Measure Z Citizens' Advisory Committee Finalizes RecommendationsThe Citizens’ Advisory Committee on Measure Z expenditures this week finalized its recommendations for projects to be funded in Fiscal Year 2017-18. In total, the committee recommended 12 projects to be funded, in addition to projects that require on-going funding. The final recommendations will be included in the county’s proposed budget, which will be presented to the Board of Supervisors on June 6.
The committee is recommending $4.47 million in expenditures, including $1.2 million to the Humboldt County Fire Chief’s Association for equipment; $1.18 million to the Department of Public Works for roads resurfacing; and $438,292 to the Sheriff’s Office for staff and patrol vehicles, among others.
While revenue from tax is estimated at $11.4 million, there is an ongoing cost of $6.63 million due to projects that were funded in the past, like hiring Sheriff Deputies, Deputy District Attorneys and Probation Officers. In addition, roughly $336,000 in one-time funding was rolled over to FY 17-18, adding to the available funding.
In total, agencies submitted 45 applications requesting more than $11.3 million in funding. The committee held five meetings in which it solicited proposals, took public input and evaluated proposals that sought a share of these funds.
The committee sorted these applications in to three categories: “must have,” “need to have,” and “nice to have.” The committee further developed two lists for projects to be funded. The primary list below includes projects the committee recommends be funded first, and is comprised of “must have” projects. The secondary list includes projects that should be considered during the mid-year budget review. If applicants cannot or do not expend their funds during FY 2017-18, the committee is recommending that projects on the secondary list be considered.
PROPOSED HOSPITAL PARCEL TAX INCREASE-MEASURE W-INFORMATION FOR VOTERS
This time it is to be increased to $170 per parcel for 45 years, the total would be 73 million dollars. This would be to pay back a 40 million dollar loan including the interest. We have been told that by 2030 we will have to do an earthquake retrofit that cannot be done at the existing facility so therefore we need to build a new one for 73 million dollars.
First you should have some background information that will help you make this decision. Seismic preparedness levels are listed as 1 through 5. By 2013 hospitals were to be at a minimum of level 2. By 2030 the minimum level is 3. Several years ago, SHCHD performed a retrofit on the existing facility and increased the level from 1 to 2. They would like you to think that this is required by the state or you will have to close your healthcare facility. This is not true. The following is a partial list of hospitals that have not increased their level from 1 to 2, they are still open and serving their communities. They receive payments from MediCal, Medicare and all the other companies that reimburse for healthcare.
Highland Hospital – Oakland
Enloe Medical Center – Chico
Colusa Medical Center – Colusa
Delano Regional Center – Delano
Coast Plaza Hospital – Norwalk
College Medical Center – Long Beach
Community Hospital – Long Beach
Glendale Adventist Medical Center – Glendale
Kaiser Foundation Hospital – Panorama City
Kindred Hospital – Baldwin Park
Kindred Hospital – Gardena
Harbor UCLA Medical Center – Torrance
LA Community Hospital – Bellflower
LA Metro Med Center – LA
Promise Hospital – East LA
Ronald Regan Medical Center – LA
Shriners Hospital for Children – LA
Marin General Hospital – Greenbrae
This partial list of hospitals is from the Office of Statewide Health Planning And Development. This includes small and large facilities. Again, these hospitals have not gone from a 1 to 2 in their seismic upgrades. They certainly will not go to 3. The list of hospitals that have gone to 2 and will not go a 3 will be longer than the previous list.
Spreading rumor and fear in order to gain public approval of this megaproject is in very poor taste. The following has been said: If we don’t build a new hospital, your property values will go down, people will move out of the area, you will die before you can be transported to Fortuna or Willits, businesses in town will suffer, it will damage our schools. None of this is true. The state has no intention of closing any hospital. The existing facility can be used for the next 50 years. We do not need to change the physical facility. People say that the quality of the available services are substandard and that what is offered does not meet their needs. Building a 40 million dollar hospital building will not bring a superior medical staff to Southern Humboldt.
There are other issues. SHCHD claims to need the current parcel tax amount to stay open. A $170/parcel tax is a $45 increase from the current $125/parcel tax. This would provide an additional $430,000 per year in income. The payment per year on a USDA loan of 40 million dollars for 40 years at 3.4% interest is $1.82 million. Seems we are short about $1.37 million per year. Coupled with the fact that the proposed hospital is only a building, not furnished or equipped, the district will have to ask for an additional $300/parcel after construction begins. Frank R Howard Hospital in Willits is a new and equipped 25 bed facility and the cost was $64 million, why is the SHCHD proposal, which is less than half the size, cost so much? In addition, SHCHD says it has 5000 patient visits per year; if the parcel tax increases to $1.63 million per year it means each patient visit will cost the taxpayers $326.
