(I was going to post this earlier, but we have Suddenlyunlinked service out on the peninsula, so I am using old fashion dial-up AOL. Again. Wah!)
The Citizens for Port Development hosted a debate/Question answer session for four of the candidates for the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District (HBHRCD) on October 3 at the Samoa Cookhouse. Participants were Carlos Quilez and Roy Curless from Division 2 and Pat Higgins and Charles Ollivier from Division 5.
Ollivier: “Slow.” (The process) That is why he said he is running. He added that he didn’t need to get in to particulars because we (attendees) had already all heard it before. Charles said again that the process is slow. “It is called money, without it you can’t get anywhere.” He says his work has been about jobs. He explained how the Simpson closure had really hurt the bay. “In the past we had Industrial and private interest that did not want Multi use docks.” “But we can bring it (jobs) back, we have the ingredients.” He also pointed out that we can service 85% of the ships in service with our current dredging practices.
Curless: He notes that he has been in office for 16 years and would like to continue with current projects. He mentioned his work in Shelter Cove with the breakwater and the need for upgrades. He would like to see continued improvements in recreation focusing on Kayak and fishing. Mr. Curless talked of plans to have Kayak and parking access at the foot of Park Street in Myrtletown. He closed in explaining that the HBHRCD works as a committee.
Higgins: Talked of his experience as a retail business owner, fisheries professional and Watershed consultant. He explained how the ebb and flow of our economy is directly linked to fishing. Mr. Higgins also spoke of his experience on many advisory committees. As far as the bay he said, “I would like to see the Bay restored and the Aquaculture protected.” He would like to integrate Commerce, Recreation and Conservation. He wants healthy trails and transparent government.
Quilez: “I have no bragging rights (length of residence), I choose this community.” He would like to make this area better through revitalization of processes at a reasonable pace. He would like to see transparent government and better focus on trails and commuting. His goal is to see a healthy available bay. Mr. Quilez talked of his experience in administration at San Jose State College and his bringing modern management skills to the table. He would like to see strategic planning with cost analysis using timelines and benchmarks. “We need to move in steps and have accountability.”
Question #1- Where does the HBHRCD funding come from and what reserves are available to help?
Quilez: “Taxpayers and fees.”
Higgins: The commission was created in 1973 through self taxing as core funding. Grants, agencies, business and commerce were also pointed out.
Curless: “The state took away funds, but we picked up $500,000 through the Redwood dock.”
Ollivier: “There is a big difference in private and public. The Feds and State are needed for a $150,000,000 project to get us to 40% operational capacity.” “We are the last port to be developed and we are the second largest bay in California.” He explained that they (HBHRCD) only have a 2.1 million dollar budget and are last deep water port in need of help. “The rest of the ports (on the coast) are at 100% of working capacity.” He brought out a study of Prince Rupert port development as one to emulate possibly.
Question #2- What is the time frame for development and what type of economic projects do you see?
Higgins: “The Bay District documents protect the core industries.”
Curless: “Evergreen provides good jobs.” He explained the need to help the oyster commerce.
Ollivier: Explained how goods should be 80% by truck and the rest by barge and how we are 200 nautical miles from other working ports. “We have 1,800 acres of space on the peninsula.” He outlined possible jobs from container business in the form of electricians, carpenters and mechanics. “Is $10 an hour living wages?”
Quilez: He wanted to know what the question was again and was confused on the others answers not being focused on the topic. “We need viable transportation for goods.” He felt our lack of population is a factor in the shipping/rail equation. “We can not blindly follow the North Coast Rail Authority (NCRA) as a Harbor Commission.”
Question #3- What is Eel grass and its affect on the bay?
Curless: “Oysters eat the grass and some species are important for fish and some we need to get rid of.”
Ollivier: “There is more now than ever.”
Carlos: “Necessary for fish.”
Higgins: “Our covering is the biggest in California. We can lose some of that while dredging further down then necessary.”
Question #4- On rail Revitalization.
Ollivier: “The NCRA was created in 1987 and the CTC needs that element.” He added, “The rail will be back!” Charles then pointed out that most damage was done south of Willits.
Quilez: “When municipalities are sued it is not a good scenario.” (The NCRA is currently being sued.) “The public process needs to be open.” He accused the NCRA of mismanagement and said they needed timelines.
Higgins: Said this subject was close to his heart, as he had spent time on the rails as a child. “It will cost 650 million just to fix the canyon.” The added, “And those studies are a decade old with no studies challenging those numbers.” He said he would like to see light rail around the bay.
Curless: “This (subject) has been beat to death, it’s time to move on.”
Question 5- On retention of funding for the 2 current bar pilots.
Higgins: Favors continuance and says they are needed. He would check out the cost effectiveness.
Quilez: “This is more complicated than yes or no.” He would like to check out the cost effectiveness and study the situation. He thinks the pilots might be underutilized.
Curless: “We have to have them.” He pointed out that the bar was dangerous and the pilots are paid the best price they (HBHRCD) could get.
Ollivier: “Nothing funny about being a pilot, it is treacherous!” He added, “The Port would be shut down without them!”
Question 6- What are your thoughts of the Brown Act violation of the NCRA?
Ollivier: “No comment.” (In fairness it must be noted that Charles is a member of the board of directors of the NCRA and has counsel to not comment on this issue.)
Quilez: “This is an attack on public trust.” He felt there was no open process and that the public needs all information.
Higgins: He would like an open process. “There were clear violations.”
Curless: “I agree with Pat (Higgins).”