California Dolphin: statewide California news

'Incredibly Disappointing'

Two days and 600 miles apart, a pair of governing bodies held very different conversations about the need for local input into development decisions that will impact Humboldt County for decades to come. It was a bit jarring. First, on May 7, the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors had a testy exchange over a seemingly reasonable request from Fifth District Supervisor Steve Madrone that the board send a letter to the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), asking that it request that the California Coastal Commission delay a hearing on a controversial hotel project near Trinidad by two months so local residents can provide input. Two days later, the commission — an agency with a big-government reputation for taking a top-down approach — stressed the importance of making sure larger projects are heard in the communities that will house them. Madrone's request comes as the Coastal Commission is preparing to hold a hearing on Trinidad Rancheria's proposed project to build a five-story hotel next to its casino on Scenic Drive. Because the Rancheria is a sovereign nation, it's ultimately up to the BIA to approve the project. But as a part of the BIA's process, the federal agency asks the commission to offer an "objection" or "concurrence" as to whether it would comply with the California Coastal Act. The matter is scheduled to come before the commission next month at its San Diego meeting — which falls just two months before the commission meets in Eureka. Responding to requests from constituents, Madrone asked the board to send the letter to BIA, saying it was an issue of good governance and transparency to allow local residents to address the commission without having to drive 750 miles south. Three-fifths of the board pushed back. Hard. And that's a bit perplexing. Supervisor Virginia Bass said every jurisdiction in the state has important issues coming before the commission and it's not up to the board to opine on which projects the commission hears and when. Supervisor Estelle Fennell said, as she understands it, BIA won't grant the request anyway, adding she has confidence the commission will thoroughly vet the project. Supervisor Rex Bohn echoed the concerns of Rancheria representatives, saying the two-month delay could cause additional expenses and impact project financing. But these reasons seem thin. After all, the board has not been shy about weighing in on the processes of other governing agencies. A…

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