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Valley People (March 7, 2018)

IT’S VARIETY SHOW TIME again—this very weekend we will have the opportunity to see many local folks strut their stuff onstage at the 27th annual Anderson Valley Variety Show at our Grange in Philo! Tickets are available this week at Lemon's Market in Philo and at the Anderson Valley Market in Boonville. They are $10 for adults and $5 for seniors and kids. We will have no less than 100 tickets available at the door each night, so come on down to the Grange this Friday and Saturday, March 9th and 10th, before the doors open at 6:30. All your friends will be there early, and there will be food available to purchase in the parking lot before the show. It's always a fun party! We have so many exciting acts from near and further, and as always, both nights are unique, so you won't want to miss a thing. Saturday night, there will be an after party at Lauren's until midnight, with snacks and libations to celebrate the fun. Still, Friday night is not to be missed, since some our favorite local acts will only be seen on Friday! It's a very special weekend that is not to be missed, so please join us to celebrate the special character of this place and our friends and neighbors! (Robyn Spector)

GOAT FEST 2018. On Saturday, April 21st, “all things goat” Goat Fest 2018 will be held at the Fairgrounds in Boonville. More details will be published as the event takes shape. In the past, this festival has included goat-related workshops, a goat parade, live music, and a birria cook-off. If you have goats, goat expertise, mean birria cooking skills, or any fun ideas you'd like to add to this event, please contact Cindy at avfoodshed@gmail.com or Rachel at rachel@williamsae.com.

A DRY FEBRUARY this year. If not for that final downpour, the monthly total would have been closer to a half-inch. Thus far this rain season, the months have alternated dry/wet/dry/wet/dry, and March just came in like a lion. Comparing this season to last, monthly precipitation totals from Yorkville's DWR Station:

2017-18

  • 1.32" February
  • 9.16" January
  • 0.44" December
  • 7.84" November
  • 0.72" October

2016-17

  • 21.64" February
  • 24.92" January
  • 9.92" December
  • 6.76" November
  • 10.36" October

BOONVILLE is now up to over 15 inches of rain for the season. Last year, at about this time, an above average year, Boonville was running well over 52 inches. And the year before Boonville was near 33 inches in early March. More rain is expected later this week, but accumulations are still very low.

THE FACADE redo of this old barn south of Boonville is the work of Larry Mailliard, Yorkville. Seems to me it's so well done it constitutes a major visual enhancement for that whole stretch of Highway 128. It stopped me right in my southbound tracks. I know a real photographer like Judy Valadao or Dick Whetstone will take a much better photo than I managed….

(Click to enlarge)

WE’LL ALL MISS seeing the resolutely friendly and helpful Mia Bloyd at Jack’s Valley Store. Mia, I was happy to learn, has gone back to school to study accounting.

NOTHING LIKE gunfire in the middle of the night from next door to rouse one violently from one’s slumber. Four shots Saturday night from our nabes to the north, a property occupied by small children in addition to the stupeedos who should never ever possess firearms.

WHEN LEMONS MARKET, Philo, hangs a sign out that says “Fresh Crab and Oysters,” you can be sure you’re witnessing a rare instance of truth in advertising. Lemons pere and fils fish out of Noyo, and the ocean’s bounty doesn’t come any fresher than it does to the Lemons’ family store.

A READER told us he thinks the "pot familiar candidates from the Coast" — Williams and Skyhawk, presumably — ought to consider the number of houses given over to indoor dope production. If all the County's dope houses were made available as rentals, he suggested, maybe the Mendo housing crisis wouldn't be so critical. "Look at these vacant houses, nobody living there, but the lights are on inside all night. As pot prices go down, I have to think many of these houses will be available again as long term rentals, after the mildew is removed and rotten framing replaced. These pot farming houses I have heard referred to as 'trashed'. Realtors know what is going on."

I KNOW there are dope houses in Brooktrails northwest of Willits because it seems like every other week one of them blows up, and I have friends there who say that the many absentee-owned houses rented to drug entrepreneurs have plagued the area for years. There are undoubtedly a few in Ukiah, Willits itself and maybe a few in Fort Bragg, but if they are prevalent they’re well hidden.

