When my daughter was growing up, some said that I was a strict parent. I didn’t think so. I just set boundaries that were acceptable for a child and later a teenager. I used to tell her, “I’ll give you all the rope you need. Just don’t hang yourself.” In other words, she had a lot of freedom in her life. Don’t screw up or I’m coming down like a hammer. Today she is a Dean’s List Honor Student at UCLA, where she will graduate college in just four years after spending a year as a Rotary exchange student in Bangkok, Thailand where she learned her third language. My daughter understood the difference between the carrot and the stick. If she was a rude teenager, then I took away her cell phone, TV remote and laptop. That got her attention. Good behavior is rewarded. Bad behavior is disciplined. Simple.
And that’s where we find ourselves today with the City of Eureka and the mass of vagrants/transients/drug addicts throughout our town. I get the Stature of Liberty’s “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”, but do we have signs on 101 at Target and K-Mart that say, “Give me your drug addicts, your alcoholics, your mentally ill yearning to roam our streets, trespass on private property, shoot heroin, pass out drunk and commit violence”?
It’s called leadership and political will and the City of Eureka needs both right now.
The two recent incidents where druggies broke into Betty Chinn’s storage locker to steal items that were destined for homeless families and individuals getting back on their feet shocked us all. But then to read that these thieves defecated inside a microwave oven and urinated all over her storage locker broke all bounds of human civility and may be the tipping point for our community to finally set social boundaries.
Between the Betty Kwan Chinn Foundation, the Eureka Rescue Mission, Teen Challenge, Salvation Army, non-profits, faith-based churches and the County’s Department of Health & Human Services there are numerous sources available for those who want help.
What do we do with those who don’t want help and just want to steal and shoot heroin all day?
Why transient druggies have been allowed to loiter all day on public sidewalks across from St. Vincent De Paul’s is beyond me. Where is the political leadership to clear our sidewalks? We should have law enforcement working alongside social services out there daily clearing the sidewalks. AHHA (Affordable Homeless Housing Alternatives) and the Unitarian Church talk constantly about assisting the homeless, so here’s their chance to do something besides complain. Outside of a handful of homeless activists (most whom don’t live in Eureka), a certain pastor from a church (not in Eureka) and a certain ACLU attorney (who also doesn’t live in Eureka), most of us who live and work in Eureka want these folks moved on. Law enforcement wants these folks moved on. The homeless advocates (that actually do something) want them moved on. The local surrounding businesses want them moved on.
The City of Santa Cruz recently came out with a program where the homeless have to work, doing thing such as cleaning up trash or homeless outreach services to get a voucher for free food and housing. No work, no food. No free rides. I’d like to know what our community is doing for the “stick”?
The citizens of Eureka have a choice:
We can either allow the druggie transients to do nothing all day but loiter on our sidewalks…
Our local government can create a “No Loitering On Public Sidewalks” ordinance. We can clear them out, offer them services or a boot in the ass. Other communities don’t tolerate this.
If you don’t like the look of our city, make a difference. Get involved. Run for public office. November 2018 is election time for three of our Eureka City Council seats and Mayor. Councilmember Marian Brady and Mayor Frank Jager are both terming out.
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With the upcoming closing of K-Mart there are rumors of a Lowe’s or Home Depot going in that location. No California Coastal Commission to deal with. It’s principally permitted zoning. We already know that 70% of the Eureka voters (2010’s Measure N) are in favor of jobs and cleaning up the pollution in our town. Who could possibly be against more jobs and tax revenues?
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Over these past few years some historic events have happened with the cannabis industry becoming more mainstream here in Humboldt County. In late 2014, the Rotary Club of Eureka sponsored a forum with former Humboldt County Sheriff Mike Downey; District Attorney-elect Maggie Fleming; Richard Marks, a cannabis consultant; and Kev Jodrey, a cannabis grower and owner of Wonderland Nursery. We had over 200 people in attendance and afterwards I had a cannabis grower in the audience come up to me with tears in his eyes. When I asked if he was okay he responded, “I never thought I would be in the same room as the Sheriff and D.A. having a conversation about cannabis at a Rotary meeting.”
Richard Marks, who went on to found CCVH (California Cannabis Voice Humboldt) then sponsored an all-day event at the Wharfinger that brought together cannabis growers, retail horticulture suppliers, environmentalists, local electeds, law enforcement, City of Eureka and County of Humboldt staff, bankers, environmental engineers, members of the California Department of Fish & Wildlife, basically the entire gambit of people involved directly or indirectly with cannabis. For nearly eight hours we had a productive dialog of the need for regulations of the cannabis industry.
Just two weeks ago CSAC (California Association of Counties) had their regional meeting here in Humboldt County where the main topic was… you guessed it – cannabis. Electeds and staff from over 17 counties toured a Humboldt County cannabis farm along with a production and manufacturing facility.
Here’s our dilemma in Humboldt County. Only a fraction of the county’s marijuana growers have submitted applications for a cannabis growing permit. That’s less than 1% that wants to become legitimate cannabis farmers, which means that over 99% of the industry wants to remain black market dopers. Without the “stick” the outlaws will continue to remain pirate growers and give the middle finger to all of us, most of all, the environment.
When I talked to the former Humboldt County Sheriff about law enforcement raids, he just shook his head and said, “No, no, no. That’s not a law enforcement issue until a crime is committed. That’s a zoning code violation. You need to talk to the Planning Department.”
So then I talked to the former Planning Department director and asked why they aren’t enforcing land use and building code violations and he responds with, “We don’t want to get shot.” Why would a farmer shoot you over “medicine?” Tell me, if you’re operating a medicinal business, which government agency is checking the quality of your product? Mold, mites and pesticides are medicine? Yeah, right! The reality is this is about greed and cash.
It’s gotten so brazen that marijuana factories are now being listed for sale on the Internet.
The former Sierra Pacific mill in Manila was recently purchased on speculation that the California Coastal Commission will change the CDI (Coastal Dependent Industry) zoning to include AG (Agriculture), which in Humboldt-speak means cannabis.
It’s everywhere throughout Humboldt County. Why invest in a legitimate tax-paying business that has a 5-20% potential profit margin after expenses when you can invest $10 in a cannabis clone that in three months with some Fox Farm soils, Gavita lighting and water is now worth $500?
Until then we have the usual status quo Kabuki dance with minimal enforcement (stick). The Hammer of Thor needs to come down on these remaining 99% of outlaw dopers. The most feared person in Humboldt County will not be law enforcement, but a code compliance inspector with a clipboard and pen.
Using Google Earth, drones and helicopter fly-overs to discover the “issues” of unpermitted buildings, unpermitted road grading, illegal water diversion, illegal diesel tanks, Worker’s Comp insurance, OSHA code violations, etc., you now have your probable cause to bring in the wood chipper, massive fines and a lawsuit. Then schedule a follow up inspection 90 days later.
I figure the County will need to hire at least 20-30 new code enforcement inspectors, each doing four or five inspections every day. This can be financed by the $1,000 per day fine on all the illegal land usage until corrected. Don’t pay your fine? Lawsuit their ass and then tax lien the property. Forward their names on to the IRS and Franchise Tax Board for an audit of how they purchased a $1 million property with zero reportable income.
Got your attention now? Good.
I guess what’s bothering me is most of us parents raise our children to be polite, respectful and obey the laws. Then there’s the dope culture…