report does not specify the total square feet of all the structures.[2] It does state, however, that in addition to the retail space, there are other structures including water tanks, truck bays and other items. The drawings of the elevations and site seem to show at least five large water tanks, perhaps two smaller ones (smaller round areas on site plan), a shed and a covered truck bay, all of which are not within the footprint of the three buildings included in the 29,500 square foot total. These additional structures appear to total more than 500 square feet. Further, as defined, various other items proposed for the property, including parking, etc. are also “structures,” but were not included in the total of square feet in the development.

Thus, it appears that this development meets the 30,000 square foot general description of a big box retail development under the Coastal General Plan Land Use provision, which requires a more detailed analysis of its impact. Even if it is somehow argued to be under 30,000 feet, it requires such scrutiny because it otherwise meets the criteria for a big box retail and is so close to the size generally considered a big box retail.

  1. The Staff Applied an Erroneous Definition of “Power Center” in Determining the Project is Not a Big Box Retail

As noted above, a Big Box Retail is described in the Coastal General Plan land use policies as

“A large formula retail establishment that is generally located on an arterial or collector roadway, requires a site of one acre or larger, and generally contains one or several businesses or structures totaling 30,000 or more square feet. They may operate as stand-alone facilities, but also in a type of shopping center called a ‘power center’ or ‘value mall’ having common characteristics including large warehouse-sized buildings and a reliance on auto-borne traffic.

Warehouse retail stores that emphasize the packaging and sale of products in large quantities or volumes, some at discounted prices, where products are typically displayed in their original shipping containers. Patrons may be required to pay membership fees.”

The description clearly uses the phrases “power center” and “value mall” here to differentiate a development that is not a single stand alone building from one that is a single, stand alone building. It further describes what it means by a “power center” or “value mall” by noting such developments have large warehouse size buildings and reliance on auto traffic. Nevertheless, the staff searches elsewhere to define those two phrases. It relies not on city planning treatises or city planning research, but rather on a Wikipedia definition. Wikipedia’s description of a power center says it has 250,000 to 600,000 square feet of retail and three or more “big box retailers.”

Clearly, Fort Bragg did not contemplate such a description of the big box retails it intended to address in its coastal general plan. It is highly unlikely that Fort Bragg contemplated that a development would have to be of such a massive scale to require compliance with the requirements for a big box development. The entire retail development of downtown Fort Bragg is identified in the staff report as less than 200,000 square feet. A 250,000 square foot development would be equal to more than 80 percent of all current retail development in Fort Bragg. Indeed, the Coastal General Plan specified that “generally” a big box development would be 30,000 square feet or more. In context, the Plan does not contemplate that a development would need to be so massive as 250,000 square feet to be considered a Big Box development.

Staff contends its determination that the proposed project is not a big box retail development is consistent with a past determination that the Boatyard is not a big box retail development. Staff does not say when that earlier determination was made. Presumably staff is referring to the original development of the Boatyard. So, that determination was made decades ago, in a different era, under a different general plan, so is not determinative, or even persuasive as to the correct determination under the current plan.

This project cannot be allowed to proceed without the analysis required for big box developments. As described below, such an analysis is sorely needed to address this project.

  1. The Staff Report Failed to Demonstrate the Validity of its Determination that the Development Will Have Minimal Impact on Existing Retail, Particularly Downtown Retail

Staff differentiated two types of retail:

“1. Destination retail stores (such as grocery stores, auto parts stores, drug stores, furniture, garden supplies, etc.) serve the shopping needs of customers who are seeking specific products rather than a general retail “experience.” Shoppers generally drive to these stores to buy the specific items that they need and the experience is not intended to entertain or be a social experience.

  1. Recreational retail is undertaken for the shopping experience. The downtown serves this market niche with gifts, art, jewelry, clothing, specialty retail and dining.”

Staff did not describe how it came to this conclusion. It appears to be a gross simplification. Real shopping trips are not so simple. Nor is the differentiation of the types of stores so clear. Downtown Fort Bragg has a hardware store, hardly a spot for “recreational” shopping. Until recently, the Boatyard had yarn and fabric shops, and still has a clothing store - not what staff defines as “destination” shopping. The stark differentiation proposed seems ignorant of the demise of downtown shopping elsewhere across the country after the arrival of malls placed on the outskirts.