IN THE ANDERSON VALLEY there aren't any mystery addresses where the lights burn day and night. Property owners these days, especially in the Coastal Zone, can make at least as much and maybe more renting their properties than they can using them to brew honey oil or grow indoor marijuana to sell at today’s low prices.

I KNEW the Mendo housing market had gone nuts when my old place in Boonville appeared on AirBnB for $475 a night and it is… Well, some Frisco suckers bought it for half a mil and seem successful at getting other saps to regularly rent it for $475 a throw. The shortage of housing, like the homeless crisis, won't change until the state and federal governments act to solve them, and what are the chances that will happen any time soon?

EVERY AREA of Mendocino County should have its own Cypress Village, the genuinely low cost, low rent housing project in Fort Bragg. FB is gearing up for a second Cypress, and good on them. But Fort Bragg seems to have the political will to actually do something to create affordable housing, a will to act that is presently missing from the rest of the County.

AS IT TURNED OUT, the Building Department had already backed away from the perimeter foundation requirement for Class K structures before last week’s Supe’s meeting began. And County Counsel’s last-minute “legal opinion,” provided to the Board/public just that Tuesday morning, was much weaker than anyone expected, with more wiggle room than previously assumed. Building official Mike Oliphant (who bears a resemblance to the young Lenin for those of you who enjoy look-alikes), said that in the last few years only 7% of approved permits were for Class K buildings, implying that what modifications were done, it wouldn’t apply to that many buildings. After some tedious introductory exchanges between the building official and the County Counsel’s office rep, several Board members were inclined to remove the sprinkler requirement as well. Most of public comment was of the “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” variety. Several people pointed out that the changes being considered seemed to be prompted by industry flacks trying to add costly requirements to buildings and not by any objective finding of need or safety consideration.

FIFTH DISTRICT SUPES CANDIDATE Chris Skyhawk said that he agreed that Class K was fine as is, but that Class K buildings should not be allowed to be converted to vacation/AirBnB rentals. Oliphant replied that Class K deed restrictions prohibited Class K buildings from being rented or sold for a year. (But after that…?)

FIFTH DISTRICT SUPES CANDIDATE TED WILLIAMS made a case for leaving Class K alone based mostly on his experience as a firefighter: "I grew up in Comptche in a house that I watched being built as a kid. It went through the Clean Slate program. I watched my father spend his last days putting up beams that were hand-milled on the property. I recognized even then that it was about more than just affordable housing. It was pride of ownership. It was the pride of living in a house that the family built. My family still occupies that house today. It has not collapsed. It has not burned. I have been to probably 150-200 fire calls per year for over a decade and I have not been to a single incident where I looked back and said there was a fire because of Class K or an owner builder structure. But I have been to Inns that were built under the conventional building code that had been on fire. If we are to meet the goals of the County’s housing element which we are clearly not today, making changes to Class K will not help. I hope that we can table this until such time we have evidence to show that these structures are inherently unsafe and need to be reduced in size with a cap. Or if the lending feasibility would be increased by more stringent or more modern building codes. We are operating without a lot of necessary information on the table."

MR. DON JOHNSON, a retired contractor from Orr Springs Road, said he built Mendo’s first Class K building back in the late 70s. He said he didn’t have much to add since it appeared that the Board intended to “kill almost everything that I objected to.”

IN THE END THE BOARD decided to remove the sprinkler requirement. (It only would have applied to unincorporated areas anyway.) The only substantial change to Class K would be the reasonable limitation to 2000 square feet, plus some minor bureaucratic updates. Overall, the Class K defenders seemed to have received most of what they wanted, and the proposed changes they disliked the most were voted down by the Board.

FOLLOW-UP to last Tuesday's Class K discussion at the Board of Supervisors meeting: While the defenders of Class K who wanted to leave it alone were happy that the perimeter foundation and fire sprinkler requirements being removed from the Class K update, they still object to the update involving the 2018 state building code. The defenders of Class K insist that it be left alone and remain based on the 1974 building code as originally intended. We understand that the Class K defenders will be back in front of the supervisors at their next meeting on the subject to point out that the legal opinion did not require the board to change Class K at all, including the update to current (and much more expensive) building codes.

