The county has abandoned plans to purchase all the buildings on this block, except for the two-story wood-singled one at the end, which it already owns. | File photo.


At a special meeting of the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors this morning, the board decided to pull the plug on efforts to buy a row of structures, including houses, apartments and Raliberto’s taco shop, on the 1000 block of Fourth Street.

The three parcels on Fourth Street in Eureka. | Image from a county staff report.

The county had been trying to negotiate a deal for the three parcels that share a block with its existing Public Defender building for the past three years.

“The negotiations around it weren’t successful,” Deputy County Administrative Officer Sean Quincey told the Outpost earlier today. 

The short-term goal for those properties, according to a July staff report, was to tear down the structures and put in a parking lot. That plan generated a good deal of scorn from folks who argued that it didn’t make much sense to demolish affordable housing when Eureka has such significant issues with homelessness. 

The county has a longer-term vision, spelled out in its facilities master plan, of grouping services together onto “campuses” as a way of improving public convenience. First District Supervisor Rex Bohn recently told the Outpost that county staff envisioned a “criminal justice center” on this block, to coincide with the jail expansion that’s still in the works.

County staff had gotten pretty deep into negotiations with property owners Gerald and Belinda Rush, agreeing to a purchase price of $911,500. But the deal recently hit a snag when residents of the block sued the county, demanding financial “relocation assistance.” 

Now the deal has fallen through entirely, though it’s unclear whether this lawsuit is responsible for its demise.

The county still plans to work with the City of Eureka to find other potential locations for campus-style facilities.

Here’s a press release about today’s decision:

The County of Humboldt is moving on from acquiring the properties on 4th Street in Eureka to pursue other lots that better fit its long-term vision of creating more centralized, campus-style facilities for county services. The county had been discussing terms of an agreement with representatives of residents who live on these properties, however, negotiations were unsuccessful and the Board of Supervisors today in closed session chose to go in another direction.

The properties on 4th Street were always intended to eventually be converted to a facility with co-located services such as a one-stop building for permitting services. In the short-term, the county intended these properties to serve as a temporary parking location during construction of the Community Corrections Reentry Resource Center in the gravel lot next to the jail. There will still be need for additional temporary parking during construction of this facility, and the county will continue to look for solutions.

The county will also continue looking for properties for the already-identified priorities for a one-stop permitting center and administrative complex. By spring 2020, the county will be discussing with the community plans to move forward on more campus projects that could be developed within and around Eureka. This will be an opportunity to go through a deliberate planning process that would bring related services and departments closer together. 

There are many benefits to improving the physical placement of county services, and in the end, it will result in better services, less travel and less confusion for residents as they do business with the county. Planning and constructing more campus-style facilities would also make better, more welcoming work spaces for county employees, and it would make work and travel more efficient, which saves energy. Newer facilities will also reduce energy consumption and maintenance costs, provide economic stimulus through job creation, as well as enhance opportunities for civic beautification and community development.

The county looks forward to working with the community and all of its stakeholders on planning the future of county facilities.

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