Donna Tam/The Times-Standard

A group of Southern Humboldt residents are hoping to capture the independent spirit of the area by creating a city that utilizes revenues from the local marijuana industry.

Jim Lamport, a legal document assistant with Lamport Legal Documents in Garberville, said the Humboldt Emerald City Organizing Group is holding an information fundraiser Sunday for the formation of the aptly named Emerald City. The event, which Lamport said begins around 1 p.m. at the Beginnings Octagon in Briceland, aims to inform the public while raising money to pay for the incorporation process.

Lamport said the move toward incorporation, or the formation of a city, is “almost self evident.”

”The rural southern part of the county is socio-economically different from Arcata or Eureka, or Rio Dell or Fortuna,” he said. “Currently, we're lumped in politically with all the vast unincorporated areas of the county to the extent that we feel the need for greater local representation.”

For the first part of the process, the group needs to raise about $7,500 for an initial fiscal feasibility study, a preliminary analysis of what revenue sources are available for a potential city and how any financial gaps would be filled.

The group will need to file a formal application with the Local Agency Formation Commission, or LAFCO, which decides if an area has the fiscal capability and community support to form a new entity.


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The preliminary boundary, which LAFCO helped draw up, comprises Garberville, Redway and Benbow areas, including the Garberville airport.

Second District Supervisor Clif Clendenen, who also sits on the LAFCO board, said he is staying neutral on the issue but has encouraged the Humboldt Emerald City Organizing Group to communicate with LAFCO staff.

Clendenen said the process is a complicated one, and the group has a lot of work to do before it can go before the board.

LAFCO Executive Officer George Williamson said the organization has been in discussions with the Humboldt Emerald City Organizing Group. Williamson, who will be present at Sunday's event to answer questions on a panel, said the initial study will be the first of several the group will need to complete, and all fees associated with processing the application need to be paid up front.

”They need to show where the money is going to come from because as a city, they would be responsible for a range of services and those services will need to be clearly defined,” he said.

Lamport said the group hopes the new city will benefit from sales tax related to its marijuana industry. While Arcata and Eureka have adopted ordinances regulating medical marijuana grows, the county has yet to pass an ordinance. Lamport said he thinks an Emerald City Council would quickly take up the passing of an ordinance. There will also be marijuana experts and speakers at Sunday's event, including Julia Carrera, a medical marijuana inspector from Mendocino County.

Additionally, the new city would have control over services such as land use and public safety.

If the group completes the required studies, which include an environmental analysis and a plan outlining how services would be provided, it will need to gather petition signatures from 25 percent of property owners who are registered voters within the defined area.

The group also needs to negotiate a tax revenue sharing agreement with the county of Humboldt, which would indicate what services the new city would take on and how much of the county's tax revenue it would take in order to achieve those services.

”It all has to be revenue neutral,” Williamson said. “They can't ask for more than they need to provide, and they can't leave the county with less.”

Lamport, who was one of the organizers of a movement to move Southern Humboldt toward becoming its own county 15 years ago, said the efforts are a part of a longtime sentiment over local control of services.

”We've had several meetings with LAFCO personnel and county officials,” he said. “And, we've been pleased with their efforts to take us seriously, and they've certainly been encouraging.”

Donna Tam can be reached at 441-0532 or dtam@times-standard.com.

IF YOU GO:

What: Humboldt Emerald City Organizing Group fundraiser

Where: Beginnings Octagon, 5 Cemetery Road, Briceland

When: 1 p.m. Sunday