Pro “Dams on the Eel” Fennell trying to pull a fast one at tomorrow’s Supervisors meeting

Image result for Potter Valley Project

The Potter Valley Project

Last week, PG&E finally publicly announced its intent to auction the Eel River dams/Potter Valley Project this Fall.

Also last week, Friends of the Eel River learned through a series of Public Records Act requests that Humboldt County Supervisor Estelle Fennell and her fellow Eel Russian River Commissioners (county supervisors from Sonoma and Mendocino counties) have held a series of at least five secret meetings with PG&E over the last year to put together a plan to keep the Eel River dams in place. They are planning to move the dams out of federal licensing so as to avoid having to provide additional protection for fisheries (passage over 138’ Scott Dam being the main issue here). Under what’s called a “non-power license,” they’d keep operating the project primarily as a water transfer project, but they’d keep the hydropower running as well. They think they’d even get state Renewable Power credit for running these infamous fish-killing dams.

Supervisor Fennell is asking the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors to move TOMORROW to appoint her and Supervisor Bohn to an ad hoc committee that would continue to meet in secret to push this secret plan to avoid protecting Eel River salmon and steelhead. Please, if you can, make time to attend tomorrow’s Board meeting to speak against this move.

As a policy minimum, Humboldt County should be pushing for a solution that would remove Scott Dam and restore fish access to the Eel River headwaters. But at the most fundamental level, we deserve the opportunity to discuss and debate the positions our elected representatives are taking on our behalf. Democracy cannot function when leaders make policy in secret.

We would suggest speakers ask for a full public discussion of the potential options and Humboldt County’s official position on the Eel River dams / Potter Valley Project. We would urge you to request that the Board delay a vote on this proposed ad hoc committee pending such a discussion of costs, benefits, and risks to Humboldt County’s waters and fisheries. Of course, we’d strongly prefer that Humboldt County not be represented by anti-environmentalists like Fennell and Bohn, but that’s probably not a point we’re going to win. We can at minimum demand a transparent process.

The meeting begins at 9am at the usual location in the Supervisors Chambers in the Humboldt County Courthouse. The item is near the end of the agenda, but since they don’t always follow it, we recommend being there by 9:15.

Action Alert from 

Stephanie Tidwell, Executive Director




The Sundberg and Pruitt nexu$

Our very own 5th District Supervisor Ryan Sundberg was reappointed by the Trump administration to the Scott Pruitt run Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Local Government Advisory Committee.

“It is an honor to give direct input to the federal government to protect our environment through the lens of a rural county,”  Sundberg said with a straight face. We’re very sure Ryan’s right at home advising one of the most corrupt political appointees ever Scott Pruitt. No doubt they share the same views on exploiting the Environment for fun and profit

Guest post: Richard Salzman asks, “HAD ENOUGH?”

After reading Daniel Mintz’s article in April 22nd edition of Mad River Union (Madrone: Sundberg swayed by MJ money) I really don’t understand what all the fuss is about regarding Ryan Sundberg’s dependence on big money donations from the mega-grows and other “industrial” cannabis players?

Accusing Sundberg of a conflict of interest seems beyond redundant! Why even bring this issue up, unless it’s being done rhetorically? Ryan Sundberg has been working on behalf of his deep-pocket donors since the day he was first elected. Hell, who do you think recruited him to run in the first place!?

Sure, back when he first ran it may have been mostly the land speculators, realtors and those in the building trades (which, not coincidentally, is the historical purview of Mercer Fraser). Now it includes the legal marijuana industry’s fat cats: mega-growers, suppliers, distributors, industrial extractors, and a whole new crop–no pun intended–of land (and permit-acquiring) speculators. But Sundberg’s been working for them, against the interest of the average citizen from day one.

Nothing demonstrated this more vividly than his appointment of Ben Shepherd to the Planning Commission, which voted 3-2 in favor of letting Mercer-Fraser set up a cannabis extraction plant next to the Mad River. Shepherd pushed back against those who opposed the idea of an extraction venture, which would employ toxicants in its process, being established so close to the source of drinking water for the majority of county residents. Shepherd’s view was that a sewage treatment plant already existed along the river, so why not this.

