Save the Broadway Dolos
The Eureka City Council pondered the fate of the Broadway dolos during this week’s meeting. (Even though it sounds funny, “dolos” is actually singular. Dolosse are those wave-dissipating concrete structures piled out on the jetty.) The council was tasked with deciding whether the 42-ton dolos should be relocated from its existing location at the former Chamber of Commerce site 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 gave the City Manager permission 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. Unfortunately, the new owners aren’t keen on keeping the dolos.
Relocating the dolos to Coast Guard Park would set the City back $50,000 and involve large equipment and significant traffic control measures due to the size and weight of the dolos. In contrast, demolition and debris removal costs would cost about $10,000.
Mayor Susan Seaman asked how the dolos wound up in that spot in the first place. Public Works director Brian Gerving wasn’t sure, but said the accompanying Blue Star plaque indicated it had been there since 1972. City Manager Slattery guessed that the dolos was placed on the site during a repair to the jetty.
Councilmember Scott Bauer asked if any private entities were interested in helping the City cover the costs of moving the dolos. Gerving said the City had not heard from any interested parties to date, but acknowledged that “no one really knew the issue was out there.”
“We could try to get the word out about whether someone is interested in taking the dolos off the City’s hands or interested in funding the move. Either one of those could be possibilities,” Gerving said. “If the council were to direct staff to demolish on-site, up until that happens we could look at other options.”
Seaman suggested a fundraising effort to save the dolos. “There are people out there that are big dolos fans, right? Like, this is a thing people really care about?” she asked. “Is there a possibility that…we could have a month-long raffle with some prizes and all of the money can go to save the dolos?”
Unfortunately, the City is looking at a pretty tight timeframe. Gerving said the new property owners call his office several times a week to ask when the dolos will be relocated. He’s hoping to have dolos off of the property in the next three weeks.
Bauer spoke in favor of demolition, because of the price tag of relocating the dolos. He suggested the City hire a few local artists to build a replica made of fiberglass “which would cost an order of magnitude cheaper than moving [the dolos] across the street.”
Councilmember Kati Moulton pushed back against Bauer’s idea and questioned the durability of a fiberglass sculpture.
“I think that might be more expensive than you think and far less durable. It’s going to get climbed on no matter what we stick over there,” she said. “I think that having [Coast Guard Park] [serve as] a welcoming gateway is something people have talked about for years. …It’s a really big expense, but I would not be in favor of any kind of facsimile when we literally have the real thing.”
Councilmember Leslie Castellano said she was indifferent to the dolos but felt the money should be spent elsewhere. “If we’re going to invest an extra [$50,000] in something I would rather it go to something that would get a lot of public use,” she said.
Councilmember Natalie Arroyo proudly stated that she has “not one, but three pieces of dolos-related artwork” in her home and talked about the “interesting and fascinating” nature of the iconic hunks of concrete.
“I don’t think I have to explain why I think they’re cool, but I do wonder if the dolos could be moved…to the parking lot of the bowling alley [next door]?” she asked. “If we’re gonna spend $10,000 to destroy the thing, that just seems wasteful to me. I wonder if there is a less expensive alternative.”
But if the dolos is relocated to private property, the City will lose control over what happens to it in the future. And, even though Harbor Lanes’ parking lot is just next door, Gerving said the dolos would still have to be loaded onto a trailer and transported to the adjacent parcel “because it’s how the world works.”
“So, you’re saying we can’t just roll it over there?” Slattery jokingly asked.
“Maybe, instead of a fundraiser, we should crowdsource the move and have everyone go out there and push it,” Gerving said.
Castellano eventually motioned to move forward with the demolition of the dolos but encouraged staff to look into other options and seek additional funding opportunities.
Arroyo reluctantly offered her support for the motion but assured dolos-diehards that she would continue looking for creative strategies to save the dolos. “This may not be the end,” she added.
Moulton did not back down so easily.
“I think we find a way to pay for so many things, and I know $50,000 seems like a large expense, but it’s for something that is irreplaceable,” she argued. “There is no way that we will ever get another dolos and it is so iconic to the shoreline, to coastal preservation [and] to our bay entrance that I think it would be a real shame [to destroy it]. I would oppose demolition.”
The council voted 3-1, with Moulton dissenting and Councilmember Kim Bergel absent, to move forward with demolition sometime next month unless another option is brought before council.
“That was a hard one for the heart,” Seaman commented after the vote. “People are going to be getting phone calls.”
Early on in the meeting, the council received an update on the City’s waterfront development plan. 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.
