The current marquee at the Arkley Center for the Performing Arts. Photo: Andrew Goff.


Appearing on KINS Radio’s “Talk Shop” program on Memorial Day, businessman Rob Arkley vowed to take political and legal action against the city of Eureka’s “crazy” initiative to convert city-owned parking lots into housing.

“It was tried to be done in the dark of night, and it’s kind of a miracle I even found out about it,” said Arkley of the city’s housing push, which the Outpost and other local media outlets have reported on for nearly a year.

“Now we’re organized, there’s going to be litigation and I think we can almost bet – because Newsom’s having a recall anyway – I think we can probably put a ballot initiative on the ballot to prevent it. Or, alternatively, maybe we’ll just go directly at the people who tried to do this in the stealth of night.”

Arkley, who splits his time between Humboldt County and Baton Rouge, owns the Security National group of real estate and finance companies, and was a major player in local politics in the 2000s. He started his own newspaper, the Eureka Reporter, in an effort to take down the Times-Standard. He bought the disused Eureka rail yard known as the “Balloon Track,” killed a city council study of the site and funded a successful ballot initiative to rezone it for a planned development that would include a Home Depot. (The project was never built.)

In recent years, though, he has been relatively quiet on the local political scene. In 2013, in the wake of the murder of Father Eric Freed, he launched an abortive initiative against Betty Chinn and other providers of services to the homeless, who he called “cockroaches.” (Freed’s murderer was not from Eureka, and was not homeless.)

In 2017 – again on “Talk Shop” – he railed against the city’s plans to return Tuluwat (aka “Indian Island”) to the Wiyot Tribe, sparking large protests at his company’s Eureka headquarters. Eureka deeded the remainder of its land on Tuluwat to the tribe in October 2019.



“Talk Shop,” KINS, May 31, 2021.



Mural across G Street from the Arkley Center. The intervening city-owned parking lot has been proposed for development, though it’s currently on hold.