This, coupled with Sundberg’s work and votes on the General Plan Update, demonstrate he’s more interested in deep pockets than your pockets. He and his fellow majority on the current Board of Supervisors voted for a “plan” that allowed for less housing overall and less environmental protection, but for greater sprawl into areas previously zoned for agriculture or timber so as to now allow for McMansions and ever more river- and groundwater-depleting mega grows. You know, the stuff his donors are doing and want to do more of.

I think State Senator Mike McGuire put it best when he said of Sundberg, “…he’s constantly fighting for the people he works for.” The only part that was not made clear in that statement is that Ryan Sundberg works for “those who brung ‘em,”–i.e., his well-heeled donors. Whether he’s “car-pooling” in their private planes, or just cashing their checks, one thing is clear–minor concerns like clean drinking water for the citizens of the Fifth District is NOT the priority. Maximizing the return on capital, that very much is. No question why big money and industry will vote for him. If one of them is your employer, you may be hoodwinked into believing what’s good for the boss is good for the worker. But for everybody else, why would you if you have another choice?

More backstory on the HCSD Redmond/Indianola annexation push

Last week we covered David Tyson and his shady role on the Humboldt Community Services District. Pretty easy to see why he’s on the board…money!!!!

So why have the other 4 joined up? We can’t say for sure but given all their backgrounds it seems as if they joined………….to make money!!!! Here’s a breakdown of who’s “serving” with good ol’ boy Dave Tyson:

1) Alan Bongio.

He’s the owner of Bongio Construction. He was found to be in violation of laws from the California Water Quality Board. Those violations were on his subdivision being built on Manzanita (unincorporated Eureka near Tyson’s family). Wonder if those road improvements helped Bongio with his subdivision! BTW-that subdivision was pretty controversial with the neighborhood, and given the amount of traffic that will be on Manzanita the $ won’t stop flowing from taxpayer coffer’s until there’s a stoplight there!

2) Gregg Gardiner.

Gardiner is the president of the magazine 101 things to do. Gardiner seems to be “semi retired” and into charity/rotary type activities. He’s obviously friends with the local good old boys, such as Matthew Owen and John Fullerton. Or, at least it appears so from this Chiv article:

3) Dave Saunderson.

Saunderson was a construction contractor and owner of Saunderson construction. Ummm, wonder if he’s profited off of road improvements????

4) Frank Scolari.

Scolari was a real estate broker for Coldwell Banker Cutten Realty. Does the HCSD service Cutten you may wonder? The answer is absolutely YES!!! And Frank has been there with hat in hand to sell those HCSD piped homes to the hopeful new homeowners in Cutten. Must be a nice gig with all that inside info on what land will be worth $ after the infrastructure has been paid for by Humboldt Taxpayers.

In case anyone was wondering, the next HCSD meeting is on Tuesday night at 5 PM. They’ll be discussing ripping off taxpayers…ahem….we mean Redmond Road water improvements and annexation of Indianola road.

The North Coast’s Environmental groups vow to Fight Trump’s Offshore Oil Drilling Plan

Is what we want on the horizon?

hey, get out of the way of our beautiful sunset

Eureka, Calif.—On Thursday, the Trump administration announced that it would open offshore oil drilling for nearly all continental waters in the United States, including here along our North Coast. Trump will have to go through us first. Our organizations, the Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC), Humboldt Baykeeper, and the Northcoast Environmental Center, pledge that we will do everything in our power to fight offshore oil and gas development in Northern California.

President Trump’s reckless plan threatens our coast, our economy, and our way of life. We will defend our coast because we cannot suffer the same fate as Santa Barbara in 1969, Port Angeles in 1985, Grays Harbor in 1988, Coos Bay in 1999, and the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. We will not allow offshore drilling because we must move to a post-carbon economy. We will stand with our fishermen and oyster farmers who rely on clean water and a healthy environment.

