12.11.2009

Cage Match

The Development in question:


◼ JN Cage Match
By Hank Sims The Town Dandy
http://www.northcoastjournal.com/issues/2009/12/10/cage-match/

As Journal reporter Ryan Burns writes elsewhere in this paper, the California Coastal Commission is set to hear an appeal connected with the proposed Marina Center development today (Thursday, Dec. 10). The hearing will kick off the true beginning of the fight over the proposed big box-anchored development on the old railyard on the Eureka waterfront, which has been kicking around for almost four years now. Opponents of the project didn't bother putting up any serious effort when the City of Eureka approved the environmental impact report and a project permit last month -- figuring, probably correctly, that the vote was already in the bag. The Coastal Commission is the body that's going to make -- or, more likely, break -- the thing.

For honesty's sake, let's admit a couple of things at the outset. For one, California law pertaining to this and many other matters is Byzantine beyond belief, to the extent that it can sometimes actively stifle the very thing it was written to accomplish. The Balloon Track could sit there as is for another 100 years, leaching its ugly self into the Bay, and the Coastal Commission would never say boo. For another, much of the opposition to the project has little to do with environmental remediation per se. For various historical, cultural and economic reasons, some people -- some powerful people -- don't like the fact that the proposed Marina Center is anchored by a Home Depot. And there are a few powerful opponents whose passions are chiefly aroused by the opportunity to give financier/developer Rob Arkley and his supporters in Eureka City Hall a poke in the eye. If Arkley were to put forth plans to turn the site into a sustainable organic cooperative farm, there are people who would sue him for not devoting enough space to the hemp crop.

But it's almost as if Arkley and City Hall wished these antagonists into existence, and then provided them with cudgels. Believe it or not, there are developers in other parts of the state, and even locally, who invite the opposition into the tent before a project ever gets underway. Arkley, instead, has delivered the middle finger to his opposition, consistent with the strange, ideology-driven approach he takes to nearly all his Humboldt County projects. (Leaving aside some of the charitable ones.) What does he want more: To get the job done, or to destroy his enemies -- people who harbor wrongheaded notions about the rights of capital and the role of government regulation?

You can't look at the history of Marina Center long without concluding that the former is secondary, the latter supreme. More than anything, he itches for a fight. And this time, he'll have a whole bunch of his psychic irritants in the ring: Humboldt County Supervisor and Coastal Commission Chair Bonnie Neely, left-leaning hardware king Bill Pierson, enviros like Pete Nichols and Scott Greacen and others, state bureaucrats like Humboldt County Planning Commissioner and longtime Coastal Commission bureaucrat Ralph Faust. This -- the broad scope of the upcoming score-settling -- is what gives the current conflagration its end-of-days feel.

Whether it ultimately happens in today's hearing or not is open to question -- there'll certainly be plenty of others to follow -- but the Coastal Commission shows itself perfectly willing to whittle Marina Center down to nothing. The staff report in the case recommends reversing the city's permit to allow Arkley's CUE VI company to begin work on the site, and that's probably what will happen. If so, what will be most frustrating is the already audible whining from inside City Hall and Arkley's Security National that it is all so unfair. The Coastal Commission has been a brick wall growing steadily larger for four years now, and neither the company nor the city has done anything to alter course. The Coastal Commission wrote an objection to the city's draft environmental impact report containing the precise objections which are now on appeal; the city staff waved the commission off, then urged the City Council to approve the 1,000-page-plus report, complete with this objection and others, in a matter of days. Which the City Council did. So now the city is getting what it paid for, and no one should be shocked.

Anyway, come join us on the North Coast Journal Blogthing today (Thursday). We'll be live-blogging the Coastal Commission hearing when it gets underway, complete with a background sense of how underhanded and silly it has all been.

