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Letters (July 11, 2018)

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Dear AVA, 

There is a “spirited” debate about the proposed Drinking Water and Sewer projects going on now on the Facebook group: “You Know You’re From Anderson Valley When…” and as there is confusion and misinformation stoking strong feelings, I thought it would be good to ask …

If you were a Director on the Community Services District for Anderson Valley and you were aware that:

-a county health survey of Boonville existed from 1974 documenting contamination issues and stated that the only fix was a municipal sewer system,

-there were mitigation efforts in the past by North Coast Water Resources Control Board to deal with plumes of contaminants that were moving through some parcels in Boonville from the old Chevron station, and also an area on AV Way that was affected by the old Bus Barn gas/diesel tanks at the Elementary School,

-Boonville had downtown blight that residents regularly came to CSD meetings to complain about,

-many parcel owners had failing or no/inadequate septic systems and could not afford to develop their parcels, remodel, or find the requisite space for two leach fields as currently required,

-there was a dearth of housing of any kind in Boonville,

-our AVCSD Charter included establishing and maintaining Drinking Water and Sewer Districts,

-the Mendocino County General Plan in 2009 recommended water and sewer systems for Boonville.

Therefore, wouldn’t you…

-approach every public agency on the county, state, and federal level to look into whether it was possible get grants to develop the systems?

-canvass the residents and business owners up and down 128 in central Boonville (Hutsell to the 128 creek overcrossing) to gauge interest? (and later canvass Lambert Area and AV Way to Elementary school?)

Note: Out of 40-50 people we talked to in central Boonville, only 2-3 were strongly opposed, the rest were wary about expense and future development, but generally supportive. Almost without exception businesses expressed eagerness to abandon maintaining their own regulated public water serving systems and avoid the costs and effort of pumping out their septic systems. 

-publicize and hold a community meeting to listen to, and ask questions of, a panel of county and state agency representatives and water/sewer engineers? 

Note: First meeting (10/2015) was attended by over 40 community members.

To date there have been three public meetings; we probably have three to go. There has been a continual effort over the last two years to educate the public with posters around town, postcards to parcel owners notifying them of the first three meetings, AVA articles, and notices posted in AV Post Offices and the Boonville Fire Station.

-have a certified lab do blind testing on wells in congested areas? (i.e. CSD does not know which well belongs to which parcel to protect owner). 

Note: Not a single parcel owner contacted opted out of testing their well as they expressed concern about their water quality. Out of 23 wells tested 20 had unacceptable levels of nitrates and e-coli. Mendocino County Health Department promptly sent out instructions to all homeowners in the well survey to advise about how to live in parcels with contaminated water. No, you cannot condemn private homes.

-establish a Boonville Planners committee? 

Note: during canvassing one of the questions was whether there was interest in serving on an advisory committee. The only requirement to join the Boonville Planners was living in the service areas and a willingness to serve. The idea is that even though this body doesn’t actually have a vote – they would follow all developments and advise the CSD. As the property owners in the project service areas will ultimately be voting to accept or reject their monthly rate for the systems, it was seen to be advantageous for a dozen people to be out in the community gathering and disseminating information. This also helped convince the grantors of grass roots support.

-talk with the Chamber of Commerce, AV School Board, and AV Housing Assn, AV Clinic, and AV Fire Department about interest in hooking up? 

Note: According to AVFD everyone benefits from hydrants throughout Boonville, Mountain View to Airport Blvd, Meadow Estates, AV Way to Elementary School. Also adequate pressure in pipes allows required sprinkler systems in new construction.

Then, with this information and conditional support based on affordability and concerns about future development,…

Wouldn’t you…

-apply to the State Water Board revolving fund for financial assistance to plan the systems? 

Note: We received $1 million to plan the systems and hired the engineering company of Brelje and Race.) 

-apply for State Water Board Grants, USDA Rural Development grants, Drinking Water for Schools Grant, Ground Water grants, and County Block Grants? 