We stopped President Reagan’s attempts to drill off the North Coast in the 1980s. We will stop President Trump too.


Tom Wheeler, Environmental Protection Information Center, (206) 356-8689,

Jen Kalt, Humboldt Baykeeper, (707) 499-3678,

Larry Glass, Northcoast Environmental Center, (707) 845-7136,

Development pressure sparks HCSD to push water service to Indianola and Redmond road areas

Rumored Developments in the Rocky Creek area and at the end of Redmond Rd appear to be the driving force behind a push to bring water service to these areas. Water connections would mean that subdividing into small parcels would be possible and likely. It’s ironic that Dave Tyson and Dave Hull, local developers best friends, would be pushing this.

From Sundays Times-standard:

The Humboldt Community Services District Board of Directors is looking into expanding water services in the Indianola area along Old Arcata Road between Arcata and Eureka, but area residents have expressed concerns over water services being the first step of urbanizing their beloved rural community.

The district’s general manager David Hull said this issue dates back two decades.

“The residents, landowners out in the Indianola area, were having problems with their wells,” he said.

Wells were running dry, not working or polluted, Hull said.

“It actually turned into a health and safety issue,” he said.

Some residents came to the district’s board to ask for the area to be annexed so they could be hooked into the water system, Hull said. But Humboldt Local Agency Formation Commission rules at that time would have required the services district to provide other services, such as emergency services, to annexed areas.

Hull said the district dealt solely in water and wastewater services.

“That made it costly and near impossible,” he said about the annexation. “Since that time those rules have changed so we can do water service expansion out there.”

So the district board started talking about the annexation again and sent out 439 survey letter to gauge public opinion on the annexation, Hull said. Only 141 surveys were returned with 100 respondents interested in the annexation and 41 not interested in it, according to a staff report.

In November the board directed district staff to prepare a second survey letter that would be sent out to the 298 residences that didn’t respond to the first survey letter, according to a staff report.

“That’s what the discussion was [on] Tuesday night,” Hull said.

On Tuesday evening the district board met and heard input from members of the public and instead of voting to send out the second letter as drafted gave staff direction to add to it.

“Based on public input we’re going to add more detail into the public letter,” Hull said.

About 16 residents came in with concerns about how the district would be profiting or benefitting on the annex, he said.

“I was directed to prepare a second letter to all landowners detailing the entire annexation process by bullet point stating there is no profit to the district, the district will not proceed unless there is the majority of the public interested, that we don’t know what the cost per parcel will be at this time but there will be a cost to landowners most of which would be added to property tax bills under a special assessment,” Hull said.

But this staff direction from the board didn’t quell all the concerns of at least two Indianola area residents.

Indianola resident Aryay Kalaki said he thinks the survey process should start all over again — meaning the second letter CSD staff is in the process of drafting should be considered the first survey letter — because the letter sent out in October only contained the positives of the annexation.

“The problem is they already sent out an initial letter that didn’t have any of the pertinent information that could affect them,” he said.

Kalaki said he’s concerned what annexation and water service expansion could mean in the future.

“Water is the crucial factor in development,” he said.

County Planning and Building Department director John Ford said anytime utilities already installed make that development in that area easier and more attractive.

“That doesn’t translate into planned development at this point,” he said.

Ford said he’s not aware of any future development plans in the Indianola area but that doesn’t preclude any from happening further down the road.

“The first step in all likelihood would be to create new parcels,” he said.

But this would require a subdivision map and public input so concerned citizens would have to opportunity to be heard, Ford said.

Hull said the services district is only focused on providing water to Indianola if the majority of residents want it.

“The Humboldt Community Services District doesn’t do land planning,” he said.

The district board is also in the midst of annexing a separate piece of land along Redmond Road that abuts the southern-most edge of the proposed Indianola annexation area. Redmond Road resident Jonathan Weber said he’s not against the idea of him and his neighbors being hooked up to the water system but is against what development could be put in after water service expansion and how the board went about notifying stakeholders.

“They had very little information in the first [letter],” he said.