Where do we go from here? I suggest we vote no on Measure W. And then find and elect people who want to improve healthcare first and build the monument second.
Stop Raids Against Homeless
Oakland - A lawsuit filed December 13, 2016 by civil rights groups charges the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) with violating the constitutional rights of homeless people by confiscating and destroying their property in ongoing sweeps. On multiple occasions, Caltrans has failed to give proper notice before raiding encampments—refusing plaintiffs an opportunity to move their belongings before destroying them in trash compactors.
In Southern Humboldt and through out Humboldt county, Caltrans practices the same 'clean-up' procedures, disposing of personal property without warning.
We have 2 plaintiffs from southern Humboldt that have experienced losing everything they own on 3 different occasions. They too will be listed in the lawsuit against Caltrans.
If you have lost private property due to Caltrans actions-
please contact the law offices of:
WILMER CUTLER PICKERING HALE & DORR LLP
KEITH L. SLENKOVICH
950 Page Mill Road
Palo Alto, Ca. 94304
Telephone: 1 (650) 858-6110
Fax: 1 (650) 858-6100
The details of the suit....
The case for protecting the vulnerable among us.
By Dave Meserve
Sanctuary city ordinances will be considered soon by the Arcata (April 5 agenda) and Eureka city councils and efforts are also under way to make Humboldt County a sanctuary county. With the current executive orders limiting immigration and targeting undocumented immigrants with deportation, it is important that we take action to protect those among us who are being threatened.
Although the concepts of "sanctuary" and "sanctuary city" go back more than 1,000 years, the term was first commonly used in the United States during the 1980s when people were fleeing U.S. sponsored, right wing death squads in Central America. Initially, churches stepped forward as "sanctuaries." Then, cities followed, using the same term and offering refuge from immediate deportation to those who had fled war zones and persecution.
Today the term is used to designate policies that limit cooperation between local authorities and federal immigration enforcement agencies.
Sanctuary city ordinances generally include the following regulations:
City resources will not be used to enforce federal immigration law;
City agencies will not share information with federal immigration authorities, nor will federal detainer requests be honored, except with a judicial warrant, or in the case of individuals convicted of serious felony crimes;
City agencies will not provide federal immigration authorities with access to individuals in their custody for questioning solely for immigration enforcement purposes;
City employees will not be deputized by federal immigration authorities;
City resources will not be used to create a federal registry based on race, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability status, religion, ethnicity or national origin;
City agencies will not collect immigration-related information and will ensure nondiscriminatory access to benefits and services;
City agencies will protect the due process rights of persons as to whom federal immigration enforcement requests have been made, including providing those persons with appropriate notice;
City agencies will collect and report data to the public regarding detainer and notification requests from federal immigration authorities, in order to monitor their compliance with applicable laws.
From a law enforcement perspective, being a sanctuary city means that scarce local dollars will not be used to enforce federal immigration laws or to deport community members who may not have all their paperwork in order. If they really must, let the feds do that on their own!
If people are arrested for committing a crime, prosecute them for that crime. There is no need to involve federal authorities.
If people want to sign their kids up for local recreation programs, or for any form of assistance, assure them that the information they provide will only be used for local purposes related to that program.
If an immigrant witnesses a crime or is a victim of one, assure them they can safely give their personal information, without fear of it being passed on to federal authorities.
If there is a local drug raid, don't invite ICE to accompany local law enforcement.
Some who believe that undocumented immigrants should be immediately deported portray them as more likely to commit crimes. In fact, official statistics consistently show that crime rates are lower for immigrants than for native-born American citizens, and high rates of immigration are associated with lowered rates of both violent and property crime.
Opponents of sanctuary cities often say that undocumented immigrants deserve deportation because they have violated federal law, and they question why immigrants don't pursue a legal path to citizenship. Whether an immigrant is undocumented because of crossing the border illegally or overstaying a visa, or being brought here as a child, the path to citizenship is long and difficult and often results in deportation. For job-based immigration, the applicant must have special skills and the employer must file a petition. Unless the immigrant is married to or the next-of-kin of an American citizen, the process of obtaining citizenship involves quotas, long waits (often decades) and uncertain outcomes.
The current administration has threatened to withdraw funding from sanctuary cities but, even if such action is attempted, it is unlikely to survive legal challenges. San Francisco and the states of New York and California are already preparing to fight any federal defunding effort in court and have strong arguments, based on the freedom granted to cities and states under the Tenth Amendment. There are currently more than 200 cities in the U.S. with sanctuary city policies, and many more have joined the effort in the past few months, or are considering doing so.
Locally, we could choose to enact "safe and inclusive" policies and not say "sanctuary city." However, in the current political climate, we should embrace the term and proudly stand up for basic human rights in solidarity with like-minded communities across the nation.
