That Helicopter Terrorizing Orick, Big Lagoon, Trinidad Today? Here’s What That Was.

Hank Sims / Wednesday, Sept. 21 @ 3:43 p.m. / LoCO Looks Up


Did you ever wonder why the Outpost always posts those boring posts about when and where the PG&E helicopter is going to patrol? Because bad things happen when we don’t. We got telephone calls, emails, text messages and Facebook wall posts today asking us what was up with the chopper over the north part of the county today.

PG&E was a tiny bit late in getting the information out to us this time. But here it is! That was, as usual, a PG&E helicopter!

From PG&E:

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) is conducting low-level helicopter patrols to inspect electric lines for maintenance in parts of Humboldt County. Work began on Tuesday, September 20 and will be completed on Thursday, September 22.

Message to KHUM’s Bayley Brown.

Tuesday, September 20:

  • Routine inspections took place from Willow Creek to Hoopa and then again from Fresh Water to the Blue Lake Area.
Wednesday, September 21 through Thursday, September 22:
  • Helicopters will also be flying in the areas of Humboldt and Bridgeville on Wednesday and in the remote areas of Northern Humboldt County; including, north of Orick to the Eureka / Freshwater area (and in between) through Thursday.
The contracted helicopters fly at approximately 500 feet, depending on the area and if livestock are present. PG&E patrols remote power lines, which are often located in rural areas, by helicopter as part of its continuing effort to ensure safety and reliability of its electric system. If issues are identified, it’s possible that they may need to inspect at a lower altitude or by foot patrol. 

Weather permitting; PG&E will patrol by air from about 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. 
PG&E regularly patrols and inspects its lines to ensure safety and reliability, and to identify equipment in need of repair. This allows PG&E to proactively schedule repairs that might otherwise result in power outages. In rough country, remote areas or areas where there are fewer trees, the most efficient and sometimes only way to accomplish this is by helicopter.


Do You Recognize This Dude Who Allegedly Broke Into a Car in Trinidad Then Used the Victim’s Credit Card in McKinleyville?

Andrew Goff / Wednesday, Sept. 21 @ 3:02 p.m. / Crime

Who’s this?

Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office press release:

On August 17, 2016 a Humboldt County Deputy Sheriff patrolling the area of Trinidad was approached by two victims wanting to report a vehicle burglary.  The male victim told the deputy his vehicle had been broken into while they were hiking near the Trinidad Frontage Road.  The female victim’s wallet including various credit cards and driver’s license were stolen from the vehicle.

Later that day, the deputy received an email from the female victim stating her credit card had been used at several stores in McKinleyville and Trinidad.  The deputy contacted the stores and obtained stills from their video surveillance.  The identity of the suspect is unknown at this time.   

The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office is asking for the public’s assistance in identifying the male suspect in this case.  This man is believed to be involved in the vehicle burglary and fraudulent use of credit cards in the Trinidad and McKinleyville areas. 

If anyone knows the identification of this suspect or has further information in regards to this case please contact Deputy Brewer at (707) 441-3088 or the Sheriff’s Office at (707) 445-7251

SURVEY SAYS! Humboldt County Has One of the Best Commutes in the State, and We Walk to Work in Impressive Numbers

Hank Sims / Wednesday, Sept. 21 @ 1:28 p.m. / Traffic

This is not that common, comparatively speaking.



“The view of the bay is part of the pay.”

We’ve all heard that, or some version of that, when people describe life in Humboldt County. The job market can be rough. In terms of salary, benefits and opportunities for professional advancement, the county can seem like a bad bet.

But man oh man, the quality of life!

A couple of days ago we took a look at what recently released data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s annual American Community Survey can tell us about local folks’ earnings. Bottom line: they kinda suck, but — bright side! — they suck for men and women just about equally. Nowhere in the state do the men’s terrible wages exceed the women’s terrible wages by so little.

So how about that quality of life? How do we measure that? Well, how about we look at the amount of time we have to spend getting to our awful jobs?

Humboldt County, it turns out kinda rules, here. On average, Humboldters have among the shortest commute times in the state. See the table below, which lists the five California counties with the shortest average commute times, along with the state and national averages.

