Mendocino Historical Review Board May 6 2019

WTF! What are our Taxes For? Services or Pensions?

MHRB Agenda & Report

1. Call to Order.

Attending the MHRB on May 6 were Deidre Lamb, Dan Potash, Ian Roth and Holm Kappler.   Previous Board Chair John Simonich was not present, having resigned earlier. County Staff  was represented by Planning and Building Director Brent Schultz and Planner Julianna Cherry.

2.Nomination and Election of Review Board Chair and Vice Chair:

            After the resignation of John Simonich, which had not been agendized, the MHRB elected new officers. Dan Potash is now Chair, Deidre Lamb is Vice-Chair of the MHRB.

3.Determination of Legal Notice:

Resignation of prior Chair was not on the agenda, so there was no further discussion about it.

From: John Simonich [mailto:jcsimonich@yahoo.com] Sent: Friday, April 12, 2019 12:55 PM
To: ‘Juliana Cherry’
Cc: ‘Julia Acker’; ‘Brent Schultz’; ‘Deirdre Lamb (
mendocino111@yahoo.com)’;
‘Dan Potash (
danvpotash@gmail.com)’; Holm Kappler; Ian Roth; Ted Williams
Subject: MHRB Resignation
I am resigning from the Mendocino Historical Review Board, effective today,
April 12, 2019.
I am doing this for multiple reasons.
I am disheartened by the response from Planning and Building to not add any of my suggested topics to the agenda under “Matters from the Board”. None of my seven suggestions were added to the approved agenda, although one was moved to the Director’s Report.

Just for the current board members record, my suggestions were:

  • Discussion: Simplifying color approval process for exterior paints
  • Discussion: Simplifying the format of MHRB staff reports for MHRB applications
  • Discussion: Code enforcement of campers in the Historic District
  • Discussion: Suggested MHRB fee schedule and letter to Board of Supervisors
  • Discussion: Alternative to fielding questions from the public
  • Discussion: Submitting MHRB agenda to the Mendocino Beacon
  • Discussion: Holding of MHRB meetings when no applications are submitted


The Brown Act prohibits discussion of any of these items with board members outside of the meeting and now I can’t discuss them during the meeting either.
It has been over 5 weeks since our March 4th meeting. I was told that staff
is working on the minutes but they likely won’t be available before the May
meeting for review. This is after the MHRB had to plead to even have minutes
taken at meetings, and being told that they would be provided in the future.
I am also discouraged that nothing will be done about the tin roof on
Anderson Alternatives.

Planning and Building admits that they made a mistake, but won’t enforce the MHRB decision to deny the asphalt roof. PBS made the mistake, PBS should pay for a new roof under their budget.
I am disheartened that when I sent an email using my title as MHRB Chair to
the County Sheriff with questions about enforcement of camping and parking
violations in Mendocino, I was chastised by County Counsel that I was not
authorized by the MHRB to ask these questions and shouldn’t be using my
title. I thought that as a county official appointed by the Board of Supervisors that I would be able to use my title when simply asking questions of other county officials.
I will not be the chair of a board where I can’t input items for discussion
on board agendas. I can’t see an effective way forward working with the
current Planning and Building staff.

John Simonich

4.Approval of Minutes:

No minutes exists to approve. County Staff committed to have some written minutes by the next meeting.  From viewing their website, it appears the last Draft Minutes from January 2018 are available online and to get a copy of the audio recording costs $10 each. Previous MHRB minutes have been sent out for transcription to a transcription service and cannot say when they will be available to the Board said Planner Julianna Cherry.

5.Correspondence:

Historic Preservation Award Nominee submission of an entry for House at 10560 Kelly Street https://www.mendocinocounty.org/home/showdocument?id=27915

6.Report from the Chair: None

7.Public Expression: Lee Edmunson: Concerned about the cost to replace Ishfee’s composition roof.

Harold Hauck:  Concerned about John Simonich’s resignation, the failure of services from building & planning is not malicious, there are just not enough resources for MHRB, so they cut them. The Supervisors need to make decisions, need to assure an adequate budget so minutes can be available.

Norman de Vall: Applauds those volunteering as it a hard job, fee for services in department, only those that come with application cover costs-subsidize other services. The Chairman needs access to set agenda, until approval of minutes, votes are not legal! 

Ed O’Brien: Everyone remembers bad decisions! Only 1 applicant is on the agenda because of full cost recovery, we paid ahead for services through our business taxes! Taking it to the Supervisors! Bad signs abound, being signed off by staff is not appropriate.

Rick Sacks: How can the Chair put up a list of topics, then resigns and those items are now on the agenda.

8.Consent Calendar: None.

9.Public Hearing Items

CASE#:MHRB_2019-0002

DATE FILED:1/18/2019

OWNER/APPLICANT:ROBERT JOSEPH SCHMITT

REQUEST: Mendocino Historical Review Board Permit to construct a 2,237 sq. ft., two-story, single family residence on a developed lot in the Mendocino Mixed Use District.  Note: This location is listed in the Mendocino Town Plan Appendix 1 as a Category IIa Historic Structure. ENVIRONMENTAL DETERMINATION: Categorically Exempt LOCATION: 45020 Ukiah (CR      407C) St., Mendocino (APN: 119-234-11).

LOCATION: 45020 Ukiah (CR           407C) St., Mendocino (APN: 119-234-11).

STAFF PLANNER: JULIANA CHERRY

Hearing on new house, MHRB had concerns re windows, now changed, dormers are like others others in town.