Note: To date we have a soft commitment for basically 100% of the $31 million costs.

-look for grants for low income, and senior, home owners to help bear costs of connecting their house to their new water meter to make the Drinking Water system as affordable as possible? 

Note: Sewer grants cover laterals all the way to the house.

-maintain a website to inform and update everyone on developments, including FAQs, all reports and documentation (

Wouldn’t you?

Val Hanelt

Director, Anderson Valley Community Services District

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I want to thank everyone who voted to make me Superintendent of Mendocino County's schools. I am both humbled by the confidence you have placed in me and eager to take on this very large responsibility. My candidacy was not without its critics, but I hope all of us can put aside past differences to work together for the good of all the children of our beautiful county. I am sure everyone reading this agrees that our schools must offer the strongest educational foundations for our young people it is within us to provide if our children are to thrive in the difficult world they will inherit.


Michelle Hutchins


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To the Editor:

The Mendocino Coast Recreation and Parks District held a Public Forum addressing the use of the Regional Park (2 miles out Hwy 20 at Summers Lane) at Cotton Auditorium. This is the only large park owned by the District, which includes the whole Mendocino Coast, and has been underutilized and abused for many years.

The Park has a desolate history of being used by illegal Off-Road Vehicles, which have broken through the forest to run on the old trails and dirt roads, causing deep cuts in the surface and loosening the dirt to erosion. Newman Gulch, which supplies drinking water to Fort Bragg, cuts across the property and receives much of this sediment. The Park was also proposed to contain a golf course, and many of the taller trees cut down for fairways. That proposal died, but new plans for an Off-Road Vehicle Park have brought new challenges to the Park. Despite the impacts, much of this property can be allowed to recover and can be protected in a manner that values its natural significance, while at the same time serving to educate the public about the uniquely special habitats that are found there.

The Sierra Club has a great concern that the entire Park will be dedicated to Off-Road Vehicles to the exclusion of any other activity, and that the botanical resources will be destroyed. Specifically, the California Native Plant Society has stated their concerns: “The 586-acre property off of Highway 20, which the MCRPD and the California Recreational Alliance plan to develop as an Off-Highway Vehicle Park, contains one of the rarest plant communities in California, and one that is unique to our Mendocino Coast, the pygmy forest . . .. only 1480 acres of pygmy forest remain.” The property contains approximately 20 percent of all remaining Mendocino Pygmy Cypress Woodland (“pygmy forest”). Additionally, other sensitive natural communities including Bishop pine forest exist on the property. CA Dept. of Fish & Wildlife estimates a majority of the Regional Park is comprised of sensitive natural communities. The Regional Park rests on soils that are essential to the maintenance of that habitat. Pygmy soil types are ancient soils perched on a very flat and sandy terrace and retain water in a wetland type regime. Disturbance of the surface causes quick erosion and down cutting, which can drain the vegetation of needed moisture. The Park already has some road cuts of 12-30 inches deep and at least one 6’ deep.

The MCRPD has received a grant for restoration in the Park, which is mainly to be used for fencing. While fencing is a good idea, the plan for it was proposed with no environmental review, using an “exemption” for the State Parks Off-Highway Vehicle grant. Therefore there is no document that directs the restoration in avoiding damage and protecting sensitive plants. In fact, the MCRPD Board already allows continued use of the Park for Off-Road Vehicle training and trail rides. The “restoration” would not include improving or decommissioning the damaged roads at all, but anticipates continuing their use by ORVs and dirt bikes. A new EIR in the works is addressed to only the ORV proposal, not other desired activities.

The Park is simply not a good place for off-road use, with issues of water pollution, sensitive plants, neighborhood noise and exhaust, and incompatible activity. The public has an interest in developing its only Park in a responsible way for the enjoyment of all sorts of activities, and the neighbors are very concerned about the impacts to their neighborhood.

