By Barbara Truitt,
You may have heard that the Blocksburg area may soon be removed from our Healthcare District’s boundaries. It is important to note that this change was initiated by Blocksburg residents and not by the District itself. Of course we could see from the outset that most votes from Blocksburg were negative, but this was not the genesis of the sphere of influence review.
I’ll do my best to explain the series of events that have brought us to this point.
Last year, we held a series of town hall meetings to talk about a proposed change to our parcel tax in a special election in early May. A couple of Blocksburg residents came to one of our Garberville meetings to tell us that they felt they should not be part of the Southern Humboldt Community Healthcare District because they went to Fortuna for emergency and other medical services, not to Garberville. Other Blocksburg residents came to the Miranda meeting with the same message, stressing that they had been paying the SHCHD parcel tax since its inception nearly 30 years before.
Feeling it appropriate to respond to this new input, and in the interest of transparency, the SHCHD Governing Board sent a letter of explanation to every affected resident. That letter is linked below.
The SHCHD Governing Board decided to investigate. They retained the services of LACO, an engineering firm which specializes in land use issues. LACO studied usage patterns and determined that usage of SHCHD services by Blocksburg area residents was almost non-existent– significantly lower than those in the rest of the District. They made a proposal for redrawing the District’s boundary to reflect this. This information was submitted to LAFCo (Local Agency Formation Commission – don’t let the similarity to the engineering firms’ acronym confuse you.)
LAFCo initiated a public hearing, about which we sent out notifications via a mailing to Bocksburg voters, as well as physically posting the notice at the location of the hearing. Several Blocksburg residents attended the hearing, and they were unanimous in their support of redistricting to remove them from within the SHCHD boundary.
Based on LACO’s report and the public hearings, LAFCo commissioners determined that the Blocksburg residents should not be within the sphere of influence, and SHCHD’s boundary should be redrawn to reflect that. LAFCo recommended an altered boundary change which modified which parcels would be included in the detachment area. This may have been why some property owners in the detachment area had not received notice of the process and the public hearing.
In November, the Governing Board passed a resolution to remove Blocksburg from the District.
Following news of this change, the Lindsay family of Blockburg wrote to local newspapers to express their dismay at having been removed from the District, especially since they had received no notice of the impending change. Jim Lamport, another area resident also wrote to the newspaper saying he thought Blocksburg should remain within SHCHD boundaries.
Feeling it appropriate to respond to this new input, and in the interest of transparency, the SHCHD Governing Board sent a letter of explanation to every affected resident. That letter is linked below.Read the letter
We also received a complaint from community member Mike Thompson, who resides elsewhere in the District, that we had not properly notified the public of our intended change, because our agenda item referenced a resolution “to adjust district boundary lines” without mentioning the affected area, Blocksburg, by name. The Board agrees that Mr. Thompson is correct, and they appreciate his input, which will help them avoid insufficient specificity in future agendas.
As always, we welcome your comments and questions, which you can provide by calling our CEO Matt Rees at 923-3921, or writing to him or the District Board at 733 Cedar St., Garberville, CA 95542.
Barbara Truitt, Foundation Director, Southern Humboldt Community Healthcare District