In The Zone
(on the Humboldt Co. GPU)
Can you think of anything more boring than the Humboldt Co. General Plan Update. Tonight, on KMUD’s newest and dullest talk show, The Hum CPR Show, we got yet another tiresome talking-to on this tedious topic.
We’ve debated the General Plan Update for about 7 years already, wasting hundred of hours of airtime and enough column inches of newsprint to reach the moon, and we aren’t any closer to agreement on it than we were 7 years ago.
Listening to developers, real estate agents and land-owners try to sound righteous about what they do to the land out here can really turn your stomach. Hearing the county try to justify their outrageous permit fees, as a health and safety issue, when they refuse to permit composting toilets, or greywater systems of any kind, will make you choke as well.
None of the people in the debate seem to have a clue about how to live on planet Earth. None of the proposed plans really address Humboldt County’s housing needs. None of the proposed plans will allow anyone in Humboldt County, the opportunity to live anything like a sustainable lifestyle, and none of the proposed plans will enjoy any more voluntary compliance than the current General Plan. As long as they continue to outlaw sustainable living, only outlaws will live sustainably.
The General Plan Update is bound to fail, and fail spectacularly, for a few good reasons. For one, roughly 2,000 people in Humboldt County go without housing or sanitary facilities of any kind. Every day, that number continues to grow. The GPU continues to ignore the needs of this population, and as a result, they will continue to ignore the zoning restrictions of the General Plan, by sleeping, living and relieving themselves whenever and wherever they can.
Tens of thousands of Humboldt County residents, including many, many, landowners live in unpermitted structures, trailers or mobile homes in violation of current General Plan zoning restrictions, but the county lacks resources to prosecute these cases. Just because the county adopts a new General Plan, doesn’t mean they will ever get the money to prosecute these cases in the future.
Finally, since most of what the Planning Department does, is respond to people’s complaints about their neighbors. And since most of those complaints have less to do with health and safety than aesthetics, prejudice and personal disputes, it seems to me that the best thing to do, is close the whole thing down. Stop wasting the taxpayer’s money on petty, vindictive complaints by people who cynically use the County Planning Department to harass their neighbors.
Since the process isn’t working, won’t work, and won’t help, it ought to be more entertaining, and it ought to, at least superficially, reflect what really happens on the ground in Humboldt County. So, I offer these:
New Zoning Designations for the
Humboldt County General Plan Update
First, a few desperately needed and long overdue, zoning designations:
CMR – Commercial Masquerading as Residential, describes those neighborhoods full of “homes” with bicycles and swingsets in the yard, and laundry on the clothesline, but no one lives inside but marijuana plants and spider-mites.
PLR – Parking Lot, Residential These days lots of people live in their vehicle. From converted school buses to “house-bicycles” people, often entire families, have pressed all kinds of vehicles into their primary residence. Still, they all need a place to park for the night. Isn’t it time they had a zone of their own?
UBR – Under Bridge, Residential Some cities already issue permits, for a fee, allowing very low income people to use the prime real estate beneath highway overpasses as their primary residence. Can Humboldt afford to ignore this revenue stream?
DFR – Debris Field, Residential Many of the homesteads in SoHum contain not a single permitted structure. At first look, many do not appear to include a single habitable space, just acres of junk cars, rubbish and debris, but people live there.
DFC – Debris Field, Commercial Many of Humboldt County’s most profitable businesses operate out of the most squalid surroundings. Humboldt County’s economic engine has never been exactly clean.
OLG – On Line Ghetto Block after block of towering concrete housing projects full of 8′x8′ cells, each containing a bed, a toilet and a high-speed internet connection with unlimited bandwidth.
The following “specialty zones” will help foster harmony in special neighborhoods catering to the diversity of Humboldt County lifestyles.
CCL – Competitive Christmas Lights Won’t it be so much easier to decide who has the most impressive display when all of the Christmas light fanatics live in the same neighborhood.
YMCA – Yoga, Massage, Crystals and Acupuncture This zone allows the listed establishments, plus vegan eateries and tea houses, no cafes.
DD + EP – Dangerous Dogs and Exotic Pets Why not put all the pit-bulls in the same neighborhood with the idiots who keep tigers, chimps and pythons.
BYOB – Bring Your Own Birds Backyard chickens, ducks, geese pigeons, flamingos, falcons and peacocks all have their appeal, but they also create a special burden on a neighborhood. In this zone, they can squawk, honk, crow and shit whenever and wherever they please.
CG – Compulsive Gardeners Are you sick and tired of neighbors who can’t just leave the fucking dirt alone? I know I sure am, but they just keep digging it up and planting shit in it. Soon their whole place becomes an overgrown, water-sucking jungle, and they start dumping their excess zucchini and tomatoes on your doorstep. Get them out of your hair by giving them their own zone where they can plow, till and weed to their heart’s content, and they can let their vegetables rot in their own fridge.
DYM – Dope Yuppie Mansion A zone for the successful dope yuppies among us, where they can build the kind of ostentatious country home that doesn’t belong in Connecticut either.
PS – Pot Squat This zone is for all of the substandard housing, adjacent to commercial marijuana operations, occupied by otherwise unemployed tenants.
RHH – Redneck Hell Hole The place to see NASCAR decals, confederate flags and Calvin peeing on stuff. Cars on blocks, refrigerators on the porch and motorcycle repair in the living room are all accepted in this zone.
HA+D – Hanging Around and Drinking Always a popular activity here in Humboldt County, now people will have an acceptable zone to do it in.
SS – Smoking Section Smokers really take it on the chin lately. I see them cowering under the eves in the rain, outside the back door, fondling their butts. Shouldn’t they have a zone where they can all commit slow suicide together.
M+M – Musicians and Meth fiends. Both of these groups tend to keep odd hours and make a lot of racket. Why not zone them together?
DPS – Discarded Potting Soil This zone designates new land created by the accumulation of discarded potting soil.
Zones for the dregs of society. Even the most contemptible members of our community need someplace to live
SOF – Sex-Offender Friendly With so many people returning from prison with release orders that forbid them from living withing 1000 ft. of schools, parks and playgrounds, shouldn’t the county designate a zone to accommodate them.
UWB – Uptight White Blight For those obnoxious people who think they should be able to dictate what their neighbor looks like, what their home looks like, and what they do with it. Even child molesters and rapists deserve better neighbors than these. By establishing this zone, they can all spy on and out-conform each other without disturbing the vibrant diversity of people and lifestyles that makes up the rest of our community.
Are you “zoned out” on the Humboldt County GPU yet? I know I am.