For tomorrow’s upcoming Board of Supervisor’s meeting, held in the afternoon only, there are two exciting things that caught THC’s eyes. And both of them have to do with the beleaguered and apparently piss-poor powers behind Planning in Humboldt.
First on the docket is the Supervisors’ letter to those naughty Planning Commissioners – who went so far off the grid of their prescribed duties that they had to be reined in – telling them they have to ask permission to address items rather than doing whatever the hell they please.
We think this is frickin’ awesome! Not because it’s a good policy: it decidedly is not, as Humboldt is perhaps the only California county to have such a requirement, plus all the bureaucratic heart-ache it’ll cause for the already “overworked” planning department. We think it’s awesome because the Planning Commission finally is getting some blow-back from all the shenanigans they’ve pulled. You can read the entire letter, wherein Mark Lovelace gets to scold the Commission like the big mean mommy that he is, here: Letter of Clarification to the Planning Commission
Next up is a request from Rob Wall, interim planning director, begging the board for yet another full-time planner to be dedicated solely to processing marijuana permits and the like. The budget allocation request is extremely funny for many reasons. First, get a clue, Planning staff. It’s called work!
The second hilarious aspect of the request by Mr. Wall is the part where he says: “Fees related to these anticipated permits are expected to generate revenue to offset the additional staffing expense which will occur as the result of approving the
additional staffing allocation.” Meaning that Mr. Wall believes in his fairy-tale world that enough people are going to sign up for the cannabis permits that they’ll pay for an additional highly-paid staff member – on top of what they’re already supposed to pay for.
Last THC heard, how many actual permits had been “worked on” by staff? 44? How many have been approved? How many more are in the pipeline? The answer is: not nearly frickin’ to meet the “expected” revenue numbers used to justify not only a new staff member, but an entirely new division in the Planning department devoted solely to marijuana. The salary range for the proposed new position would net the employee roughly between $63,000-$82,000 per year, not including benefits or pension obligations. (Salary schedule for all county employees can be seen here: Humboldt County Salary Range Schedule (88 pages). The salary range referenced above is 466.)
We did a little digging and looked at the size of the Planning Department from 10 years ago as reflected in the 2005-2006 Budget for personnel allocation. At that time, there were 24 people in the Planning Department. Fast forward to 2015-2016, and there are 43.23 employees. (They aren’t employing gnomes: the .23 is due to part-time.) Of course, that would be 44.23 with the additional planner to be requested by Wall.
Now let’s take a look at a chart we showed you just a couple weeks ago about how many permits for buildings were being issued in 2006 as compared to more recent years.
What?? The 2006 total of permits for residential units is nearly double the number for the most recent year data is available? Looks like the amount of work to be done has shrank significantly – while the number of people working in the planning department has nearly doubled. And still they need more people? Yikes. Granted, there may have been a slight increase in the number of such permits issued in the last two years. But that is a very, very generous assumption to make for the benefit of planning staff.
Quite simply, the planning department is showing how inept and ineffective they are from the top of the chain down. This makes the past battles between the Planning Commission and Planning staff all the more hilarious in hindsight – a couple of county idiots slapping the hell out of each other. Good grief.
In a recent Supervisors meeting, when the County Planning Staff originally bitched and moaned about how much hard hard work they had to (they compared it to the military, remember?), Rex Bohn-head had a bright idea for once – what about privatizing the planning department. We’re all for it. Now if only we could do that with the Planning Commission too, so those asshats would be accountable for their actions. At THC, we dare to dream.