(UPDATED with Sales Price) Ben Shepherd: Planning Commission crook makes massive profit from cannabis ordinance he created

Your sleuthing friends at THC were just as curious as you, our faithful readers, to learn just how “excellent” the price Ben Shepherd received for the recent sale of his McKinleyville home.

And we were not disappointed!

According to every Realtor’s best friend, Zillow, Mr. Shepherd’s little slice of pot-paradise sold for a cool $1.8 million dollars. Wanna know what Zillow’s estimated value placed it at? $952,864. Which is only a measly $450,000 or so over what the estimated value of the property was prior to the sale.

All in all, that means Shepherd swooped about $1.5 million higher than should have in a normal market. You know, a market not sent sky-rocketing towards the next big green bubble by the Planning Commission.

Did we mention that Shepherd is a Planning Commissioner from Ryan Sundberg’s District?

What’s even more fun is looking at the estimated value of the home over the past 8 years. Check it:

shepherd graphSee that big ol’ spike after December 2015? Yeah…that’s about when the ordinance was passed. See that big, big spike at the edge? That’s what happened when Shepherd reaped his reward.

Please, read the original post below if you somehow missed it this weekend.

Ben Shepherd: Planning Commission crook makes massive profit from cannabis ordinance he created

Concerns about conflict of interest in Humboldt politics abound, and it seems a little rare that any elected or appointed official is completely free of suspicion.

Those that have been paying attention will remember the show down between the Harbor District and a bunch of rail-minded folks over perceived conflict of interest concerning Harbor Commissioner Greg Dale.

It’s particularly rare, however, for an official to have an instrumental connection to an ordinance or policy that greatly benefits them financially and to then go and brag to the press about how much money they made.

But that’s just what District 5 Planning Commissioner, and Ryan Sundberg appointee, Ben Shepherd did for the LoCO a couple weeks back.

In a piece called “GREEN RUSH!“, LoCO detailed a number of Humboldt notables who signed up for cannabis operation registration. It’s an entertaining read, as is pondering whether the LoCO made a sleazy move by publishing all those people’s names. (It is public record now folks!)

But THC’s favorite part of the article is where LoCO recounts their interview with Shepherd regarding the sale of his long-time home for the purpose of starting a real big pot grow. Here’s an excerpt (and we encourage you to read the whole article by following the above link, too!):

Reached at his home Tuesday, Shepherd, a famously conservative voice in McKinleyville politics, told the Outpost that the operation registered to his longtime Dows Prairie home – nearly 15,000 square feet of indoor and mixed-light cultivation – actually belong to a man named Cody Stross. He said Stross was in the process of purchasing his land as he filed his cultivation paperwork with the county, and so Shepherd gave Stross his permission to use his name on the application.

The land, which he had lived on since 1972, has since sold, Shepherd said – and for “an excellent price.”

Umm, Shepherd’s not the sharpest tool – although he assuredly is a tool – but bragging about how much you profited from a marijuana ordinance that you helped to create as an appointed government official is a special kind of stupid.

Let it also be said that Shepherd is not only the star of a pretty dubious deal involving the approval of a large marijuana grow in his name but intended for someone else’s use (which is legal, for some reason), but he also has an opinion of himself on par with Donald Trump or Rob Arkley. It’s hard to find an ego as over-inflated as Monsieur Shepherd’s, and it’s been a pain watching him throw his pompousness around the McMAC and the Planning Commission.

The real question is, why the hell is Sundberg so buddy buddy with him? Sundberg already has his failings, and his bromance with a Planning Commissioner that turned an “excellent” profit off a land sale that is a direct result of an ordinance he helped create really isn’t a good look.

We heard from a few folks that Shepherd’s land sale is totally not legal, but we think that it actually (unbelievably!) might be. We’ll get back to you on that.

P.s. thanks to THC commenters and email-ers for pointing out we really needed to write about Shepherd’s drug land sale – the first couple of you who did so have a THC care package coming your way!

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10 Responses to (UPDATED with Sales Price) Ben Shepherd: Planning Commission crook makes massive profit from cannabis ordinance he created

  1. john williams says:

    So you say that the zestimate is 1.5 and that the sale was 1.8 and somehow that meant a profit of 1.5? You just failed 5th grade math. A profit is based on the basis of the property, which you do not know and somehow you are attempting to calculate a profit without any data. Just looks like a hatchet job because for some reason you have an axe to grind with Ben.


    • Ted says:

      Zillow will also tell you how much the property cost in the first place (assuming the sale was recorded by the County) Then Mr. “Choo Choo” Williams, you could determine the profit Mr Shepard realized.


