She was my brother's teacher. She was creative, and innovative, and something of a radical. She talked about saving the forests long before the treesitters and Redwood Summer. She introduced the concept of organic food, and had the kids making (and drinking) carrot juice, brought in xeroxed sheets of information on the formaldehyde in ice cream. She exemplified the back to the land, grow your own, live off the grid lifestyle. And we loved her.
One day, a kid brought a Playboy Magazine into class. When she discovered it in his desk, she did something very unusual. She took it out, and hung it on the bulletin board. And the class had a discussion about what it represented.
The kids knew it to be the right reaction. It was just. It wasn't over-reactive. It was real and it was honest. And they loved her.
But the parents didn't. She was far too radical. And soon she was gone.
And the kids knew - she was the victim of a witch hunt.
It seems ironic to me that her son is now becoming a victim of the same sort of narrow minded thinking - but with a major twist.
Her name was Irene Riley.
Her son's name is Scott Riley.
His proposal for an "eco-groovy" development in Manila has brought out the lynch mob.
Salzman and his "eco-groovy" cohorts kicked into full gear, sounding the clarion call for warm bodies to kill the proposal, promising all kinds of dire consequences if Riley is successful - calling it "a very dense subdivision," stating that The development could be precedent-setting county-wide in a number of harmful ways. They "organized a publicized walk ... so local residents could see for themselves how d-e-s-t-r-u-c-t-i-v-e this will be. They hope that dozens of concerned residents across the Humboldt Bay area will recognize the i-m-p-o-r-t-a-n-c-e of this meeting, and that we're able to pack the chambers with articulate voices of opposition. They claim "None of us are opposed to this property being "developed" as long as it matches the existing neighborhood's low density, and doesn't destroy any of the existing dunes.,, Aryay Kalaki said it would irretrievably change the community's rustic attributes that residents cherish. ”We would permanently lose the rural character,” said Kalaki." (Don't laugh!) (Channel 3 they claim, ran the "publicized walk" as a lead story that night. The Times Standard and The Lumberjack covered it as well - Guys, you might wanna check your sources.)
As Hank Sims details in his recent column, there are some problems with their story.
"...Pine trees. In his letter, (Michael) Fennell stated that Riley was "caught cutting mature beach pines on [his] property prior to submitting [his] development plan." The implication was that this was an illegal act, and in a follow-up call Fennell asserted that it was.
In fact, it was not. The tree-cutting incident was covered in the Arcata Eye at the time. The story from that paper described how officers from the county's code enforcement unit had been called to the scene and had issued a stop-work permit for "possible" violations, but had later determined that no law had been broken. The trees were not, in fact, "mature," at least by the definition adopted by the county. In our phone conversation, Fennell insisted that code enforcement had simply been too busy to prosecute Riley, but this is not the case. No law was broken.
Sand. In his letter, Fennell mentioned that the Riley plan involves "bulldoz[ing] the dunes (about 650 large dump-truck loads)." In fact, the great majority of the sand removed from building sites in the Riley proposal will be used to restore historic dunes on the property, according to engineering plans that have been submitted to the county. Only one "large dump-truck load" of sand is scheduled to be removed from the site.
Density. Fennell, speaking for the community, said: "We welcome any new housing that ... maintains the half-acre minimum standard." (Half-acre-minimum lots are standard for the area's zoning.)
Riley's plan calls for 17 homes on 8.5 acres, which pencils out to one home per half-acre. However, those proposed homes will be scrunched into one corner of the property so that the rest of the parcel, which consists of sensitive wetlands, may be protected as open space. This kind of thing is the purpose behind "planned unit developments." Trevor Eslow, a planner with the county's Community Development Services division, assured us Tuesday that these kind of trade-offs -- smaller lot sizes for preserved open space -- are not entirely uncommon.
In fact, just last year there was another Manila developer who did a somewhat analogous deal with the county. His name is Michael Fennell. Last year, Fennell wanted to subdivide 3.7 acres, 3 acres of which was wetlands or pine forest. Fennell built three homes on the other seven-tenths of an acre, with the county's blessing. According to Eslow, the lead planner on the project, one of the lots was only 15,000 square feet in size -- about .35 acres, well below the standard he sets for Riley's development..."
Riley's development is "green" - the kind of thing that should make these guys happy.
And, there's more to the story. Kalaki has a longstanding grudge against Riley (reportedly he wanted Riley's piece of property, but offered less than Riley, and so did not get it, and has been on a vendetta ever since. There's also some evidence that he uses the "Dunes Forum" to harass Riley.)
Another neighbor is Salzman's buddy, extremist, Paul Cienfuegos.
Why is Salzman suddenly so interested in all proposed development? It's not just that he likes to meddle in other people's business. It appears that he's an active force in Mark Lovelace's "Healthy Humboldt." You can expect activist tactics to be employed, viral email alerts, plaintive "My Word's" penned by people other than him, and Salzman's Orks armed with talking points attending community meetings and speaking against Riley. Riley's only real sin appears to be that he doesn't belong to the Club.
It tells you that these guys are not really in it for "green" reasons. It's about power and control and you can't appease these guys.
The Humboldt County Planning Commission will consider Riley's development at its regular meeting on Thursday, May 3.
Paul Cienfuegos wants you to "share YOUR concerns with the various public officials who will be involved in this decision.
* Michael Wheeler, Humboldt County Planner firstname.lastname@example.org
* Bob Merrill, CA Coastal Commission email@example.com
* CA Dept of Fish and Game firstname.lastname@example.org
* Your local Board of Supes, especially John Woolley email@example.com"
Will they take the time to check their sources?
Manila takes second look at Riley development, fluoride
Manila rejects wetland donation from developer