Rixanne Wehren, Sierra Club, Mendocino Group

Fort Bragg

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I took notice of Kay Oppenheimer of Santa Rosa's letter to the editor in the July 4 AVA ("Basic School Reform") in which she talked about the three levels of high school in England which give students who aren't academically inclined the opportunity to develop skills such as carpentry, plumbing, landscaping, etc. 

I went to a public high school in an affluent community, and for me this school was essentially a publicly funded college prep school in which a large percentage of the students wanted (or felt pressured to) attend prestigious universities (primarily UC schools). 

I had a male friend I had known since the third grade who, although not unintelligent, was not academically inclined. He was good with his hands: he did crafts, auto mechanics, etc., but he had the misfortune of being raised in an environment where the pressure to succeed academically was shoved down the students' throats and where working with one's hands didn't have much prestige. 

After graduating from high school my friend started at the local community college before eventually transferring to UC Davis, which he was totally unsuited for and where he flunked out from after two or three quarters. 

I was with my friend outside his house one day after he'd left UC Davis, and his white collar professional father came outside holding a tuition bill in his hand and proceeded to shame my friend about flunking out of UC Davis, right in front of me. 

I believe the wealthy and affluent classes, who after all are running our society, try to impose their myopic values onto the entire society and as a result students who have an inclination toward non- white collar occupations are often excluded or marginalized. My friend should have been at some kind of trade school instead of UC Davis but his parents and the affluent community he was raised in shamed him away from his true path. 

Keith Bramstedt

San Anselmo

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Dear Editor:

The Willits City Council's "no action" decision on June 27 to not help the 67 families (240 people) who did not sign the long-term lease gives the okay to all landlords in Willits that a $110 a month or more rent increase for people who earn $25,000 or less is now protocol for Willis.

All of the facts that were presented to the City Council were ignored:

68% of the 500 residents at Wagon Wheel Mobile Home Park earn $25,000 a year or less and cannot afford a $110 a month increase and will lose their home.

Over 100 other cities in California, both large and small, have passed rent stabilization ordinances in their mobile home parks to protect their low income communities.

Only 46 people — not 68 — signed a long-term lease (which is exempt from any rent stabilization).

On April 23, 2018 the Ninth District Court of Appeals in California ruled in favor of rent stabilization and Carson, California (60 miles from Los Angeles) against a mobile home park owner. This sets a huge precedent for rent stabilization in mobile home parks, as cities no longer have to be afraid of lawsuits from millionaire park owners!

And Willits Mayor Madge Strong's "excuse" about the cost just reveals that the council didn't read the material provided thoroughly. A rent stabilization ordinance passes the cost on to the residents, a small fee of $2 or $3 a month for every lot in Williys which at $3 per 130 spaces per lot would generate an income of $490 a month for the cost and I'm sure residents would rather pay $3 a month instead of another $110 a month!

The Willits City Council members also did not take seriously the fact that while at Kort and Scott Financial Group in 2016, manager Abe Arrigotti and Drita Brunkey (now BoaVida managers) were responsible for 714 seniors and disabled people in Reseda mobile home park in Reseda, California being priced out of their homes, at risk of becoming part of the ever growing homeless population. This is how they do business and they are now in Willits and they were given the green light by the City Council to continue this evil.

Cheryl Abney


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I have always looked forward to the summer Concerts in the Park. When they first commenced, I was the only person who danced. During the third year other people began dancing. Such a good time!

On June 10 I noticed that as I approached the Dance Area, the sound was very loud. I put my excellent silicone earplugs in, and was able to dance a little, in spite of the children wildly running through the dancers. This is very disturbing to other people as well as me. They could run elsewhere in the park; not in the area designated for dancing.

I do not understand why the Concert Manager(s) allow for running in the Dance Area. I don’t understand why parents cannot allow their children to in that area. Children need guidance from parents, including learning respect for other people and their spaces. Letting children run the show will not help them in the long run.

