Welcome to Humboldt County where the BANANAs (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone), AKA: “No Growthers” or “Regressives” are out in force.  Look no further than a recent Times-Standard Letter to the Editor (from the latest Humboldt transplant from the LA area) with the usual exaggerated scare tactics of “big box,” “air and noise pollution,” “increase in traffic” and “the increase strain to infrastructure.”  What really captured my eye was the quote, “I moved up to Northern California because I no longer wanted to subject myself to pollution, traffic, and overbearing monopolistic interests.”

Monopolistic interests? I don’t even know what that means.

Throw in your typical Letters to the Editor and blog posts from the usual suspects of Regressives who like to use Saul Alinsky red meat propaganda like “sustainable”, “smart growth”, “developers”, “land owners”, “land speculators” and now their latest talking point “resource extractors” over and over again and you’ll see a common theme to their message. Like Joseph Goebbels said, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”

The General Plan Update guiding principles were revised almost two years ago.  One County Supervisor took to his private Facebook page with, “Stop what you’re doing right now and watch in horror while the Planning Commission eliminates trails and open space from the General Plan Update.” Did the Planning Commission take bulldozers to every trail in Humboldt County? I read it on a blog, so it must be true.

A publisher with a weekly print used her Bully Pulpit to freak out over the changes to the General Plan Update and guiding principles, going so far as writing not one, not two, but eight negative editorials while trying to sell herself as being unbiased.

So here’s the magic question. Are you sitting down?

What’s changed? No seriously, what’s changed?

If the developers have taken over – as many Regressives have written – where’s all this development?

The reality is there hasn’t been much development in Humboldt County over the past decade. Let’s see… the PG&E power plant expansion, St. Joseph’s Hospital expansion, a new Federal Courthouse in McKinleyville, the expansion of Lost Coast Brewery, the new Holiday Inn Express and Redwood Marine Industries on Broadway, and Shafer’s Hardware is expanding at the Old Safeway on Harris/Harrison. I can only think of four new construction homes for sale in all of Eureka. There might be more, so please educate me how the developers have taken control of Humboldt County.

Let’s not forget the Richardson Grove expansion, now going on over 60-plus years of lawsuits, or the Marina Center with its lawsuits, even though almost 70% of the Eureka voters (Measure N in 2010) wanted the pollution on the Balloon Tract cleaned up along with new jobs, an expanded tax base and economic growth. Do I even mention the two Eureka waterfront projects (Goldan and Vellutini) that were torpedoed by lawsuits back in 2005?

I get it that the Regressives are anti-development. Are they also against energy, health care, law & order, local businesses succeeding, jobs and an expanded tax base? They do seem to be in favor of status quo. When you ask, you’ll find that Regressives are typically one of four types: students, trust funders, married-wealthy or retired. What do all these people have in common? They don’t work for a living, so they don’t care about economic growth. I call them Champagne Socialists and Limousine Liberals, or “I got mine and don’t care if you get yours.”

These are the same people who yearn for Mayberry R.F.D., ya know: a town with one stoplight, one gas station, one grocery store and most importantly, one building supply center. No competition, no corporations, no jobs and 50% of us unemployed in their Progressive nirvana. In other words, their version of the American capitalist economy.

I must have missed all that developer takeover they keep yammering on about. Ya know, a Home Depot and Wal-Mart in every city from Garberville to Orick. Maybe I missed all them strip malls along 101. My eyes must be getting worse as I overlooked all those ocean-front condos along the Trinidad Beach. Where are all them cookie-cutter subdivisions sprawling from Fortuna to McKinleyville as former ag land is being carved up into thousands of tract homes by those builders? Just the other day I drove to McKinleyville and do you know what I saw on the side of the freeway? Cows! Damn cows. That’s how bad those greedy developers have ruined Humboldt County.

Look, I’m not in favor of changing Humboldt County’s beauty, but do we have to stop any and all progress from happening? Growing up, the greater Eureka’s population was approximately 50,000 people.  Forty years later it is still 50,000 people. Not exactly “massive growth” as some would lead you to believe.

So when the 2016 political campaign season comes around and one side talks about sprawl and uses phrases such as “special interests,” “developer controlled,” “subdivide” and “land speculators” I’ll be waiting for our mainstream media to ask that all-important follow up question – what development are you referring to?

We don’t have the two requirements for sprawl – infrastructure and demographics. We don’t have properly zoned land, roads, water and sewers for rapid growth. Most importantly, we don’t have the population base or per capita income the corporations want before committing capital for expansion (job growth). That’s the main reason Humboldt County lost out on Trader Joe’s and In-N-Out Burger.

We do have the California Coastal Commission for most of Eureka’s developable land, which typically adds a minimum two years and $500,000 to any potential project. We also have federal law and the strictest state law of all 50 states, along with the additional legal costs of CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act). And that’s before our local Regressives have their Bay Area attorneys file lawsuits on any progress we try to accomplish here in Humboldt.

As Hank Sims pointed out in his excellent story on the City of Eureka’s proposed homeless campsite, most of the properties mentioned are in the Coastal Zone, which may require California Coastal Commission approval (see above). The City is waiting to hear from Bob Merrill, the Coastal Commission’s North Coast District Office Manager to weigh in on “the process.” I don’t have to tell you if the Coastal Commission requires an Environmental Impact Report along with public hearings and comments, we’re on to Plan B.

Eric Kirk on his KHSU Thursday Night Talk radio show a few months ago said, “Humboldt County is the only place where Progressives are against progress.”

I always find it ironic when I talk to a Progressive and ask them what local progress they’re in favor of.

Cleaning up the pollution on the Balloon Track?


The Marina Center?


Richardson Grove expansion?


Port development?


Corporations bringing in much needed jobs with benefits?


Cutting down a single tree?


Building a single house?


So what progress are you in favor of?



“Hugging whales!”

“And Recycling!”

“Yeah! Trees, trails, hugging whales and recycling!”

Trees, trails, hugging whales and recycling? Huh?

I do a bit of traveling and I can’t name another community that recycles more than Humboldt County. Trinity County may have more trees than Humboldt County. How’s their economic growth? Eureka has more trails than any community I can think of. And who’s not in favor of whales outside of Sea World and Japanese whalers?

We have the progressive nirvana - trees, trails, hugging whales and recycling – so where’s all the jobs?

At this point I’m met with silence.

Crickets chirping.

[Ed. note: Middle man Matt Owen is the only human whose views CAN NOT be described as “political leanings.” He stands up straight.]