^^^^^

The North Coast Journal is proud to be fielding a team of reporters in Copenhagen for the duration of the United Nations Climate Change Conference, which may actually come up with some sensible strategies for limiting humankind's assault on the planet. In the coming weeks, we'll be printing regular dispatches from Manila's Dan Ihara, an economist who has specialized in climate change, and Petrolia playwrights/activists/raconteurs Jane Lapiner and David Simpson. The first of their reports, which takes the pulse of the summiteers as the conference gets underway, appears this week.

comments
1. Thirdeye: Yesterday, 1:14 p.m.
"The staff report in the case recommends reversing the city's permit to allow Arkley's CUE VI company to begin work..."
WRONG, WRONG, WRONG
The staff report did not recommend reversing the permit. The staff report recommended hearing the objections. What's a little fact twisting in the name of the chosen narrative, right Hank?
The whole speculation about ideology driving the Marina Center project is just silly. If there's any ideological motivation it's on the part of assorted groovy people (mostly from outside of Eureka) who can't get over their knee-jerk reaction to Home Depot. And how does the expansion of the wetland element in response to public input constitute some sort of middle finger?
I suppose we'll next be hearing about how timber companies harvest trees to teach hippies a lesson.

2. Hank Sims: Yesterday, 1:27 p.m.
WRONG, WRONG, WRONG
Eh?
Paragraph one: "Staff recommends that the Commission determine that a substantial issue exists with respect to the grounds on which Appeal No. A-1-EUR-09-049 has been filed and that the Commission hold a de novo hearing."
The Commission holds the new hearing. Not the city. See? Reversing -- or superceding, if you like -- the city's permit.
If there's any ideological motivation it's on the part of assorted groovy people (mostly from outside of Eureka) who can't get over their knee-jerk reaction to Home Depot.
I'm not denying that, as you can read above. But if you're saying that Arkley's intentions have been snow-pure throughout, you live on a different plane of existence.
And how does the expansion of the wetland element in response to public input constitute some sort of middle finger?
Erm, you mean the wetland element absolutely required by law if other wetlands on the site are going to be filled? The one leaned on throughout the present EIR? That was "in response to public input," somehow?

3. Dork: Yesterday, 2:10 p.m.
Hank, you're either higher than usual or just proving again that facts are no match for your biases. Opposition to Arkley's Marina Center plan was well under way before there was a Marina Center plan--before the big box, before the big middle finger, before know-it-alls like you were rewriting history like this. The opposition began the day the word "Arkley" became associated with a blighted shithole that mattered not at all to anyone until the day he bought it.

4. Hank Sims: Yesterday, 2:24 p.m.
The opposition began the day the word "Arkley" became associated with a blighted shithole that mattered not at all to anyone until the day he bought it.
What? You ever heard of Wal-Mart? The stillborn Headwaters Fund study? Who's rewriting history?!?

5. Thirdeye: Yesterday, 2:39 p.m.
Hank:
Now that you've cut and pasted the relevant passage, I suggest you read it again and try to understand it this time. You're a literate guy. I think you can do it. A recommendation to hear the appeals is not the same as a recommendation to reverse the City of Eureka's approval of the permit. It is a review process. Comprende?

Whatever Arkley's innermost thoughts are (and of which you claim some special knowledge), we know one thing: he sees an opportunity to make some bucks. Maybe the thought of Home Depot gives him a wet dream and maybe it doesn't, I don't know. Did his deal with North Coast Co-op mean he fell in love with Co-op people? Probably not. He saw an opportunity to make some bucks.

Yes, the wetland element was expanded during the scoping phase of the project, in response to public input. I take it you didn't know that before you wrote with such authority. Given that virtually the entire site is fill, the project is a net gain for wetland. Puddles on top of fill do not wetlands make, unless you share the delusions of Baykeeper.

6. Hank Sims: Yesterday, 2:46 p.m.
You've heard the words "de novo" before?
Come on over, Thirdeye! -- http://www.northcoastjournal.com/blogthing/

7. Thirdeye: Yesterday, 2:54 p.m.
Who's rewriting history? You are, Hank, you are. Marina Center is not Wal-Mart part II. And your argument that the proposed Headwaters-funded study was somehow necessary for a public process to occur has been refuted many times over. You should know better than to keep invoking it.

8. Hank Sims: Yesterday, 3:03 p.m.
Jeez, dude, I'm going to have to spend some time with you here. Word-by-word-style.
"Dork" wrote:
...a blighted shithole that mattered not at all to anyone until the day he bought it.
Whereupon I wrote that the shithole did, in fact, matter to people before he bought it, and gave two citations.
And your argument that the proposed Headwaters-funded study was somehow necessary for a public process to occur has been refuted many times over.

I never said any such thing. Of course a public process is possible without it. The public process is happening without it. Just moments ago, for example.

