Reporter’s Notebook: Shasta County Board of Supervisors

Editor’s Note: I am pleased to introduce and present Catherine Camp and her new column, “Reporter’s Notebook” – periodical reports about various regional government meetings.

Today’s column reports on the most recent Shasta County Board of Supervisor meeting this month on Nov. 6.

I am delighted that Catherine Camp has accepted the role of citizen journalist to keep us informed about our representatives’ actions.

Please join me in welcoming Catherine Camp to anewscafe.com. Welcome, Catherine!

Election day seemed like a good day to attend the Shasta County Board of Supervisors meeting.  In the hyper-partisan atmosphere of this Presidential election, we have been bombarded by strong anti-government rhetoric and sometimes hysterical claims that we are facing the end of American life as we have known it.

Boards of Supervisors are open to the public almost every Tuesday, with agendas posted ahead of time and clear procedures allowing citizens to express themselves on virtually any issue and to comment on action items before the Board.  I wanted to check in on the workhorse of governmental decision-making.  My goal was simple:  I’m convinced that Boards like this one reflect and act on problems and issues of great interest to virtually all citizens.  So how were they doing on that clear and beautiful Tuesday morning?

Two actions seemed significant.  The first was a presentation by Sharon Heywood, Shasta-Trinity National Forest Superintendent.  The Forest has officially identified various roads in Shasta, Trinity, Siskiyou and Tehama counties, amounting to nearly 100 miles of road, as open for ‘mixed use’, including passenger cars and off-highway vehicles.  These roads in turn hook to another 200 miles of such roads.  In the view of the Forest Service, this assures that the forest is more open to off-highway vehicle users, hunters, fishermen, campers, and other outdoor users.  This new declaration is the product of an extensive public comment period that in turn followed upon biological and archaeological surveys and regulatory review.  Some groups who responded to the public review have threatened litigation on the grounds that the environmental review was inadequate.

The Supervisors believe that the declaration provides a model for other areas seeking a balanced negotiation of public interests on national forest lands.  For more detail on the project, go to www.fs.fed.us/stnf.  On that page, the background information is on the NEPA (for National Environmental Policy Act) link.

The second issue was Medical Marijuana.  The Board received a report from the Director of Resource Management and the Sheriff about implementation on the nearly one-year-old ordinance that established parameters for the cultivation of medical marijuana in the unincorporated areas of the county.  Some elements of that ordinance include:

  • Cultivation allowed only in connection to a legally established residence and only by qualified patients and primary caregivers living in that residence.
  • Indoor cultivation permitted only in detached accessory structures.
  • Cultivation area is limited and must meet setback requirements from property lines and adjacent residences.
  • Cultivation is prohibited within a specified radius around schools or other sensitive uses.

Enforcement of the ordinance is the joint responsibility of the enforcement officer of the county zoning structure and of the sheriff.  The county identified a number of problems with enforcement.  Many marijuana plots, called grow areas, have been established by individuals who moved here for that purpose.  Grow areas have also moved to a substantial degree from public land to private land in the recent past.  The abatement process of prompt removal of plants worked well on public land.  However, it is time consuming and cumbersome on private land because of the protections inherent in private property.

Staff, including the sheriff, reported that they have been completely swamped by the number of complaints and the time-consuming nature of resolving those complaints.  The resource manager reports more than 200 complaints and at least 100 violations.  The sheriff reports more than 300 tips and nearly 100 cases, including some multi-state and even international actors.  They believe that there are now probably millions of plants within the county and that most of the product is likely going elsewhere.

The staff report was highlighted by a number of citizens expressing concern about the impact of grow areas that they perceive as industrial in their neighborhood, including environmental degradation, gates across private roads, and armed individuals protecting the product.

The Board directed staff to identify ways to streamline the abatement process; to identify additional funding for compliance checks; to use peace officers for compliance checks, to maximize the collection of fines, and to pursue criminal proceedings where appropriate.

And so, a day pursuing the county’s business occurred on Tuesday.  Partisan? Not so much.  Concerned with issues that residents can solve themselves? Not so much.

