Stephanie McGeary / @ 7:52 a.m. / Agendizer

Next Up in the Gateway Area Plan: Arcata City Council Will Reconsider the Deadline it Gave to the Planning Commission

View of Arcata showing the Gateway Area boundary | Images from the draft Gateway Area Plan.



UPDATE

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Arcata’s Gateway Area Plan – the city’s hot-potato proposal to rezone a 138-acre swath of land surrounding the Creamery District and the downtown area – has recently been a huge focus of city meetings, especially since the city council directed the planning commission to steer its efforts away from community workshops and toward accelerating the production of drafts of all the necessary documents. 

So it probably won’t surprise you that during tonight’s Arcata City Council meeting the council will, once again, discuss the Gateway Area Plan and its related documents. Specifically, the council will review and make recommendations to the planning commission and city staff regarding the timeline for producing a draft of the plan for public review. 

Per the council’s direction at its March 1 meeting, the Planning Commission is supposed to help produce a draft of the Gateway plan, along with drafts of the form-based code – a type of code that is new to Arcata and will guide the design requirements for buildings in the Gateway area – by the end of June. This decision was partially based on the council’s concern that public engagement in the planning process was dwindling, and the council felt that having actual documents to review might help the public and the council provide specific and tangible feedback. 

But some members of the planning commission expressed concerns over the tight timeline, saying that it is unrealistic to expect them to complete the work by July. According to the staff report, members of the planning commission and some community members have also “raised procedural concerns over the council’s direction,” because only three members of the council were part of the discussion.

In case you weren’t already aware or had forgotten about this little twist in the saga of the Gateway Area Plan, this seems like a good time to remind the community that two council members – Stacy Atkins-Salazar and Alex Stillman – are not permitted to participate in Gateway Area Plan discussions, due to fact that they both own property within 100 feet of the Gateway Area, which presents a conflict of interest according to a Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) ruling.

Map showing the Gateway Area and its four sub-neighborhoods

But even though Stillman and Atkins-Salazar can’t weigh in on Gateway-specific decisions, they are still able to discuss and vote on the broader General Plan Update. So during this Wednesday’s meeting, all five members of the council will review and provide direction on the timeline for the draft of the General Plan Update. Then only Councilmembers Sarah Schaefer, Kimberly White and Meredith Matthews will provide direction on the timeline for the draft of the Gateway Area Plan and the associated form-based code. In both discussions the council will review the milestones for the timeline and reconsider the direction it gave to the commission on March 1. 

Currently, the city’s timeline goals are for the design consultant to complete all of the drafts by the end of June and the planning commission to make its recommendation on the drafts at its meeting on July 11. After the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) is released in the summer, the summer and fall of this year will be dedicated to further public engagement and reviews of the drafts. The EIR is expected to be certified in early 2024 and the whole plan adopted shortly after. 

The staff report also points out there are grant funding deadlines coming up at the end of this year that require the City to complete some of this work to be eligible for the funding. The City of Arcata has already received extensions for these grant deadlines and some can be extended further, but some cannot. 

“The General Plan update is largely funded by grants that have completion deadlines at the end of 2023 and funds are almost fully expended for all grant sources,” the staff report states. “The grant agencies require an adopted work product to be submitted by the end of the grant term. The outstanding grants include the Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation, SB2, and Local Early Action Planning grants.” 

The Arcata City Council meets tonight (Wednesday, April 5) at 6 p.m. at Arcata City Hall – 736 F Street. You can view the full agenda and directions on how to participate here. You can also scroll down for our friendly AgendaBot’s summary (and its humorous and creative interpretations) of the agenda items.

You can also brush up on your Gateway Area Plan knowledge by looking through LoCO’s previous coverage below, or by visiting the City of Arcata’s Strategic Infill Redevelopment Plan webpage

PREVIOUSLY:


Arcata City Council
April 5, 2023, 6 p.m.

1. LAND ACKNOWLEDGMENT

2. FLAG SALUTE

3. ROLL CALL

A. Roll Call


4. CEREMONIAL MATTERS

A. Certificate of Appreciation for Julie Vaissade-Elcock for Her 14-1/4 Years of Service on the City of Arcata's Planning Commission.


