John Hardin / @ 6:54 a.m. / Op-Ed

HARDIN: Where Did Everybody Go?


Look at that! I can’t remember the last time I saw the Redway Shop-Smart parking lot so empty. It’s at least 9:00 am. They should be open. Oh, sure enough, they are. The situation in Garberville only gets stranger. I have my choice of six or eight open parking spaces right across from the Credit Union.

“Did we miss the evacuation order?” I wondered aloud. Usually, I’d only find a spot there if I saw someone with their backing lights on, and waited in the road for them to back out, before I took their space. “I don’t think so.” My partner Amy replied.

It’s been pretty quiet in our neck of the woods too. The constant rumble of trucks up and down our road, that we endured all last year, has disappeared. If I hear a vehicle on the road these days, it provides brief, appreciated reassurance that the road remains open, but it happens very rarely of late. I haven’t heard a generator in months. What a relief!

I love SoHum in the Winter. The rain makes everything green and the trees glisten like emeralds in the fog. It’s too beautiful for words, and this place is so much nicer when the dope yuppies are gone. Apparently the green-rushers don’t like the rain any more than the dope yuppies, because it looks like they left too. Good riddance!

It always clears out a bit around here about this time of year, but the exodus seems especially dramatic this year. Maybe the excessive noise and traffic we endured this past year makes us appreciate the peace and quiet more. Maybe the flooding, road closures and the long rainy winter have combined forces to keep more people at home, and drive more people away. Whatever caused it, we appreciate it. Thanks! Keep up the good work all summer, if possible.

If you want to know what the community of Southern Humboldt really looks like, look around SoHum right now. Anyone who has stuck it out, through the atmospheric rivers, the mudslides, the slip-outs and the flooding, and seems cheerful about the prospects of a couple more months of it, those people belong here. They will be here next February. Remember the people you see here in February, because if you didn’t see them here in February, they’re probably tourists, transients and/or carpetbaggers.

A friend told me recently that every one of her friends who owns property around here is moving and selling out. I’ve seen a fair amount of turnover in our neighborhood also. Of course, these properties sell for many times what working people around here can afford. Buyers come from all over to get in on the greenrush. They pay a huge premium for some of the steepest, shakiest and most inaccessible land in the country, where one acre out of forty might be flat enough to grow weed on. What are they thinking?

Even if Trump keeps the black market rolling along for another four years, I don’t see how people who buy in at today’s land prices expect to make that kind of bread growing weed at today’s cannabis prices. Maybe they don’t. Maybe they expect to grow weed for a while to pay their note, but then flip the land, at a profit, to some Silicon Valley billionaire looking for a survivalist bug-out. One Manhattan Beach investor told me that was his plan, anyway, but things didn’t work out like that for him.

Who is crazier, the tech billionaire who spends millions to buy remote forest land in case of a breakdown in law and order — which would, effectively, nullify his title — or the speculator who pays a premium for forest land because they could get a permit to grow pot on it, even though they don’t grow pot, just so they could let some tenant sharecropper trash it until that paranoid tycoon with no common sense comes along? How do people this crazy end up with so much money? Why do they seem bent on using it to ruin my neighborhood, even though they don’t like it here and haven’t a chance in hell of turning a profit? How much money do people have to lose before they realize what a stupid, outdated fantasy it was to come to Humboldt County to grow cannabis?

Humboldt County is not a brand; Humboldt County is remote, wild, unpredictable and dangerous and not at all a safe investment. Maybe people will learn their lesson. Certainly the landslides, flooding, falling trees and road damage should help teach that lesson, but some people never learn. I guess we’ll see what happens around here in a few weeks.

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John Hardin writes at Like You’ve Got Something Better to Do.


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