An Open Letter to the Board of Supervisors from Jim Steele
The Board membership has changed quite a bit recently and sometimes a historical reflection will help underpin future decisions. The following is respectfully offered as a bit of background.
I started a term as Lake County Supervisor in 2015 and quickly became aware of several problems in District 3 which comprises the North Shore and North half of the county. At that time cannabis was one of the biggest complaints from citizens that I received along with trash problems being a close second. Low code-compliance staffing barely made a dent in either. Property values suffered as a result and an argument can be made that it also affected the tourist economy and added to the County’s negative image and crime stats.
Along with these problems the North Shore communities were concerned about the recurring mega fires in the county, traffic safety on the Highway 20 corridor, loss of rural resort charm from chain-store motifs, neighborhood crime and a host of issues with details unique to each of the 7 communities. It seemed the small county budget situation would not begin to handle the variety of issues.
To make some sense of what would work in each section of the District and also be acceptable to the residents I established 3 Municipal Advisory Councils. They were to hold informational meetings, establish agendas, develop solutions, get public support for change and advise their supervisor and the Board of Supervisors. Today there are 6 such Councils throughout 4 Supervisorial Districts and each is important for tending to the issues of their areas.
I propose that these Municipal Advisory Councils are an effective way for county government to engage citizens in the unincorporated areas and the activities of these councils should have public funding for legitimate purposes such as opinion polling, site rental, sound amplification, public activities and signs to name a few. This would go a long way toward focusing scarce resources toward appropriate citizen engaged solutions. Tapping the cannabis tax fund for this is exactly the kind of public good envisioned for the legal version of this product. Other support was also originally envisioned for increase law enforcement patrols and code enforcement.
I recommend that each council have an annual stipend of $5,000 from the cannabis tax fund conditioned with reporting requirements and documenting community gains. We have the funds, let’s get something done. If you agree, tell your supervisor.