Catherine Camp is currently retired. She served as a Consultant to the California Senate Budget Committee in 2001-02, reviewing Social Services, Employment Development, Aging, Community Services, Alcohol and Drug Programs, Rehabilitation and Child Support budgets. From 1989-2000, Catherine was Executive Director for the California Mental Health Directors Association. During that period, Catherine staffed the county mental health system’s restructuring of public mental health through Realignment of community and long term care programs from the state to the county, transfer of the management of specialty mental health Medi-Cal services to those counties that agreed to provide them, development of risk mechanisms for consortia of small counties, and advocacy and policy analysis for the operation of public mental health programs throughout the state. Her prior experience includes Executive Director to the California-Nevada Community Action Association, Principal Consultant to the Assembly Human Services Policy Committee, and Director of Community Action and Head Start programs in Shasta County.

Avatar
is currently retired. She served as a Consultant to the California Senate Budget Committee in 2001-02, reviewing Social Services, Employment Development, Aging, Community Services, Alcohol and Drug Programs, Rehabilitation and Child Support budgets. From 1989-2000, Catherine was Executive Director for the California Mental Health Directors Association. During that period, Catherine staffed the county mental health system's restructuring of public mental health through Realignment of community and long term care programs from the state to the county, transfer of the management of specialty mental health Medi-Cal services to those counties that agreed to provide them, development of risk mechanisms for consortia of small counties, and advocacy and policy analysis for the operation of public mental health programs throughout the state. Her prior experience includes Executive Director to the California-Nevada Community Action Association, Principal Consultant to the Assembly Human Services Policy Committee, and Director of Community Action and Head Start programs in Shasta County.
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12 Responses

  1. Avatar Anne says:

    Thank you. This reporting to build understanding of discussions and decisions at the local level is very valuable because it will help people be more aware and find ways to engage themselves.

  2. Avatar JH says:

    Welcome aboard Catherine. Look forward to reading your articles.

  3. Avatar Ginny says:

    Very good article on the actual Board Meeting.

    I do feel your first paragraph was unnecessary, but more of a political statement. which was unnecessary to your article.

    Looking forward to the next one you will do.

    • Hey, to just give a little background, I gave Catherine Camp a green light to take ownership and make this column hers, to incorporate not just reporting, but her own side comments and observations, based upon her intellect and lifetime of experience.

      Covering government meetings is one of the most difficult of all reporting (it would be my last choice as a reporter), and I bow down before the reporters who take on this tough job, one that informs us – the public – about what the heck our elected officials are doing on our behalf and with our money.

      I hope that Catherine won't sanitize these reports, but that she will allow her personality to shine through. This will help bring color and life to meetings that most people never attend (unless there's an issue that concerns them).

      Who knows? Catherine may make them sound so interesting that more people will decided to attend and see for themselves.

      She's a citizen journalist and I am delighted that she volunteered to take on this column. Reporting on public meetings has been an area that's been sorely lacking here on anewscafe.com, and it brings me untold joy to have this Reporter's Notebook on the site now. 🙂

      • Barbara Rice Barbara Rice says:

        Where's the "like" button for this comment?

        I'm thrilled that ANC has someone reporting on these meetings. Go Catherine!

          • Avatar Marv says:

            Hello Doni…been gone for awhile

            and have not seen your new webb

            site since i just returned…sure is an inapprovement since i left…nice

            going….do you still have Bozzoka, your dog????also I see you are going by your family name now..

            Chamberlain?? And how is your Mom (Dee)???

  4. Avatar Catherine Camp says:

    It is a new experience for me to write in an environment where readers are so generous with thoughts and comments. I appreciate the sense of community greatly. Thanks to all of you who sent along your observations. Support and criticism both are welcome!

  5. Avatar pmarshall says:

    Liked the entire article, Catherine. Very informative. The opening sstatement also shows all of what seems to be going on also.

  6. Welcome back, Marv. Gosh, a lot's changed in the last few years. Yes, I have returned to my birth name. I do believe I'm done changing names. 🙂

    Bazooka (wow, good memory!) the rescue dog went to a new home when his owner, son Joe, moved to the Czech Republic.

    Doreeta ("Dee") is doing great, in fact, I'll see her at Thanksgiving. Thanks for asking.

    • Avatar Budd Hodges says:

      Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Doni and do say hi to Dee for me.

      That was a very interesting article Catherine. Keep up the good work.

  7. Happy Thanksgiving to you, too, Budd, my fellow night owl. (I will say hi to Doreeta for you.)