MY OLD BOONVILLE PLACE was Class K all the way. I got red-tagged a couple of times, and what it's legal Building status is today I have no idea. My operating theory was to build it first, fight with Planning and Building afterwards. All the County did was boost my property tax to include the new structures, and that boost was only a few bucks more annually. It was far simpler, and certainly far more expeditious, to build first, deal with the authorities after the fact.

A WOMAN testifying before the Supervisors last week said her husband had built their home, but when they recently visited Planning and Building to make sure they were Class K certified, she said Planning and Building had lost their file! She said that fortunately for her family she'd kept copies of their plans and Mendo’s OK in a safe deposit box. It’s this kind of thing that makes dealing with Planning and Building so exciting, and we all remember when P&B managed to lose the entire portion of Anderson Valley’s updated general plan!

DURING THE CLASS K disputes of the early 80s, the windbags then dominant on the board of supervisors, encouraged by their lead P&B guy (Orr?), were woofing about "bulldozing all the goddammed hippie shacks up all those dirt roads." When the hippie bashers figured out they could simply ok the owner-built structures and collect retroactive building fees and increased property taxes, the threats ceased.

AESTHETICALLY CONSIDERED, a Class K house is more likely to be more attractive and comfortable than, say, those Tidy Bowl golf course jobs in West Ukiah, and certainly more attractive than the monster homes in wealthy Bay Area suburbs. My old shacks in Boonville were, by acclamation, an aesthetic marvel. Well, to me anyway, but they housed a lot of people and everything worked, most of the time. It's criminal that Bay Area greed heads now own it and that it's not available for a local family to rent.

THE NEW OWNERS of my old homestead at 12451 Anderson Valley Way plunked down this odd, totally incongruous, totally unnecessary parking sign in the middle of the driveway, as if people need instruction in about a hundred feet of space. Maybe the poor things are sight impaired….

A READER wants to know if Calfire is still charging that controversial “Fire Prevention Fee” parcel tax that was implemented a few years ago but never actually went to “fire prevention” because the Governor reduced Calfire’s budget by an amount equal to the collected fees. ANSWER: No. “Effective July 1, 2017, Assembly Bill 398 (Chapter 135) Suspends the Fire Prevention Fee Commencing with the 2017-18 Fiscal Year.” (July 2017-June 2018)

BETSY CAWN WRITES: The reporter who finds himself or herself in the situation described in “The Final Indignity” affords the readers an individually unique insight into these typically civil proceedings, while attempting to minimize the role of the self who experiences the event as a resident relying on the services of the agency conducting the process. As a “member of the public” who engages with many quasi-legislative, quasi-jurisdictional bodies (committees, boards, and commissions created by governmental authorities), I often find myself stifling my personal reactions — to incompetent or ignorant or downright rude appointees (and equally inept “staff”) — while functioning as an individual participant in the organization’s conduct of publicly-funded health and safety operations on which my own life may someday depend.

Participating as a “self” in the existential sense (referent to time and place) requires putting “oneself” aside for the duration of the group interaction, which may later be described as an event that “I” attended, or an experience that affected “me” — but the natural inclination of a participant-observer to minimize the focus on one’s personal experience invites the common misuse of “myself” that is the least of the concerns this essay raises. I, myself, am more concerned about lack of accountability and effective action planning by a body of decision-makers whose determinations can directly impact my community, neighborhood, family, and individual health. The particulars of this committee’s dismal performance are examples of commonly encountered public service intermediaries, few of whom are actually “supervised” by their founding agencies.

If the school district’s Board of Trustees accepts the Budget Committee’s ineffective decision-making (as reported), the public will — as usual — pay the price in lost assets and wasted time. Isn’t that the important matter at hand? P.S. — The direct role of local residents in the conduct of public education, environmental health, law enforcement, and municipal services is one of the most important aspects of rural life; the importance of having reliable reportage on these nearly invisible governance systems is critical to the health of our small communities. Long live the AVA.

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