What You Said about HSRA
Note: Sierra County Prospect does not accept responsibility for speakers, whose words are their own. All quotes are taken from “comments” section of the survey; SCP has NO information at all about who the authors are.
The Prospect opened a one-question reader survey that asked this question:
High Sierra Rural Alliance is using the courts and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to challenge the County on issues such as the Timber Production Zone and the High Water Line. The group has brought suit regarding the High Water Line and might sue over the TPZ ordinance. Do you feel it is beneficial for the county for HSRA to do this?
When opening a survey of this nature there is always a dilemma: do you allow only one vote from each computer, or do you allow more than one vote. It breaks out like this: do you want only one person per household to vote, or do you want one person to vote six times? We first opened the survey one vote per computer; then after receiving feedback, opened it to multiple votes per computer, asking each person to please vote only once. The possibility of unrepresentative results seemed less odious than disenfranchising some readers.
The results are pretty clear: of 72 completed responses, only 4 feel HSRA is benefiting the county with their recent legal challenges.
More indicative of public mood are the remarks that some voters included. The level of disillusionment with HSRA is very high.
“NO! This action, along with many of HSRA's other tactics, are nothing short of EXTORTION! They are crippling Sierra County and our local economy by forcing landowners to either - not improve their property or - to waste money fighting for their own property rights!”
“Issues are never properly resolved by bullying the opposition into submission. What happened at The Alamo is a good example of how this does not work.”
With surveys such as this one expects a relatively high rate of comments; this survey was very high, with nearly one respondent in four commenting.
“HSRA could be a very valuable tool to support what is best for the county. Working in a consulting role, with practical, realistic solutions would be more beneficial. The tactics used, border on extortion and appear to be more self-serving, than legitimate cause for the good of all citizens in Sierra County.”
High Sierra Rural Alliance benefits from being a non-profit. This standing allows them to receive funding and exempts them from certain taxes.
“Their aim is to stop all building anywhere in the mountain counties using funding obtained from federal and state grants as well as radical environmental groups. They know rural counties cannot afford to fight them and bask in delight of their control.”
But, non-profit status also creates a class of beneficiaries, and the responsibility to serve them. Who is the beneficiary of HSRA’s actions?
“The HSRA is a non-governmental organization that seems to be controlling the County government without any public input or dialog. It seems to be a small group of people controlled by money and legal expertise from outside the County lines.”
HSRA seems to claim to benefit the rural residents of the county, which would make everyone their beneficiaries. The survey seems to show that the beneficiaries are not very well served.
“It is far more beneficial to work with the county and people rather than only force your will behind lawyers and courts.”
There were some remarks which indicated HSRA might have a place in the community, if it used different strategies.
“I'm sorry to see them do this as at one time they provided good oversight and input into the land use process. It should never hurt to have people involved in the process, but HRSA suddenly filing lawsuits and not seeing the difference between a rattlesnake and a flea is hurting the county. Yeh, sure a flea can cause disease, so how about between a rattlesnake and a butterfly.”
“They need to learn to pick their battles and not fight everything.”
But, far more felt the organization is simply not trustworthy.
“This is an organization with an incredibly malicious agenda being driven by an inherently unstable misanthropic idealogue.”
“HSRA are unreasonable and have no desire to even consider objective facts if it happens to interfere with their agenda. They are a caricature organization whose actions make the public tone deaf to the voice of rational people who speak about real environmental issues.”
“The behavior demonstrated by this group does not show an interest in honest discussion.”
What is the legitimacy of a non-profit group that appears to serve itself instead of its beneficiaries?
“This is a power trip for personal benefit.”
“I would like to see full disclosure of HSRA board, funding and management in the local news media.”
When is helping not helping? What if your beneficiaries simply don’t want your help?
“Being saved from oneself sucks!”
“How is stopping land use helping anything?”
“How in the world would it be beneficial for the county to get sued???? It is a question that doesn't need to be asked for it is a no brainer.”
“Please don't feel that you need to protect the people of Sierra County.”
“It seems that hsra is just looking for any excuse to limit or discourage any development of private property.”
“Causing the 2nd poorest county in California to spend funds on frivolous lawsuits only HURTS our citizens! Funds could be better spent on services our folks need.”
Some responses indicated a solid dissatisfaction with HSRA.
“I really wish the HSRA would just go away. If they have their way, someday we(the tax paying US citizen) will need to belong to an organization to see the great out doors. I am tired of do gooders telling me what I can and cannot do in my national forest. Its bad enough we have to deal with the USFS who are professional arsonists.”
“HSRA goes outside Sierra County to build their legal "war chest". They use this funding to beat-down idividual landowners and a County with limited legal resources by trying to dictate local land-use policy that the County Planning Commission & Board should be left to decide on behalf of the residents of Sierra County. This is just plain financial bullying and intimidation; and an abuse of the State Law.”
This leaves the questions, what kind of partnership does HSRA have with the people of the county? What moral authority do they have?
Thank you to everyone who took the survey, and to those who shared their thoughts.