City staff hosted a series of public workshops earlier this year to start the conversation and get a better feel for the community’s waterfront priorities. 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 and make way for approximately 115 housing units.
“How might this look? Open space, public access and temporary uses in the commercial bayfront,” Rose Newberry, a sustainability planner for southern California-based environmental engineering firm Dudek, explained in a presentation to the council. “High-density, mixed-use buildings in Old Town. And increased housing density in the Library District.”
Newberry emphasized that the above illustrations are not proposed building plans but are meant to help visualize potential development.
Castellano asked Newberry about the public’s participation in the process. So far, Newberry said she’s received around 150 survey responses and averaged around 40 attendees during virtual public workshops.
Bauer encouraged staff to do more outreach to heighten public participation. “This is the future of Eureka,” he said. “The numbers are good, but I wish there were a thousand residents that were participating.”
Seaman suggested City staff post QR codes in storefronts throughout the waterfront plan area to enhance engagement. “People walking around will see a little sign that says, ‘What do you want to see here?’”
Castellano suggested coordinating with local artists to highlight Eureka’s cultural arts designation in potential plans. “Much of the Waterfront District also includes the Cultural Arts District, so I would love for that to be another stakeholder group if that’s at all possible,” she said. “I think they would have some great things to contribute if it’s not too late to add another stakeholder group.”
After some additional discussion, the council agreed to accept the report but did not vote on the item.
Keeping with the theme of waterfront development, Gerving presented a plan for development on First Street between C and F streets, next to the future home of Humboldt Bay Coffee Company and Dick Taylor Chocolates.
“We’re looking at what can be done in the shorter term to help revitalize that site, create more energy while we’re waiting for longer term, larger scale developments to happen,” he explained. “…Staff thought it might be good to look at how can we capitalize on new energy of the redevelopment of that First and E street building for Dick Taylor.”
Gerving presented a rendering of a partially-covered outdoor lounge that would be built next to Dick Taylor. A portion of the site, which would include seating and a raised area for a stage, would be open 24/7 while the other half would be fenced in and only be accessible during business hours or special events.
“It would be sheltered from the wind coming off the bay by the shipping containers at the back,” he explained. “Those shipping containers could have a few different elements including storage, there could be another stage type of thing there, there could be restrooms that would serve that event space and potentially a kitchen, though there’s also the idea of allowing a food truck to come in and maybe serve during those events.”
He noted that many of the elements in the project’s design, such as planters and concrete benches, could be relocated and would be sturdy enough to last for many years to come.
Pending council approval, Gerving said staff will finalize the design and apply for a coastal development permit. “Then the big one is to seek funding,” he said. “There are no funds allocated to the project at this time. We’re working on refining the cost estimate.”
The council expressed enthusiasm for the project and gave staff the go-ahead to seek funding for the project. The motion passed in a 4-0 vote with Bergel absent.
‘The Sea Also Rises’
The council also discussed 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.
The council, along with the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors, the Arcata 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 next month.
“City staff generally recommends agreement with all the report findings with the exception of finding three,” principal planner Cristin Kenyon said. “…Finding three basically states that general collaboration will take the form of a new regional sea level rise coordination entity with new ongoing costs and salaries, benefits and overhead. …There hasn’t really been a broad discussion around forming a new sea level rise organization, so it seems premature to commit to such a group.”
Kenyon noted that the City has already initiated efforts to plan for sea level rise through its Climate Action Plan as a part of the City’s General Plan.
“The Climate Action Plan is focused on doing our part locally to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and is focused on reducing and delaying sea level rise,” she said. “…In contrast, the Grand Jury report is focused on responding to the effects of sea level rise when it does occur, such as by elevating roadways and retreating infrastructure inland, so there’s definitely overlap between the two efforts.”
Kenyon recommended the council adopt a resolution to reaffirm the City’s commitment to addressing sea level rise (recommendation one) and to form a sea level rise steering committee with other elected officials by December 1, 2022 (recommendation two).
Arroyo was hopeful that the steering committee could elevate the community’s response to sea level rise but noted that sea level rise is just one of many impacts of climate change.
“I think it makes sense to be looking at the impacts of climate change more radically in coordination around the impacts of increased wildfire and increased variability in our weather cycle,” she said. “…I’m encouraged by the fact that there’s a [climate action plan] coordinator and hope that this regional steering committee may transform and be more comprehensive and not just focused on sea level rise.”
The council ultimately agreed to adopt staff’s resolution and send a response letter to the Grand Jury with a minor amendment to include “prevention” in addition to “mitigation” in the resolution. The council approved the motion in a 4-0 vote with Bergel absent.
A recording of the meeting can be found here.