Except for Native Americans, all of us descend from immigrants. Latin American immigrants today suffer the same discrimination that many European immigrants endured in the past. And Muslims today often encounter the same blind hatred that was formerly leveled at Jews and Catholics. Let us keep that bigotry in the past and move on, together, to an inclusive society. Think about the Statue of Liberty. Think about your own heritage. Realize that, as Americans, it is our diversity and our inclusiveness that make us great.
Undocumented immigrants pose no threat to our safety or well-being. Many came here as children. Now, they have their own children, born as American citizens, but the parents may still not have legal status. They are hard working members of our community and the parents of our kids' classmates. Do we really want to deport them and separate them from their children? Instead, we should offer safety and security within our community and a clear path to citizenship.
Arcata and Eureka police protocols already limit sharing of immigration data with federal authorities, but sanctuary city status would send a clear message of safety to immigrant residents and would also make a strong public statement affirming our dedication to human rights in these troubled times. Humboldt County does not have similar protocols and, in fact, under its policy allows deputies to send information to ICE whenever someone is booked into the county jail, no matter how minor the offense.
Senate Bill 504 is also making its way through the California Legislature. It would effectively make California a "sanctuary state." This is an important and positive effort that will hopefully be successful, but it is still important for cities and counties to take independent action to protect the human rights of local immigrants. In these times, we must all stand strong for justice in any way we can.
Please support proposed ordinances that free our cities and county from expending local resources to enforce federal immigration law. Let your council members know that you support becoming a sanctuary city, and let your supervisors know you would like Humboldt to become a sanctuary county.
Dave Meserve is a former Arcata City Council member. If you would like more information or to help with his sanctuary efforts, you can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Southern Humboldt human rights activist Debra Carey is my guest on
"The Least Among Us," my KMUD radio show about homelessness.
We discuss the terrible impact of living a life of sleep deprivation. We also discuss how sleep deprivation is used as punishment in prisons. Sleeping is a right, outlined in Article 24 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
HSU's enrollment push collides with Humboldt's housing crunch, leaving students in the lurch
By HSU Investigative Reporting students
...During 2016's fall term, HSU housed just over 2,000 students on campus. Another 1,200 students are locals. That left an additional 5,200 students to find off-campus housing...According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Arcata has 7,722 housing units within city limits, 34 percent of which are owner occupied. That leaves 5,097 rental units to house those 5,200 students, along with anyone else who wants to live in the city...
More in the Northcoast Journal
Proposal For Declaration of Shelter Crisis
in Humboldt County
According to the city of Eureka's chief building official Brian Gerving "The current estimate for the homeless population in our city hovers around 2500 people". This number is certainly not a 'hard' number and it fluctuates slightly from one year to the next, but almost all agree that it isn't going to drop significantly in the foreseeable future. People who are homeless are people who by definition have very few options, and they find themselves in the situation they are in not out of choice but precisely out of the lack of any other choice. One thing that everybody agrees on whether they are homeless advocates or people who simply want the homeless to disappear is that the homeless situation in Humboldt county as it is is neither tolerable or sustainable.
Governments across the country from the state of Utah to the city of New York have calculated that the cost of criminalizing homelessness in the form of incarceration, police and court costs, emergency room hospitalization and the like are much higher than the costs of providing housing and social services to the same homeless population - according to some calculations by as much as 300%. Constant policing, evictions, arrests for quality of life crimes, jail costs, the cost of cleaning up the mess left by homeless encampments only to have them replaced by new homeless encampments elsewhere adds up to a lot of money spent in a monumentally unproductive way. Emergency room visits by people who have left their health to deteriorate to the point of crisis are orders of magnitude more costly to the public and to the individuals involved than normal health maintenance. And all these costs don't even take into account the cost in terms of the damage done to the people involved, who will be back out on the street again regardless of how much they have been traumatized or how much their short time off the street has cost the taxpayers.
it is time that the county, the taxpayers and the homeless themselves recognize that this problem is not going away. Homelessness is a reality that will have to be addressed or it will continue to fester and spread, to the detriment of everyone involved.
A short walk through any homeless encampment will reveal a great amount of ingenuity among the residents, who want nothing more than to help themselves and make the best of a bad situation. Local citizens and non-profit groups are also very resourceful when it comes to helping those in need. In the case of the homeless on the other hand, legal obstacles and the lack of a safe place for the homeless to be make almost all attempts to better the situation difficult, temporary and in many cases illegal. The simple act of designating a safe, legal place where homeless people can be would unleash a cascade of improvements that would cost the taxpayers nothing.
