Wednesday, October 4, 2023

‘Dangerous Tree Trimming’, Sonoma is Poaching Our Deputies, Flow Kana Campus Becoming a Fire Hazard—Highlights from the Redwood Valley MAC

[All images taken by Monica Huetell]

The Redwood Valley Municipal Advisory Council met on October 12, 2022 at 5:00 pm in a hybrid live/Zoom meeting at the Redwood Valley Grange. The Zoom portion of the MAC meetings has been changed to match the Zoom parameters at the County Board of Supervisors meetings, where only the official guest speakers and MAC members will appear on video. All public participants are limited to written comments on Zoom. Members of the public who are attending in person may comment. Chair Dolly Riley, Vice-Chair Jini Reyolds, Member Patricia Ris-Yarbrough, Alternate Members Marybeth Kelly, Fran Laughton, and Treasurer Katrina Frey were present at the meeting. Members Chris Boyd, Sattie Clark, and Adam Gaska were absent. 

Guest Speaker Jeanne Chinn of the Utility Wildfire Working Group

Ms. Chinn spoke about actions citizens can take regarding PG&E’s Enhanced Vegetation Management program. PG&E is not allowed to remove trees without property owners’ permission. Contractors hired by PG&E are cutting trees anywhere in a possible wire strike zone. Traditionally, PG&E has trimmed trees within a 4-foot radius of the power lines. The website linked above gives many options for residents who have been affected by PG&E’s seemingly random tree-cutting. The contractors are cutting the tree lengths to about 5 feet so they cannot be used as logging timber. This is so PG&E doesn’t have to file a timber harvest plan. These large chunks are too big for most residents to clear by themselves. The duff and slash that is left behind is not only a fire hazard but is providing a haven for rats to breed. There has been a noticeable rat increase in Redwood Valley. PG&E’s antiquated power lines are the problem. Southern California Edison has upgraded 5,000 miles of power lines with steel-reinforced, triple-insulated power lines and new enhanced circuit breakers. These are much less likely to spark a fire, and the new equipment lets the utility company know exactly where the problem is so that repair crews can quickly be sent to the correct location. The reinforced, insulated power lines are still above ground. This is actually a better solution than burying the lines, as it will require fewer trees to be removed. PG&E has only installed 800 miles of the newer power lines. Seven counties and three cities have filed lawsuits against PG&E for its wasteful, ugly, and dangerous tree-trimming technique. The website provides signs that can be printed and attached to trees that are in danger of being hacked by the contractors, as well as “keep out” signs and a form of complaint letter that can be sent to PG&E, with copies to your state senator and assembly member. 

Sheriff’s Update

Sheriff Matt Kendall was happy to report good news: seven new corrections officers have been hired. The recruitment drive is paying off. There is also a new-hire patrol deputy, a Mendocino County local, currently attending the police academy. The new hires are genuinely caring people. The Sheriff would like to be able to hire DACA immigrants for positions with the Sheriff’s office. He hopes this will be successful and provide these young people with a path to citizenship.

Kendall is working with other nearby County Sheriffs to stem illegal cannabis trafficking. The traffickers are also bringing in other drugs on what he calls a “Fentanyl Silk Road.” Overdoses are through the roof. Probation Chief Izen Locatelli has created a system to give judges more information at the time of arraignment to help them decide about pretrial release.

Left to right: Jini Reynolds, Dolly Riley, Patricia Ris-Yarbrough, Fran Laughton

Sonoma County is trying to recruit deputies from Mendocino. They offer higher pay, a 20% signing bonus, and a car to commute in. Other counties love to hire from Mendocino because our deputies get so much experience working a case from beginning to end.

He hopes to make more use of the Behavioral Training Center in Redwood Valley, as it saves the cost of sending personnel to out-of-county training and also can be a money maker by hosting classes for personnel from other counties.

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Kendall is developing a good working relationship with Neil Cervenka, the new Police Chief in Ft. Bragg. 

Update from Glenn McGourty, County Supervisor

Peter Reynolds, Grange Tech

The County has received an upgrade to its credit rating by S&P Global Ratings, from AA- to AA. McGourty would prefer to have the county finances managed by professional managers, rather than by elected officials. The County had unanticipated increases in the cost of employee health care, in large part due to Covid, and the employee health coverage has been changed to a new plan. He would like to see a Cost of Living Adjustment for County employees. McGourty will be Board Chair next year. He is on the Drought Ad Hoc Task Force, which is being changed to a Public Health and Safety Ad Hoc Task Force. Ad Hoc task forces are limited to a one-year term. The County is looking to hire a water specialist. He reported on water infrastructure progress:

District 1 – The County is supporting the consolidation effort by small water districts with the City of Ukiah.