9. Thirdeye: Yesterday, 3:30 p.m.
http://www.lectlaw.com/def/d010.htm
DE NOVO - Anew. afresh. Considering the matter anew, the same as if it had not been heard before and as if no decision previously had been rendered. Ness v. Commissioner, 954 F.2d 1495, 1497 (9th Cir. 1992). Such review is 'independent.' Premier v. Fuentes, 880 F.2d 1096, 1102 (9th Cir. 1989).

The staff's (approved) recommendation to review the permit De Novo is essentially a recommendation to invoke full authority. It is not a final judgment on the merits of the issues under appeal, despite what Hank and other spinmeisters may claim.

10. Hank Sims: Yesterday, 3:39 p.m.
"Anew. afresh. Considering the matter anew, the same as if it had not been heard before and as if no decision previously had been rendered."

Right? And that's not the same as reversing the City Council's decision?

But this is getting stupid. I think we agree -- now the Coastal Commission gets to decide whether to grant the permit, and the city does not.

11. Thirdeye: Yesterday, 4:44 p.m.
No, that's not the same as reversing the City Council's decision. Just as in the case of an appeals court agreeing to hear a case, that is not the same as reversing the lower court's decision.

Now, onto the issue of your position on the Headwaters-funded study and public participation:
http://www.northcoastjournal.com/092806/shortstories0928.html

"An hour or so later, Marina Center spokesman Brian Morrissey took the stage to deliver a presentation on the Marina Center, which he referred to as a 'smart growth' project.' I'm a smart growth guy,' Morrissey said. The characterization drew immediate objections from Andrew Whitney of the Humboldt County Planning Department, who said that community involvement in development was a cornerstone of the smart growth movement. (He didn't mention that Arkley had the Eureka City Council kill a public study on the Balloon Track, specifically to limit public participation in the planning."

(Hank Sims)

Of course, there was a large amount of public input in the scoping phase of the project that resulted in, among other things, expansion of the wetland element. But you chose to ignore that.

12. JJ: Yesterday, 7:16 p.m.
It's fairly obvious that Security National could care less about the existing wetlands, characterizing them as nothing more than "tire tracks" in their commercials

Eerily similar to the "Eureka Coalition for Jobs" campaign smearing Chris Kerrigan

13. Anon: Yesterday, 9:12 p.m.
Hank, you are rewriting history in pretending this is about a location instead of about a man. Let's just test your theory: Name a location in the city where Rob Arkley could put in a building supply store and the progs wouldn't climb up his butt.
Anything coming to mind?

14. wrong jj: Yesterday, 9:13 p.m.
JJ, those farking supposed wetlands ARE tire tracks. That's not an opinion that is a fact. It's been documented.
To try and taint this with the Kerrigan hit piece, who many believe was a Salzman move to garner sympathy for Chris is lame.

15. Anony2: Yesterday, 9:16 p.m.
Dayum, HanQ,
Thirdeye OWNS you. In each and every conversation here and on the mainsite and on the blogthing you have been spanked and spanked hard. I do wish you'd try for some actual reporting instead of trying sprinkle the news with your personal bias, hell we get enough of that on fox and msnbc.

16. Hank Sims: Yesterday, 11:05 p.m.
Jesus Christ. You lovable freaks.

Let's just test your theory: Name a location in the city where Rob Arkley could put in a building supply store and the progs wouldn't climb up his butt.

I can't. Which is why I stated EXACTLY THAT in the second goddamn paragraph of this column!!! Whose theory are you testing, now?

Just as in the case of an appeals court agreeing to hear a case, that is not the same as reversing the lower court's decision.
Kinda. Kinda not. Because the appeals court reverses the lower court on matters of law, not facts established at trial. Whereas in this case, the hearing is de novo -- the matter will essentially be retried, with the Coastal Commission as jury rather than the City Council.

Again, you're getting tediously hung up on semantics here. You are wrong, but you are also boringly wrong. Who cares? Call it anything you want. Call it a Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, if you like. I'm beyond caring.

The fact is that the city's permit is, as of today, stayed -- i.e., the company does not get to act upon it. Now the Coastal Commission decides whether or not the company will get to perform the work envisioned in the permit. Agreed?

Of course, there was a large amount of public input in the scoping phase of the project that resulted in, among other things, expansion of the wetland element.

That's PR hype, plain and simple. The wetland element had to be included, BY LAW. Read the EIR. One of the matters currently on appeal is whether there's ENOUGH wetland to mitigate for the wetlands taken.

