Monday, 20 May 2024

Regional

NORTH COAST, Calif. — The California Highway Patrol is actively investigating the suspected arson of several Department of Fish and Wildlife vehicles.

The vehicles were at their CDFW’s offices located at 619 2nd St. in Eureka.

This incident occurred in the early morning hours between 4 and 5 a.m. Monday, Feb. 12.

Anyone who believes they may have information related to this investigation is encouraged to contact CHP Officer Aaron Telloian at the California Highway Patrol Humboldt Area office at 707-822-5981, or the non-emergency public dispatch line at 707-268-2000.

Additionally, information may be sent via email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

SACRAMENTO — The Contractors State License Board, or CSLB, joined forces with the Humboldt County District Attorney's Office in a recent undercover operation targeting unlicensed contractors.

The sting operation was conducted in the Eureka area during severe storms in early February. It resulted in four individuals receiving a Notice to Appear in criminal court for allegedly conducting contracting activities without the required license. They now face fines and possible jail time.

CSLB and law enforcement officials cited the four individuals for submitting bids that exceeded the legal limit of $500. The bids ranged from $1,400 for an interior paint project to $12,000 for deck work.

According to California law, if unlicensed individuals advertise for construction contracting services, they must clearly state they are unlicensed and cannot bid on a contract for work valued at more than $500, including labor and materials.

“It’s important to hire licensed contractors for any home improvement project, especially after a storm when unlicensed contractors may take advantage of consumers looking to repair their homes,” said David Fogt, CSLB registrar. “That’s why CSLB educates consumers on how to protect themselves by hiring a licensed contractor – it takes just a few minutes to find a licensed contractor in California.”

After this sting operation, one individual faces an additional recommended obstruction of justice charge. Investigators say this person posted information about the sting operation on social media right after leaving the sting site despite being told not to do so.

For further information or to report suspected unlicensed contractor activities, please visit the CSLB website at www.cslb.ca.gov or contact CSLB toll-free at 1-800-321-CSLB (2752). For ongoing information and updates from CSLB, connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

A Humboldt County Superior Court judge approved a settlement that requires a cannabis cultivator to pay $1.75 million for building and diverting water from illegal onstream reservoirs without first obtaining permits required by the California Water Boards and California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The settlement, which was reached after a lengthy investigation, resolves violations by Joshua Sweet and his companies, The Hills LLC and Shadow Light Ranch LLC, that include: the owner’s destruction of wetland habitat and stream channels; conversion of oak woodland to grow cannabis; and failure to work with the State Water Resources Control Board, North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board and CDFW to satisfy permitting requirements.

If Sweet completes restoration of the damaged property by 2026, $1 million of the penalty will be suspended.

This work includes the removal of three unauthorized reservoirs and the rehabilitation of stream channels and damaged wetlands.

“It is critical for all cannabis cultivators to be environmentally responsible and protect California’s water supply and water quality,” said Taro Murano, program manager for the State Water Board’s Division of Water Rights cannabis enforcement section. “Sweet chose to operate his business while ignoring regulations designed to protect the environment. He must now remediate the environmental damage he caused and pay a significant penalty. No one should get a business advantage by ignoring the law and harming the environment.”

“This case represents years of hard work by dedicated staff to remediate damage to streambed channels, wetland habitat and oak woodlands,” said Nathaniel Arnold, acting chief of law enforcement for CDFW. “The settlement also speaks volumes to the egregious nature of this case and should send a strong message to those working outside of state regulations to cultivate cannabis. Our natural resources deserve to be respected.”

According to the settlement, Sweet must pay $500,000 to the Division of Water Rights, $175,000 to the North Coast Water Board, and $75,000 to CDFW over five years. Additionally, he is required to obtain all the necessary permits, cease unauthorized water diversions and use of water, restrict future property development and comply with all applicable regulations.

More information on cannabis enforcement is available on the State Water Board and CDFW websites.

The State Water Board’s mission is to preserve, enhance and restore the quality of California’s water resources and drinking water for the protection of the environment, public health and all beneficial uses, and to ensure proper water allocation for present and future generations.

CDFW's mission is to manage California's diverse fish, wildlife, and plant resources, and the habitats upon which they depend, for their ecological values and their use and enjoyment by the public.

