Planning Director John Ford adopted up with the Journal this afternoon after publication of this text to say he’d checked his information and wished to make clear the timeline surrounding his Jan. 19 dialog with developer Travis Schneider.
Ford was adamant that he didn’t undermine what county planner Cliff Johnson had relayed to Schneider in a letter earlier that day: That if Schneider continued to defy a Dec. 27 county cease work order issued on development of Schneider’s residence as a consequence of quite a few allow violations and the slicing of an unpermitted highway, he’d face fines and presumably even allow revocations. Whereas Schneider has asserted he and Ford “mutually” agreed that day the county would enable work to proceed on the property whereas the allow points had been resolved, the planning director mentioned that was merely not the case.
“I don’t bear in mind agreeing to permit him to proceed working” as Schneider claimed in a letter introduced to the Humboldt County Planning Fee on Aug. 18, Ford mentioned. “I recall that he was adamant about not stopping.”
Ford provided a sequence of emails he says buttress his recollection.
The chain begins at 3:15 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 19, when Johnson emails Schneider, CCing Ford and two different county staff, to tell the developer he’d despatched out an hooked up letter by mail outlining steps mandatory to start resolving the violations that led to the cease work order and asking for permission for Wiyot space tribal representatives to go to the property the next Monday to evaluate injury.
“It’s essential that we resolve this as rapidly as attainable,” Johnson concludes.
Schneider responds at 4:06 p.m., including native legal professional Dustin Owens and First District Supervisor Rex Bohn to the e-mail chain, saying he’s “en path to leaving the nation” however can be out there the remainder of the day however then “unavailable.” He then expresses frustration that the county was simply now responding to his Jan. 3 e mail, during which he reportedly declined to halt development actions whereas searching for “readability” on the cease work order.
“Clearly it wasn’t that essential to resolve otherwise you would have responded to my e mail from Jan. 3, 2022,” he wrote.
Owens replies 13 minutes later, thanking Schneider for the fast reply and saying he’ll be within the workplace till 5, and will additionally meet the subsequent day or Friday if Schneider is “nonetheless in nation then.”
The developer responds at 4:22 p.m. referring Johnson again to his earlier e mail, saying he’s on the airport, “therefore ‘en route,’” and saying he’s “not going in another country for simply the night time and returning on Friday,” earlier than signing off: “TS.”
Johnson replies at 4:31 p.m. asking when Schneider could make himself out there to debate the matter and asking once more about entry to the property the next Monday for tribal representatives and county employees. At 4:44 p.m., Schneider responds, providing his telephone quantity and “strongly” encouraging Johnson to facilitate a dialog between he and Ford.
“Let’s simply suffice to say the belief degree with the county is kind of low, really, it doesn’t exist for me,” Schneider wrote. “You’re not approved on our lands below any circumstances till I’m current with my counsel. There was ample time to contact me earlier than as we speak. A hearth drill as I go away the nation shouldn’t be acceptable. … I strongly encourage you to ask John to name me one on one.”
Ford responds 4 minutes later asking Schneider how a lot time he has, asking if he must “get away of a gathering” to name him. Schneider responds tersely: “I’ve 45 minutes.”
This, Ford says, is when the telephone name came about. He says he didn’t agree to permit Schneider to proceed engaged on the property although the developer insisted he would, arguing, as Ford recalled, that the violations associated to a “grading challenge” and mustn’t have an effect on his constructing allow and development of the home.
Ford despatched one other e mail, despatched from Schneider to Ford solely at 5:50 p.m., that seems to observe up on their dialog. In it, Schneider seems to additional argue his case that the cease work discover seems “extra associated to the grading allow … not the really constructing erection (six)” and asking if Ford is on the market to satisfy Feb. 2 or Feb. 3.
“Primarily based on this,” Ford informed the Journal, referencing Schneider’s final e mail, “it ought to be clear that I didn’t authorize work to proceed.”
See our preliminary report beneath.
Because the Humboldt County Planning Fee prepares tonight to as soon as once more contemplate whether or not to approve a allow and allow modifications wanted to renew development of Travis Schneider’s household residence, issues appear to have gotten markedly worse for the outstanding native developer.
The topic of permits for development of Schneider’s 8,000 square-foot household residence in Bayside was the main target of a contentious Aug. 18 Planning Fee assembly at which Chair Alan Bongio and a consultant of Schneider’s accused two native tribes of reneging on an settlement and dishonesty. Tribal officers, in the meantime, walked away deeply offended after Bongio accused them of making an attempt to extort extra concessions out of the developer, taking part in a “recreation” with cultural artifacts and making far-reaching feedback about “Indians,” apparently in reference to 2 of three native Wiyot space tribes — the Wiyot Tribe and the Blue Lake Rancheria — that opposed approval of Schneider’s permits that night time.
