First board meeting of 2014; marijuana dispensaries, ADA lawsuits and Halvorsen Quarry on county agenda

Returning from a two-week break, the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors will have its first meeting of the new year on Tuesday to discuss topics ranging from medical marijuana dispensaries to Americans with Disabilities Act lawsuits.

At the meeting, the board will consider adopting a proposed zoning ordinance that would "prohibit the establishment of any new medical marijuana collective or cooperative dispensing facilities in all zones," or any that are not permitted to operate, according to staff report from the Planning Commission.

If the ordinance is adopted, existing marijuana collectives and dispensaries with conditional use permits will not be affected and will still be allowed to renew their permits once they expire. According to the staff report, the ordinance was drafted after a moratorium prohibiting the establishment of new marijuana dispensaries and the renewal of existing permits expired on Dec. 12.

The board will also revisit the appeal on the Halvorsen Quarry Reclamation Plan made by local environmental groups Humboldt Baykeeper and California Trout. In May, the groups appealed the original draft of the reclamation plan and requested that the plan require a complete erosion and sediment strategy, publicly available independent water testing in Rocky Creek, documentation of appropriated water permits, specified protections for bald eagles and revisions to the plan's Mitigated Negative Declaration. If approved, the reclamation plan will remain effective until 2025.

County staff recommended that the board approve the conditions of independent water testing only after the quarry closes and protection of bald eagle nesting sites.

During their Dec. 11 meeting, 1st District Supervisor Rex Bohn initially motioned to dismiss the appeal entirely, but the board eventually decided to delay the vote after Halvorsen Quarry trustee Dave Schneider said he would not agree to indemnify the county should any litigation ensue from its decision.

The board directed county staff to use the time to gather information on the history of indemnification in the county as well as on the proposed conditions for the Tuesday meeting.

"I didn't hear any different evidence as to why we should deny those recommendations made by the staff," 3rd District Supervisor Mark Lovelace said after the Dec. 11 meeting.

With the recent outcry against the ADA lawsuits filed by Eureka attorney Jason Singleton, 4th District Supervisor Virginia Bass has placed time on the agenda where each board member will have the chance to discuss various ADA issues that are taking place in their district.

"This has been a problem for years," Bass said during the Dec. 17 board meeting. "There are people being put out of business because some attorneys are feathering their pockets."

At the same meeting, the board directed county staff to include language addressing abuse of ADA lawsuits in the 2014 State and Federal Legislative Platform for Humboldt County.

The Humboldt Homeless and Housing Coalition will also be present at the Tuesday meeting to update the board on Humboldt County's Plan to End Homelessness and the results of the 2013 Point-in-Time Count. The coalition also plans to recommend that the board accept an overview of their mission and leveraging of funding.

If you go:

What: Board of Supervisors meeting

When: 9 a.m. Tuesday

Where: Supervisors' chamber, first floor, Humboldt County Courthouse, 825 Fifth St., Eureka

The full agenda can be viewed online at

Will Houston can be reached at 707-441-0504 or Follow him on Twitter @Will_S_Houston