The North Coast region stretches from the Oregon border to Marin County and is characterized by remote wilderness and towering redwoods. The area accounts for 12% of the state’s land area and 35% of its freshwater runoff. Timber harvesting, agriculture, recreation and tourism are mainstays of the local economy.



Following Gov. Gavin Newsom’s increased deployment and temporary surge of California Highway Patrol officers in Oakland and the East Bay, on Wednesday the CHP announced initial operation milestones including the arrest of 71 suspects, the recovery of 145 stolen vehicles, and the seizure of four crime-linked firearms as part of CHP’s regular and undercover operations.

Suspects were arrested by the CHP for charges including possession of stolen property, auto theft, drug possession, DUI, and felony gun possession, as well as arrests for outstanding warrants.

CHP’s apprehensions during these operations include the arrest of the suspect involved in a widely seen video of an East Bay Apple Store smash-and-grab involving the theft of dozens of iPhones. Cases will be referred to the Alameda County District Attorney's Office for prosecution.

Building on these successful efforts, the CHP will conduct additional unannounced surge operations alongside local law enforcement agencies in high-crime areas in the East Bay to aggressively seek out and apprehend those engaged in criminal activity. In addition to these surge operations, the CHP continues to have an expanded and visible presence in Oakland focused on high-visibility enforcement to deter, investigate, and respond to criminal activity. The CHP currently has 72 officers assigned to the greater Oakland area assisting in this role.

“Through coordinated efforts with local partners and increased deployment, CHP is making a difference and making Oakland and the East Bay safer. With 71 arrests, 145 stolen cars recovered, and illegal firearms and drugs seized, we're sending a clear message: crime will not go unchecked in Oakland and East Bay neighborhoods. I’m grateful for the men and women of the CHP who are assisting in the local-led effort to turn the tide,” said Newsom.

“These initial surge results show that when we work together, we improve public safety,” said Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao. “The city of Oakland is grateful for Gov. Newsom's support to boost our local efforts to dismantle criminal enterprises, arrest suspects, and hold them accountable. Crime and violence don't belong on Oakland’s streets — and the city won't rest until a sense of safety and security is fully restored.”

“These results underscore our commitment to working with our local partners to advance the safety and security of California’s communities,” said CHP Commissioner Sean Duryee. “Through additional proactive operations and an increased presence, the CHP will continue to support our allied agencies in the East Bay and across the state to enforce the law and protect the residents of California.”

Wednesday’s announcement is the result of a recent temporary CHP surge operation and increased enforcement focused on combating auto theft, cargo theft, retail crime, violent crime, and high-visibility traffic enforcement in the East Bay.

In addition to increasing CHP’s presence in Oakland and the East Bay, last week the governor also announced a new partnership between the Governor’s Office, the California Department of Justice, the California National Guard, the California Highway Patrol and the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office that will result in the deployment of attorneys and resources to boost law enforcement capacity in Oakland and the East Bay to investigate, analyze, and prosecute suspects in violent, property and serious drug-related crimes.

Crime in Oakland is uniquely rising compared to other urban centers in California. Preliminary reports from Oakland indicate that in 2023, violent crime rose 21%, robbery increased 38%, and vehicle theft increased 45%.

Preliminary 2023 data from across the state indicates the opposite trend: crime, including homicides, violent crime, and property crime is down in many jurisdictions.

For example, violent crime and homicides are significantly down in Los Angeles, and early data from San Francisco indicate overall crime in 2023 was at its lowest point in the last 10 years — other than the year 2020 when daily life and routines were significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Investing in Oakland

In a close partnership between the Legislature and the governor, the state has made substantial investments in Oakland and the larger East Bay region to improve the health, safety, and well-being of the community:

California has invested in violence intervention and prevention efforts — including CalVIP. The state has also expanded opportunities for youth by transforming Oakland’s schools into community schools, mandating and funding after-school programs, awarding Oakland grants for youth coaches, establishing targeted college and career savings accounts, and providing tuition-free community college for students at Oakland community colleges.

California has also improved community beautification through multiple grants that bolster access to outdoor recreation and the arts and culture.

