Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Arkley Likely to Sue County Despite State’s Decision

The McKinleyville Press

7.11.06

Daniel Mintz

A local multimillionaire’s quest to open more land for development won’t end with the state’s recent decision not to reverse its approval of a county housing plan, and his attorney says a lawsuit is imminent.

The famously arch-conservative Rob Arkley, Jr. has channeled some of his considerable riches into hiring Sacramento-based consultants and attorneys to challenge county planning work. The county’s Housing Element, a five-year plan for meeting state residential development requirements, has been a primary item of contention for Arkley. He’s met with state officials in an effort to convince them to reverse their approval of the county plan.

But after reopening its review of the element and estimates of developable land, the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) recently announced that the county’s work meets housing standards and actually exceeds them for moderate and above moderate income categories. The HCD also found that enough sites have been identified for development of lower income high density housing – although it’s a category that the state wants more attention paid to along with infrastructure to support it.

That result is not what Arkley sought and the Sacramento consultant for HELP, the developers’ advocacy group he’s funded, has questioned the county’s submittal of what’s been called a “secret report” to the HCD. In a letter to Board of Supervisors Chairman John Woolley, HELP consultant Kay Backer describes the allegedly back-room document as “a violation of state law.”

And Bob Best, an attorney for the Sacramento-based Trainor-Robertson law firm hired by Arkley, has said that the county has “made themselves more vulnerable to a legal attack” with its documentation and actions during the state review. He warned that a lawsuit is likely unless the county responds quickly to the concerns enumerated in Backer’s letter to Woolley.

From the county’s – and the state’s – point of view, however, the planning work is both legally sound and unusually thorough.

Arkley Attorney: State’s Wrong

Woolley responded to Backer in a July 7 letter and said that “we remain secure in the (land) inventory procedures we have developed.” The state is also confident about that -- the HCD deputy director who’s supervised the state’s review has said that Backer’s “secret report” characterization is incorrect and credited the county’s planning department for making its land inventory available online and open to adjustments.

There is aggressive disagreement from Arkley’s corner that seems to be leading to a long-threatened lawsuit against the county. In an interview, Best said that the state’s findings will be struck down if they’re argued in court, and he believes that the “secret report” will be damning evidence.

“I think the HCD is dodging its responsibilities,” said Best. “The report that county staff ginned up is the county itself saying that the element doesn’t comply with state law … our position is that the report finally recognized what we’ve been saying all along – that what’s in the housing element is virtually meaningless.”

Best believes that the county’s report on the inventory should have been treated as a General Plan amendment subject to approvals from the planning commission and board of supervisors. He said that the HCD “erroneously” handled the report.

“This is a staff report that was prepared in a back room with the cooperation of the HCD,” Best continued. He said the county is “digging itself into a deeper hole” legally and “cannot look a judge straight in the face and say its housing element is accurate.”

Saying that the element’s land inventory overestimates development capacity by thousands of parcels, Best added that making it legal will take time and “the county will have to get busy – if we do not see action by the county soon, we will probably have to initiate a lawsuit.”

The litigation would be directed at the county and not include the state, Best said, as “the law does not require the HCD to create valid housing elements.”

But the HCD will defend its work in court if it comes to that – and will also back up the county’s.

Public Meeting on a ‘Secret Report’

The “secret report” is dated April 24 and updates the content of the county’s inventory. Asked about it, HCD Deputy Director Cathy Creswell questioned the characterization and pointed out that the report was the subject of a public workshop that was held last October and attended by 45 people.

“I don’t know why they’d describe the report that way,’” Creswell said. “Our understanding is that the county held a public meeting on the inventory, so I don’t how they could possibly characterize it as a secret document.”

A General Plan amendment wasn’t necessary for the report, she added, and she praised the county for doing updated annual reviews of its five-year housing plan. “Not many counties do that,” Creswell said. She also said that the county’s interactive online posting of the inventory is “very unique” and an important tool for achieving housing construction.

Asked about Backer’s and Best’s legal arguments, Creswell said her department worked hard to review the housing plan with HELP’s concerns in mind. “They clearly have a different perspective than we do, and they disagree with our findings,” she continued. “But we tried to work cooperatively, and we feel we fulfilled our responsibilities in a way that’s been fair and equitable to all parties, and in a manner that fulfills the state’s interest in providing housing opportunities that are real.”

Kirk Girard, the county’s planning director, has been aggressively targeted by Arkley. He said Best’s claim that the April 24 report admits inadequacy is a mischaracterization. About 200 units were subtracted from the thousands reflected in the inventory, said Girard, a response that probably wasn’t legally necessary but responded to HELP’s contentions.

“In a sense, we’re being criticized for being responsive,” he said.

Woolley’s response letter to Backer emphasized that the county’s planning work has been “well-documented” locally and “most importantly, agreed to by the state.”

Which won’t satisfy Arkley. “We’re headed to court if the county continues to stonewall us,” said Best. “If there is a lawsuit, it will be because the county’s asked for it.”


Comments:
Check it out people! Now Michael Smith wants to shut you all down if you even mention his bloody name! We can look forward to swift action from our District Attorney to protect his poor beleagured Oregon-based supporter from the big bad bloggers and their terrorist free speech. Glenn Simmons would be proud.

Michael Smith Threatens Humboldt Blogosphere
 
For you Chronicle readers here's where the action is on this issue:

Buhne Tribune

WDNC

Axis of Drivel
 
So, is Arkley going to sue to take down T or not?
 
Rob Arkley Jr: “If there is a lawsuit, it will be because the county’s asked for it.”

Arkley is liar.

If there is a lawsuit, it will be because Rob Arkley Jr. is a mentally unstable egomaniac.

And if Rob Arkley Jr. drags Humboldt County into a lawsuit, he will be forcing the County to waste the taxpayers' money in legal defense fees.
 
Correction: the quote in the comment above is by Bob Best, one of Arkley's Sacramento attorneys hired to intimidate and bleed Humboldt County.

But Arkley has said the same thing, blaming Humboldt County for the lawsuit he will inititate. They're both crooks and liars.
 
Rob Arkley is a spoiled rich brat. Maybe someone should put Robin Jr. over his knee and give that overfed child a good spanking to teach him a lesson about what democracy really means. (Being a Republican, it's not as if Arkley would have any idea what democracy actually means......)
 
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