Sun. May 22nd, 2022

By Samuel Strait – Reporter at Large – April 15, 2022

A regular occurrence at most Del Notre County Board Of Supervisor
meetings is an experience not to be missed, an expensive “study”, or
consultant’s report on some matter that has no real benefit to most of
the local community.  April 12th’s meeting was just such a case in
point.  Nearly forty minutes of meeting time spent eulogizing a “study”
that purports to represent the housing needs of Del Norte County and
Crescent City over the next eight years. How utterly fascinating.  A
comment by Supervisor Chris Howard, extolling the virtues of preparing
for future “growth in the County” by spending taxpayer dollars on a
study claiming the need for 375 new units in a County that not only has
declined in population over the past couple of years, but has close to
1300 housing units that are either vacant or only used occasionally.
Even if one were to include the needs of the City, that number already
dwarfs the overall needs of the County for the next eight years by a
factor of two and a half.  This is without building a single new
structure.  Go figure, as members of the Board certainly were not.

The jerk and tug gets deeper when the study claims that 40% of “new”
housing needs fall in the category of “low Income” housing. No one
should have to explain to the Board that low income housing on a large
scale such as 40% of nearly 600 units is the stuff of fantasy, but there
is a certainty that exists about this Board that the blindfold is never
removed, or maybe that’s where the former mouth decorations have
gravitated too.  The very concept of cheap affordable housing in
California is a non starter. Regulation, cost of materials, cost of
labor, and even the expense of land has made house construction costs
beyond the scope of a vast majority of Californians for far longer than
the next eight years.  The recent level of exodus from California and
Del Norte County should be a clue to the clueless Board.    But, No, at
least according to the wisdom offered by Supervisor Howard during the
meeting, as he visualizes a growing population for the next eight years.

How in the world can a County Board hire a firm from Sacramento, Mintier
Harrnish, that is so completely out of touch with what is going on in
the State, to think that California will “grow” over the next eight
years.  The State and local governments, with near tone deaf regularity,
have made living in the State near impossible for much of the
population.  Rising taxes and idiotic regulation have made simply
existing in the state an arduous task.   Coupled with federally induced
catastrophic inflation, Californians are fleeing to more sensible places
in the Country faster than the free flow of illegal immigration can make
up for that loss .  That flight includes those that live in Del Norte
County.

The County is indeed a beautiful place to live and work, if that remains
possible.  Housing does not appear to be an issue for at least the next
eight years, that is “If” you can afford the high cost.  Development of
property for low income housing will require a massive influx from the
state to accomplish the task at the risk of sending more Californians
towards the exits.  The report that took up forty minutes of County
Board’s time is mismanagement and misinformation of the highest order. 
A refund should be required going forward.  If Community Development
Director, Heidi Kunstal, is responsible in any way for hiring this firm
and agrees with its reporting, she needs to be terminated immediately. 
There not only is no common sense reasoning that can make this reporting
acceptable, but it borders on a disregard for rational thinking.

Far too often this is the “stuff” that occupies the Del Norte County
Board of Supervisors at Board meetings.  Studies and high priced
consultants galore, but nothing of real substance.  Those in the public
are tired of the constant refrain that their dwindling standard of
living must be utilized to satisfy Sacramento.  What good is a local
board if they do not have the power to make any meaningful change?  The
“State” may as well be handling the “rubber stamp”.  Honestly, what
possible use can come from this recent “housing study” that will
directly benefit anyone in the County other than Community Development
over the next eight years?  Community Development and Director Kunstal
can now rest assured that the waste of her department’s existence has
earned her another “Gold Star” from a brain dead Board of Supervisors.
Yes, Supervisors Starkey and Howard that means both of you.

4 thoughts on “Another Study, Does Anyone Really Care?”
  1. Ms. Harake the fact that you are tired of “negative commentaries that border on the side of negligence” does not prevent them from being written, unless you prefer a society that can pick and choose what is written and censor the rest. As to those “we’ve elected”, unless I am mistaken, not many candidates are elected with 100% of the vote, and that should clue you in on the fact that despite being elected, candidates must always suffer the opposition in this Country.
    As far as as your assessment of the housing situation in the County, having a study “claim” that over the next eight years the County will require nearly six hundred new dwellings, 40% of them being “low income” does not make much sense considering the decline in population. “Your leader” can talk all he wishes about housing shortages, low income housing, and permanent housing for the homeless, yet all his efforts thus far have produced nothing but breath taking expenditure of public funds to house a tiny fraction of those populations. The shear cost of housing or changes in zoning and regulation do nothing to solve the core problem of cost without bankrupting the entire state. People in government you seem to have great faith in have yet to receive the power to wave scepters and make low income housing as a problem “go away”. It costs money! As to “vacation rentals” becoming low-income housing, I’m at a loss as to what you are talking about. You will have to clarify. All that was being said was that there were a large number of vacancies in the County, more than the study’s claim that an additional 585 houses in the next eight years would be required. Nothing was said that the current vacant housing should be employed as low income housing, hopefully that still remains a decision for the property’s owner and not the government. All you suggest sounds wonderful, if it were even remotely possible, unfortunately it probably isn’t even in your version of utopia.

  2. When I heard Kunstal makes $150K a year I was sickened. My wife and I live comfortably on 1/3rd of that in DN. Looking at website “DN County Transparency Pay,” I see she earns in 2020 total pay and benefits over $201K a year. I was curious about Lopez and see he made in 2020 over $152 a year (less than Kunstal). I’m feeling ripped off. I turned in my Property Tax this month and it doesn’t even cover a week of their pay. Seems I should be getting more for my money.

  3. Truth be told, the public is tired of negative commentaries that border on the side of negligence. Not only do the local leaders we’ve elected work for us, they also report to the higher leader we’ve voted for, they report to our Governor Newsom. The higher up the ladder one goes, the views of constituents are diluted by the larger population. Mr. Strait sees no problem with low income housing in Del Norte siting our vacation homes as vacancies. Our leader has addressed and prioritized the urgent issue of our shortage of low income RENTAL HOUSING by ordering Counties to change building codes to allow single family units to become duplex units, garages to be transformed into studio apartments. In turn, our local leaders should first address our building codes to reflect our Governor’s orders. When new building codes are realized, all homeowners, not merely vacation homeowners, can choose to add income units to their property and LIFE. Not all homeowners are capable of/interested in being income property owners, nor are all homeowners wishing to have a family member move closer. A very simple SURVEY (not commitment) to homeowners should be completed first; simply one question “Do you plan to take advantage of our new building codes “____” in the next two years?”. Boxes for NO or YES answers with attached, detached, upstairs, ADA compliant, HUD worthy, so that the local leaders can visual what the people will do with their new power. Renters prefer a more private environment than a beehive of apartments. LOOK AT WHAT MY PEOPLE ARE DOING should be on the coffee mug of every leader.

    1. Ms.Harake their are 3 sides to every story. Right, wrong, and in the middle. Unfortunately, you don’t get that from our local newspaper called the Triplicate.
      The Triplicate gives you the superficial story that involves no research. This paper scrapes beneath the surface and conducts the research so you get the whole picture not just what “they” want you to see.
      You consider that as negative. So I have one question. If you were to go to your doctor and he or she told you what they thought you wanted to hear instead of what there actually was going on with you; would you be ok with that?
      That is what you should consider when reading or watching the news. For instance, NBC, ANC, CNN, and Fox networks all have their swing to any political story. But if you want to know what really goes on you need to watch CSPAN during public meetings of our Senate and Congress as well as the Pentagon. That is how you find out what is going on. I suggest you start attending these government meetings to see the truth play out before your eyes.

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