Board Notes 021610

Board Notes 021610

Thanks to the Sierra County Office of Clerk-Recorder, the Board Notes are found HERE: and at the Library in Loyalton.

The Sierra County Board of Supervisors met Tuesday, 16 February, 2010 in continued regular session in Loyalton. All supervisors were present and seemed mostly sober. The Loyalton Social Hall was packed with people, mostly to discuss the Loyalton City Pool just fifty paces out the south door.

Chairperson Goicoechea was businesslike and serious, little the resembling jovial and carefree Supervisor Goicoechea of just two months ago. The crowd wasn’t unruly, though the average age of attendees was about 72 until well known local educator Sandy Kendall brought in a covey of kids to watch democracy at work.

The Pool issue was covered in the last edition, and is found here:



Quentin Youngblood, Sierraville Ranger District, appeared before the Board. He mentioned some success in selling timber and biomass from the Tahoe National Forest. Unfortunately, he also had to report that the Forest Service would not be hiring the crews they normally do this year. Mr. Youngblood reported the news as if he were reporting a fatality, and for the local people who traditionally fill those temporary, difficult, often dangerous jobs, and for the families and businesses which rely on them, this is a blow. Though he described the valuable services these people provide each year, funding simply isn’t there. He acknowledged the loss to the people, to the community, and to the forest.

Director of Relentlessly Increasing Regulation Tim Beals presented the county grading ordinance. This was the second discussion of the ordinance, and it was expected to pass without much comment.

However, a local resident and well-known fringe dweller L. DeVita took the podium to challenge the ordinance on technical grounds. He read a passage dealing with the length of time the county is granted permission to trespass. County Council Jim Curtis considered the offending passage and determined it might be clumsy, but it couldn’t be read to give permission after the final inspection. Other questions dealt with areas in the code which establish limits, for example the permit threshold of 100 cubic yards of soil; could those have been made less restrictive? D.I.R. Beals replied that nothing specific in state law required those numbers, however, they were established in conversation with local contractors and others, and it was believed that if higher thresholds were placed, there was a high likelihood of environmental or other concerns. Finally, there was a section in exemptions which exempted the removal of trees or branches for hazard fuel removal. That section didn’t belong in the code Mr. Wingnut said. Then to everyone’s amazement, he sat down.

Mr. Beals explained that the code is part of an effort to upgrade the county ordinances to protect the county, and to make the requirements more clear to people who wanted to use their property. He noted that most counties have development guidelines and that Sierra County was rapidly moving towards clarifying the code. No code, or vaguely written codes, makes it difficult for staff and property owners to know what is allowed. The Board dropped the hammer on the ordinance and moved on.

Director of Perpetual Bad News Tim Beals reported to the Board on SB 97, which attempts to weave the requirements of AB 32 the "Greenhouse Bill" into land use and building codes. AB 32 is intended to bring California into the 21st Century energy market, reducing greenhouse gases, encouraging local production, encouraging renewable energy.

As an editorial remark, AB 32 is an important bill, and one which will eventually benefit Sierra County, but during the transition, many mistakes will be made. SB 97 is one of those mistakes. The technical knowledge and necessary tracking procedures for materials is simply not in place. The requirements on counties and developers are too vague, which might be interpreted as "local government discretion" but lack of clear guidelines makes the county vulnerable to lawsuit. It makes it difficult and expensive for the county and builders to determine if the law has been met.

Mr. Beals said the legislation puts a "bull’s eye" on the county. He cautioned that counties will be asking developers and builders where lumber and fittings came from.

He stopped short of encouraging the Board to tell the State to go to hell, just.

The text of the bill is here and a wonderful bit of reading is HERE.

From the CEQU guide:

In considering whether a project’s incremental contribution to an effect is cumulatively considerable, existing CEQA Guidelines section 15064(h)(3) allows a lead agency to consider whether the project is consistent with plans or regulations that will ensure that the project’s incremental contribution to cumulative impacts are not cumulatively considerable.

A threshold of significance is a level below which impacts will normally be less than significant.

Finally, the amendments clarify that a lead agency must analyze a project’s cumulative greenhouse gas impacts when the project’s incremental contribution of greenhouse gases is cumulatively considerable.

(1) The project has the potential to substantially degrade the quality of the environment; substantially reduce the habitat of a fish or wildlife species; cause a fish or wildlife population to drop below self-sustaining levels; threaten to eliminate a plant or animal community; substantially reduce the number or restrict the range of an endangered, rare or threatened species; or eliminate important examples of the major periods of California history or prehistory.

(2) The project has the potential to achieve short-term environmental goals to the disadvantage of long-term environmental goals.

(3) The project has possible environmental effects that are individually limited but cumulatively considerable. "Cumulatively considerable" means that the incremental effects of an individual project are significant when viewed in connection with the effects of past projects, the effects of other current projects, and the effects of probable future projects.

(4) The environmental effects of a project will cause substantial adverse effects on human beings, either directly or indirectly.

Mr. Beals also raised the specter of AB 1881, the "landscape bill". His complaints are much the same as with the other bills: they put too much work on county staff, don’t provide the necessary clear cut benchmarks, and set the stage of legal interpretation also known as "law suits." The Prospect did a brief story in a previous edition, the link is here



of Dire Times Beals described
the likely impact of the up coming water bills on the county. The bills, found
will redefine water sources and intrude into the quality and quantity of county water. There is no way to be sure how it will impact county water. The water belongs to all 3,616,954 residents of California, of which we in the county are .0008, and have .000008 of the power to resist or change anything.

The Board continued with county business: the electrical supply for Loyalton and other NV Energy/Sierra Pacific Power Company customers will likely have to put up with CalPeco as their new power company, regardless the efforts of the Board, and other partners including Plumas Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative.

The Board appointed Greg Premo to the Calpine Waterworks.

They discussed how important it is to cooperate with efforts to restore the Little Truckee River. This is a project by Feather River Trout Unlimited, and is supported by everyone who loves clean rivers or wriggling trout. The river has suffered the same kinds of straightening, diversion, and wetlands/forest land degradation as other rivers and streams in the area, and is important to the recovery of the Lahontan Cutthroat Trout.

The Board celebrated Don Guidici and his tireless efforts over the last 25 years to protect ground water on the Sierra County Ground Water Management District.

The Board went into closed session, after Don Russell, prestidigitator of the Mountain Messenger Newspaper, called foul. The Board still managed to stay sequestered in the Social Hall for a very long time, no doubt drinking from little pocket flasks, rubbing each others’ feet, mopping their brows and wringing their hands and complaining endlessly about local people who demand they do the impossible and then don’t even vote. Or, perhaps they did something else; we’ll never know.







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