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Thursday, November 1, 2007

What is a TPZ? Board of Supervisors act to protect our local forests.

From: Earth Tree News

On October 9th the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to impose a temporary 45-day suspension on residential development on Timber Production Zoned (TPZ) lands, as an urgent response to Maxxam's plans to develop 22,000 acres of Pacific Lumber's timberland into private 'kingdoms' with trophy homes, golf courses and a lodge. Maxxam was able to propose its project specifically because of Humboldt County's historically lax interpretation of State law regarding residential development on TPZ lands. The interim suspension had a dramatic effect on the bankruptcy court in Texas, clearly communicating that Maxxam's plan was not in the interest of the local community. Now the Supervisors are seeking to restore people's property rights, but in a way that is consistent with State law. The Supervisors have directed staff to bring forward an ordinance that would require either an administrative permit or a Conditional Use Permit for homesite development on TPZ lands. Under the policies being proposed, anyone with legitimate needs to build a house on their timberland would be able to get an over-the-counter administrative permit with a minimum of hassle, and no discretionary review. Anyone whose proposal does not meet the defined terms for the administrative permit would still be able to seek a Conditional Use Permi at the discretion of the Board of Supervisors. This approach would weed out the speculators and 'bad actors,' with a minimum of inconvenience to those with legitimate needs. If approved, the new ordinance would not take effect for 30 days. The interim suspension will expire on November 22nd, meaning that there could be a gap of up to a month which would allow Maxxam to move its plan forward, and would allow a filing frenzy by speculators who would take advantage of the County's lax policies. To prevent this from happening, the Supervisors will need another 4/5 vote to extend the interim suspension, just until the new TPZ ordinance takes effect.

Related news from Earth Tree News:

Thousands of acres of forest throughout the Sierra Nevada will go to the highest bidder next month in an auction that has become a regular occurrence for Sierra Pacific Industries, California’s largest private landowner. Among the nearly 5,000 acres the logging company has put up for sale this year is a 338-acre tract of Nevada County land along the upper reaches of the South Yuba River west of Truckee. Other parcels include properties near the Feather River north of Sierra Valley. The properties represent a minute fraction of the timber company’s 1.7 million acres of ownership in the state. The company said it chose the parcels because they don’t fit into the logging giant’s future plans. “We have a series of these properties that are isolated,” said company spokesman Mark Pawlicki. “They don’t sit near where our mills are.” The Nevada County property is close to recreation and far removed from other timber land, said Pawlicki, making it a natural candidate for the auction block. And, despite a variable California real estate market, auctioneers say demand for the fairly remote, wild and undeveloped land is still high. John Rosenthal, the president of Realty Marketing Northwest, a Portland, Oregon-based company that has handled property auctions for Sierra Pacific Industries over the last 16 years, said he expects multiple bids to come in by the Nov. 14 deadline, promising a competitive price for the land. “There’s still a strong demand for rural properties,” Rosenthal said. The collection of 18 California properties for sale run up and down the spine of the Sierra Nevada mountain range as well as on the North Coast — from Tuolomne County in the south to Trinity County in the north. “This is probably one of the larger [auctions] we’ve offered in terms of number of tracts,” Rosenthal said. All but one of the properties are designated as “Timber Production Zone” — a zoning that exempts timber harvesters from paying taxes on the property’s real estate potential while it is used for logging. It typically takes 10 years to convert a property from “Timber Production Zone” to another zoning, without paying back taxes — a conversion that a county’s board of supervisors must approve. Rosenthal said the properties generate interest from people who want to extract the timber, and also from “someone who has made money in the stock market and wants to put it into some dirt.”


David Millarch, co-founder of the Champion Tree Project, said: “We can rebuild our old-growth forests when we use old-growth forest genetics.” The group will grow the cloned trees until they reach two to three feet in height, then plant them in various locations in California’s coastal region. The group will ensure genetic diversity by planting new growth with 80% seedlings and 20% clones. The group will create the clones by sending climbers high into the trees. The climbers will collect tissue samples from the tips of branches, then ship the samples to a lab where they will be raised using one of four different growth techniques. Some have questioned whether cloning is the proper method to restore the forests. Ruskin Hartley, executive director of Save the Redwoods in San Francisco, says that the group’s methods are unnecessary and inappropriate. Hartley believes cloning could muddy the gene pool due to regional differences in the species. He also points out that the forests naturally reproduce using clones already, and that many of the forests damaged by logging are now beginning to show naturally grown young redwoods. According to Hartley, “The only way that you can really go about restoring the ancient forest is waiting a really long time—that’s the essence of the oldness of these forests.”

