Local Joint Powers Authorities: A Review

By Ali Ong Lee


Now is an important time for public oversight of Joint Powers Authorities (JPAs) and local governance.  Virtual public meetings — sometimes with phone-in access — can help daylight these meetings by eliminating transportation, disability access, and conflicting work-schedule issues that plague public meetings. This overview of Humboldt JPAs holding virtual meetings offers EcoNews readers a way to more easily provide public input for projects that have lasting impacts on the environment.

What is a Joint Powers Authority?

When two or more public authorities make long-term agreements to collaborate on providing services, they often form a new entity to consolidate services; they form a JPA.  Allowed by California Government Code Section 6502, participating public authorities can be utility (service) districts, transportation districts, and local governments.

JPAs enable a collective power of governance and efficiencies garnered from consolidating resources.  JPAs are separate entities from their membership entities and can wield large budgets and much power. (For example, the Hoopa Valley Tribe and Humboldt County formed a JPA in 1995, but this JPA will not be covered in-depth for EcoNews because its focus is the agreement between the Hoopa Valley Tribal Police and Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office.)


Humboldt Bay Fire

Humboldt Bay Fire (HBF) is a JPA founded in 2011 to consolidate Humboldt No. 1 Fire Protection District and City of Eureka Fire Department. HBF coordinates the Humboldt/Del Norte Hazardous Materials Response Authority (HMRA), another JPA.


Fire Chief Sean Robertson

Board Chair Joe Wattle

Board Vice Chair Austin Allison


HBF meets virtually, the second Wednesday of every month.  

Meeting Agendas page contains links: http://www.hbfire.org/2020-hbf-board-agenda-minutes  




Emergencies 9-1-1


Humboldt County Association of Governments

Humboldt County Association of Governments (HCAOG) is a JPA with seven participating entities: Arcata, Blue Lake, Eureka, Fortuna, Rio Dell, Trinidad, and Humboldt County.  Prior to COVID-19, HCAOG was the lead agency with the California Department of Transportation to promote controversial changes to the Highway 101 Corridor between Arcata and Eureka that made the Bay Trail a contingency, and proposed eradicating wetlands for the Indianola Cutoff Interchange.

HCAOG’s budget for fiscal year 2019-2020 was $1,896,863.


Board members meet the third Thursday of every month, at 4:00 p.m.

Meetings are televised by Access Humboldt.

Posted agendas: https://www.hcaog.net/content/board-directors contain meeting links with phone-in options.


Executive Director Marcella May

Chair Estelle Fennell (Humboldt)

Vice Chair (none currently)




Humboldt/Del Norte Hazardous Material Response Authority 

The JPA Humboldt/Del Norte Hazardous Material Response Authority (HMRA) was formed in 1993 for round the clock responses to hazardous materials (HazMat) incidents, consultations, and training.  Participating entities are Arcata, Blue Lake, Crescent City, Eureka, Ferndale, Rio Dell, Trinidad, and both Del Norte and Humboldt counties. HMRA’s mutual aid system is coordinated by Humboldt Bay Fire (HBF), another local JPA introduced previously, and meets quarterly.


For HazMat emergencies, call 9-1-1.


Humboldt Transit Authority (HTA)

Established in 1975 and funded by Transportation Development Funds, the Humboldt Transit Authority (HTA) operates and maintains the Redwood Transit System, Willow Creek Transit Service, and Southern Humboldt Transit Service.  HTA’s board includes Arcata, Eureka, Fortuna, Rio Dell, Trinidad, and Humboldt County.


The HTA Board of Directors meets the first Wednesday of every month and is currently meeting virtually, with a phone-in option.


General Manager Greg Pratt

Chair Paul Pitino, Arcata

Vice Chair Natalie Arroyo, Eureka




Humboldt Waste Management Authority

Established in 1999, the Humboldt Waste Management Authority (HWMA) is a JPA responsible for the operation and maintenance of the Hawthorne Street Transfer Station, Eureka Recycling Center, Household Hazardous Waste Facility, and Cummings Road Landfill.


Executive Director Jill Duffy

Chair Michael Sweeny, Ferndale

Vice Chair Frank Wilson, Rio Dell


Board Meetings are on the second Thursday of every month, at 5:30 p.m.

YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCi1xgG_Gq0IUyK5m_m6y6WA

Zoom meetings listed under current meeting agendas: http://www.hwma.net/



Redwood Coast Energy Authority

Created in 2003, the Redwood Coast Energy Authority (RCEA)’s entities are Arcata, Blue Lake, Eureka, Ferndale, Fortuna, Rio Dell, Trinidad, the County of Humboldt and Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District.  RCEA was a pilot project funded by the regulatory California Public Utilities Commission and Local Government Commission.  RCEA focuses on energy efficiency, energy conservation, and energy self-reliance programs. RCEA was recently involved in the controversial Humboldt Wind Energy Project south of Rio Dell, the Electric Bike Rebate Program, and celebrated the third anniversary of the Community Choice Energy Program. 


RCEA Executive Director: Matthew Marshall

Board Chair Austin Allison (Eureka),

Vice Chair Estelle Fennell (Humboldt County) 


Board of Directors business meetings are the fourth Thursday of every month, at 3:30 p.m.

Virtual meetings are being held and can also be attended by phone.

Submit public comments, referencing meeting agenda items: publiccomment@redwoodenergy.org.




While the public shelters at home with flexible schedules and Internet access, it is an opportune time to participate in JPA meetings, both to learn about local governance and their board members (who may be up for re-election this fall).