‘This Is Our Home’

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An unknown person discarded a Jeep in September alongside the road. [Photo by Lauris Phillips]

After an abandoned vehicle became a dumping ground for trash,  a handful of Southern Humboldt folks pitched in and cleared the mess around it. According to Lauris Phillips who lives in the area, in early September a Jeep with a broken wheel was abandoned at the intersection of Dyerville Loop and Alderpoint Road.  “I took down the license plate number and model and informed the Garberville CHP,” she explained. “They said they would tag it, which they said is their policy in order to give the owner time to deal with it.”

Phillips worried that the Jeep would be set ablaze as had many other abandoned vehicles. She told us, “I went to the CHP and showed a man there this picture [above] and begged that it be removed because the next thing that would happen is that it would be burned and we hadn’t had rain yet…Over the next weeks it was shot with bullets, all the windows smashed, parts torn [off], license plates removed, etc.” Whip-its were dumped partially in the Jeep. unnamed-8

Towards the end of October, the Jeep was set on fire.

Then the CHP tagged it again.

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Eventually, to make matters worse, other people began dumping garbage,15095658_1267055219981432_254211026478702004_n containers of used motor oil15055704_1267055259981428_6214643361470239671_n and Whip-its (Nitrous oxide containers–people inhale the contents in order to get high.)  14993381_1267055166648104_8044221113236891995_n

The community was frustrated. The County wasn’t responding. The CHP wasn’t helping. Then, on November 13, some local folks–Elmer Stillwell, Melissa Boll, Vonai Hartzell-Graham, Lisa Todd, Amanda Geoffroy and another unnamed man—decided to roll up their sleeves and fix what they could. “Some of us took the Whip-its to Eureka. Melissa took the motor oil and we took the garbage that way it all didn’t fall on one person,” Stillwell said.

Stillwell, whose family has lived in the area since before written history, said that he just got tired of seeing the land he loved trashed. The Native American side of his family only left the area “when my first great-grandma was rounded up when she was two years old and taken down to the Round Valley Reservation.” Other, than that, he said, they’ve built their homes in these hills.

Most of the people who removed the trash, including Stillwell, belong to Locals on Patrol (LOP), a group of Southern Humboldt residents who try to enforce rules like no loitering and no littering in Garberville. (See here for an article that followed the group on a walk through town.) For years, Stillwell said, he’d tried to ignore the build up of trash and people not following community standards.

“I didn’t come to town,” he said.  “I didn’t want to be around that.” Then his cousins who helped start LOP persuaded him to join the Patrol. At first he didn’t think he could. He was going to school to be an EMT and didn’t have much spare time.

“Once I came out, then I came out more and more,” Stillwell explained. It felt good, he said, to work together to fix things. “My family has been here for generations and generations,” he explained. “This is our home.”

However, though the trash is gone, the Jeep along with at least four other vehicles are abandoned in various places on the road heading east out of Garberville. There is more work to be done.

With this election, Stillwell said, everyone is angry and fighting with each other. He wishes they’d take that energy and work on projects in their own community like cleaning up trash and the abandoned cars. He paused for a moment and said, “Sure what happens in the country is going to affect you but not as much as what happens in your own town.”

 

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43 comments

  • Used to be that the CHP would tow abandoned vehicles. There are at least 4 between Alderepoint and Garberville now, and a couple more that look like they may be altho they haven’t been vandalized yet. Some of these vehicles were in good shape when first abandoned – they must be stolen I would think. Why doesn’t the CHP take care of this?

  • There are not many places to get off safely on that road. If these abandoned vehicles are in those places it becomes a safety issue. CHP needs to have them towed.

  • Does KMUD or some other group still take dead vehicles anymore??? They used to have someone tow the vehicles and the group received some money for them. Couldn’t they start towing those dead cars???

  • Congratulations to all who took on this project. Community action at its best!

  • Very well said. I hope the energy you speak of is properly harnessed.

