To Our Dear Readers,
We are proud to announce, today, the launch of our latest project: The Mendocino Maps. This new website is not just another road map, or a topographic map — it’s our effort to provide the people of Mendocino County with better information about your governments, agencies, services and land.
We’re always looking for better ways to provide our readers with useful information about our community. Recently we got an new opportunity to do just this when we received a “Renewing Democracy Grant” from the Solutions Journalism Network. This small grant allowed us to pay for the software and web development needed to bring this new resource to you, our readers. But it is still under development, and we need your support to expand on this project, and finish filling out the site. If you want to get involved as an individual or organizational partner, contact us at [email protected]. And if you enjoy our work generally, consider supporting us at our Patreon. As you browse this site think of it as a beta version of a service that could be very useful to our county.
As reporters we see how people who want to be involved in local government often don’t have the information to make their voices heard. At the same time, many smaller government agencies have difficulty connecting with residents to serve as advisory members or help administer local services, which is one of the main reasons we built this website. These issues are exacerbated by the rugged and vast land where we live.
To give you the bigger picture of what’s happening with special districts, we talked with people who are looking for solutions to bridge these gaps in governance, and help people connect with their local government — so we’re rolling out a limited podcast series on just the subject. In the podcasts we’ll talk to locals who are trying to figure out how to tackle this problem and coming up with solutions that work for the North Coast.
About The Mendo Maps
The new MendoMaps.com website includes three separate online maps: a “Special Districts Map” that endeavours to show all the relevant units of local government, from the vitally important special districts, to municipal advisory councils (MACS), and incorporated cities, so that that residents can quickly identify which agency governs and provides services in their area; a “Resources & Infrastructure Map” that shows a variety of fascinating info, from every sizeable stream and watershed in the county, to the location of major power transmission lines; and a “Zoning Map” that shows all the zoning designations in unincorporated Mendocino County.
The map functionality of this project is nearly complete, but there is another stage, where we plan to input essential data on each district, MAC and other government, to allow people to quickly understand and access their local agencies. This stage will involved a large amount of research and data entry work, and we are looking for organizational partners and volunteers to help out.
(Note: these maps are best viewed on a desktop, laptop, or tablet and can take a while to load, since they include a lot of data. Also, please note that these maps are for educational and information purposes. The maps were created from publically available data and we cannot absolutely guarantee the precise location of all boundaries, and note that these boundaries are sometimes under review. )
We’d also like to thank Mendocino County’s Information Services office for all their help with the project. And a final thank goes out to local web developer extraordinaire, Josh Bowers, who helped us build this website.
Special districts and why they can be confusing
The North Coast has more special districts than any other part of California, meaning that many of our most essential services are provided by the our special districts, rather than by city governments, as is the case in major metro areas — or by the county or state as is often the case back East.
In our podcast we’ll try to provide an overview into how special districts and other local government can provide solutions to local planning projects.It will be available online and will also be airing on a number of local community radio stations around the county — more details to be announced soon.
In the podcast we’ll be sharing our conversations with people who have been working on ways to improve access to information about local government, like State Senator Mike McGuire and Uma Hinman, Executive Director of Mendocino LAFCO, and community members working to include more voices in local decision making, like Laytonville’s Jim Shields and Christine “Wick” Boyd, from the Redwood Valley MAC.
We’d love to hear from you about what would be useful and what you’d like to see included at [email protected] — or if you’d like to contribute in some way. To continue this work, and to continue to bring Mendonesians the kinds of news coverage they deserve, we need your support. If you like what we’re doing, please support us here. We are also looking for organizational sponsors to partner with the Mendo Maps project — if your organization is interested, please contact our publisher at [email protected].
Thanks and keep reading,
Kate Maxwell, Publisher
Adrian Fernandez Baumann, Managing Editor