With third-party delivery services such as Doordash becoming increasingly popular during the pandemic, the Arcata City Council will consider adopting an urgency ordinance that would place a city-wide cap on the amount those companies can charge for delivery during the COVID-19 emergency.

Right now these delivery companies charge up to 30 percent of menu prices to the restaurant, according to the city staff report, and some restaurant owners are taking a loss because of it. Many restaurants choose to raise their prices to cover the fee, which results in a potential loss of business. Others have raised the price slightly, but it does not completely cover the delivery fee. Restaurants could simply not use the third-party service, but many feel offering delivery has become necessary in the current competitive market.

“During the pandemic, the social distancing measures, need for high-risk individuals to limit their contact with people, and general concern among people about being in groups of people, creates a strong market pressure for delivery services,” the staff report states. “This pressure in effect has created a captured market that must rely on the third-party services for access to the market. Furthermore, with restaurants operating capacities limited by health orders, even those who are not high risk may be limited to take away and delivery service.”

If adopted by council, the ordinance would cap those third party fees at 15 percent of an item’s menu price. The staff report does not offer any information on how the cap would be enforced, or what the penalty would be for violating the ordinance.

Many other cities around the country have recently imposed caps on third party delivery fees, including New York, Los Angeles and Denver.  The Eureka City Council also recently unanimously approved a 15 percent cap on third party delivery fees, as a part of its Bar, Restaurants and Retail Support Program. Eureka’s ordinance subjects delivery companies in violation to a penalty fee of up to $1,000 per restaurant per day.


In other business, the council will receive an design and construction update on the city’s Wastewater Treatment Plant Improvement Project, a long-term effort to make vital renovations to the plant’s aging infrastructure.

According to the staff report, the city has received a 90 percent plan submittal and is awaiting updates to electrical plans and cost estimates before moving forward with the next steps of the permitting and environmental review process. Once the necessary permitting and environmental review is complete, the will be eligible to receive funding from the State Revolving Loan Fund (SRF).

The council also recently approved an increase in Arcata’s water and sewer rates to help cover the costs of the improvements, with rates increasing 50 percent over the next five years.

If all goes as planned, construction on the plant is expected to begin in winter of 2021 and should be complete in about 30 months, the staff report says.


The council will also receive a report on the forecast for the city’s budget, discuss authorizing a grant application to clean up the Little Lake Industries site on South I Street, and will appoint new members to the Transportation Safety Committee and the Public Safety Committee.

The Arcata City Council meets via Zoom tonight at 6:00 p.m. You can view the full agenda here.

To watch or participate in the meeting, simply follow these handy instructions from the City of Arcata:

Members of the public can observe the meeting on television on Access Humboldt Channel 10, online by visiting www.cityofarcata.org and clicking on the See Live Meetings, Agendas, and Archives button on the home page, or on the City’s YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJYGp9zDPdWMGtA0BtfFX_A

Members of the public may access the Zoom meeting directly to provide Public Comment.

1. Join from a PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone or Android device: Please use this URL: https://zoom.us/j/93080972751

2. If you do not wish for your name to appear on the screen, then use the drop down menu and click on “rename” to rename yourself to be anonymous.

3. If you want to comment during the public comment portion of any item, click on raise your handon the right-hand side of your screen. When it is time for public comment on the item on which you wish to speak, the Clerk will unmute you. You will have 3 minutes to comment, subject to the Mayor’s discretion.

Or join by phone:

1.*67 1-669-900-6833

2.Enter Meeting ID: 930 8097 2751

3.If you are accessing the meeting via telephone and want to comment during the public comment portion of any item, press star (*) 9on your phone. This will raise your hand. When it is time for public comment on the item on which you wish to speak, the Clerk will unmute your phone. You will hear a prompt that will indicate your phone is unmuted. You will have 3 minutes to comment, subject to the Mayor’s discretion.

4.NOTE: Your phone number will appear on the screen unless you first dial star (*) 67 before dialing the numbers as shown above.

How to Submit Written Public Comment:

Members of the public may provide public comment on an agenda item before the meeting by sending an email to pc@cityofarcata.org. Such email comments must identify the agenda item numberin the subject line of the email. The comments WILL NOT be read during the meeting, but will be forwarded to the City Council members and included in the written record of the meeting. Persons wishing to have their comments heard during the meeting are encouraged to participate in the meeting via Zoom as outlined above.