Depending on the mix of stores in the proposed project, shoppers headed for groceries may find the kind of stationary supplies they would otherwise go to Racine’s for. The project may include a restaurant, clearly a competitor of downtown dining locations. Will there be yet another hair salon to compete with those in downtown Fort Bragg? Clearly, the blithe suggestion that most stores, except for Safeway, will be little affected is little more than a guess. Any analysis of other towns of this size and the impact of malls tells a very different story. The staff report notes we already have 13 vacant store fronts. This vacancy rate appears to have been increased by the great recession. As we are finally beginning to recover, this is not the time to make operating in downtown Fort Bragg an even more risky proposition. Staff is wrong when it says the development would not materially interfere with the commercial vitality of existing business. Such a conclusion is contrary to the goal of the Coastal General Plan and the underlying policies.

  1. Water Quality and Quantity Determinations Do Not Appear to Account for Vast Paved Areas.

Although the water report cited claims water will be recharged in the aquifer due to permeable paving, etc., the plans seem to show permeable paving only in pedestrian and other small areas dividing parking areas. Parking areas, for 99 cars, seem not to be permeable. Yet they seem to drain into the water being used to recharge the aquifer. Thus, the oil and gas from the parking area seems to be counted as water to be used to recharge the aquifer. There seems no analysis of how these impurities will affect the aquifer. Recharged but polluted is not an adequate solution. Similarly, given the massive amount of space covered with buildings, parking, tanks, sheds, etc., as well as the water usage for such a large complex itself, a claim that the aquifer will be fully recharged seems unreliable, without draining the parking lot polluted water into the aquifer. Staff suggests further studies can be done after the project is approved, to deal with water quality concerns, but by then it will be too late. We need to know now, that our water will not be impacted, before the shovels start to turn the soil. If the water used to recharge the aquifer may be polluted water, then that plan will not work and the project should not be allowed to proceed.

  1. Setbacks Too Narrow/Appearance

According to staff, 5 water tanks are within the front setback limits, which is prohibited without a conditional use permit. The claim is that they need to be on the lowest part of the lot to make the water catchment system work. This is very confusing. First, the plans show three large tanks in one area and two large and two small round items (presumably tanks) in other areas. If the “front” setback fronts the highway, only two tanks are there. Those two closest to the highway do not appear to be in the lowest areas. Additionally, the drawings show other structures in alignment with the tanks, so presumably also too far into the setbacks, including a concrete wall (near three of the tanks), what appear to be refuse bins, and part of building C. The report states that the tanks could not be situated elsewhere. Clearly they could, if the buildings were reduced in scale. The report seems to accept that the developer is entitled to this large development, even though it means some of the structures have to be put in the setback. The drawing shows the building along the highway is much closer to the highway than the neighboring building of the miniature golf course.

Also confusing are the elevation drawings which show only two tanks and no tanks on the side where two smaller circles on the plans seem to indicate two circular structures, which may also be tanks. No elevation drawing shows the side where the three large tanks are located, nor do these drawings of the site show the signage. So, it is difficult to conclude, based on what has been provided, that the appearance is acceptable. We cannot rely on elevations that do not match the plans, or that do not include views showing tanks, concrete wall, signage, etc.

  1. This Project Should Not Be Approved Absent Further and Better Analysis of Potential Problems and Changes to Address Them Adequately

I have highlighted a few of the most glaring issues only. This plan is not ready to move forward. It must be analyzed as required by LU 4-2 and in order to address the other issues raised here. It should not move forward until a water quality plan can be reconciled with the water recharging plan. The whole plan should be considered more carefully in light of its potential impact on the existing commercial businesses of Fort Bragg, the character of the community, and the impact on Todd’s Point residents.

Submitted by

Margaret Reiter, Fort Bragg

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Addendum to My Previous Comment on File # 15-006

Coastal Development Permit (CDP 8-13), Design Review (DR 7-13), Use Permit (USP 5-13) and Lot Line Adjustment (LLA 3-2014)

FILE DATE: October 21, 2013

APPLICANT: Group II Real Estate

OWNER: Bill Patton


I have now had the opportunity to read the California Department of Fish and Wildlife letter opposing approval of this project and Fort Bragg’s response to that letter. I had not addressed water diversion in my initial comment. I provide this addendum to address that concern.

Fish and Wildlife points out the extreme diversion of crucial water for fish populations that the city engages in:

Fort Bragg diverts more than 80% of Waterfall Gulch and up to 50% of the Noyo River stream flow. Fish have virtually disappeared from our streams and rivers.

Fish and Wildlife also cites the proposed mitigated negative declaration for approval of this project, which outlines the severe limits on Fort Bragg’s ability to provide more water for additional developments:

Fort Bragg’s response basically says, we won’t need to take any additional water from these streams and river to supply water to this development. This response does not seem to recognize that the city could not even supply existing development during the extended drought, without major cutbacks in usage by customers. Last summer I saw a Noyo river bed, up beyond the influence of the ocean tides, that consisted of gravel, sand and occasional small pools of water – hardly a “flow” to be seen.

