Tue. Mar 5th, 2024

Opinion by Samuel Strait – January 12, 2022

One of the things I got out of the hour long discussion with CAO Neal
Lopez and Supervisor Chris Howard on Thursday, February 10th is that we
live in two very different world when it comes to solutions for Del
Norte County’s many problem.  Granted we do live in a small rural county
of 27,000 plus residents and we do not have much in the way of power to
influence the decision makers in Sacramento.  We were a rural county
that forty years ago depended a lot on a resource based economy that has
been transformed into an economy dominated by government services and a
part time tourist industry.  We all agree that going forward, this kind
of economy is not sustainable.  As government has grown exponentially
over the last couple of decades, more and more money, tax dollars and
insubstantial grant funding, has been required to keep us afloat.  At
some point the tax encumbrance in this small rural county will overwhelm
the ability of the population to bear. Grant funding has its own
inherent problems, in that it doesn’t solve problems, but is more likely
to add to them.

The solution offered by Supervisor Howard was to restore some semblance
of a resource based economy, pointing to some recent logging
activities.  He added that the County’s efforts through the Chamber of
Commerce had stimulated the tourist visits to the County.  No mention of
any of the obvious problems with both mechanisms for stimulating the
local economy.  Just to name a few, the Coastal Commission, local
environmentalists and their allies, and State regulation.  Howard to his
credit did acknowledge that just those few items might not make his
concepts of renewing the local economy viable.  Hence, in Howard’s world
there remains government services and a part time tourist season where
most employees are minimum wage earners and Crescent City continues to
be a pass through town for visitors.

In the other world where current political philosophy from Sacramento
abhors change, the starting point for the improvement of our lot, is to
strip down government services to the bare minimum and join with other
rural county’s to pressure Sacramento to ease regulation that is
strangling Del Norte County and other rural Counties.  Eliminate the
multitude of Boards, Commissions and Authorities.  A free enterprise
zone to be able to compete with no sales tax Oregon.  Open up more
available land to development, fewer acres in conserved status.  Allow
the County to grow population wise and encourage the school district to
commence education instead of indoctrination.  Insure Del Norte County
will be able to free themselves from the Coastal Commission’s
interference.  Stream line environmental obstruction from improving road
access into the County as well as to development. Encourage on-line
employment and improve on-line infrastructure. Store and sell water to
Southern California from our rivers. Produce electricity at the same
time.   Burn our trash rather than send it to Oregon.  If we don’t have
enough, offer to burn trash from other localities.  Then, just maybe, a
resource based addition to our economy just might be possible,

Most of the above would likely take a huge change in culture and
attitude by residents, but in Howard’s World the future is bleak. If we
continue to fool ourselves that a part time tourist industry coupled
with the government services we currently have, there is no successful
future for Del Norte County.  A dramatic change in direction from those
that wish this town to remain small and insignificant is necessary for
future success.  The alternative is to drive the best and brightest of
our youth to greener pastures, as well as those that wish to see a
brighter future.

I am sure that there are others that have ideas who live here that would
make useful additions to this list.  I would encourage those others to
comment below with their ideas and energy for change.  The current
government structures in the County are bloated and wasteful and will
fight to the death to remain isolated and irrelevant to the State. 
California, the current Board of Supervisors, the City Council, and the
numerous other Boards, Commissions, and Authorities do nothing but hold
this County back from being the place in California that is a pleasure
to live within.

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