Titlow Hill: Trees and Prairies, or Houses and Marijuana Grows?

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.

The Titlow Hill area is about twelve miles west of Willow Creek and bounded by Highway 299, Titlow Hill Road/US Route 1, and upper Redwood Creek. Parcel and portion-of-parcel owners (many of them marijuana growers and people who live elsewhere), including a local attorney/developer, have been illegally sub-dividing parcels and putting in roads, grading, and other unpermitted activities for several decades. 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?).

Personal observations and public records show that these illegal activities have continued unabated for some time. The county has failed to take action, even after numerous public complaints, public testimony, county staff witnessing the problems, Notices of Nuisance filed against some of the parcels, and the aforementioned attorney/developer being taken to court at least twice (see the February 16, 2010 “Humboldt County, residents await Titlow Hill resolution” article in the Times-Standard).

The attorney, some of the parcels’ owners, and the county now want to amend the new Humboldt County General Plan and reclassify the zoning of more than 5,000 acres of unclassified and agriculture parcels currently designated for grazing to allow subdivision into 40-acre rural residential parcels, which could be used to grow marijuana and other intensive agriculture. The Titlow Hill General Plan Amendment, Rezone Petition and contract authorization was approved at the September 5, 2017 County Board of Supervisors meeting, and a Notice of Preparation of a Draft Environmental Impact Report was issued in December.

The application to the Humboldt County Planning and Building Department, filed by Ken Bareilles Investment Company, states that “base information or physical conditions have changed and that the amendment is necessary to maintain established uses that are otherwise consistent with a comprehensive view of the plan.” However, the applicant and owners of record are the ones who illegally made those conditions change. The intent appears to be to legalize illegal actions after-the-fact.

Why now? According to standards outlined in the new Commercial Medical Marijuana Land Use Ordinance, “cannabis cultivation and other commercial cannabis activity shall be conducted in compliance with all laws,” and there are time limits for becoming compliant. Many existing cannabis farms on illegal parcels seek to use the proposed Titlow Hill rezoning and subdivision to become legal, in order to become compliant with new cannabis laws and obtain commercial cannabis permits. For more information see http://humboldtgov.org/DocumentCenter/View/53500.

As a year-round, long-term resident of Titlow Hill, I oppose the General Plan amendment, zoning reclassification, and subdivision and want the County to deal with the problems. My voice and the public’s voices need to be heard. We need to be able to trust that county officials will fulfill their responsibility to follow the laws. Allowing illegal activity after-the-fact could lead to further subdividing or other development in the future and sets a bad precedent for the County and elsewhere.

What can you do? If you share these concerns, make your voice known:

• Let your supervisor (www.humboldtgov.org/167/Board-of-Supervisors) know that you do not support this effort to legitimize and reward the lawless and environment-damaging behavior by those involved in the many unpermitted subdivisions, while law-abiding citizens follow the rules.

• Contact Marisa with questions or comments, or if you’d like to participate in crafting strategies to enact change, at upperredwoodcreek@gmail.com.

• To see NEC’s initial comments on the project, go here: https://tinyurl.com/NEC-Titlow.


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