The entire challenge swirls round a cease work order the Humboldt County Planning and Constructing Division issued again in December after it was found Schneider violated the phrases of a coastal improvement allow for the mission off Walker Level Highway close to Fay Slough. Particularly, Schneider had begun development on the house with a barely completely different footprint than what had been permitted, cleared brush and native blackberry in areas deemed ecologically and culturally delicate, together with one recognized greater than a century in the past as a historic Wiyot village web site, and reduce an unpermitted short-term development highway on the property. Then he continued development for weeks after the county’s cease work order was issued.
With the Planning Fee planning to once more take up the matter after giving county employees and Schneider two extra weeks to see if it might attain an settlement on mandatory allow situations with the 2 tribes and the California Coastal Fee, the Journal has now discovered Schneider could have misled the fee in regards to the circumstances below which he continued development after the cease work order and that the Division of Environmental Well being has weighed in to say he started development with no mandatory allow.
The county issued the cease work order on Schneider’s property Dec. 27, 2021, and three days later documented that development actions had continued. On Jan. 3, the county once more suggested Schneider of the cease work order, reportedly sending him six licensed copies. Nonetheless, development actions continued by Schneider’s personal account.
Schneider didn’t attend the fee’s Aug. 18 assembly as he was away on a household trip however native Realtor Tina Christensen learn the fee a letter on his behalf. Within the letter, Schneider mentioned he was out of city when the primary discover was posted to the property Dec. 27 however instantly referred to as and emailed the Planning Division after which determined to proceed development whereas he “sought readability from the county.”
On Jan. 19, county planner Cliff Johnson despatched Schneider one other letter, noting that the developer had suggested in his Jan. 3 correspondence that he “wouldn’t cease engaged on the residence” and warning that continued defiance of the order would lead to a code enforcement actions, in addition to potential fines and the attainable revocation of his permits.
In his letter, Schneider mentioned he then instantly adopted up and later that day spoke with Planning Director John Ford, Johnson’s boss, and it was “mutually agreed upon that we proceed to work and meet in early February” to debate the cease work order and allow violations. However that’s not Ford’s recollection of the dialog, the planning director informed the Journal by e mail this afternoon.
“My recollection of the assembly is that I used to be informed by Mr. Schneider that he was not going to cease work,” Ford mentioned in an e mail. “I recall my response was one thing to the impact that if he didn’t cease this case will proceed to worsen. As I recall, he was heading out of city and was going to be again in every week. We mentioned re-engaging at the moment. On account of the follow-up conferences, he stopped work.”
Responding to a follow-up inquiry from the Journal, Ford clarified that he met with Schneider the “first week of February” and the developer stopped work on the mission Feb. 16, some 50 days after the county’s issuance of the cease work order.
Doubtlessly extra problematic for Schneider’s plans, nonetheless, is the standing of his onsite wastewater therapy system (OWTS) allow for the mission or, extra particularly, that he doesn’t have one, based on an e mail that Strong Waste LEA and Land Use Packages Supervisor Patrick Owen despatched Johnson yesterday after studying the allow points with Schneider’s property.
In line with Owen, the Division of Environmental Well being has by no means issued a allow for a septic system on the property and has been ready since 2019 for revisions to Schneider’s design proposal and his OWTS allow software. Per county code and state regulation, OWTS permits have to be utilized for so as to acquire a constructing allow.
“Humboldt County Code requires an permitted sewage therapy system for development of any occupied constructing within the county,” writes Owen.
To make issues worse, Owen factors out that his division additionally has considerations, based mostly on the positioning plan, that Schneider’s unpermitted highway could have impacted the designated septic dispersal discipline areas.
“Grading and excavation actions can compact the proximal soil construction, inflicting vital reductions in soil porosity, permeability and in the end the soil’s capacity to deal with home wastewater,” he writes. “Consequently, DEH recommends affirmation that the beforehand permitted major and reserve dispersal discipline places stay undisturbed and appropriate for OWTS improvement.”
Owen recommends the Planning Division embrace two extra situations of approval to the allow: That Schneider “display” that the dispersal discipline areas stay appropriate and that he acquire an OWTS allow approval previous to the cease work order being lifted.
It’s unclear how Schneider’s lack of an OWTS allow escaped the discover of the Planning Division, which is meant to challenge referrals to different affected departments and businesses as part of the constructing allow course of and can’t challenge mentioned allow till all referral company’s approvals have been obtained.
As reported earlier as we speak, employees has really useful the Planning Fee approve Schneider’s permits and allow modifications with varied situations aimed toward addressing considerations raised by the California Coastal Fee, the Wiyot Tribe and the Blue Lake Rancheria. That advice was made, nonetheless, earlier than the division was contacted by the Division of Environmental Well being and made conscious of its considerations.
The Planning Fee meets at 6 p.m. as we speak on the Humboldt County Courthouse. Discover the agenda, in addition to a hyperlink to a stay stream of the assembly, right here.
Editor’s notice: This story was up to date from a earlier model to incorporate extra info.