  • Whoever did all those whipits can’t possibly have a brain left.

  • Maybe trail cameras hidden by the usual pullouts would help. Thank you Elmer you are areal inspiration to our community!

  • I’ve said it before – we live in THE MOST BEAUTIFUL place on earth – the Pacific West / Northwest & it saddens & disappoints me that among our neighbors are unconscionable, lazy people who destroy some of the beauty with no regard to anyone. Reading that caring folks such as these turned the situation into something positive AND that it got printed is truly an uplift. Thank you for YOUR efforts & to KYM for acknowledging it.

  • It’s a damn dirty shame great neighbors,have to clean up after lazy rude assholes,who dirty our beautiful home.im sorry you had to do that.but bless your hearts for caring.thats what makes Humboldt so great,our wonderful neighbor’s and caring loving amazing folks of Humboldt.theirs more beauty here than dirtyness!!there’s no place like home

  • Honeydew Bridge Chump

    I don’t understand why drug addict growers constantly have a need to wreck the world around them.

    Shouldn’t they be packing up and moving somewhere else now that weed will be grown in the central valley?

    I hope growers are getting the message that people don’t like them and they should be ashamed of what they are and the communities they have wrecked.

    Growers should be rounded up, given a trial, then deported for their crimes against humanity.

    • Replace word grower, with humans.

    • I’ll bet you’d be surprised at how many people you like and respect–firefighters, teachers, carpenters, grocery store clerks, etc..–grow marijuana.

      • Firefighters, Teachers? Really?

        • Really, I know or knew several growers who were also firefighters or teachers. In Southern Humboldt there would be very few volunteer firefighters without growers.

      • I may like them but at this point do not respect them. School principal from Fortuna growing and in charge of educating our children. Damn shame.

        • May I ask why you don’t respect them? And which ones don’t you respect? Marijuana is legal now. Many growers are getting permits and working on following the mishmash of laws and regulations governing their product.

      • Honeydew Bridge Chump

        Not everyone that grows marijuana is a grower. I am acquainted with many gardeners that slide that plant into beds. Heck, been to many Dead shows, love alternative living, had choppers kick up dust and fear, raised chickens while pushing back bear.

        Thirty years ago it was a noble cause…

        Now seeing what the younger generation has done to the reputation, all weather attack helicopters are much deserved.

        I really hope they show up…

    • You need some reality checks. People-all kinds- can be pigs.
      Maybe this was growers, maybe it was your plumber or your kids teacher. One wonders how much booze you ingest.

  • It’s not like this shit is new–it’s been part of the ‘culture’ of thoseontheeastsideof101 to deface and destroy parked cars along Alderpoint Road for the 34 years I’ve been here. It doesn’t help that the towing fees into town are hundreds of dollars.

    SOS, just more of it now.

    • We have been having similar problems in Mendocino County. Like-minded neighbors formed our Neighborhood Watch, which has helped but not completely ended the the Zombie-like behaviors mentioned above. I am inspired, by you guys in S. Humboldt. It is my observation (s), this all started to go to shit after the strong moves to legalize marijuana and the sudden growth of outdoor grows. I know, there are many environmentally conscious growers. But I think growers need to be pressure to own much of these problems. Stop hire foreign workers and creating the Trimigrant Problem, and derelict behaviors. Growers are yet to pay taxes, so start fronting money to grass roots groups like your LOP.

  • This is how Liberals live, this county is full of them. They do not take pride in ownership or care about public safety. , They’re drug dealers and criminals, what do you expect, are you surprised?. Look what they just did with prop-57..
    Proposition 57 will allow criminals convicted of RAPE, LEWD ACTS AGAINST A CHILD, GANG GUN CRIMES and HUMAN TRAFFICKING. Prop 47 wasn’t good enough for you sick fuckers, Now you have to go after children??
    Your system will fail, law, order and saftey will prevail. Liberals idea of progress is like a bad fucking dream.

