Comptche Wants to Detach!

With all the problems facing Mendo, the state and the nation these days, what issue would you expect would draw a large contingent of truculent Comptche landowners to an otherwise inconsequential Mendocino Local Area Formation Commission (LAFCo) Board meeting? 

Fire danger? Mendo’s Anti-MRC Public Nuisance Ordinance? MRC’s attempt to combine their parcels so the billionaire Fisher family can pay less to the Coast Hospital District? Planning Department problems? Pot zoning? Road Conditions? Evacuation routes? The pending absorption of Coast Hospital into the Adventist Health monopoly? PG&E?

Nope. The Comptche-ites seem to have just discovered that although they’ve been paying a small parcel tax to Coast Hospital District for decades now, they don’t use Coast Hospital much. So they don’t want to pay the recently bumped-up parcel tax that supports the hospital any more.

You'd have thought from the angry tone of some of the dozen or so speakers that Comptche had been appropriated for a Trump Tower. Led by local attorney and KZYX talk show host Barry Vogel, who lives in Ukiah but apparently owns land in the Comptche district, Comptche’s petite bourgeoisie argued that they want to be “detached” from the Coast Hospital District that they’ve been part of since the 70s.

Granted that these property owners, mostly on Orr Springs Road west of Ukiah, are closer to Ukiah than they are Fort Bragg, and granted that their most severe medical emergencies are handled by air ambulance (weather permitting) or, for less severe situations, by the Comptche Volunteer Fire Department and they usually end up in Ukiah or Santa Rosa. But is this newly discovered tax bump so “unfair” that they went to all the trouble to put together a formal LAFCO application to compel LAFCO to “analyze” their petition and arguments? Are the Vogel-ites facing destitution if not permitted to exit the Coast Hospital District?

Mendo’s outback property owners, many of them back to the land hippies who have grown older but no less self-centered, have always had a strong libertarian/me-first streak. Most of the major issues Mendo’s “liberals” have supported over the years have not been very “liberal,” but more of the “leave me alone to do whatever I want on my property and I don’t care what happens to the rest of the County” variety.

The Class K housing movement of the 70s was more about leaving hippie shacks as Hindu funeral pyres than lowering housing costs. The early pot initiatives were more about wanting cops to leave them alone to smoke dope than about any general public benefit. The anti-GMO measure was more about their food than about a nearly non-existent public health threat from genetically modified organisms. Even Measure V, the anti-tanoak poisoning measure, while obviously aimed at a real fire hazard, got a lot of support from Mendolanders worried more about their own property than the overall public good.

If MendoLib was actually “liberal” they’d have at least organized some liberal proposals in addition to their leave-me-alone proposals.

Public transparency/sunshine laws? Never came up (meanwhile official Mendo did improve public access on their own).

Living wage ordinances? Never came up.

Subsidized childcare or garbage vouchers for low-income people? Never mentioned.

Improved mental health services for outback patients with less than “severe” mental problems? Of course not.

Restrictions on the wine industry’s toxic applications or water thefts? Nada.

Trailer park housing set-asides? Cowboy John Pinches of Laytonville was the only candidate for office who has even brought that up, not snugly housed MendoLib.

And me-o my-o look at the “liberal” officeholders they've foisted off on an unsuspecting public! Is it necessary to list them?

At one point in last Monday’s LAFCO hearing, LAFCO Commissioner and retired South Coast emergency responder and current Point Arena Mayor Scott Ignacio alertly asked LAFCO’s young-woman analyst Larkin Filer what would happen to the Comptche-ites’ tax bill if they detached from the Coast Hospital district.

Ms. Filer correctly responded: “That’s a good question.” Then she proceeded to say that although she had done a lot of “reaching out” to lots of local agencies about the Comptche proposal, she had somehow overlooked that particular “good question.” After apologizing for the omission, she said that it would be a question for the Treasurer-Tax Collector’s office which she had not “reached out” to.

But later in the meeting when the Commissioners were discussing what to do about the detachment idea, Commissioner Ignacio said he was all for it — never mind the tax implications.

Coast Hospital CEO Wayne Allen appeared a little flummoxed by the Comptche application to sever relations, commenting that he had only recently seen the LAFCO staff “analysis” and needed more time for himself and his Coast Hospital Board to consider the proposal.

This in turn brought howls of outrage from the Comptche-ites who said he had had plenty of time to consider the question, which apparently has been in the works for months now! The Comptche-ites wanted the Commission to vote on the spot and not wait for an official input from the Coast Hospital CEO/Board. They were afraid they might have to pay another year of “unfair” property tax increment. (Surprisingly, the actual amount of the tax was never mentioned during the hour-long discussion.)

But cooler heads prevailed. The majority of the LAFCO commissioners decided to put the item over for a month while they and Coast Hospital think about it.

If we had to guess from the vague comments of the Commissioners (most of whom come from the same comfortable class of people as the Comptche Detachment), we expect that they’ll end up supporting the “detachment” on geographical grounds. 

Congratulations East Comptche on your pending semi-affiliation with a vegetarian Christ cult! Congratulations on doing your part to further the Adventist medical monopoly in Mendocino County! Monopolies always mean better and cheaper medical services, right?

One Response to "Comptche Wants to Detach!"

  1. George Hollister   October 20, 2019 at 10:14 am

    Tom Madden is right on this one. If I lived in “East Comptche” I would want to detach as well. BTW, to me, the area of desired detachment is best called Orr Springs. The people in this area go to Ukiah when they “go to town”, and not Fort Bragg. I believe they got lumped into the MCH District inadvertently by ending up a part of the Mendocino Unified School District. In the 1950s when hundreds of people lived in this area, working in the saw mills and logging, there was an elementary school called the Hanson School across the street and river from the Mendo Mill. It was a one room school that went through 8th grade. Those kids looked to go to Ukiah for high school, not Mendocino. There was no school bus, and parents often moved into Ukiah in order for their kids to more easily attend high school. In the 1930s, and earlier, the Hanson School was in a different location about 5 miles to the West, at the location of what once was the Half Way House on Orr Springs Road. This location is in the area of what I would call East Comptche.

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