Humboldt residents are passionate about keeping their open spaces safe and clean, making their towns and cities livable and attractive to tourists and shoppers, keeping their parks clean and safe for themselves and their children and improving their quality of life in any way they can. Leaving the homeless with no options is therefore not an option. If people have no place to go they will congregate in public places, parks, open spaces - precisely the places meant to improve the quality of life for the whole community. No amount of police action can change that basic reality. We either share those spaces with them or we find a way to give them a place where they can stay warm and dry and get some sleep, so that they at least have the chance to be productive citizens. This is not the solution, it is only the first step if we want to change anything about the current situation.
California law provides for the declaration of a Shelter Crisis when any community finds itself unable to find adequate housing for the people who can't afford or can't find adequate shelter. Declaring a Shelter Crisis has many benefits for the government entity involved and helps to clear the obstacles that would ordinarily prevent or obstruct action to mitigate and solve chronic homelessness. It facilitates and helps to expedite many solutions and mitigations that would otherwise be illegal or held up by months or years of red tape. It also allows governments to take action without the threat of being held liable for unforeseen consequences of providing shelter to those who need it. To quote the Code itself, Government Code Section 8698-8698.2:
"'Declaration of a shelter crisis' means the duly proclaimed existence of a situation in which a significant number of persons are without the ability to obtain shelter, resulting in a threat to their health and safety."
The government agency declaring a shelter crisis - "...shall be immune from liability for ordinary negligence in the provision of emergency housing…"
"The provisions of any state or local regulatory statute, regulation, or ordinance prescribing standards of housing, health, or safety shall be suspended to the extent that strict compliance would in any way prevent, hinder or delay the mitigation of the effects of the shelter crisis."
In other words the government entity may designate a place where people without housing can stay without risking any liability except in the case of "grossly negligent, reckless, or intentional conduct which causes injury". That entity could either appoint private non-profits to administer shelters or provide shelter itself without running the risk of being held liable for harm that might come to someone being sheltered. It also means that building codes, anti-camping ordinances, ADA requirements, health and safety codes that prevent or delay sheltering people would be suspended in the areas or facilities designated by the government entity declaring the crisis. In other words people could be allowed to provide themselves with emergency housing of any kind until permanent housing is found.
This of course would not 'solve' the problem of homelessness, but it would be a very low cost way to begin to move toward a solution, and it would provide an immediate place for people to go other than parks and other green spaces. Once people are allowed to sleep safely through the night, studies have shown that their mental health will improve dramatically, their abuse of drugs and alcohol is more likely to decline and their productivity as citizens is likely to improve along with their ability to find and maintain work.
Declaring a shelter crisis costs nothing, it clears the way to humanely remove homeless people from unsafe, unsanitary encampments, and it establishes a path to mental health and productive citizenship for people trapped in a viscous circle that destroys lives and tarnishes communities. The alternative is on display in a dozen places throughout the county, it isn't pretty and it isn't getting any better.
October 20, 2016
By John Hardin
Closed For decades, green paint and a leaking roof housed Garberville's heart. In May, it stopped.
The Garberville Veterans Hall, once home to holiday meals, classes and community meetings, was shuttered in May after county inspectors found dangerous levels of black mold.
Gold Star Mother Esther Underwood lost her son, John Haynes, the first American soldier from the Garberville area to die in World War II. But from her grief — and her generosity — the John Haynes Memorial Veterns Hall grew and, over the years, the Garberville Vets Hall, as it is more commonly known, became the heart of civic life in the Southern Humboldt community. On May 23, that heart stopped beating when county inspectors discovered unhealthy levels of black mold growing in the walls and ceiling, and ordered the hall closed.
When Bud Rogers challenged Estelle Fennell for the 2nd District seat on the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors, they faced off in a debate at the Vets Hall in Garberville. When county code enforcement officers brought guns to an inspection on Titlow Hill, SoHum people filled the Vets Hall to capacity to demand an end to those heavy-handed tactics. When the community debated whether to establish a public restroom in Garberville, we argued about it at the hall. Whenever we try to figure out what we will do, as a community, about anything of substance in Southern Humboldt, we discuss it at the Vets Hall.
The hall also includes a branch of the Humboldt County Superior Court, a small courtroom where, during certain hours, people can pay traffic tickets or have their cases heard by a judge. Or at least they could up until this spring. According to Hank Torborg, current commander of VFW Chapter 6354, which runs the Garberville Vets Hall, a 2nd District supervisor long ago convinced the veterans that they had a better chance of getting their hall approved if they agreed to have a courthouse in the same building. This political arrangement caused some grumbling among vets. However, it is more than 60 miles from Garberville to Eureka. The branch courthouse in Garberville makes it easier for everyone in Southern Humboldt to deal with court matters and, no doubt, made it possible for more of them to make their court dates.