Fort Bragg’s response also says, in effect, we don’t have to care about the reduced stream flows which have so mightily reduced our fishing because of a court case, we don’t have to respond to Fish and Wildlife concerns about violations of state water regulations.

Fort Bragg’s response also says, don’t worry, it is going to be doing a bunch of things to conserve water, including that it is going to be building a new reservoir next year. I have seen over the years many things the city was going to do “next year,” which have often stretched into many years before the project was started, much less completed. If we are counting on the new reservoir to supply adequate water for new development, then new development needs to wait until the reservoir is completed and filled. Otherwise, the city really cannot insure adequate water for existing businesses and citizens, as well as this large new development.

In short, all of the water components for this project - the water recharge plan, the plan for dealing with water pollution, and the water improvements that will enable water supply even during a drought - cannot be evaluated without regard to each other, some delayed to final project approval stages, or beyond, yet be claimed adequate now.

Fort Bragg claims that it is improper for Fish and Wildlife to raise the city’s current deficiencies in water diversion and supply in connection with this project. That is to say, our plans are inadequate already, but that should not be considered in approving a new project that did not cause the inadequacies. Presumably that is a technical legal argument for not using common sense. But to claim that the new project will not require increased diversion is to say that in a drought, we simply won’t supply water to that project. We all know that is not how it will work.

The city needs to apply both the law and common sense. We need to have a complete picture of the potential water impacts, of all sorts, before the planning commission allows this project to move forward.

* * *


* * *


by Dan Bacher

The Winnemem Wintu Tribe, fishing groups and environmentalists have been fighting a federal plan to raise Shasta Dam for many years, since the 18-1/2 foot proposed dam raise would flood many of the Tribe's remaining sacred sites and further imperil salmon and steelhead populations on the Sacramento River.

The Tribe held a war dance at Shasta Dam in September 2004 to oppose the dam raise - and conducted another war dance in September 2014 to oppose the dam expansion and the Brown Water Plan to drain the Delta.

“Any raising of the dam, even a few feet, will flood some of our last remaining sacred sites on the McCloud River – sites we still use today,” said Caleen Sisk, Winnemem Chief and Spiritual Leader. "We can't be Winnemem any place else but the McCloud River. The dam raise is a form of cultural genocide."

“We pray that the spirit beings hear us and bring all of our helpers, from the high mountain meadows all of the way to the ocean,” she stated before the war dance began. “Our concern is the health of the waterways. We are here at the dam that blocks the salmon on a river that should be full of salmon.”

She described Shasta Dam as “a weapon of mass destruction” against the Winnemem Wintu and said the idea of dams is a “horrible archaic project.”

The campaign by the Tribe and their allies to stop Shasta Dam from being raised received a boost when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently issued a revised draft report on the proposed enlargement of the dam revealing how the dam raise will indeed harm salmon populations.

The agency concluded that it cannot support any of the proposed action alternatives, including the preferred alternative presented by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the federal agency controls and operates the dam.

The Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) issued a controversial draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) on dam enlargement in 2013. The project must be approved by Congress - and justified by both economic and environmental rationales, according to a joint news release from the California Water Impact Network (C-WIN) and the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA). Taxpayers would pay for two-thirds of the $1.1 billion project,

In an earlier cost/benefit analysis, BOR determined that payments by Central Valley Project water and power customers alone would provide minimal justification for the project economically. Consequently, 61% of the "economic justification"' now touted by the agency is a larger cold water pool behind the dam to "improve" Sacramento River salmon survival during critically dry years, the groups said.

In response, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) stated in its recent draft report that the project is not justifiable because it provides no net benefits to salmon, and will result in negative environmental impacts that cannot be mitigated.

"The limited benefit derived from dam enlargement and the preferred alternative CP4A during dry and critically dry years will likely be offset by river conditions downstream of RBPP (Red Bluff Pumping Plant) in the mainstem Sacramento and the Delta," the report stated. "The enlargement of Shasta Dam and the water management scenario described for CP4A will reduce the rearing capacity of the Sacramento River for juvenile salmonids by further altering the natural successional process of riparian forest habitat, and by reducing juvenile salmonid access to the high quality rearing habitat found in floodplains and bypasses because of reduced high water flow events."

Tom Stokely, water policy analyst for the California Water Impact Network, commented, “This report documents the Bureau of Reclamation’s own data that shows the project will not benefit salmon in the Sacramento River. We knew all along that the Bureau of Reclamation had a phony economic justification to enlarge Shasta Dam. Now we have another federal agency agreeing with us.”

Stokely said it is clear that any water that would result from the enlargement of the dam “is intended for the poisoned lands of the Westlands Water District south of the Delta. This is just another deception by BOR to provide more subsidized water under the guise of a public benefit.”

