Richard Salzman: We’re subsidizing rural lifestyles

It was recently reported that the tab in Humboldt County for the recent storms will be at least $32 million.

Humboldt County Public Works Director Tom Mattson estimated rural county road damage alone is up to $10 million after the latest storm. That’s above and beyond normal road maintenance costs.

I fully support getting all of our county roads fixed!

But let’s be clear. The cost of repair to roads that serve roughly 20 percent of the county’s population will be paid for by the other 80 percent of taxpayers who live in town. I do not begrudge these residents any more than I do the nation’s red state residents. However, Slate recently stated: “What we regard as red states are sent a whole lot more of your hard-earned tax dollars than the traditional blue states. In effect, supposedly indolent, ‘tax and spend’ liberals actually subsidize the individualistic, pure, and hard-working lifestyle of our conservative countrymen.”

I fully support sending them our money. After all we’re in this together. We’re all Americans.

The same is true statewide here in California. Our overall spending in this “rural” county, for example, is underwritten by the state’s urban centers like the San Francisco Bay area and Southern California (the very areas the “State of Jefferson” would have us secede from!)

I fully support them sending us their money.

The point I want to make, however, is that we need to remember these facts as we sit by and watch the current county Planning Commission (dominated by supporters of HumCPR), rewrite the General Plan Update to the approval of the “Gang of Four” on the Board of Supervisors.

These are the four supervisors who appointed or voted in favor of these majority commissioners from the pro-development industry: Ryan Sundberg, Virginia Bass, Rex Bohn and, of course, Estelle Fennell, who used to be paid directly by HumCPR, but now just relies on them to fund her campaign coffers.

What we hear about from HumCPR and from these four supervisors is “property rights.” What they don’t tell you is that you get to pay for their “right” to build more and more homes up in the hills or on their TPZ land.

We pay to subsidize emergency services to these remote areas. We pay to repair their roads. We pay for their helicopter rescues. We pay to send in firefighters, which is more costly when fires reach occupied property and structures than fighting fires in unoccupied forests. In short, we pay to subsidize their lifestyle.

This is, after all, where the bulk of our Measure Z dollars go.

If that wasn’t bad enough, let us not forget that Rex Bohn recently advocated in the pages of the Times-Standard that we also change the zoning (you know, those bothersome “regulations” that stifle the free market), to allow more residential buildings in flood zones. The $45,000 Rex boasts of bringing to the county in his My Word (“State must honor its obligations to PILT counties,” Times-Standard, Feb. 17, Page A4) will be spent several times over by the first King Tide or the next major rain storm if we go with his plan.
Richard Salzman is an Arcata resident.