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A Capsule History Of Class K

Sketches of the heartland — the Emerald Triangle — require that we go back to the beginning. Class K Code housing started with the back to the land movement in the early 1970s when city life was deteriorating, the Vietnam War was escalating and a whole generation of owner-builders was coming of age, seeking the peace of country life, living off the land in tune with Mother Nature, growing their own food and medicine.

The hippies from the cities moved to Mendocino County and made quite a name for themselves as owner-builders who staked their claims in the backwoods of the county and built their homes from trees on their own lands without expensive insulation or elaborate septic systems, which they claimed were unaffordable and unnecessary since they had outhouses.

The county responded by red-tagging large numbers of residents with extravagant requirements and fix-it notices that would have spelled the death of the owner-builders on their own land. So together, as a movement with human rights and property rights, they showed they were a hardy band of Anonforestlanders determined to stay. They launched United Stand, raised their own funds at hoe-downs, hired a lawyer and went to jury trial with a unified community on board. Barry Vogel argued in court that 5 US Presidents lived with outhouses without hassle, were not red tagged for inconsequentials and went on to be President of the United States. What's the problem here?

A tuned in Mendo jury acquitted them: there was no crime, no civil violation, no wrongdoing. Owner builders were 'grandfathered in' and accepted as equal citizens. The question then becomes does the grandfathering end with that generation or does it extend implicitly to this day, roughly 40 years later? The Class K Code Housing exemption should remain as is, without fancy amendments in the name of public health and safety.

If there is any amendment it should clearly state that in keeping with affordable housing goals of the County's General Plan and the greater social good alongside health and safety, a Class K exemption remains in effect — (or whatever).

The visionary nature of the original owner-builders made the Emerald Triangle world renown due to their pioneering accomplishment of living off the land, growing their own food and medicine—cannabis was a staple—and defending their collective right to survive. Their spirit still lives among us, and the effects are factual. If Class K Code Housing is smothered by short sighted legislation with stringent requirements that wipe out an entire generation and class of people, most of us living here now will no longer be welcome.

Any legislation that dishonors and smothers the iconic owner-builders from the modern Mendo landscape puts the BOS on the wrong side of history, is doomed to fail and will follow you into the future. If Class K Code Housing ends with fatal legislation the Mendo BOS will never be forgiven for forcing out icons and treasured homes with outdated mean spirited discriminatory building codes.

One Comment

  1. izzy March 1, 2018

    Indeed, with just a little less hyperbole. In a society as fractured and failing as ours is, with extremely serious social, economic, environmental, and political problems, we now routinely make much out of inconsequential issues to keep ourselves distracted from the nightmare this way of life has become for so many. And provide some sort of justification for an ever-expanding government now meddling in all aspects of life. The Class K brouhaha is a textbook example. A top-down solution in search of a problem that doesn’t really exist.

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