The USFWS report further stated that the Bureau of Reclamation would have considered several options that were removed early in the consideration process if salmon restoration had been a true priority.

Those actions include repairing the multi-million dollar Shasta Dam temperature control device; restoring the riparian corridor along the Sacramento River; operational changes to Shasta Dam to increase cold water storage and increase minimum flows; increasing water use efficiency in local canals; and considering conjunctive use of other existing and planned water storage facilities in the Central Valley.

“It’s instructive to note that all these actions would cost a fraction of dam enlargement,” said Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance. “This isn’t just an environmental and fisheries issue. It’s about the squandering of taxpayer dollars. It’s about pork barrel politics, about public money flowing from the public coffers to the handful of corporate farmers in the San Joaquin Valley who control water in California.”

Responding to the report, Chief Caleen Sisk said, "While the US Fish and Wildlife biologists are on track, they offer no resolve as to a 'fix.'" She criticized the agencies for refusing to include the Tribe in efforts to restore wild salmon.

"So far the US Fish and Wildlife Service, NOAA and BOR have not included the Winnemem Wintu Tribe in the solutions to address the wild Chinook," Sisk emphasized. "There are no studies, that I am aware of, that address the flooding of salmon spawning grounds, unless they have finally realized that the raise of Shasta Dam will flood the Sacramento River, McCloud River, and Squaw Creek. These are all possible rich spawning waters that will be flooded by the 18.5' raise."

"Perhaps the BOR is now being held accountable for more than the 'cold water pool' to help salmon," she said. "The Shasta Dam raise EIS cites no effort to provide a swimway passage for the wild winter run and all runs of Chinook, nor makes any effort to assist salmon in the mountain waters."

The Tribe has been trying for years to restore winter run Chinook to the McCloud River above Shasta Lake by reintroducing the original strain of winter Chinook that are now thriving in the Rakaira and other rivers in New Zealand, but the federal agencies have to date refused to back their efforts.

"There is no effort to work with the Indigenous Peoples of the McCloud River Watershed," said Sisk. "The BOR's plans for wild winter run Chinook fall desperately short of a real viable production of salmon."

She concluded, "The Winnemem Wintu stand ready to assist as soon as Sue Fry of the Bureau of Reclamation will allow us to participate in the plan."

Jennings noted that the report is only a revised draft, and that it could be "steamrolled" by the Bureau and politicians controlled by corporate agribusiness.

“Given the political implications of the report, CSPA is very concerned that it may be rewritten by Obama Administration political appointees who support enlargement of Shasta Dam,” he said.

Jennings also said the Bureau of Reclamation’s "egregious dishonesty" in spinning the “benefits” of enlarging Shasta Dam also calls into question the economic justification for other new or enlarged dams planned for California, including Sites Reservoir and Temperance Flat.

Both these projects may be eligible for funding under Proposition 1, Governor Jerry Brown's water bond that the voters approved in November. The Winnemem Wintu Tribe, California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, California Water Impact Network and other Tribes and organizations opposed Prop. 1, while agribusiness, the oil industry, Big Tobacco, corporate environmental "NGOs," timber barons, billionaires, other corporate interests and the Governor spent over $16.4 million to pass the bond.

But Stokely emphasized, "the evidence is increasing that they’re economic and environmental boondoggles, and will provide little if any benefit in mitigating the state’s water crisis."

“The Stanford Woods Institute recently came out with a study stating that underground storage is six times more cost effective than surface storage,” Stokely said. “Obviously, destructive and expensive infrastructure projects are the wrong track. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had the guts and integrity to say as much. We applaud them for it.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Revised Draft Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act Report on the Shasta Lake Water Resources Investigation can be found at

The Stanford Woods Institute report on underground storage costs compared to surface storage can be found at

For more information, go to:

California Water Impact Network (C-WIN):

California Sportfishing Protection Alliance:

Winnemem Wintu Tribe:

[1] Policy LU-4.2: Require that a fiscal and economic analysis be performed as part of the

conditional use permit process for big box retail projects. The analysis shall evaluate the

economic effects of the project for a minimum five-year time frame. A consultant selected by

the City and paid for by the project proponent shall carry out the analysis.

[2] As defined by the Fort Bragg Municipal Code: “Structure. Anything constructed or erected, the use of which requires attachment to the ground or attachment to something located on the ground. For the purposes of this Land Use and Development Code, the term “structure” includes “buildings,” but does not include swimming pools.”

One Comment

  1. Harvey Reading January 29, 2015


    Libertarianism obviously is alive and well. Funny how the more fascist-authoritarian the group, the more their descriptive titles suggest freedom and equality.

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