Not only that, but if you've ever attended a meeting, a workshop or a lecture in Southern Humboldt, or taken a class, or attended a birthday party, a wedding, a reception, a wake or a funeral, chances are it happened at the Vets Hall. If you live here, of course, you know about the community Thanksgiving dinner that takes place at the hall, even if you haven't spent the holiday there yourself. Thanksgiving at the Vets Hall is a huge, all-volunteer effort with a long history. Throw in Christmas dinner with a visit from Santa, and it's clear the Vets Hall has become the heart of our community.
It's simple logistics, really. Say you teach dog obedience training and you live in Alderpoint, 12 miles east of Garberville, up a steep, curvy mountain road. If you advertise for students, you will get one in Ettersburg (16 miles west of Garberville), another in Myers Flat (15 miles north), a third in Piercy (20 miles south), and one more student right in Garberville. It only makes sense to meet in Garberville, and the Vets Hall is the most reasonably priced multipurpose space available. As the SoHum community continues to grow, so too has the importance of the Garberville Vets Hall to community life.
Torborg, the local VFW commander, knows the story behind the John Haynes Memorial Veterans Hall better than most. The story begins shortly after World War II, when a group of mostly World War I vets got it in their minds to open a new Veterans Hall in Garberville. They had tired of the cold, damp Fireman's Hall and wanted a place of their own with a kitchen. They started a fundraising campaign and held a steelhead fishing derby.
By the mid-1950s, the vets had raised more than $9,000. They approached Underwood about purchasing the property she owned on the corner of Conger and Locust streets in Garberville, but Underwood insisted on donating the land to the cause, meaning the veterans suddenly had the money they needed to begin construction.
Underwood deeded the land to the vets, who formed The John Haynes Memorial Building Association. In turn, under a provision of state law that allows the property to be managed publicly, in perpetuity, as a memorial veterans hall, the vets deeded the property to the county. Apparently, the political decision to include a courthouse in the same building led many vets to fear that the county was trying to take over their hall. This led to a somewhat contentious relationship between the Garberville vets and the county of Humboldt right from the beginning, and the John Haynes Memorial Veterans Hall appears to have been something of a thorn in the county's side ever since.
Meanwhile, other changes were underway in Southern Humboldt. As back-to-the-landers began showing up in greater numbers, they started holding their events, parties and boogies at the old, cold, drafty and damp Fireman's Hall. Friction between these newcomers and the established townspeople, including many vets, increased as more and more hippies moved into SoHum. Tempers flared and meetings were held, but tensions between the two groups finally exploded one night in 1983 when an arsonist torched the Garberville Fireman's Hall, burning it to the ground.
The fire left the Vets Hall as the only affordable rental in Southern Humboldt. No effort was made to rebuild the Fireman's Hall. Instead, the back-to-the-landers formed a group called the "Mateel," for the two watersheds they occupied, the Mattole and the Eel, and commenced their own fundraising campaign to build a hall of their own. These newcomers, still reeling from the violence of the arson but also beginning to feel their oats as the fledgling black market marijuana industry began to grow, vowed to come back stronger than ever. Instead of building an all-purpose hall, the Mateel community opted for a concert venue.
They had their reasons. I never went to the old Fireman's Hall, but I can attest that the Vets Hall, not unlike a lot of multipurpose community buildings, has terrible acoustics and it's likely the Mateel folks got tired of holding their boogies in awful sounding rooms. Who could blame them, especially in that era of FM stereo, audiophile component systems and half-speed master recordings? So, the Mateel built a great sounding concert hall and installed a top-flight sound system, which stands as a testament to the community's deep respect and appreciation for the performing arts. There's only one problem: The Mateel Community Center is just too expensive to rent for dog training, a club meeting or a whole lot of other things that make a community function.
The Mateel charges between $800 and $1,000 a day to use the hall, with extra fees for cleaning and use of the lights and sound system. It offers a discount rate for nonprofit organizations, but compared to the $20 to $25 an hour the Vets Hall charged, there's really no comparison. It is possible to rent just the bottom floor of the Mateel by the hour, but it still costs more than twice as much as the Vets Hall.
Even as the Mateel Community Center rose in prominence, the SoHum community became more reliant on the John Haynes Memorial Veterans Hall for everything from seniors exercise classes to circuit-bending workshops for the Southern Humboldt Amateur Radio Club. As the years passed, Vietnam vets succeeded Word War II vets, and the lines between hippie and straight began to soften. To help ease tensions and build community, the vets started hosting a Thanksgiving dinner. Everyone in the community was invited, and everyone was invited to help.