When the intermission began, there was suddenly an excruciating loud sound that pierced through my earplugs and felt as if it was shattering my ear drums. (I was glad that a friend of mine had left as soon as she got there due to the sound being too loud). I picked up my chair and myself as quick as I could, to scurry out of the Park. I have excellent hearing and would like to keep it. Some people were alarmed at my sudden departure. One woman said, “I came to see you dance.”

I am disappointed that I probably cannot return to this wonderful music series. Other friends of mine no longer come to the concerts, due to the running children and too loud sound system. What a pity!

Tara Sufiana


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To the Editor:

There is no there there.

That famous line from literature has no meaning in Ukiah because we are something—an agricultural valley at the “gateway to the redwoods.” In order to transform our Ukiah Valley into the nothingness of that saying, we would have to remove our ag and build monotonous 50’s style suburban sprawl tract homes.

Surprise, surprise! That is exactly what is being proposed along Lover’s Lane—rows of homogeneous houses, cheaply built, sold for top dollar, with a sameness that defies aesthetics and all on top of prime agricultural soil. The Lovers Lane project makes every other development in Ukiah look like good examples of textbook urban design, including Empire Gardens, the housing up by the golf course, and Oak Manor.

Besides ignoring smart urban design, the Lovers Lane proposal ignores traffic issues with over 1,000 vehicle trips a day predicted to pour out from Lovers Lane onto North State Street or Despina Drive. If you think traffic is bad now, just you wait.

The final problem with this project lies in the fact that three new, sizable developments within Ukiah are beginning or on the verge to begin, on E. Gobbi, S. Oak, and N. Main. In addition, the City of Ukiah just approved new legislation concerning second units on residential parcels.

Patience, Mr. Selzer. Do not promote a loss of our precious there-ness. And blessings to Rainbow Ag for expanding their facility. Ag, YES. Suburban sprawl, NO.

Pinky Kushner


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There's a new poll out that says only 47% of Americans feel like real true Americans. I have an answer for that. If they don't like America the 53% who don't like it can get the hell out and go to Pakistan or Africa or Russia or Iraq or somewhere else. Just get away from here. Leave America if you don't like it. All these liberals and their liberal Congresspeople and lawmakers who are trying to encourage people to jump on staff members of the Trump administration or even people who are pro-Trump, I have an answer for that too: I love Donald Trump. I think he's one of the best if not the best president we've ever had and I guarantee you, I promise you that if you people want to jump on somebody, jump on me. Okay? Just go for it. See what happens. I might be the only one in the county sticking up for Donald Trump, but I'm sticking up for him. All you SOBs out there who don't like it, do something about it. Okay? We have to get a grip on what's going on around here. We should make it a federal offense for anyone to do anything treacherous or terroristic against anybody who wants to believe in something like that. So take it or leave it.

You filthy anti-American liberals have had 24 years to get yourselves embedded in our society ever since Ronald Reagan. Now you are facing a real president, a real man, and he is going to change the way that things to the way they should be.. He will get rid of a lot of you anti-American people and I can't wait to see the end of this current term because he will be elected for another term and then he's going to really fix things!

Liberals are the ones who developed this political correctness. They did that so they can do whatever they want and get away with it and conservative people cannot. That's why all these people who demonstrate and all that stuff never get put in jail. They get a little balling out and that's the end of it. So I recommend to all you conservative people out there, that instead of hiding in the brush and letting these filthy bastards get away with whatever they want, stand up for yourselves and your country and show that 53% who supposedly don't like America what can happen when 47% like it. Okay? I'm sick and tired of hearing about these protests that those filthy antifa pigs break-in on people's demonstrations. I want to see some conservatives break in on them for a change. It's time that we quit running away from them and started running after them.

God bless Donald Trump.

Jerry Philbrick



  1. Jeff Costello July 12, 2018

    I wonder what Trump has done for Philbrick or other right wing crackpots who have adopted the old “love it or leave it” line, even with old friends…

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