Eureka voters got their first chance to evaluate candidates for 4th District Supervisor side-by-side Monday night in a debate hosted by the League of Women Voters and the Healthy Humboldt Coalition. Focus centered mostly on the county General Plan Update.
A few things stand out:
Jeff Leonard likes to hear himself talk. He made a point to tell the moderator to count on him always having a 30 second rebuttal. Did he always use one? No. But he got the chance to talk about how he can always burn up the clock with more blah blah blah.
Leonard touted his rhetoric about “putting Eureka on the map” — a non-issue that was settled in 1853 when Eureka won the spot as Humbolt County seat. Incumbent Bonnie Neely further disposed of Jeff’s malarkey by pointing out that Eureka is represented by no less than three supervisors on the board — Mark Lovelace represents Harrison up to Harris on the East side, Jimmy Smith represents Cutten, and Bonnie represents Eureka proper.
All three said they support trails, though Virginia Bass recycled recent campaign line about keeping an open mind about a train she doesn’t believe will blow through Eureka any time soon.
Bass gave a nod to her developer base when she said she opposed Inclusionary Zoning, which was adopted by Supervisors last year. She said the county needs to be “creative” when working with developers. Leonard also opposes IZ, which Neely supported.
Both Leonard and Bass jumped at the chance to blame Bonnie for the slow progress of the General Plan Update. Yet somehow they’ve both missed numerous opportunities to show up to a county Planning Commission meeting and crack the whip and wave a magic wand. Neely said the process has been slowed by the inclusion of new elements in the plan and public involvement, but said policies will be adopted this year.
When it comes to legalization of marijuana, Leonard is “not worried about it.” Bass doesn’t want Humboldt to market the prized herb for tourism, and Neely suggested studies to determine how the county will be impacted.
Access Humboldt will upload the whole debate soon. This post will be updated with a link.
SUSANVILLE – The development agreement is signed and the fees are paid, but local officials and investors remain skeptical that a controversial four-season resort planned for Dyer Mountain ever will deliver the jobs and economic boon it promised.
California Mortgage and Realty Inc., a San Francisco-based financial company that has assumed ownership of the project, is mired in a dysfunctional real estate market that has contributed to the troubled history of what local opponents have dubbed “Dyergate.” A decade after Lassen County voters approved zoning to allow the development, no buildings have been erected, and none is in sight.
“Dyer is never going to come to fruition,” said Lassen County Supervisor Jim Chapman.
Officials at CMR declined to comment.
Dyer Management, a limited liability company created by the financial firm, is the third owner of the development, planned as a destination resort with ski facilities, three golf courses, 600,000 square feet of commercial space and more than 4,000 residential units.
Dyer Mountain Associates, the original owners, bought the timber-covered slopes near Westwood after Lassen County voters passed the 2000 ballot measure allowing project-friendly zoning.
CMR initiated foreclosure proceedings early in 2008 to collect some of the $30 million it lent to Dyer Mountain Associates. Four foreclosure sales scheduled for the Lassen County courthouse steps were canceled after negotiations resumed between the borrower and the lender, only to break down later.
In March 2008, Dyer Mountain Associates filed for protection under Chapter 11 of the federal bankruptcy code. That launched a succession of new owners with confusingly similar names created by CMR, which has a variety of funds with equally confusing names.
The second owner of the Lassen County project, Dyer Holdings, seized control of the property in September 2008. Six months later, the ownership was transferred to Dyer Management, also created and managed by CMR.
The following day, March 31, 2009, the CMR fund managing Dyer Holdings filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
Since then all three funds managed by CMR – all with “CMR” in their names – have filed for bankruptcy protection. The bankruptcies contributed to a string of unpaid taxes on properties owned by CMR and its president, H. David Choo, including $1.2 million in Lassen County.
As recently as last month, the California Franchise Tax Board listed Choo among the state’s largest debtors, with an outstanding balance of nearly $1.4 million. He has paid that, according to state records.
Choo declined to discuss any of CMR’s financial dealings. “We don’t talk to the press,” he said.
The unpaid Lassen County taxes are a red flag for Chapman, the senior member of the county Board of Supervisors. “If you’ve got the wherewithal for a multimillion-dollar development, paying back taxes shouldn’t be a problem,” he said.
CMR has met its other financial responsibilities to Lassen County. In December, Michael Choo, a relative of David Choo, appeared before the Board of Supervisors representing the Dyer project company owner. He told the supervisors that the company plans to pursue the resort and signed the development agreement that the supervisors originally adopted with the first owners in 2007.
But for Chapman and anxious investors, that wasn’t enough to restore confidence in the Dyer Mountain project. They cite CMR’s difficulties with the state Department of Corporations, which revoked the license of one of CMR’s funds for failing to inform new investors “that there was a substantial probability they would not be able to successfully redeem their investments in 2008, should they opt to do so.”
David Choo also was cited in 2000 by Oakland city officials, who declared his Oak Park Apartment building a “substandard public nuisance.” He landed on the city’s “Dirty Dozen” list of landlords, and tenants of the building sued him and won a nearly $1 million settlement.
Many economic forecasters are optimistic that the real estate market will rebound.
The next test in Lassen County is a $50,000 payment to the litigation security fund due in April, said Lassen County Counsel Craig Settlemire.
by Kent Greenfield
Thursday’s Supreme Court decision in Citizen’s United v. FEC is perhaps the most activist decision of the Supreme Court since Bush v Gore, and might be just as harmful to the nation. There is a way out of this mess, but it will take quick action… In Humboldt County we also know what it’s like to be pushed around by large corporations. In 1999 Wal-Mart spent $250,000 in an attempt to change Eureka’s zoning laws. In 2004 Maxxam spent $300000 trying to recall our District Attorney …
The Fortuna City Council’s regular meeting Monday will likely be dominated by public hearings. Three hearings are scheduled, addressing pre-zoning designations for areas under consideration for annexation; changing water service deposits and