Through small business credit support programs, the state has deployed over $20.7 million to small businesses in Alameda County through IBank’s loan guarantee program and provided multiple equity-focused grants.

The state has awarded Alameda County over $919 million in climate-focused grants since 2015. Since 2019, Alameda County has received over $1 billion from the state to boost affordable housing and over $200 million to address homelessness directly.

In August 2023, the governor announced a partnership with the city of Oakland to deploy CHP officers within the city and loan up to $1.2 million to improve public safety in Oakland.

Following the governor’s directive, CHP increased its presence in Oakland — arresting 100 suspected criminals and recovering 193 stolen vehicles.

Across the Bay, the CHP’s special operation in San Francisco has resulted in over 460 arrests, 5,263 citations, and the seizure of over 18.1 kilograms of fentanyl.

Fighting crime

California has invested $1.1 billion since 2019 to fight crime, help locals hire more police, and improve public safety, including in the East Bay.

Last month, Gov. Newsom called for new legislation to expand criminal penalties and bolster police and prosecutorial tools to combat theft and take down professional criminals who profit from smash and grabs, retail theft, and car burglaries.

In 2023, as part of California’s Real Public Safety Plan, the governor announced the largest-ever investment to combat organized retail crime in state history, an annual 310% increase in proactive operations targeting organized retail crime, and special operations across the state to fight crime and improve public safety.

A herd of elk is surveyed and counted from the air. Photo courtesy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife, or CDFW, is initiating annual helicopter surveys to inventory and monitor mule deer, elk, pronghorn antelope and bighorn sheep populations throughout the state.

Flights will be conducted in portions of Solano, Mendocino, Siskiyou, Modoc, Lassen, Inyo, Kern, Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside counties during February and March.

CDFW utilizes a variety of survey methods to regularly monitor big game population size, distribution, demographics and trends over time. In more forested environments, CDFW employs the use of trail cameras and fecal DNA.

In more open habitats, aerial surveys provide an efficient and rapid method of data collection, affording CDFW biologists the ability to cover larger areas in relatively shorter time periods.

CDFW scientists use the survey data in statistical models to estimate the total population size of each species in different hunt zones or management units.

This information helps wildlife managers better understand population performance relative to a variety of factors including climate change, habitat quality, human-wildlife conflict and habitat fragmentation, among others.

Results are also used to make regulated harvest recommendations to the California Fish and Game Commission, which is the state regulatory authority that adopts tag quotas, hunting seasons and zone boundaries.

These efforts are important for managing California’s wildlife populations and are especially critical due to recent harsh winter conditions that may have had negative impacts on population numbers.

Big game hunters and other members of the public are encouraged to participate in the commission’s annual regulatory cycles. Information regarding upcoming meetings, including dates, locations, background documents and virtual meeting links are available at the California Fish and Game Commission website.

Caltrans is reaching out to the public for valuable input on the design of a new welcome sign or monument to be installed at the Oregon border along U.S. Route 199 in Del Norte County.

The outdated welcome sign at the Oregon border is set to be replaced with a new monument, and Caltrans wants the community's feedback on its design.

As a component of Governor Gavin Newsom’s Clean California initiative, this project aligns with the broader mission of creating a welcoming atmosphere and enhancing public spaces throughout the Golden State.

To actively participate in shaping the visual identity of the new monument, community members are encouraged to complete a brief survey. The survey can be accessed here, and responses are requested through Sunday, January 28.

Caltrans values the public's insights and believes this collaborative effort will result in a monument that resonates with the community.

The installation of the new welcome monument is anticipated within the next year.

The Clean California initiative is a $1.2 billion, multiyear clean-up effort led by Caltrans to remove trash, create thousands of jobs, and engage communities to transform public spaces.

Visit CleanCA.com to learn more about how Clean California is transforming communities and educating the public.

Upcoming Calendar

21May
05.21.2024 9:00 am - 12:00 pm
Board of Supervisors
21May
05.21.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
21May
05.21.2024 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Lakeport City Council
22May
05.22.2024 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Lake Leadership Forum
25May
05.25.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
27May
05.27.2024
Memorial Day
28May
05.28.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
1Jun
06.01.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile

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