B. Certificate of Appreciation to Vanessa Metz for Her 21 Years of Service on the City of Arcata's Wetlands and Creeks Committee.


C. Certificate of Appreciation for Sue Cashman for her 11 Years of Service on the City of Arcata's Transportation Safety Committee


D. Proclamation in Recognition of the 2023 Godwit Days Spring Migration Bird Festival, April 13-16, 2023.


E. Proclamation in Recognition of the Week of the Young Child, April 1-7, 2023.


F. Proclamation in Recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, April 2023.


5. REPORT BY COMMISSION/COMMITTEE

A. Annual Report from the Wetlands and Creeks Committee.


6. EARLY ORAL COMMUNICATIONS

7. N/A

8. CONSENT CALENDAR

A. Minutes of Mar 1, 2023 6:00 PM


B. Minutes of Mar 15, 2023 6:00 PM


C. 4153 : Bi-Weekly Report on Disbursements.

This is a report from the Finance Director to the City Council about a list of checks and electronic payments that have been made from March 4, 2023, to March 24, 2023. The Finance Director recommends that the Council approves the disbursements listing, and the checks that have been drawn in payment of demands that conform to the City Council's adopted budget do not need to be audited by the City Council before payment. The disbursements presented were in line with the adopted budget.

— LoCOBot

… or, as a bildungsroman!

Title: Finding My Way to Finance

As a young girl, I never thought I would end up in finance. In fact, I was more interested in the arts, particularly music and theater. But life has a funny way of leading you down unexpected paths. And for me, that path led straight to finance.

It all started when I was in college. I was studying music, but I couldn't shake the feeling that it wasn't quite right for me. I had always been good with numbers, but I never considered a career in finance until one fateful day.

I was sitting in the library, trying to finish a paper, when I overheard a group of students discussing their finance class. I couldn't help but eavesdrop as they passionately debated the merits of different investment strategies. I was fascinated by the conversation, and I knew right then and there that finance was my calling.

I switched my major to finance the next semester and never looked back. It was a challenging transition, but I was determined to succeed. I threw myself into my studies, spending countless late nights in the library pouring over financial statements and analyzing market trends.

When I graduated, I landed a job as a financial analyst for a local firm. It wasn't glamorous work, but I loved it. I spent my days analyzing data and building financial models, and I was good at it. Before long, I was promoted to a management position and tasked with overseeing the entire finance department.

As I sat in the city council meeting, reviewing the disbursements report, I couldn't help but reflect on my journey to this moment. I had come a long way from the girl who dreamed of being a musician. But I was proud of the work I was doing, even if it wasn't what I had originally envisioned for myself.

The council members debated the recommendations, but I knew that the numbers were sound. I had poured over every detail, and I was confident that the disbursements were in line with the city's budget. When the vote came, it was unanimous. The council approved the disbursements listing, and I breathed a sigh of relief.

As I walked out of the council chambers, I couldn't help but smile. I may not have ended up where I thought I would, but I had found my way to a fulfilling career in finance. And that was something to be proud of.

— LoCOBot

DOCUMENTS:

Staff ReportA. Cash Disbursements 3.4.23 to 3.24.23


D. 4154 : Approve the Project Plans and Award a Construction Contract for the Redwood Park Improvement Project Phase 1 to Mobley Construction DBA MCI in the Amount of $349,003.00 (Base Bid + Additive Alternative No. 1); Authorize the City Engineer to Increase the Contract Amount by up to $69,800.60, (20 Percent, for a Total Amount Not to Exceed $418,803.60) to Allow for Any Unforeseen Contingencies; and Authorize the City Manager to Execute All Applicable Documents.

The City Engineer has recommended that the City Council approve the Redwood Park Improvement Project Phase 1. This phase includes renovations to the playground area and the addition of a bicycle pump track. Mobley Construction DBA MCI had the lowest bid and is recommended to be awarded the construction contract for $349,003.00 (Base Bid + Additive Alternative No. 1). The City Engineer is also authorized to increase the contract amount by up to 20% in case of any unforeseen contingencies. The project is funded through a grant from the Infill & Infrastructure Grant (IIG) program and the State Parks Per Capita Grant, as well as ARPA funds allocated by the City Council. The project is expected to commence on or after April 24, 2023, and should be completed within 60 working days.