But Weber said it’s a good thing that the services district is redrafting the second letter.

“We really want the public to make an informed decision,” he said.

Humboldt Community Services District was created in 1952 to provide water services to the unincorporated areas surrounding Eureka. It maintains 160 miles of water and wastewater pipes, 10 water tanks and 40 water and wastewater pumping stations over 15 square miles, according to the district’s March 2017 water and wastewater rate study. The proposed Indianola expansion area would add 1,090 acres to the district, Hull said in an email.

The Humboldt Community Services District Board of Directors publicly meets twice a month. The redrafted letter will be up for further discussion and possible approval on Jan. 9 at 5 p.m. in the boardroom next to the facility lobby at 5055 Walnut Drive, Eureka, according to the Humboldt Community Services District website.

The proposed annexation of the Indianola area would add 1,090acres to the Humboldt Community Services District, which currently services 160 miles of water and wastewater pipes, 10water tanks and 40water and wastewater pumping stations over 15square miles


The Humboldt Community Services District board is also in the midst of annexing a piece of land along Redmond Road that abuts the southern-most edge of the proposed Indianola annexation area.



Billionaire loses bid to shut off access to public beach and surprise! It’s not Bullyboy Arkley

This guy sounds just like our own local bully Robin P. Arkley  

Silicon Valley billionaire loses bid to prevent access to public beach

Court decision is blow to Vinod Khosla and other wealthy landowners seeking to buy renowned beaches, making public land private

 Martins Beach must be opened to the public, according to a California court order.

A California court has ordered a Silicon Valley billionaire to restore access to a beloved beach that he closed off for his private use, a major victory for public lands advocates who have been fighting the venture capitalist for years.

An appeals court ruled on Thursday that Vinod Khosla, who runs the venture capital firm Khosla Ventures and co-founded the tech company Sun Microsystems, must unlock the gates to Martins Beach in northern California by his property.

The decision is a major blow to Khosla and other wealthy landowners who have increasingly tried to buy up the internationally celebrated beaches along the California coast and turn public lands into private property.

The beach was a popular destination for fishing, surfing and other recreational activities for nearly a century, and the previous owners provided a general store and public restroom. But Khosla eventually bought the property and in 2010 closed public access, putting up signs warning against trespassing.

Khosla, who has a net worth of $1.55bn and does not live on the property, has faced multiple lawsuits and legislative efforts to get him to open up the gate to the beach near Half Moon Bay, about 30 miles south of San Francisco. The law in California states that all beaches should be open to the public up to the “mean high tide line”.

The decision this week, affirming a lower court ruling, stems from a lawsuit filed by the Surfrider Foundation, a not-for-profit group that says the case could have broader implications for beach access across the US.

“Vinod Khosla, with his billions of dollars, bought this piece of property and said, ‘No, no, the public isn’t going to use this anymore. End of story,’” the Surfrider attorney Joe Cotchett said by phone on Thursday. “He got away with it for many years … This is probably one of the most important public right-of-access cases in the country.”

Khosla’s refusal to restore access has made him something of a symbol of the immense wealth in the tech industry and rising income inequality in the region.

Last year, his attorneys claimed that he would open the gate to the beach only if the government paid him $30m, an amount that state officials said was unreasonably high. In October, Khosla also sued two state agencies, accusing the government of using “coercion and harassment” to infringe on his private property rights.

The California coastal commission, established by voters in 1972 to protect public use of the coast, has reported that beachgoers have increasingly complained about private security guards telling them they are trespassing on private property and forcing them to leave the public beaches.

“The issue here is, can wealthy private individuals buy up our beautiful beaches for their own use?” said Cotchett, adding that he expects Khosla to appeal the decision and attempt to bring the case to the US supreme court.

Khosla’s attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Khosla recently made headlines when he downplayed the problem of sexual harassment in the venture capital industry, which has recently been exposed as a major concern among female founders. “I did not know that there was any discrimination,” Khosla said at a recent event, adding that it was “rarer than in most other businesses”.