[Please see yesterday’s post for some notes about the American Community Survey, along with some of its limitations. For instance: Only 40 of the 58 California counties are considered, here.]

JurisdictionMean travel time to work
Margin of error
Shasta County18.8±1.3
Humboldt County19.4±2.1
Butte County19.7±1.1
Santa Barbara County20.1±0.9
Imperial County20.5±1.5

Source: “Commuting characteristics by sex.” 2015 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates. Link.

We spend an average of just 20 minutes or thereabouts getting to work. Compare that with Contra Costa County, the worst commute in the state: Your Walnut Creekites and Danvillains and their brethren spend nearly double that — 37.4 minutes — traveling through their suburban hellscape to get to their ghastly (but higher paying) places of work.

How do we get to work? The American Community Survey has some stuff to say about that, too:

Means of travel to work
(Humboldt County)
% of totalMargin of error
(percentage points)
Car, truck or van78.7%±3.0%
     Drove alone69.3%±3.2%
Public transportation 
(excluding taxicab)
Taxicab, motorcycle or other means1.1%±1.1%
Worked at home8.0%±1.7%


Do those drive-to-work numbers seem low to you? They seem low to the rest of America, too. Overall, the survey says, 85.6 percent of Americans get to work by car, truck or van. Humboldt County’s numbers are even lower than California as a whole — 83.9 percent of Californians get to work in a private vehicle. Humboldt’s low numbers, comparatively, aren’t even within the margin of error.

Why should this be? Aren’t we filled up with rugged backwoods folks with 4x4s? Maybe — but we’re also walk to work in far greater numbers than any county but San Francisco. We walk to work way more than the state or national averages:

JurisdictionMeans of transportation to work
Margin of error
San Francisco County10.4%±0.9%
Humboldt County7.2%±1.7%
Napa County4.8%±1.2%
San Luis Obispo County4.8%±1.3%
Santa Barbara County4.8%±1.0%


My own guess, here, is that Arcata particularly factors large, here, what with its high student population. But the truth is that Humboldt County is blessed with so many human-scale towns — Arcata, Ferndale, Fortuna, Trinidad, Rio Dell/Scotia, Garberville, even Eureka, really — that a disproportionate number of us are blessed to live within walking distance of our workplaces.

Strangely, we don’t bike to work all that much, though. We’re seventh on the list of bike-to-work counties, way behind state leader Yolo County (home to bicycle-mad Davis) and numerous other college-anchored counties (Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Butte).

More pictures of Humboldt through the American Community Survey looking glass to follow!

Eureka City Council Votes 3-2 to Allow Medical Marijuana Businesses

Ryan Burns / Wednesday, Sept. 21 @ 11:26 a.m. / Government , marijuana

The Eureka City Council and Mayor Frank Jager, with Chief Building Official Brian Gerving in the foreground. | Photo by Bayley Brown.

Last night, with a 3-2 vote, the Eureka City Council decided to allow medical marijuana businesses in city limits. If the California Coastal Commission approves the planned changes to the municipal code and local coastal plan, then by the middle of next year dispensaries, manufacturing and distribution facilities and more could start setting up shop in the county seat.

As previously reported, the new provisions will allow up to a dozen different types of medical cannabis businesses to locate in specifically designated zones, and none of the businesses will be allowed to put up signage. The city will be able to approve up to two licenses for dispensaries every six months through a conditional-use-permit process until there is a maximum of six dispensaries. Eureka has had a moratorium on dispensaries since 2010.

Cultivation will be permitted primarily in industrial zones with small-scale, non-volatile manufacturing allowed in industrial zones and conditionally permitted in commercial zones. Volatile manufacturing — of butane hash, for example — will be limited to the general industrial zone, most of which is located behind Costco.

The vast majority of public speakers at last night’s meeting were in favor of the new provisions, though several objected to a rule prohibiting felons from obtaining licenses. 