The event proved so popular that they decided to do it again for Christmas. Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners at the Vets Hall have been a SoHum tradition for more than 30 years. One year, the vets served more than 300 people for Thanksgiving and every year at least a couple hundred spend the holiday at the hall, this in a town with a total population of around 1,000. Additionally, the vets and the local Kiwanis collect Toys for Tots every year, store the cache of donated toys at the hall and, every Christmas, Santa comes to distribute them.
Meanwhile, the roof has leaked for as long as anyone can remember. The lack of a service contract with the county led to considerable rancor between Garberville vets and the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors in the ensuing decades, but the vets and the county finally came to an agreement that clearly established who is responsible for the hall's maintenance on Sept. 17, 2002. The agreements notes, "The county and Garberville veterans associations have been living, somewhat tenuously, under terms of a 1985 agreement that expired in 1987. The attached agreement is the culmination of years of negotiations, and represents, staff submits, a mutually satisfactory arrangement."
The agreement also tells us: "Veterans, years ago, without county permission, replaced part of the roof at a cost of $7,567. The county in fiscal year 1999-2000 reimbursed the veterans half the amount ($3,784) and offered to reimburse the remaining half ($3,783) on signing of a new agreement." The new agreement clearly delineates responsibility for maintenance and repair of the hall, listing roof repair and replacement right at the top, under county responsibilities. According to Torborg, the roof leaked at the time the agreement was signed.
At this point you are probably wondering what's the problem with the roof of this building. It stems from the fact that, like a lot of other public buildings of the era, the hall has a flat roof. Back in the late 1950s and through most of the 1960s, people loved clean, modern Bauhaus lines, and those boxy, flat-roofed designs looked so good on paper no one could resist them. Architects sold thousands of sleek, modern-looking, flat-roofed buildings to communities just like ours, and damn near every one of them leaked chronically. The Garberville Branch of the Humboldt County Public Library, right around the corner from the Vets Hall, has the same problem.
With the agreement of 2002 in place, the veterans turned their focus to the interior of the hall, making several improvements, including a new hardwood floor. Unfortunately, the chronic leaks in the roof have damaged a lot of these improvements. On a recent tour, Torborg pointed out places where water has damaged a tile floor, stained carpeting, shorted out a TV and damaged ceiling tiles, explaining that each of these had been due to different leaks at different times.
Each time they noticed a leak, the veterans informed the county of it. Occasionally, the county even sent people to make repairs. According to Torborg, "They'd send somebody out with a bucket of black jack to fix a leak, on a flat roof, where the whole roof needs to be replaced." One can only deduce, from the county's own mold report, that the county's maintenance of the Garberville Vets Hall had been inadequate to the task.
One of the county's repairs has been a fixture in the hall for many years: a 2-foot-by-2-foot shelf mounted overhead and out of reach on the internal wall between the main hall and the kitchen. On the shelf sits a large cooking pot. A hose attached to a bung on the side of the pot leads down the wall and out an open window. It's hard to say where they found a stock pot with a bung, or the proper hose to fit it, but these are the miracles of Humboldt County procurement. Unfortunately, the wall around that shelf is now infested with black mold, as are several other locations in the hall, including the veterans office ceiling.
The smell of mold permeated the building on the recent tour led by Torborg. The cramped office looked like it had been used that day. The desk had papers on it. Plaques hung on the wall near dress uniforms that hung in a row with filing cabinets lining the wall. Clearly the closure had come as a surprise, but a torn away piece of ceiling tile revealed the infestation.
Apparently it was someone at the court who asked the county to inspect the hall for mold. The court occupies about one-third of the building exclusively. Mold may have become apparent in the judges' chambers or the courtroom before anyone noticed it in the hall, but Kathy Wolman, who used the hall for many years with the Feet First dance troupe, said she smelled mold in the Vets Hall and knew the building had a problem long before the inspection proved it. Once the test came back positive for unhealthy levels of black mold in May, the county ordered the building closed and suspended all court activities there until further notice.
Suddenly, people from Blocksburg to Shelter Cove and from Pepperwood to Piercy had to scramble to find a workaround. While Garberville itself is a small town, Garberville is "town" — as in, "I'm going to town" — for a huge geographic area with a growing population. The John Haynes Memorial Veterans Hall, despite its problems, served this larger SoHum community so faithfully, in so many capacities, for so long, and with such humility, that most took it for granted. We're still scrambling.
Angelina Jaquez still doesn't know what she'll do. She runs Unleashed K9 Training Inc., and has come to rely on the hall, where she taught canine socialization, agility and obedience. "For dogs to learn to behave, they need to be in a pack, so it's important to get everyone together in one place," she said.
