Humboldt County Boards and Commissions—A Call for Fresh Air & Diverse Thinkers

by Ali Ong Lee


Most of us are thinking about breathing clean air and the upcoming presidential and congressional elections — whose outcomes deeply affect our rural lives in Humboldt County.  Consider this: the hyper-local politics of boards and commissions deeply impact our lives and environment, too. It is time to breathe new air into them.

Members of the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors both sit on and appoint people to 27 current boards and commissions, according to Deputy Clerk of the Board Tracy Damico.  The number and kind of boards and commissions can change yearly, as needs arise.  Continuing our local governance series, where we first reviewed local Joint Powers Authorities (and forgot to mention the inter-county Eel Russian River Commission) and then explored special districts, we now learn about local boards and commissions.

In Humboldt, boards, commissions (and committees) advise the board of supervisors and staff by studying issues and then making recommendations.  These advisory boards and commissions range from the Aviation Advisory Committee to the Human Rights Commission.  They may address the expenditures of a county-wide, local sales tax (Measure Z Citizens Advisory Committee),social services for eligible elders and people with disabilities (In-home Supportive Services Advisory Committee), or work on policies and programs for children (First 5).

The most infamous commission involving Humboldt may very well be the divisive North Coast Railroad Authority, formed in 1989, whose dissolution was initiated by California Senator Mike McGuire in 2018.

Since each board and commission has specific requirements for its members being eligible to be appointed (not elected), it is worth researching at and contacting the Clerk of the Board’s office before applying: 707-476-2390 and  For example, the Mayors City Selection Committee contains only mayors who appoint city representatives.  The Assessment Appeals Board contains only certified public accountants, public accountants, real estate brokers, attorneys, and appraisers both licensed in California and having five years of experience in their respective professions.

The Human Rights Commission application, however, does not state eligibility requirements, but asks for an occupation, two personal references, any previous board experience, and a statement of interest:

Of particular interest to EcoNews readers may be the following three boards and committees to which the Board of Supervisors appoint members and from which it takes recommendations.  Among these boards and commissions, there are six seats currently open for appointments:


(One, District 3 vacancy)

15 appointed members make recommendations regarding “all matters concerning fish and wildlife, in Humboldt County.”  The only listed qualification is: “Interest in county issues regarding fishing and game hunting.”


(One, at-large vacancy)

Since 1952, seven voting members and two, non-voting members commit for four years to review “technical forest-related matters of concern” to both the planning commission and board of supervisors. (recent agenda) (agendas and minutes)


(Four vacancies November 30, 2020)

As a special district, seven members provide technical assistance to landowners regarding conservation and development.


The following six boards and commissions may also be of interest, even though there are no vacancies on them through December 2020.  Most of these boards and commissions are meeting by Zoom and by phone during the pandemic.

  • Aviation Advisory Committee

Nine members meet monthly to make recommendations regarding local aviation in Humboldt. (agendas)

  • Cannabis Micro-Grant & Loan Advisory Committee

Seven members select applications for micro-grants and loans from Project Trellis and for Humboldt’s Local Equity Program. Members are appointed by district, with two at-large members (“one from the cannabis industry, and one from the lateral industry such as finance or banking”). (agendas)

  • Eel Russian River Commission

Eight Humboldt, Lake, Mendocino, and Sonoma county supervisors meet quarterly as an inter-county Joint Powers Authority.

  • Headwaters Fund Board

Six members commit to meeting monthly to “improve economic prosperity and quality of life in Humboldt County” by offering loans and grants from the Headwaters Fund, a 1999 settlement with Maxxam Corporation regarding the Headwaters Forest. (Board Information) (Agendas)

  • Planning Commission

Seven appointed members spend four years making recommendations on such matters as the general plan update, cannabis ordinances, conditional use permits, and recently the environmental impacts of measuring motorized Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMTs) for densely populated and less densely populated areas of Humboldt. (agendas) (public comment email)

707-445-7541 (public comment phone)

    • “Citizens from any district in Humboldt County are welcome to apply, though some appointments are district-specific.”
    • Three expiring terms on January 31, 2021:
      • District 1 Alan Bongio;
      • District 3 Noah Levy;
      • At-large Brian Mitchell.

  • Williamson Act Committee

Upholding the California Land Conservation Act of 1965 (the Williamson Act)

Preferences for the committee, as listed on the website: “2 Cattlemen (1 from the North part of the county and 1 from the South), 1 Dairyman, 1 Field or Row Crop Producer, 1 Fruit, Orchard or Vine Producer.”


Besides voting for people with more diverse backgrounds — Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC), people with disabilities, and other non-traditional candidates in upcoming local elections, we might also consider advocating for even more diverse thinkers on the above local boards and commissions.  We might consider applying for these boards, commissions, and committees ourselves, too—to put into further action our politics on the local level to affect change and protect the environment—to breathe new life into local politics.

  • Clerk of the Board’s Office


  • Humboldt County Boards and Commissions