A quick word of advice to (current) Community Development Disservices Director Kirk Girard: Don’t piss off the smart people.
An example thereof is one Hilary Mosher, a woman whose attempt to open a preschool in McKinleyville reads like something from a Kafka novel. Her story, which she tells in a Times-Standard guest op, goes something like this: She asks planning staff if she needs a permit, the planner doesn’t know, asks two other planners, one says yes, one no, the original planner says she trusts the judgment of the one who said no, so Ms. Mosher begins construction.
Easy enough! So let’s just go to the game film and see how that worked out for her:
When I contacted Girard after a “stop work” order was posted on the school gate, and told him that I was following the direction I’d been given by his staff, he said: “If you were a professional, you would’ve gotten that in writing.” Appalled, I said, “I am a professional educator. I pay taxes and should be able to expect that when I contact my government office for crucial information, it will be correct.” Girard retorted, “You know, I could reverse the decision for your penalty fee [he levied thousands in penalties] if I found that my office was at fault … but I won’t because I don’t believe that’s what happened.” Then he said that he had ordered a training for all his junior staff to “avoid the situation from recurring.” I said, “Wait–you don’t believe that it happened, but conducted a training to prevent it from happening again?” and he laughed. It was obvious that he knew I was telling the truth and was enjoying unfairly exerting power over me.
Girard would subsequently say that there were “zones she could set up her facility in without requiring a permit and she did not choose one of those zones.” Mosher says the only problem with that answer is that there are no zones for preschools in Humboldt County.
After spending thousands of dollars, Mosher finally got her permit–along with a condescending reprimand from the Planning Commission for intentionally building outside a zone that didn’t exist.
Yeah. That story’s likely to leave a mark on the ol’ performance eval. So good luck with that, Kirk.