She described the difficulty she has had finding another location. "We can't use the community park, because there are no fenced areas, and because too many people let their dogs run with no leash, no training, no manners, no nothing," she said. "We tried to find a place in the Meadows Business Park, but nothing worked out there. Nilsen's Redway Feed Store volunteered to let us use their parking lot, but there's just too much activity in that parking lot and, in the summer, the pavement is too hot for the dogs' paws. I'm currently holding classes in one of my students' yards, but that will only work as long as the weather holds out. I still don't know what I'm going to do when it starts to rain."
She explained that the outdoor setting doesn't work very well, as fewer people show up when it's hot out, which deprives the dogs of the consistency they need for a good training class. Ultimately, she needs an indoor space with air conditioning and floors that are easy to clean. (Carpeted rooms won't work, as dogs do have accidents on occasion.)
"I work a lot with rehab dogs, and dogs that are difficult to deal with, have bite records and other problems," Jaquez continued. "A lot of these dog owners are at their wits end. Without my class, some of these dogs will probably have to be put down."
Evelyn King, who teaches an exercise class for seniors in SoHum, said participation in the class has gone down considerably since it had to be moved out of the Garberville Vets Hall. She still teaches, but sometimes has no students show up for her class at the Healy Senior Center in Redway. "One nice thing about the Vets Hall," Evelyn said, "is that it is so close to the senior housing in Garberville. When we did the class there, the seniors could just walk over to the class, but to get (to Redway) they need a ride."
Other Vets Hall users face similar challenges. When asked, Vets Hall booking manager Amy McClellan rattled off a long list of groups that used the hall every week. There was Feet First Dancers, with classes and rehearsals for ballet, salsa, tap, jazz, hip hop, modern and more. Then there are theater groups, Aikido classes and senior exercise classes. The Family Resource Center in Redway used the hall for parenting classes, and the Garberville Town Square organization used its kitchen to prepare food for events. A host of nonprofits used it to house their annual dinners, fundraisers and celebrations. Then there's the litany of public meetings held there, not to mention the monthly veterans dinner.
"I've probably forgotten some things but this should get you started," McClellan said.
Southern Humboldt just doesn't have that many alternatives. The much smaller Garberville Civic Club can handle about 50 people with a shoehorn, but it's more out of the way. The struggling Garberville Theater, and the newly opened Redwood Playhouse in the old College of the Redwoods building will work for a performance, or to screen a movie, but you can't really serve Thanksgiving dinner for 250 people in either of them and they don't have a kitchen. It's a conundrum. Many fear the county may opt to demolish the Vets Hall and with it, Garberville's long holiday tradition.
According to Fennell, the current 2nd District supervisor, the county is looking at the situation and trying to decide if the building is worth saving. The 2002 agreement stipulates that it is the county's responsibility to fix the roof and rebuild the hall if it is destroyed. However, the agreement also states: "In a situation where the building is destroyed, we have included language that we will rebuild as soon as possible, and commit to beginning reconstruction within a year of destruction. This recognizes that county timelines have constraints."
Those constraints are the reason the roof didn't get fixed for 15 years. The vets have invested a lot of resources into this building, expecting the county would fulfill its obligation under the agreement. The county's apparent failure to live up to its promise has hurt the entire community, especially area veterans. The hall closure has disrupted their activities, and threatens their property. For everyone else, it's going to be a lot harder to find a place to meet, teach a class or have a wedding reception, and there doesn't appear to be an easy answer.
The vets favor fixing the roof and removing the mold, according to Torborg, and the sooner the better. He hopes the problem can be solved in relatively short order if it is handled quickly, before the mold has time to spread. Any other solution will likely leave Southern Humboldt without an affordable hall — and local vets without a place to meet — for the foreseeable future.
And there's more to this than simple inconvenience. Not only is the Vets Hall an important part of everyday life in SoHum, it also provides critical infrastructure in times of emergency. A provision in the 2002 agreement states that the hall will serve as a care center or "other emergency facility" during declared disasters or states of emergency. In fact, the Vets Hall has been used as a severe weather shelter on the coldest nights of winter for a long time.
For many years, community organizers worked closely with the veterans around homeless issues. Many vets were homeless at the time and Veterans for Peace activists within the Garberville veterans post made the building available to people caught outdoors during nights when the temperatures fell below freezing. This past winter, however, the veterans decided they no longer wanted the hall used as an emergency shelter, citing safety, security and insurance concerns.
Since then, community organizers Debra Carey and Paul Encimer have approached Fennell to establish an "extreme weather protocol" to determine emergency conditions under which the hall could be used as an emergency shelter. They say she's been extremely reluctant to exercise the county's authority under the agreement and there's currently no shelter for the people who need it in Southern Humboldt.
From one grieving mother's generosity, and the work of three generations of local veterans, came a modest, poorly designed building on Conger Street in Garberville, but the forces that shape this community, and the people who live here, have made the Garberville Vets Hall into the heart of Southern Humboldt life.