  • I just cant understand why people litter. For me its like trying to understand a rapist, I just cant see the pathology.

  • Summer’s wrecking yard in Rio Dell did more to clean up Humboldt County Than any 10 government agencies ever did, and yet our wonderful government put him out of business and hounded him to death.

  • Don’t blame the CHP. They have legal responsibilities but aside from ensuring abandoned cars aren’t blocking the road, it’s up to the city or county.
    When you pay to register your vehicle in the county, there’s an additional dollar (for a passenger vehicle) or two or three (for commercial vehicles).
    That money goes into a fund in Sacramento and it’s there to be used to properly dispose of abandoned vehicles.

    Reading the Eureka news, it looks like all the funding is going for their cars. I guess there used to be someone in the sheriff’s office who oversaw the abandoned vehicle program but no comment needed there as to what happened.

    Now for hard facts. I’d read an earlier article on RHBB and did a little research. Here’s what Humboldt County did with the funding (from an official report made to the State Office of Accounting and Reporting (so it’s supposed to be true and accurate):

    July 2014 to June 2015 revenues received by the county $136,253.52

    Total expenditure $143,801.86

    Total number of vehicles abated 1,853
    Average cost $ 77.33

    Number of notices to abate abandoned vehicles 1,853
    Number of vehicles disposed of (VC22710) 528

    Total expenditures by the service authority for towing and storage
    of abandoned vehicles $25,938.26

    Norma S Lorenzo is the person who filled out the paperwork so maybe
    she’s the person who can explain how this program works, how many
    vehicles from areas outside of Eureka/Arcata have been abated and how
    a community can work with the Sheriff’s Department to abate more
    of the abandoned vehicles from the southern areas.

    And if the CHP turns in regular reports on the vehicles, maybe Norma could
    tell someone when the reports are received and if the public can examine them?
    (maybe one of them belonged to someone who’d gone missing).

    It’s a volunteer group in Eureka that looks into the vehicles in that area. Maybe
    they could be contacted to see if they have any advice on how to make a bad
    system better, suggestions or names of helpful people.

  • I don’t know why the registered owner is not responsible

  • Catch someone dumping that many whip its should be forced to have them chained to them for at least two weeks and have to drag them wherever they go.

  • yeson64makethempaytaxesliketherestofus

    The result of scumbags coming here to grow weed

  • Reality is that our community is full of scumbag and drugaddicts, and here is the results

    • I imagine there are less people involved in the dumping than there were in the cleanup…Maybe we could say our community is full of hardworking folks passionate about keeping their community looking good?

  • Here.’s an idea 😊
    Why not start a grower road fund for that stretch of country road. There are many millionaires along that road. The growers have been making bank for years out the there. Get the growers to chip in. Have them pay for it. Set up a go fund me account on line. Put the word out in the neighborhood u r raising money to clean up he road. If each grower chips a hundred bucks the 🚘 Cars could be towed quickly. Use technology and The internet to spread the word an raise funds. I’m sure Kym would let u post the name of the go und me account on her website. W/ any extra money put it in an account to be used for clean up in the future. Great job cleaning up the way trash . Not let’s get those cars out of there. 🌅

  • Couple wks. ago pge brought in 2 huge dumpsters.. at Ap/ Bellsprings turnoff. They were for the power poles, i wondered how long till they were filled with trash. Their full now, please come take away, what were you thinking…………..

  • We can and should say anything we want to about our community. I say I look forward to figuring out the solutions to our problems. This one was attended to locally. Not a bad place to start.

  • Hummm,maybe the reason that vehicle was destroyed was because of the whip-its.pretty sure with that many they don’t know who they are.lmfao

  • No, the vehicle was new and clean when it was abandoned many months ago. Only a flat tire. No trash.

    As it appears this is a county issue, who do we call at the county to try and address this issue? Not that I expect any action however.

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