Our summer season is coming to a close. Alas, it is time to say goodbye to beloved river days and say hello to autumnal rain, pumpkin spice everything and the return of regular Eureka City Council meetings. Council meetings have been few and far between in the last month or so with at least a few of our hardworking council members taking advantage of the late summer months to squeeze in a couple of last-minute vacations.
The council will return to a few familiar topics during Tuesday’s meeting. Let’s have a little look-see, shall we?
Dolbeer/W Street Couplet Project
Remember that one-way traffic experiment, or “couplet demonstration,” the City of Eureka conducted on W and Dolbeer streets earlier this summer? That change could become permanent.
The two-lane roads currently run parallel to each other, one block apart, with traffic rolling past the Sequoia Park Zoo and Washington Elementary School. The project proposal seeks to create one-way traffic on Dolbeer and W Streets between Chester and Hemlock Streets in an attempt to “close gaps in the multimodal transportation network” and enhance access to the zoo and surrounding neighborhoods.
“The project will provide previously non-existent bike facilities to the Dolbeer/W Street Couplet and improve pedestrian access, also acting as an anchor for the proposed Bay to Zoo Trail, which Council has consistently deemed a high priority,” according to the staff report. “The City has been exploring options for improving multimodal access in this neighborhood for a number of years. …One-lane one-way traffic allows pedestrians to only cross one-lane of traffic and only have to clear one direction as well. Additionally, one-way streets tend to have lower collision rates.”
Of course, the project has its downsides. The staff report notes that a one-way traffic orientation has the potential to increase travel time and vehicular congestion in the area.
The city sent out mailers to folks living in the vicinity of the couplet demonstration and created an online survey to gather public input on the project. Of the 934 responses, only 12.7 percent of those surveyed supported a permanent change to the existing traffic orientation. Eighty-one percent of the respondents said they did not like the temporary traffic demonstration.
Even with enhanced bike facilities on both streets, 83.6 percent of respondents said they would not support a permanent change.
The council will take a more in-depth look at the project proposal and the survey results during Tuesday’s meeting. Those survey results can be found at this link.
Digital Billboards in the Coastal Zone
The council will return to the topic of digital billboards on Tuesday night and review a change to the city’s zoning code that would restrict the number of illuminated digital billboards allowed in Eureka’s coastal zone.
Eureka’s planning staff has spent the last two years working with California Coastal Commission staff to update the Sign Ordinance within the city’s Local Coastal Program, a planning tool used to guide development in the coastal zone. Staff presented the modified amendment to the commission back in July but were asked by commissioners and members of the public to adopt stricter regulations.
Staff introduced the proposed ordinance to the council last month. Because the ordinance seeks to modify the city’s zoning code, it must be introduced during one meeting and adopted in a subsequent meeting. As such, staff will bring the proposed ordinance back to council for approval during Tuesday’s meeting.
North Coast Casino Card Room
The council will also consider a card room permit for the North Coast Casino. The proposed business, which is slated to open at 26 Fifth Street near the North Coast Co-op, is located just outside of the city’s “card room district” boundaries. Interestingly enough, a card room previously operated in the same location.
City code defines a “card room” as “Any space, room, or enclosure furnished or equipped with a table used, or intended to be used, as a card table for the playing of cards and similar games, the use of which is available to the public or any portion of the public…” and specifies the rules under which a card room can be operated within city limits, according to the staff report.
“While ‘card rooms’ are not specifically listed as a use in the inland zoning code, there are a number of use categories which allow uses similar to a card room: Bars and Nightclubs, General Retail, Restaurants, General Services, and Non-commercial Places of Assembly,” the staff report states. “Therefore, since uses with similar characteristics and impacts to a card room use are allowed in the Downtown West zone district, Council can determine a card room use could be allowed.”
Before a Card Room Permit and business license is issued, the operator of the card room will undergo a background check and a copy of the application must be inspected by the Chief of Police “who must inspect the premises and investigate the moral character and reputation of the applicant.” Interim Police Chief Todd Jarvis conducted the required inspection and investigation of the applicant and recommended approval of the application.
“I personally inspected the premises located at 26 Fifth Street, in the City of Eureka, as listed on the application, and have found no areas of concern wit the physical facility,” according to an Aug. 19 letter from Jarvis. “There has been no disqualifying information discovered during this investigation and the applicant claims no association with any other person(s) or entities who will have a financial interest in this card room business.”
City Manager Miles Slattery accepted the report. Now it goes to the council for a public hearing.
Those are probably the most interesting items on the agenda. The council will also receive an update on the Local Coastal Plan, discuss yet another zone reclassification for one of the Pierson properties, consider an increase to the scope of the Elk River Estuary Enhancement Project to the tune of $306,963.00 and, more than likely, approve the appointment of Todd Jarvis to Chief of Police.
The Eureka City Council meets on Tuesday, Sept. 20 at 6 p.m. at Eureka City Hall — 531 K Street. You can also watch the meeting online here.