Need for More Law Enforcement, Abundant Pampas Grass, and Falling Marijuana Revenue Explored at Shelter Cove’s RID February Board Meeting
Lack of law enforcement, too much pampas grass, and a steep reduction in revenue from the sale of power as indoor marijuana grows appear to be decreasing grabbed the attention of attendees at this month’s Shelter Cove Resort Improvement District regularly scheduled Board of Directors Meeting.
Several guests spoke at the meeting. The first was Sheriff Billy Honsal who introduced himself and interacted with the Board and audience for a full hour. Honsal says that the Department is receiving more applications for Sheriff’s deputies, and is sending more people through the academy this year than in years past, including one person he hopes will be a good fit as the Resident Deputy for Shelter Cove. However, the timeline for the testing process, the academy and then the on the job training means it will be three-quarters of a year before these applicants are ready for duty.
Honsal says the Sheriff’s Department is still short 12 Deputies overall. And he says filling those slots is his priority before filling the Resident Deputy position. In the meantime, he does have Deputies patrolling Whitethorn and Shelter Cove at least 20 hours a week at this time.
The community talked at length about the types of problems they experience because they don’t have law enforcement available to them. Complaints included passengers riding in the back of open pickups, reckless driving, long-term squatters on vacant land and in vacant homes, fire lane access being blocked for months and years on end, unsafe use of firearms as well as murder and mayhem on occasion. An emphasis was placed on abandoned vehicles not being removed from the Resort and the road out to the Resort.
The President of the Property Owners Association and owner of the Lost Coast Inn voiced respect for Honsal while saying he remembered meeting with then Supervisor Roger Rodoni and then Sgt. Mike Downey 17 years ago and hearing very similar promises of hope as he was hearing today from Sheriff Honsal.
Honsal said, “Let me be clear, I cannot promise you anything.” Honsal reminded the room he has a 4,000 square mile County to ensure safety in and says that Measure Z is helping fund positions to make public safety goals more obtainable. But he said, “I’m being as honest as I can be; this has been difficult.”
Honsal told the room to expect a new crime mapping tool to be online soon. The data collection system will show where every crime is being reported. And the jail will soon be uploading arrest records with mugshots, time and date of incarceration, charges filed by law enforcement, time and date of release, and District Attorney action as well.
The next two guests were from BLM and the Lost Coast Interpretive Association (LCIA). Greg Wolfgang is BLM’s National Conservation Area Manager. He introduced himself and then Sandy Miles. In addition to her work with the LCIA, Miles also works for the tank program at Sanctuary Forest. The two addressed the Pampas Grass problem.
Miles described a committee of the LCIA that wants to stop the spread of pampas grass into the wildlands. In addition to competing with native plants, it is also a fire hazard and a hazard to firefighters. Firefighters have described moving through the pampas grass as “running through a field of razor blades.”
The community is enthusiastic about removing the invasive grass, and the Board voted to support the effort by making classroom space available at the community center, making a place available to deposit pampas grass until BLM staff can come haul it to appropriate composting facilities, and to send information on the effort to the residents of Shelter Cove in their monthly newsletter.
Board member Dave Sommer is looking closely at the income from the RID’s electric contract. RID purchases wholesale power from Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) and resells it to the residents on infrastructure owned by PG&E. WAPA’s purpose is to sell wholesale power created by federal hydropower facilities operated by the Bureau of Reclamation and other federal agencies.
Each month RID is seeing a 10 to 15% reduction over last year’s power revenue. Sommer is looking to understand what the District’s break-even point is on the WAPA contract and to evaluate how much further use may drop as marijuana regulations potentially decrease the number of people in Shelter Cove who will be growing indoors. His evaluation is ongoing and he is not making recommendations as of yet.
And the RID Board respectfully declined the offer of a landowner to donate a buildable lot to the District. In a phone conversation after the meeting, President Suzie Fox said the Board only wants to own parcels where projects will be located or when access to the greenbelt or project locations is needed. She said, “We don’t want to be in the business of land speculation, or of buying and selling properties.”