James Houle: Fire the Mendocino County Planning Department Immediately!

Redwood Valley

Imagine this – “OVERLAY ZONING”

We hire the planning experts, employ them for years, and when it comes time to make a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors as to what type of zoning would best reflect desires and aspirations of the citizens, they avoid making a recommendation. It’s like we hire a surgical staff to examine the patient, make all the tests, consider the impacts of various treatment scenarios, and then they send their report to the administrative staff of the hospital with three choices: Plan A: We cut all the bad stuff out and see if he can live without those organs. Plan B: We cut out half of the damaged organs and see how many of his functions still are in service. Plan C: We just stitch him up, give him a daily shot of heavy radiation and hope that it will stop further deterioration.  What the hell, he’s lived 63 years and isn’t dead yet!

What is the planner’s  recommendation? They decline to say. They hand it over to the Board of Supervisors – who have no apparent expertise in land use planning, predicting the future growth of taxable land as a result of rezoning, the  estimation of loads upon public transport, water supply, sewerage generation, or power supply. No expertise in predicting pollution potentials etc. So, what is the Planning Department’s role here?

I would fire the entire department immediately.

One Comment

There is a trend in the County since the recession – eliminate progressive departments and employees. In the past two years the Department of Planning and Building has entirely let go of the 4-person team of long-range planners from the Inland Office. This is the team of people who implement our energy and housing plans. The Water Agency saw similar cuts, from four staff members to one-half. Is anyone paying attention? Our priorities of energy, water, natural resources, housing, etc or being sidestepped. Shall we go back to the 1980s? I hope we are all prepared to consider who will be leading the Department of Building and Planning when interum Director Roger’s term ends. WE NEED SOMEONE GREAT IN THERE.