District 2 – Ukiah is working on upgrading the groundwater recharge system, as it is better to store water underground than above-ground. 

District 3 – Little Lake Valley and Round Valley are working to better understand their underground water supplies.

District 4 – Ft. Bragg is planning to build more water storage capacity.

District 5 – The town of Mendocino is working toward a new sewage treatment plant.

Water Education Standing Subcommittee Update

Subcommittee member Katrina Frey reported that three Board Member positions for the Redwood Valley County Water District will be up for election on November 8. There are five people running for three positions. The 400 acre-feet of ag water purchased on September 6 must be used before January 1, 2022, or before the water level in Lake Mendocino drops below the intake. She hopes that more ag water can be purchased in January for frost protection use. Frey is hopeful that the consolidation process of the smaller districts with the City of Ukiah will be successful. She gave a huge thank you to Elizabeth Salomone, Russian River Flood Control General Manager for helping with the water needs of Redwood Valley. 

Update on the Redwood Valley School Campus

New secretary Crystel Reyes

Marybeth Kelly reported that the proposed exchange agreement between the Ukiah Unified School District and GMB Realty expired, and GMB opted not to pursue it further. The school board will most likely declare the Redwood Valley School campus “exempt surplus.” Currently it is “surplus” property. This will be discussed at the October 13 School Board meeting. [Note, as of the evening of October 14, a press release has been issued by the UUSD, confirming that the Redwood Valley campus has been declared exempt surplus.] At the last MAC meeting, the Members approved having Member Patricia Ris-Yarbrough send a letter to the County Board of Supervisors on behalf of the MAC. The letter is an attachment to Item 4 of the linked agenda.

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Cannabis Policy Standing Subcommittee Update

Subcommittee Member Ris-Yarbrough reported that the Mendo Cannabis Alliance is in favor of the proposed California bill AB 2691 authored by Assembly Member Jim Wood and State Senator Mike McGuire, which would allow small, licensed cultivators to sell cannabis directly to consumers at a limited number of events per year. The FlowKana company has shut down operations at its large campus in Redwood Valley. It appears that landscape maintenance is not being done, and neighbors will need to monitor this so that it doesn’t turn into a fire hazard.

Grange Update

Vice-Chair Jini Reynolds reported that the October 8 flea market was a big success. The new HVAC systems have been installed. Alternate MAC Member Kelly reported that the free library outside of the Grange Hall is going gangbusters, and the new sign has been installed by Gizmo Henderson. The 4-H and Boy Scouts are going to assist the Grange with events. Eagle Scouts may help with repainting the building. Upcoming events:

October 30 – Trunk or Treat Halloween event. 

December 3 – Holiday Craft Fair and Children’s Fair.

Officers and Members Reports and Announcements

Marybeth Kelly

Vice-Chair Reynolds has contacted the heads of employment, technology and counseling, in an attempt to find a tech assistant for the RV MAC. The training salary for this position is $20 and once training is completed, the position will pay $22 per hour, for four hours work during the monthly MAC meetings. Crystal Reyes has been hired as a MAC secretary. 

The RV MAC Bylaws, reviewed at the previous meeting, were approved. The next step is to send the Bylaws to County Counsel, then the Board of Supervisors. 

It was suggested that Michael Hunter, Head of the Coyote Valley Tribe, be invited to speak at the next MAC meeting. 

Next Meeting is November 9, 2022, at 5:00 p.m. at the Redwood Valley Grange, or via Zoom, and is open to all.

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  1. I could not find the website link for the Utility Wildfire Working Group for Jeanne Chinn wich includes signs and letters we can send to our representatives. Please provide the website.

  2. The link to the Utility Wildfire Working Group is part of the heading Guest Speaker Jeanne Chinn. . .

    It’s not visible because the text is all black. The hyperlinks are usually in a different color.
    Thanks for pointing this out.

    Here’s the website: https://endpowerlinefires.com/

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Monica Huettl
Monica Huettl
Mendocino County Resident, Annoying Horse Girl.

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