Meanwhile the forces at play in county government allowed the Garberville Vets Hall to fall into disrepair. Other Veterans Halls in the county need repairs too, but few serve such a vital role for such a large community. Considering the county's ongoing structural budget deficit, it doesn't seem likely that the county will make building a new veterans hall in Garberville a priority any time soon. Many wonder if the hall will ever reopen.
In the meantime, the Mateel Community Center has agreed to host the vets annual Thanksgiving dinner, ensuring Southern Humboldt's heart will continue to beat at least a bit longer, however faintly.
Community Help In Living Locally (CHILL) meets this Wednesday, Oct. 12, at Noon in Garberville. In the face of a “Shock & Awe” campaign over the last weeks aimed at dislodging local homeless, CHILL is rediscovering itself as an ad hoc grouping of Human Rights advocates. Gentrification is never pretty, ironically enough, and this recent coalition of counter-cultural money, old settler money and real estate money is no exception. Although the CHILL agenda is open to those who advocate for the “at risk,” Wednesday’s meeting will therefore have a focus on legal remedies in defense of human rights. The place of meeting is at 1007 2nd St. at the Free Library in back of the old Bike Coop.
Meanwhile of course CHILL continues to promote a positive agenda. The demographics of homelessness as envisioned by CHILL activists is made up of many independent constituencies that do not fit the hateful profile promulgated by the current gentrification coalition of the rich and would-be rich. CHILL instead proposes a series of institutional solutions.
The most conventional solution is a Farm Labor Camp for migrant workers in the marijuana business. Representatives of the state of California have indicated the eligibility of the Emerald region for a state funded migrant labor camp. A Sanctuary village for women and families is crucial, given the excessive vulnerability of women and children forced to live in camps, cars and on couches. CHILL also seeks to create a cooperative village on a land trust model for employed people and those with low/no income. A winter shelter is another priority for CHILL whose activists have for some years provided the volunteer staffing. Homeless veterans abound in America and CHILL hopes to be part of a movement to rebuild the Vets’ Hall at County expense. The County has shown itself to be unwilling to maintain the Hall and when completed the Hall should be wholly owned by local veterans, free of County interference..
CHILL is a grouping that is explicitly founded on opposition to violence, in particular as used against the “at risk” street population who have suffered many attacks on behalf of “localism”. CHILL wants to remove the baseball bat and the taser as symbols of this “localism.” On behalf of that effort CHILL periodically sponsors sessions in nonviolent communication and conduct.
The imminent loss of the bookstore at the north end of Garberville – thanks to dictates of the currently triumphant money power - will require the recreation of a “Respite Center” named in honor of Kathy Epling whose vision it was. The bookstore has been targeted as an unofficial “Respite Center” which is dedicated to helping the helpless, lessening the levels of fear among the desperate, offering resources to the resource-less. The totally free services provide (as available) food, clothing, water, electricity, telephone, mail services, along with orientation information for travelers and for trimmers and growers alike. Also made available are extensive materials serving “Harm Reduction” - and in cooperation with medical and mental health servers, CHILL is part of the demand for appropriate County services to aid people with addiction and mental health problems. Eureka is a parasite whose population, perhaps twice that of Southern Humboldt, soaks up just about all the County welfare money.
Property continues as the “sacred” watchword on behalf of dollar values which otherwise hold nothing sacred. Ownership is of such paramount importance that any “private property” anywhere in the region is under the exclusive guardianship of any self-appointed “local” disciple with the tacit or open encouragement of law enforcement . The sacred earth at Standing Rock has been re-asserted as a prime value held by Native Americans upon whose very land our local “owners” and their serfs arrogantly squat as they persecute trespassers. CHILL means to be a different kind of citizens’ movement.
For information on where exactly is 2nd st and etc contact Paul 923-4488 or Debra 223-3607
Ukiah, CA— Tribal members and forest activists confront Mendocino Redwood Company at mill site, completing their four day, 54-mile “March to Let the Forest Heal”The trek from Comptche to Ukiah called attention to Mendocino Redwood Company (MRC)’s ongoing practice of “Hack and Squirt”. The method uses the herbicide Imazapyr, injected into a wound, to kill millions of tan oaks and madrones, leaving a forest of standing dead trees. Roundup and Garlon are also used to kill brush, which is bulldozed into huge flammable “slash” piles throughout MRC’S 220,000 acre holdings in Mendocino County. Carrying a redwood log and dead tan oak branches to symbolize the destruction taking place in the forest, the marchers braved rain and traffic, including log trucks, along southern Mendocino County rural routes 128 and 253, eliciting “thumbs up” from drivers and picking up more marchers along the way. Led by an intrepid core including local grandmothers, the procession at times swelled to over twenty people walking together.