The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors will consider at its meeting today whether it will rearrange its General Plan Update schedule in order for the county to meet the submission deadline for the state-mandated Housing Element.
In a March 24 memorandum, the county Planning and Building Department recommends that the board cancel its April 7 GPU meeting and have it change the topic of its April 21 and May 5 meetings from the Open Space and Conservation Elements to the Housing Element. The board's review of the Open and Space and Conservation Elements would be pushed back to September. The Housing Element, which requires approval by the State Department of Housing and Community Development every five years to be in compliance with state law, has a strict July 1 submission deadline. If the deadline is missed, 3rd District Supervisor Mark Lovelace said it will impact the county's grant opportunities.
"A consequence of not having it submitted on time is the inability of the county to seek certain grants or make it less competitive for other grants," he said.
The element has been under review by the county Planning Commission since Feb. 6, but progress has not been going as quickly as planned.
"Based on the progress of the commission, it appears that they will not finish their review of the Housing Element by the end of their special meeting schedule, which ends in March," the memo reads.
To make up for this, the commission has scheduled three more special meetings this month to complete its review and has referred certain sections of the element back to the county's advanced planning staff to draft recommendations for policies or language that reflect the commission's previous discussions.
Along with this, the letter states that some of the planning commission's changes to the element are inconsistent with the element's required draft environmental impact statement, which may potentially require the county to recirculate the statement. Lovelace expressed concern whether the commission's changes were made to be "consistent with state law or driven by public input."
The memo states that the combined workload from the commission, the potential review of the environmental impact statement and the board's regularly scheduled GPU meeting would create a "perfect storm" and overwhelm the planning staff.
Second District Supervisor Estelle Fennell said she was "glad that it appears the planning commission will be able to get their draft of the element completed on time," but said she had concerns on the Open Space and Conservation Elements being rescheduled.
"I would like to stick to the original schedule for us to go through the open space element," she said. "I don't see the benefit in switching things around."
Humboldt Baykeeper Policy Director Jennifer Kalt -- one of the many people who spoke out on the commission's several recommended changes to the Open Space and Conservation Elements that are now before the board -- said she hopes the board will not push the elements back any further than they need to be.
"I think it is an obvious attempt to kick the can down the road on some decisions that needed to be addressed," Kalt said. "The open space and water resources sections are where a lot of the environmental protections are going to be. Pushing it off is just going to mean a longer time frame before we have those protections in place."
If you go:
What: Board of Supervisors meeting
When: 9 a.m. today
Where: Supervisors' chamber, first floor, Humboldt County Courthouse, 825 Fifth St., Eureka
The full agenda can be viewed online at http://co.humboldt.ca.us/board