Changing the Law Rather than Enforcing it: The County’s Response to Illegal Activity on Titlow Hill

View from Titlow Hill looking south, in snow. Photo: John Abela, Flickr CC.
View from Titlow Hill looking south, in snow. Photo: John Abela, Flickr CC.

Titlow Hill has been the location of illegal and unpermitted activities for decades. From building roads to sub-dividing and selling parcels, the development in this area poses major risks to its environment, wildlife, and people. The site is about twelve miles west of Willow Creek and bounded by Highway 299, Titlow Hill Road/US Route 1, and upper Redwood Creek.

As St John states in her EcoNews article, “These activities are detrimental to the environment (oak trees, prairies, salmon, wildlife species such as pileated woodpeckers, the Redwood Creek watershed), humans (noise, lights, packs of dogs harassing or killing wildlife and livestock), and society (why bother following the law and paying for permits?). ”

Marisa St John’s (a Titlow Hill full-time resident) first complaint about this activity was submitted to the county in 2006, though no serious enforcement has occurred to this day. There has now been recent action to amend the new Humboldt County General Plan and reclassify the zoning of a large segment of this area from grazing to rural residential, permitting intensive agriculture, cannabis farming, and other activities. In a sense, legalizing decades of unpermitted activity after-the-fact, rather than addressing them.

Marisa St John describes her experience with the county throughout this process, the potential risks to Titlow Hill and its residents.

For more information on the illegal history and lawsuits over the site, see the February 16, 2010 “Humboldt County, residents await Titlow Hill resolution” article in the Times-Standard.

You can find more information about the current state of Titlow Hill in the NEC’s EcoNews article, Titlow Hill: Trees and Prairies, or Houses and Marijuana Grows?

To see NEC’s initial comments on the project, go HERE.

To contact Marisa with questions or comments, or if you’d like to participate in crafting strategies to enact change, email at


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