Owner: compare dormers/windows like others approved.  Some sheds have roof over dormer. Don’t remember asking for another window.  More details around the windows now. Kennebunkport application

Holm: -no violations now-many she’s dormers in town Roth: Old one was vanilla-like new detail; it’s not against guidelines, just not beautiful. Lamb: Improvements are ok.

Decision: Motion carried to approve the application 4-0. There are 10 days to appeal the decisions.

10. Matters from the Board.

10a. Vote for the Historic Preservation Award Nominees:     

Sheriff Substation Restoration         Street Lighting Project House at 10560 Kelly Street

Award: Kelly Street house designed with family in mind and added to it. Loren Rex nominated sheriff substation in Mendocino that was a carriage house at Ford House, restored to original condition and added a foundation. It took PG&E 30 years to replace the ugly poles with the new aesthetically pleasing streetlights.

Holm: Street lights project favored, which are, star friendly for award. Roth: Prefers carriage house because would have lost building without it. Lamb: Prefers the house I nominated. Potash: No effort was made to save materials from carriage house project, which was not good, although others said there were not any materials worth salvaging. Schultz: The awards could be split into categories. The nominations all met the criteria. Decision: 10561 Kelly wins as private project and Sheriff Substation/Carriage House wins as public project.

10b Discussion of simplifying color approval process for exterior paints.

People are being charged $900 to change any color when painting their property, which has tripled so many are not paying the fees, which may result in shabby buildings. There was a long discussion about how to streamline the process, lower fees and perhaps have a paint company provide an acceptable color palette on the website. While Schultz was going to talk to a Ukiah dealer he just bought paint from, Marianne McGee commented that he go to a local Benjamin Moore Dealer such as Norvell’s, as the coastal community works hard to support their local businesses. Chair Potash will bring a color palette to a future meeting. There was a comment from the audience regarding the high price of Benjamin Moore paint, requesting that they pick colors from another, less expensive brand.

While much discussion was directed at the tripled fees and process, Brent Schultz said he did not want to change the zone ordinance for minor amendments, calling the process was “crazy”.  He later admitted he would not support lowering any fees in his department as it has a 2.7 million dollar gap between the fees they raise and expenses. 

It appears this is a part of the new fee recovery systems governments are now using, which makes one wonder what all of the taxes people and businesses are paying, are used for.  This is especially troubling given the number of public employees now making over $300,000, $200,000 and $100,000 as we face unfunded retirement liabilities that will potentially devastate all of our public services.  So, the little people are being fleeced to pay fat retirements on way too many managers!

10c: Discussion of simplifying the format of MHRB staff reports to the Board.

Staff Schultz is trying to figure out what MHRB wants in terms of staff reports and how to simplify the process and lower expenses, since their department fees are being charged at $90 per hour!

He asked MHRB members to take previous staff reports they did not like and mark them up, as well as those they did think were appropriate. There were a variety of concerns including:

  • Too much historical research and data
  • Incomplete data on applications
  • Signs in business windows because the fees are too expensive
    • Sign violators play the system loopholes by taking them down and then putting them back up.
  • Who should bear violation fees and/ some costs, the property owners or tenants?
  • Who is responsible for setting the fees?
  • Staff Schultz said that although some permits and fees exceed the number of hours their processing takes, he is against lowering any fees while he has a budget gap!

Decision: Chair Potash will bring copies of marked up reports to the July meeting.

10d: Discussion regarding alternatives to fielding questions from the public.

Director Schultz is concerned that the constant input from the community, without adhering strictly to formally opening and closing public input on matters, is confusing. He also thought having input throughout deliberations was unfair to applicants.

 A very lively discussion occurred between staff, MHRD members and the community as to the need for this type of input. The community participants cited issues like the lack of institutional memory, need for additional information after the applicant speaks, the need for a human face and voice in government and concerns that the county is fleecing Mendocino financially!

Only member Roth, referring to his previous experience in Marin County, thought it is better to have a formal public hearing comment structure.  All other members appreciated the community input, believe it is critical to their decision making process and Chair Potash indicated he wanted more community input and participation!

Decision: Basically continue allowing the flexibility of community input, with all trying to stay on track.

10e: Discussion regarding holding MHRB Meetings when no applications have been received.

Apparently if there are no applicants on the agenda for an MRHB meeting, the meetings are cancelled. It appears that the MHRB Board and community would like to be able to meet anyway and had unanimously voted to do so.  It appears that staff cancelled the meeting anyway.

Mr. Schultz reminded the Board their responsibilities relate only to design, not community issues.  There are also legal requirements that staff be present, there’s a lack of coastal staff and the expensive travel and overtime costs. Later in the meeting, it was clarified that MHRB does not have a line item in the County Budget. The Budget and staff allocation is entirely at the discretion of the Director and he categorically emphaticly said, “I will not reduce the new rates, especially while I’m $2.4 million in the hole with the budget allocated to me.”

Community members expressed concern over declining County staff support, the room is paid for whether used or not and the need for community communications.

11. Matters from the staff :

11a. Code Enforcement Update in the town of Mendocino

Code Enforcement: Trent Taylor, Interim Manager since 2015, presented a very detailed report on the current state of code enforcement issues in Mendocino, which appear to be primarily regarding illegal signs.  An animated discussion occurred with staff, board and the community about the legal process and requirements for violations as well as the purpose and impact of fines. 

In addition to those issues several interesting facts came forward including:

  • Enforcement is only complaint based!!  
  • No proactive violations are issued.
  • Until Taylor started, violations were not even being tracked!

This detailed report was appreciated and people were encouraged to attend the Board of Supervisors budget hearings to request more support.  Mr. Edmonson was told that the MHBR Board is not a line item in the budget.

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