Stephanie McGeary / @ 11:09 a.m. / Homelessness, Local Government

New Betty Chinn Transitional Housing on the Eureka City Council Agenda Tomorrow; Trailer Village Could Open Near Hikshari Trail


Photo: Andrew Goff.

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The new homeless housing program from Betty Chinn approaches a crucial point this week. Eureka City Council will vote tomorrow on the Crowley Site Local Coastal Program Amendment, which would change the zoning of a parcel of land on Hilfiker Lane, near the Hikshari Trail. If the amendment passes, it would allow development of transitional housing on the property.

This transitional housing will consist of 11 trailers donated to Chinn by PG&E, which are already in place on the north corner of the Crowley site. Originally, the facility was supposed to be farther south, near the Wastewater Treatment Plant. The new location concerns some neighbors.

“The city sent a notice out saying they were doing some lot line adjustments and changing the zoning,” Harold Hilfiker, owner of a neighboring piece of land, told the Outpost last week. “But they haven’t been very clear on what they’re doing. I think that it’s been poorly done and their justification is just money.”

Hilfiker said he was all right with the initial plan, which placed the development further south. But the change in location came as a shock to him.

“The city has been real rude about it,” he said. “They’ve been trying to do it all undercover.”

Photo: Stephanie McGeary.

Hilfiker and neighbor Brenda Powell also voiced their issues with the changes at the Planning Commission meeting on April 9, which addressed the LCP amendment.

The Commissioners present did not support the proposed amendments. There were concerns about the zoning, specifically for the housing project.

Eureka City Council member Kim Bergel told the Outpost that the Planning Commission’s decision may affect what happens at the council meeting tomorrow, but it’s not yet certain.

But Bergel said it’s important to consider the other potentially positive effects of the zoning amendment.

“With this new zoning there would be opportunities at some point to have more things like retail, restaurants, recreation,” Bergel said. “I just want to be clear about that. Though this did come forward because of this project, there are further-reaching benefits in the future if we decide to move forward.”

However, the development of Betty Chinn’s temporary housing plan is still the most pressing consideration for the LCP amendment. The agenda summary states, “The action is necessary because the City Council of the City of Eureka has declared a shelter crisis.”

If the amendment does not pass in the City Council meeting, Chinn’s project will likely not move forward. It has been difficult to find any other site that will fit the project’s needs. Chinn told the Outpost that she doesn’t care if the housing goes on the north or south side of the Crowley property.

“Whatever the city decides, we go for it,” Chinn said.

Addressing the concern of the neighbors, Chinn said “Being a good neighbor is our number one priority.”

The Eureka City Council meets on Tuesday, May 15 at 6 p.m. in Eureka City Hall — 531 K Street, Eureka.


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