A group from southern Humboldt County, California is hoping to capture the independent, weed-friendly spirit of the area by creating a city that uses revenues from the local marijuana industry.
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, Humboldt County itself has yet to pass an ordinance. Lamport said he thinks the Emerald City Council would quickly take up the passing of an ordinance.
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“The rural southern part of the county is socioeconomically different from Arcata or Eureka, or Rio Dell or Fortuna,” Lamport 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.”
The group needs about $7,500 for the first steps of the incorporation process, including an initial feasibility study, a preliminary analysis of available revenue sources for a potential city, and how any financial gaps might be filled.
The group would need to file a formal application with the Local AGency Formation Commission (LAFCO), which decides if an area has the fiscal capability and community support to form a new city.
The preliminary boundary of Emerald City, which LAFCO helped draw up, includes areas of Garberville, Redway and Benbow, including the Garberville Airport.
“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,” said LAFCO Executive Officer George Williamson, who has the organization has already been in discussions with the Humbold Emerald City Organizing Group.
According to Williamson, who will be at Sunday’s event to answer questions on a panel, the initial study will only be the first of several the group will need to complete, and all fees associated with processing the application will need to be paid up front.
There will also be marijuana experts and speakers at the event on Sunday, including Julia Carrera, a medical marijuana inspector from Mendocino County.
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 registered voters who are property owners within the defined area.
The group would also need to negotiate a tax revenue sharing agreement with Humboldt County, which indicates what services the new city would take on and how much of the county’s tax revenue it would take in order to have 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 an attempt to make Southern Humboldt its own county 15 years ago, said the efforts are part of a longstanding sentiment over local control of services.
“We’ve had several meetings with LAFCO personnel and county officials,” Lamport said. “And, we’ve been pleased with their efforts to take us seriously, and they’ve certainly been encouraging.”