The Eureka City Council will convene for yet another jam-packed meeting this week. What’s on Tuesday’s agenda, you ask? Let’s take a look!
‘The Sea Also Rises’
The council will review a recent report from the Humboldt County Civil Grand Jury regarding the local response to sea level rise. The report, “The Sea Also Rises,” describes the potential impacts of sea level rise throughout the Humboldt Bay region and calls for a coordinated regional response to address anticipated sea level rise-related flooding hazards.
“For more than a decade local coastal professionals have studied the future impact of sea level rise around Humboldt Bay,” the report states. “Their work, documented in several reports available since 2015, indicate that a two-foot increase in Humboldt Bay’s shoreline will be possible by 2050 and a three-foot rise may occur as early as 2070.”
The unincorporated communities of King Salmon, Fields Landing and Fairhaven/Finntown have already experienced the impacts of sea level rise. While Fairhaven/Finntown has yet to see significant impacts, King Salmon and Fields Landing have already suffered from flood damage, especially during King Tides. Property values in these communities are suffering as a result, according to the report.
The report includes a list of several other locations that will likely be affected by sea level rise, including State Route 255 as it traverses the Arcata Bottoms, the Highway 101 corridor between Arcata and Eureka, former pulp mills (Simpson in Fairhaven and Sierra Pacific in Manila), as well as more than 50 Wiyot cultural sites.
Coastal professionals interviewed by the Grand Jury noted two major hurdles confronting attempts to combat the adverse effects of sea level rise: permitting and funding. The Grand Jury offered three key recommendations for city, county, regional and state entities to coordinate and secure adequate funding.
“First, Humboldt Bay has the most vulnerable [sea level rise] coastline on the West Coast and should have top priority when funds are allocated,” the report states. “Second, State Senator Mike McGuire is the Senate Pro-Tem leader with considerable influence. He also sits on the Senate’s budget subcommittee that will allocate climate change mitigation funds so his active support for funding [sea level rise] mitigation efforts around Humboldt Bay should produce positive results. And third, a regional voice speaks louder than multiple local voices.”
The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors, the Arcata City Council, the Eureka City Council and the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District are required to respond to the Grand Jury’s recommendations by the end of August.
The resolution up for consideration would serve as an acknowledgment of the report and reaffirm the City’s commitment to mitigating the adverse effects of sea-level rise. The resolution also states the City’s commitment to participate in a multi-agency steering committee “to discuss and provide direction regarding regional coordination on sea level rise adaptation and mitigation in the Humboldt Bay region.”
(The California Coastal Commission discussed this very topic last week but focused its conversation on Caltrans’ mitigation efforts on the Highway 101 corridor. You can find the Outpost’s coverage of that meeting here.)
Waterfront Eureka Plan
The council will also receive an update on the City’s waterfront development plan. City staff began a series of public workshops earlier this year to start the conversation and get a better feel for the community’s waterfront priorities.
The proposed “Waterfront Eureka Plan” project area spans approximately 130 acres between B and Y Streets, including Old Town, the Library District and the commercial bayfront. While there are no plans just yet, the idea is to develop the underutilized sites and buildings in the area to create “a vibrant waterfront that welcomes new development while preserving community identity and culture,” according to the City.
So far, staff has learned that many folks are concerned about sea-level rise, housing, crime, blight, recreational opportunities and community gathering spaces.
The council will receive an update on staff’s work to date during Tuesday’s meeting. Next, staff will begin conversations with local stakeholders. In the meantime, they would like to hear from you about possible scenarios, designs and possibilities for future development of the plan area. Take the survey here!
Relocation of Broadway Dolos
The biggest (and heaviest) question of the night: What to do with the dolos on South Broadway? (There’s just the one out there; “dolos” is singular. Dolosse are those wave-dissipating concrete structures piled out on the jetty.) The council will consider relocating the enormous concrete dolos from the former Chamber of Commerce just up the road to Coast Guard Park at the intersection of Broadway, Fairfield and Del Norte streets.
The council adopted a resolution to declare 2112 Broadway Street as surplus back in 2018 and authorized the City Manager to move forward with a negotiated sale of the property. In the time since, the City has negotiated and finalized the sale with SJN Hospitality, LLC, which plans to build a hotel on the property.
“Concurrent with its action in 2018, the council directed staff to keep two elements of the site – the large concrete dolos and the Blue Star plaque – intact, unless a relocation could be negotiated,” the staff report states. “During subsequent negotiations with the buyer, the City agreed to relocate these elements from the site.”
The move is complex and will involve large equipment and significant traffic control because the dolos is extremely heavy, weighing in at about 42 tons. Moving the dolos will cost the City just under $50,000, whereas demolition and debris removal costs would run at about $10,000.
“Because of the significantly lower cost of demolition as compared to relocation, staff believes it is prudent for the council to revisit the direction given to staff in 2018,” the staff report states. “Regardless of the option chosen, staff anticipates completion of the work associated with the dolos this summer.”
You can view the Coast Guard Park concept plan here.
The council will also consider a General Plan amendment and a zoning reclassification for the Pierson properties located at the corner of Fairfield and Harris streets. The council held a public hearing on the item earlier this month to receive public testimony on the proposed amendments. The council is expected to vote on the item tomorrow night.
If approved, the amendments would change the General Plan Land Use Map designation to General Commercial from Medium Density Residential. The zone reclassification would change the zoning designation to Service Commercial from Residential Medium.
The council approved a land swap between the City and the Pierson Company earlier this year in which Eureka agreed to trade three City-owned downtown parking lots for a piece of land near Winco to facilitate the development of affordable housing. The proposed changes would remove the existing cap of 22 dwelling units per acre and allow for higher-density development as well as a “broader mix of uses” on the vacant property.
The Eureka City Council meets on Tuesday, July 19 at 6 p.m. at Eureka City Hall — 531 K Street. You can also watch the meeting online here.