To simplify matters somewhat. Hypothetically, let's say Security National first publicly unveiled blueprints of the project consisted entirely of detonating a 500 megaton nuclear weapon underneath the old Union Pacific roundhouse. And so there was hue and cry from the damned environmentalists. And so, instead, out of the kindness of its heart, the company modified the project, scrapping the nuke and instead proposing a Home Depot and some office space. And you're jumping up and down saying they did this in response to public concerns?

The project can't be built with out the wetlands, and it wouldn't have gotten even this far if they weren't in the EIR.

17. Hank Sims: Yesterday, 11:06 p.m.
Now, onto the issue of your position on the Headwaters-funded study and public participation:
I'm seriously having to take it down to dictionary level with you, here. You see, in that passage you quote, that I write that the company killed the public study to "limit" public participation?

You know that "limit" and "eliminate" have different meanings, right?

You don't think that Arkley had the public study killed to limit public participation in the planning for that site? Arkley himself begged to differ, at the time:

"I'm not willing to sit at the table with anybody until I decide what to do with the land," he said. "If they think that taxpayer money is well spent doing that, they should think again."

Good night, sweet princes!

18. Thirdeye: Today, 1:16 a.m.
Hank:
Yes, details do get boring. But they matter. And understanding the significance of boring technical and legal details is what is required for a journalist to perform adequately in a situation such as this one.

Your analogy between the CC's DeNovo hearing and a retrial is not correct. Recirculating the EIR and re-doing responses to comments would be like a retrial. The DeNovo hearing is driven by specific issues that are being appealed.

You just repeated your contention on the wetlands issue from post #2. My response is in post #5. The appeal on the wetlands issue is based on calling puddles on polluted fill "wetlands" and "sensitive habitat" per the propaganda of armchair "scientists" from Baykeeper. Baykeeper propaganda aside, there is very little existing, functional wetland on the site. Sneer if you want, Hank, and throw in some silly nuke analogy, but the fact remains that the proposed restoration of Clark Slough goes beyond what is strictly required by law, and that occurred in response to the public input that you, either by default or deliberately, remained unaware of. Sorry if the public input wasn't in the format you wanted, but it was incorporated into the project.

Here's a little gem of journalistic fellatio performed by Hank on Paul Gallegos and Tim Stoen after the Freeborn ruling in the Palco case:
http://www.northcoastjournal.com/070705/cover0707.html

There's no effort to find any opinion on the ruling from other than from Gallegos and Stoen. It's obvious that Hank never even read the ruling. But that didn't stop him from venturing this pearl of wisdom:

"If Stoen had stuck with [Judge] Wilson, the case would almost certainly have gone to trial."

The appeals court and the Supreme Court didn't see it that way, did they?

For all its factual recklessness, insubstantial opinions, and sucking up, it's quite a hilarious read looking back. Recommended.

19. Anon: Today, 8:40 a.m.
So there is no location in the city where Arkley could put up a building supply store without prog interference, but opposition to the Marina Center is somehow related to Wal-Mart? Please, Hank. Pick a storyline and stick to it. Maybe instead of rewriting history you should rewrite your article so it makes some fucking sense.

20. Hank Sims: Today, 8:47 a.m.
Ach, you are hopeless.

21. JJ: Today, 9:02 a.m.

Love it when these fools pat themselves on the back for a job well done, all the while digging themselves an even deeper grave of nonsense

Thanks for the laugh this morning anony2!
*************

RELATED:
LIVE webcast
◼ JN Cleanup Mess
◼ TS California Coastal Commission to hear appeal on Marina Center interim cleanup
...comments
http://documents.coastal.ca.gov/reports/2009/12/Th14c-12-2009-a3.pdf
◼ TS Groups asks court to stop Marina Center project
◼ TS Groups ask court to scrap Marina Center analysis
Appellants prepare for Coastal Commission hearing on Marina Center (some interesting revelations in this report actually)

Local blog posts...RELATED:
Meanwhile, back at the North Coast Journal… The Mirror
Coastal Commission gives Eureka the smack down Heraldo/a
Another city stunt in support of the Marina Center Heraldo/a
Eureka City Council to Certify Marina Center EIR Tonight Tom Sebourn

Really - there is a ton of material on this topic, and it isn't one I have been following all that closely - this link is to Google "Marina Center, Eureka"

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