Last night the City of Eureka put off approval of funds to conduct a feasibility study for developing a wireless network. It’s the right approach in that the study would provide necessary information on what’s possible, how to create it and how to sustain such a network. Due partly to an earlier decision in the meeting that gave Eureka Police and Fire Department employees a raise, the council felt budgetary constraints and asked staff to look for alternate funding for the project.  The folks who have been working on this idea for over a year now have to go back, look for funding sources and retool the proposal. It’s a shame that short term budget problems will delay a project that could, for relattively low cost, benefit so many people socially and economically. But, the story is not over. Just delayed. Some more…

On another front as the county’s General Plan Update grinds on what was supposed to be a Telecom Element seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle. The Planning Department apparently mistakenly left out what has been considered landmark language that would set a tone for and a priority on telecommunications infrastructure. Indeed, Humboldt County has been touted around the state as being visionary enough to be the first jurisdiction to formally recognize the need for secure and widespread broadband services. Apparently the oversight by Planning Dept. staff, it that’s really what it was, means that the Board of Supervisors will need to approve a structural change in the General Plan in order to accommodate a stand alone Telecom Element. In order to avoid this step, staff is planning on slipping in language here and there under different elements, thus diluting the impact and diminishing the importance of telecommunications to the future development of the region.

This is a big mistake and again very short-sighted. Fortunately we have an opportunity to correct the oversight. The Planning Commision will be discussing this area of the General Plan at tomorrow night’s meeting. If you can, pleasse attend the meeting and show your support for a free standing and clearly stated Telecommunications Element in the General Plan. The meeting is in the Board of Supervisor’s chambers in the County Courthouse at 6 PM. Here is a link to the agenda. Here is the relevant section under discussion.

For further background you can review Tina Nerat’s study from a few year’s back (PDF), part of which was supposed to be used as the basis for the Telcom Element. The most relevant section begins on page 66.

Hope to see you there!