Jessica Cejnar Andrews / Wednesday, July 26, 2023 @ 4:26 p.m. / Community, Local Government

Del Norte County, Crescent City, Harbor Defibrillate Tri-Agency Over Opponents' Objections

The Tri-Agency Economic Authority consists of representatives from Crescent City, Del Norte County and the Crescent City Harbor District.


A Rebooted Tri-Agency Seeks to Reclaim Its Economic Driver Role in Del Norte, Looks to Facilitate Conversation About OffShore Wind Energy


Del Norte’s Tri-Agency Economic Development Authority lives on. And though a presentation on Tuesday had several people believing otherwise, offshore wind energy development won’t be its only focus, one of its biggest proponents says.

“Offshore wind was named in the CEDS (Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy), but along with quite a bit else,” District 3 Supervisor Chris Howard told the Wild Rivers Outpost on Wednesday. “The acronym TEAMS was also called out in the CEDS, which covers quite a bit of focused economic development areas like A for agriculture, which, in particular, is near and dear to my heart.”

During a meeting that turned contentious on Tuesday, a majority of each member agency decided that the Tri-Agency should continue to be an economic driver in the community. But the decisions were far from unanimous.

The Del Norte County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 in favor of the Tri-Agency’s continued existence. Supervisors Valerie Starkey and Joey Borges dissented.

Three out of four Crescent City Councilors voted in favor of the Tri-Agency. Councilor Ray Altman dissented. His colleague, Jason Greenough, was absent.

And all three members of the Crescent City Harbor District Board of Commissioners voted in favor of the Tri-Agency. Commissioners Harry Adams and Rick Shepherd were absent.

According to Borges, there was no discussion over making the contributions to the joint powers authority from the member agencies more equitable. As it stands, Del Norte County contributes $70,000, Crescent City kicks in $30,000 and the Harbor District contributes $10,000 for a total of $110,000 in revenue.

“If we’re all equals, we should pay equal,” Borges said, adding that the disparity in member agency contributions is one reason he opposed continuing the Tri-Agency. “Why should the county pay more than everyone else?”

Borges said the other reason he voted against the Tri-Agency was because he opposes offshore wind energy development in Del Norte County. He’s especially concerned about its impact to the fishing industry.

“I don’t believe in destroying one industry to try to create another,” Borges told the Outpost. “There were two presentations about wind and then they said, ‘Let’s talk about the Tri-Agency.’ And they kept saying it’s an economic driver, and maybe it was in the past. I don’t want to go into its past history, I’m just looking forward, and the only thing they presented was offshore wind energy.”

The Tri-Agency Economic Development Authority was created to help Del Norte County’s economic recovery following the 1964 tsunami. According to Howard, getting the dollars to build the inner boat basin at the harbor was a major impetus for forming the JPA.

The Tri-Agency was part of a more recent initiative,, which focused on improvements to the harbor, a new terminal at the Crescent City Airport, a new sewer treatment plant, improvements to 199 and improvements to broadband, according to Howard.

It was the JPA's involvement with two revolving loan programs that is its “dark cloud,” as Howard puts it.

One revolving loan program was funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture and had been administered through the Del Norte Economic Development Authority since 1976. The Tri-Agency hasn’t been fully responsible for that loan since 2018, County Counsel Joel Campbell-Blair told supervisors in a January 2022 report.

The second loan was created in 1997 using $400,000 the Tri-Agency borrowed from USDA Rural Development. The Tri-Agency defaulted on that loan in 2011 and in 2012, the USDA accelerated that debt, according to Campbell-Blair.

The Tri-Agency paid the balance of that USDA loan — about $290,000 — in October 2022, according to Campbell-Blair. He said the city and county each contributed $60,000 and the Harbor District kicked in $40,000.

The USDA acknowledged receipt of the payment in January 2023, according to Campbell-Blair.

Altman said it was having to "bail out" the Tri-Agency about eight months ago that makes him opposed to resurrecting it. He said there are other projects the city should be spending its money on.

"The reason we can do what we can do right now is because we have Measure S," he said. "Now, they want $30,000 eight months later to staff (the Tri-Agency), and I know they'll be back in eight more months because $110,000 doesn't go that far."

Altman said he was also dismayed to find that all the community's tribes weren't present at Tuesday's meeting.

"They're a big deal in our circle of life here," he said. "We're already doing improvements, economic development improvements, why do we need $110,000 to gather together at the round table? Let's gather together at the round table, put our minds together and let's do it."

On Wednesday, Howard said the Tri-Agency wrote in its bylaws that it won’t be a lender of last resort again. Those bylaws are expected to be on the Tri-Agency’s next agenda before going before each member agency Board for approval, Howard said.

Currently, the Tri-Agency’s focus is realizing the Del Norte Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy, or CEDS.

The acronym Howard mentioned — TEAMS — refers to transportation, technology and tourism; education and the environment; agriculture, including forestry and fishing; manufacturing and medicine; and small business and sovereign nation success.

The CEDS also mentions offshore wind as a potential opportunity for Del Norte County that was brought up in an October 2019 public meeting.

On Tuesday, Bob Brown, of SHN Consulting and the Redwood CORE Hub made presentations about recent developments in offshore wind energy and what Del Norte County could get out of it if turbines show up off the coast, according to Crescent City Mayor Pro Tem Blake Inscore.

Inscore said including those wind energy presentations at Tuesday’s meeting might have been a mistake.

“Going into it, it made sense, and I tried to explain that to the public, if this is something we may as a community have to address or have the opportunity to address, and if the Tri-Agency exists and it’s one that may have some play in wind power, why not have presentations where the public can see it?”

Inscore said. “It didn’t make sense to people who already came with their minds made up.”

Though he thinks it makes sense to have a discussion about Del Norte’s place in offshore wind energy development, Inscore pointed out that it’s too far down the road for it to be the Tri-Agency’s primary focus.

Both Inscore and Howard pointed to the CEDS as a place for Tri-Agency to put its energy. The CEDS was created through a 20-member community panel and finalized in March 2020, according to Inscore. Each agency had input, and each agency put together its own economic development strategic action plan, according to Inscore.

One goal for Inscore is to formally invite the federally recognized tribes that call Del Norte County home to join the Tri-Agency Economic Development Authority.

Each was invited to the joint meeting on Tuesday — according to Howard, Elk Valley Rancheria Chairman Dale Miller attended — but they haven’t received an invite to join the JPA yet, Inscore said.

“A representative of the Tri-Agency, whether that’s the chair, or someone, need to approach those individual tribal governments,” Inscore told the Outpost. “I think we need to do it in person and say, ‘We’re here on behalf of the Tri-Agency. We know we don’t have the greatest track record, but we have hit reset. We’re ready to work together and we want you to be a part.’ And that needs to be done sooner rather than later.”

Another immediate need is for the Tri-Agency to hire a director, Howard told the Outpost. The jpa not only has a working document in the CEDS to refer to, it also has a work plan the board shared with each member agency in the spring.

But until Tuesday's meeting, everything's been in limbo, Howard said.

"We have a working document to help guide us as we move to search for staff that could really take the lion's share of the policy-type direction from the Tri-Agency Board and move forward and secure grants and other opportunities within our community," Howard said. "I think that, for us, should be an immediate focus — trying to find a director that could do the administrative work."


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