If you had a personal stake in November’s city elections, then the Tuesday meeting of the Eureka City Council will be one you don’t want to miss. Most of the night will be devoted to implementing the will of the voters and setting things up for the next year. New city councilmembers Kati Moulton and Scott Bauer will be sworn into office. The new council will decide which of its members it will assign to serve as liaisons to and members of various committees and commissions and the like. They’ll choose a mayor pro-tem – the person who will run meetings in the event that Mayor Susan Seaman is indisposed.
The council will also pass a new ordinance to implement Measure H, the citywide 1.25 percent special sales tax that voters approved by nearly a 2/3 margin in the November election. (The measure technically extended an existing special sales tax of half a percent, then added another 0.75 percent to that.) The ordinance will become effective on July 1 of next year, meaning that sales taxes in the city will go up on that date.
So: A lot of elections housekeeping, but there are a couple of other items of interest on Tuesday evening’s agenda. There’ll be an update on the city’s current finances – always a matter of concern during these uncertain times – and a year-in-review presentation from Humboldt Bay Fire. The council will also hear a report on traffic safety within the city, which may be especially notable given the number of high-profile collisions in the last few weeks, including one that led to the death of a 72-year-old woman in a wheelchair on Harris Street. Eureka’s per-capita number of traffic collisions have always been through the roof, compared with the rest of the state, though a lot of that may be down to the fact that the city’s daytime population is so much higher than its number of residents.
On the consent calendar: The city looks to continue its recent spate of promotions from within by elevating Donna Wood, longtime deputy director of Community Services, to the top job. Wood has been serving as the interim director of the department since July, after former director Miles Slattery was tapped to become interim city manager, and after the council signs off she’ll be given the reins on a permanent basis. Community Services is a huge, variegated department that encompasses a great number of city programs – parks, marinas, youth programs, management of city facilities and more – and Wood will be its first female director.
Taking a quick peek at the “closed session” calendar, in which the council and staff may discuss legal issues outside the public eye: It appears that the city may have some interest in purchasing a famous/infamous parcel of land near the Bayshore Mall. The lot, owned by local landscaper Ed Kirkpatrick, once served as an ornate refuge for local people experiencing homeless; in January 2019, the Eureka Police Department broke it up, citing conditions unsafe to both the residents and the surrounding wetlands, as well as numerous incidents of illegal drug trafficking and other crimes on the premises. The agenda item says only that Slattery, now the permanent city manager, is negotiating, or is authorized to negotiate with Kirkpatrick over “price, terms and conditions” for the parcel.
The Eureka City Council meets via Zoom at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 15. The full agenda, with instructions on how to watch or participate, can be found at this link.