    • Arcatan says:

      It doesn’t really matter how much Shepard made. A little bit of graft is the same as a lot. The whole thing stinks. That anyone would vote on an issue that gives a tiny number of property owners a huge windfall including themselves without any disclosure at a minimum is totally offensive and probably illegal. Shepard should immediately resign or be removed.


    • Shoot, folks, this is embarrassing. We didn’t take John’s reading comprehension level into account. Or we just don’t make sense.

      Any-hoo, John, would it make you feel better if we had said $1.4 million-ish?


  2. Mac Towner says:

    The math mistake doesn’t change the obvious fact that Shepard made a ton on his appointment to the Planning Commission. the only question remaining is how much he kicked back to his boy toy Sundberg. What an embarrassment to the entire county these two idiots are. Can anybody spell recall?


  3. Embarrassed in Fieldbrook says:

    Sundberg should be totally embarrassed by this poor choice in appointments. Hopefully he’ll do the right thing and being in someone with ethics. Isn’t there some state agency that we can file a complain with?


    • Henchman Of Justice says:

      Are you accusing Sundberg of making an appointment of a man without prior understanding of that man (after a woman) – see McKMAC, August supe board meeting accusation regarding rotary connections, personal references by sitting supervisors on old forms carried forward through several different processes to select committee members, and gender, not to mention Estelle and Ryan soliciting each other behind closed doors to create a melodramatic nanner nanny nanner complaint driven accusatory remark as if Sundberg was conspiring with the applicant………fucking wasted about 25 minutes in a meeting where more important shit needed to get done and Estelle looked like a foolish shit stirrer in order to make Ryan look innocent……local politics is a conspiring sham, just look at who actually votes anymore too, talk about high school cliques and associated student body types).

      Voting is about popularity, and american society has been brain trained on face pulling to the point that only a hardliner politician is going to effectively get gubbamint outta the way, reduce its size, and force public workers to get a life in the private sector……..


  4. Henchman Of Justice says:

    A quote from DFW on Kym Kemp’s blog…..

    Little says that growers are flooding this area and trying to take advantage of the changing rules. “The cart has been put before the horse,” he said. People bring in bulldozers and excavators without trying to get permits….Now all this damage is done.”

    Not all marijuana growers damage the environment, Little said. “A lot of growers think of themselves as stewards of the land.” But many are causing problems. “[Some] are here for one reason only –profit. Taking advantage of the loopholes.”

    Little worries that the environment will suffer for years because of what has been done here in Humboldt recently. “Just like the Gold Rush, we are going to see the results of this egregious activity last for generations.”

    A majority of the owners of land where marijuana are grown are absentee owners, claims Little. “Flipping properties for 10 times the market value. I’m seeing Humboldt County–a place I spent a considerable amount of time in when I was young being turned upside down.”

    To date, no affidavit has yielded any facts that Ben Sheppard gained in profit from his PC appointment.

    The profit was based upon original sales + permitted improvements + unpermitted improvements (permits not required) + TIME.

    No affidavit shows any facts that Ben’s property was developed from 1972? knowing in 2016 he’d sell as a marijuana production property.

    Is it not true that all property increases in value because of marijuana growing?

    Sure, the larger the property, the higher its valued improvements, then the sales price will be higher.

    Ben makes some really idiotic and moronic comments, plays dumb and aloof, puts a melodramatic spin on “I, me, my, when I, etc….. for self promotion and media attention”, and is connected to the local wannabe elites, but to say without mj his property is not over 1.4 million is way out from left field……..did he change his zoning recently too? His now former property has many development options, fyi, but the buyer apparently is into pot, so what.


  5. Sam says:

    Ben is disgusting, there is no doubt about it. And by giving him a ‘bye’ on this or ignoring right from wrong or suggesting that anyone else do so because you do not mind his actions is a statement about yourself.

    We are not blind, nor is the general population stupid per se, just too tolerant because ‘everyone does it’… Ring true? Do not become Ben nor advocate that others do either. Time to grow up and be an adult that understands consequences of their actions, and be a good person in the community; it’s easier, and honors self respect and kindness.

    Kindness is all it takes.


    • Henchman Of Justice says:


      This hatchet job of a thread is not properly formatted and designed to distinguish clarification of “replies” when the commenter avoids the reply button for the general statement response box. It is confusing, kinda like a driver taking a U-Turn when clearly marked signage indicates no U-Turn……..

      Americans are deteriorating at a rapid pace overall as a species, kindness ain’t gonna do jack shit when too big to fail is HUGE! Most kind people get spat on, unfortunate but true that kindness is no different than meanness in a society framed around CHAOS.

      Curious to understand “who is YOU” below,

      [~”because you do not mind his actions is a statement about yourself.]


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