Formation & District Structure
Shelter Cove is an unincorporated residential community located in Southern Humboldt County on the Lost Coast of California. The Resort Improvement District No. 1 (District) is a special-purpose district established in 1965 pursuant to the State Public Resources Code Section 13000-13233. The District was formed for the purpose of installing and maintaining facilities that provide electric, water and sewer services for the community of Shelter Cove.
The District also manages the greenbelt areas within the sub-division, the Shelter Cove Golf Links, children's playground, recreational trails, the day-use Shelter Cove Airport and the Shelter Cove Fire Department which provides emergency services such as fire protection, emergency medical and ocean rescue. The District is governed by a publicly elected five member Board of Directors and is staffed by a General Manager and 14 employees along with 18 volunteer firefighters.
History of the Shelter Cove Area & Subdivision
For generations, the Wailaki tribe of Native Americans occupied an area from Bull Creek in the north, east to the main stem of the Eel River, to the coast from Shelter Cove and south to Usal. The Wailaki people moved with the seasons. The groups who lived along the coast harvested shellfish, mussels, clams, abalone, and certain varieties of edible seaweed and moved inland to harvest eels, crawfish, salmon, and trout from the rivers. With the arrival of non-natives in the 1850’s, the Northcoast region began to change. Some Native Americans were forced to live on reservations. Most were killed or died of disease. Others married into non-native families and had to acclimate to the settler’s society.
Shelter Cove History Continued
The non-native families who settled Shelter Cove and the surrounding area raised cattle and sheep, and also harvested Tan Oak bark for tanning leather. A pier was built in Shelter Cove to accommodate the shipping of goods such as lumber, wool, hides, butter, and other provisions to and from the Southern Humboldt area and by the 1900’s commercial salmon fishing became an important industry. The Machi family purchased a portion of Shelter Cove (marina area) in the 1940’s and developed a thriving commercial and recreational fishing port by providing a launch service, ice, bait and tackle and a fish buying station. The Shelter Cove sub-division began in the mid-sixties after developers purchased a large sheep ranch in Shelter Cove and gained approval to subdivide lots and construct a road network.
Office of General Manager
The District’s administrative unit - the Office of the General Manager - is responsible for the operations and administration of the District and its staff, serves as the Secretary to the Board, and is appointed by the Board of Directors.
Jack Hargrave currently serves as the Interim General Manager. He is the RID Board President and also serves as a Fire Captain on the Shelter Cove Fire Department.
Services Provided By Humboldt County
The service district boundaries are entirely within Humboldt County. The City of Eureka is the County Seat and Shelter Cove is an unincorporated community within the County. All County services are based out of Eureka.
Humboldt County’s primary political organization is the Board of Supervisors. Five supervisors are elected to four-year terms from each Supervisorial District. Shelter Cove is part of the 2nd District currently represented by Michelle Bushnell (2020-2024).
The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office provides public safety, law enforcement, and emergency response for the local area. The closest sheriff’s sub-station is in Garberville. California Highway Patrol also provides coverage for roadways in Shelter Cove and is the responsible agency for motor vehicle accidents.
Humboldt County’s Department of Building and Planning oversees all development in Shelter Cove (with the exception of the development of septic systems). The department issues permits (building, grading, coastal development), oversees code compliance (code complaints), and enforces zoning and other land use/development ordinances.
Humboldt County's Department of Environmental Health issues permits for the development of septic systems. All primary structure development of land in Shelter Cove outside of the sewered area will require a septic system to be installed.
Humboldt County's Department of Public Works (DPW) oversees the maintenance and repair of all roadways in Shelter Cove. Every road in the development is a County Road.