When the matter came back to the council for discussion, opinions were unchanged from last week. Councilmember Melinda Ciarabellini said she opposed the ordinance for several reasons, including marijuana’s continued listing as a Schedule 1 banned substance under federal law, the dangers of butane hash oil production and the possibility of children eating cannabis-laced gummy bears or other sweets. 

Councilmember Marian Brady, who cast the other dissenting vote, said she had too many unanswered questions about banking issues, a track-and-trace program and business regulations. 

But Councilmember Natalie Arroyo, who as a member of the U.S. Coast Guard had to get special permission to cast a vote on this matter, said she thinks the ordinance was carefully vetted by staff. The thinks it’s absurd that the city won’t allow these businesses to post signs but said if that’s what it takes to move the issue forward she was willing to do so. 

Fellow council members Linda Atkins and Kim Bergel also voted to support the ordinance.


Note: This story was largely based on the reporting of KHUM DJ Bayley Brown.

EPD Chases Down Sawed-Off Shotgun-Packing 14-Year-Old, Arrests Him for Outstanding Meth and Burglary Warrants

Hank Sims / Wednesday, Sept. 21 @ 8:23 a.m. / Crime


As tweeted by Eureka Police Chief Andy Mills, above, officers with the Eureka Police Department chased down a 14-year-old with a sawed-off shotgun last night.

Brittany Powell, the department’s spokesperson, tells us more:

On 09/20/16 at about 10:45 p.m., an officer attempted an enforcement stop on a male bicyclist near Buhne and Williams Streets. The male fled and officers pursued. The male ditched his bicycle near the 200 block of Trinity and continued to flee on foot. Officers located the bicycle and a backpack in a backyard.

The backpack contained a sawed-off shotgun. Officers then set up a perimeter. The male was ultimately located behind a trailer.

The male was taken into custody without further incident and was identified as a 14-year-old male juvenile. The juvenile was arrested for possession of a sawed-off shotgun, resisting arrest, and for outstanding warrants for burglary and possession of methamphetamine.

He was transported to Juvenile Hall.

Humboldt Bay Fire Responds to Post Hole Digger-Caused Gas Leak

Andrew Goff / Tuesday, Sept. 20 @ 6:06 p.m. / News

Photos: Sierra Jenkins

Around 5:30 p.m. Tuesday afternoon Humboldt Bay Fire responded to a reported gas leak at a residence on Cummings Road on the outskirts of Eureka.

The resident was landscaping with a post hole digger when he struck a gas line and then immediately called 911, Humboldt Bay Fire battalion chief Kent Hurlbert tells LoCO reporter Sierra Jenkins at the scene. The resident told emergency personnel that he was aware of the lines existence but his measurements were off. Luckily, the line was not fully severed and PG&E should be able to uncover and clamp it. 

The leak won’t affect neighbors and the light breeze should disperse the gas. 

Apparent Escaped Debris Burn in Arcata’s Greenview Neighborhood Brings Flurry of Firefighters

Hank Sims / Tuesday, Sept. 20 @ 4:58 p.m. / Fire

Photo: Andrew Goff.

At about 4:15 this afternoon, the Arcata Fire Department District was summoned to a debris fire at a home on the 1100 block of Larry Street, in the Greenview neighborhood. They were told that a fire had escaped from a compost bin and was beginning to climb up a fence.

Arcata Fire threw a whole lot of resources at this thing, possibly because word came that the fire was threatening power lines and a detached shed. Additional engines from Blue Lake and Humboldt Bay Fire were sent to provide coverage while Arcata attacked.

They got it out pretty quickly. Arcata Fire District Chief Justin McDonald tells the Outpost’s Sierra Jenkins, at the scene, that the fire emerged at the intersection of several backyard fences and it was unclear, at first, where it originated. When they got there, McDonald says, the fire was coming up over the fences.

As soon as they were able to get their hoses connected, McDonald says, they attacked the fire from three angles and quickly knocked it down. After neighbors informed firefighters that no one was at home at one of the houses, they moved in. There was a dog in the yard, but it didn’t look like it was going to bite. 

The back half of the detached shed has been destroyed, McDonald tells the Outpost.

Photo: Sierra Jenkins.

Photo: Andrew Goff.