From Earth Tree News(248th edition)
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Bolithio said...

There will be no speculator frenzy.

If I was a speculator I would not be buying a 5 million dollar 160 TPZ parcel that is under a completely restrictive HCP. And I really doubt that any Humboldt player will either. This "proposal" is mere posturing and will not come to fruition. Some of the less expensive parcels offered for sale will be bought up with cash by many of the areas 'farmers' (some could argue that the rate of these land deals may constitute“frenzy” but…). This perhaps will also contribute potential negative effects on the forest. The best thing that can happen for these areas is that they remain productive and viable timberland.

Remember; the "old growth" groves offered up in this package will never be logged. They are under the 0HCP and most importantly considered murlet conservation areas - which according to the CESA - means that the stands are off-limits.

More~ The board is not protecting "your" local forest (its not yours lol). They are havening an apparent anxiety attack – and hastily acting - making bad decisions like this one. Sure no one wants PALCO lands broken up as proposed - however - there are thousands of people who live in the woods who know are being screwed by this rash ordinance. I have several friends who were in the permitting process for houses on their forest/land and know they are getting denied because of this.

The problem is that eventually there will be a law suite over this – and if they loose (which is likely) THAT will pave the way for the speculative frenzy.

John Doe #86 said...

I don't know why some speculate that there will be a speculator frenzy. It hasn't really been substantiated.

I see the forest as "ours" similiar to the way that the rivers are "ours". Their treatment effects us all. The rivers (and salmon) health is directly tied to the health of the forests.

The problems Maxxam is causing are our problems.

Could you detail how thousands of woods dwelling folks are being screwed by the temporary ordinance?

I'm interested.

Bolithio said...

OK fair enough. Everything you said is valid. What I was trying to say is that as result of all of this - people who want to get legitimate building permits now cant. In the future, it will likely be a more complicated and expensive procedure. So what this does is make it a procedure that only those who can afford it will be able to complete.

I probably over stated the whole "1000s screwed" part. But - there are alot of people who already have houses built on TPZ lands - and they are fining out now that they need to get permits to be in compliance*; permits the county has suspended... So... the fees increase, higher tax bills, cant buy or sell the property, cant get it insured, etc...

Perhaps no one should be living on TPZ? Perhaps all "open space" should be public land owned by no one person? Those are policy issues that our society as a whole must solve. Obviously there needs to be a line drawn on how much development is going to be acceptable in the future of this and other similar counties. Population trends (IMO) suggest that at some point in the future the pressure will be so great to accommodate the growing population that building and future housing in these forested areas will be inevitable. (again another discussion)

Still - now - there are people who own TPZ and other zoned parcels of forested land. Alot of them live out there, and wish to continue to. Some have permitted structures - others(most?) don't. For those trying to live in the woods and perhaps build their home - are going to find that for at least now they are assed out.

Very complicated issue and the MAXXAM part of it is only a speck of it.

*The county has been issuing map act violations across the county lately. These violations have been occurring on lots of zoning - but TPZ, AG, and others are the main ones. These violations have to due with improperly divided parcels, or conflicts regarding approved subdivisions, original patents, and line splits that apparently were never recorded. The county has historically issued a Tax ID through the assessors office for any described piece of land (irregardless if its "legal" or not). Thousands of parcels have been bought and sold this way for years and years.

Along with these violations - the county is finding countless un-permitted structures, roads, etc. Now as part of the condition of getting into compliance - the county is going to further require that people must also get the proper building permits and such for any structures. (So if you are on TPZ you cant get it currently)

John Doe #86 said...

I am also worried about peoples ability to live on the land. I think you're probably right that it will become more expensive to get a building permit.

I have been worried from the beginning that some of the supes have a larger agenda and are taking advantage of the Maxxam situation to push it through.

I think they have wanted to tighten the reigns on building and development on ag/tpz but lacked the political leverage to take a leap like this.

On one hand, I supported the temporary moratorium as a tactical move against PL's reorg plan.

On the other hand I think the supes need to back off a bit on some of what they are proposing for the future.

I'll elaborate on that when I have time.