— LoCOBot

… or, as a Pokemon duel!

As the city council meeting concludes, two trainers named Netra and David exit the building, each eager to battle with their beloved Pokemon. Netra sends out her Pikachu, while David releases his Charizard. The two trainers face off at the nearby Redwood Park, where the construction project is set to take place.

The battle begins with Pikachu using Thunderbolt, but Charizard quickly dodges and counters with Flamethrower. Pikachu uses Agility to avoid the flames and charges towards Charizard with Quick Attack. Charizard tries to use his wings to deflect Pikachu, but the electric mouse lands a damaging Iron Tail.

Charizard retaliates with a powerful Dragon Claw, but Pikachu manages to evade and use Thunder Wave to paralyze the fiery Pokemon. Charizard is unable to move, giving Pikachu the chance to finish the battle with a devastating Volt Tackle.

As the battle comes to a close, Netra and David congratulate each other on a great match. They both agree that the Redwood Park Improvement Project will provide a great new space for future Pokemon battles and training.

— LoCOBot

DOCUMENTS:

Staff ReportBID SUMMARY_Redwood Park Improvement ProjectRedwood Park Improvement Project Phase I PlansAdd. Alt. #1 - Plans for Arcata Pump Track (Dec2022)


E. 4150 : Approve the Purchase of One Elgin RegenX Street Sweeper, and Award Contract to Owen Equipment in the Amount of $353,731.70, Including Tax; and Authorize the City Manager to Execute All Applicable Documents.

The Director of Environmental Services is recommending that the City Council approve the purchase of a new street sweeper for $353,731.70 from Owen Equipment through a cooperative purchasing agreement. The new sweeper is necessary because the current one is old and requires a significant amount of maintenance, and it won't be able to meet air quality requirements. The recommended sweeper is a lightweight diesel option that can be operated by someone without a commercial license, which expands the pool of candidates for the position. Electric options were considered, but they were more expensive and in short supply. The funds for the new sweeper will come from existing budget accounts.

— LoCOBot

… or, as a Bollywood song!

Verse 1:
Our streets need cleaning, it's time for a change
The council meeting just approved the range
Of a brand new street sweeper, Elgin RegenX
To keep our city looking sleek and clean, oh yeah

Chorus:
Approve the purchase of this sweeper
Award the contract, let's make it a keeper
For $353,731.70, including tax
Let's keep our city clean, that's a fact

Verse 2:
Lead times for vehicles are longer than before
The dealerships say it's urgent, we can't ignore
Our current sweeper vehicle's past its prime
We need a lightweight diesel to keep us in line, oh yeah

Chorus:
Approve the purchase of this sweeper
Award the contract, let's make it a keeper
For $353,731.70, including tax
Let's keep our city clean, that's a fact

Verse 3:
The city's part-time staff needs some help
They're finding it hard to start with a commercial license belt
The new sweeper is light, for ease of use
It can be operated by anyone, with no excuse, oh yeah

Chorus:
Approve the purchase of this sweeper
Award the contract, let's make it a keeper
For $353,731.70, including tax
Let's keep our city clean, that's a fact

Verse 4:
Electric vehicles are great, but not for now
The costs are too high, let's make a vow
To look for green solutions, as we move ahead
But for now, let's go with this diesel instead, oh yeah

Chorus:
Approve the purchase of this sweeper
Award the contract, let's make it a keeper
For $353,731.70, including tax
Let's keep our city clean, that's a fact.

— LoCOBot

DOCUMENTS:

Staff ReportA. City of Arcata- Elgin ReGenX Wandering Hose 3.3.2023


F. 4152 : Adopt Resolution No. 223-45, a Resolution of the City Council of the City of Arcata Authorizing Approval to Apply for the California Energy Commission 1% Interest Loan and Find the Project Exempt from CEQA Pursuant to California Code of Regulations, Title 14, Section 15301.

The City Council is proposing to apply for a low-interest loan from the California Energy Commission to install a solar panel system and retrofit lighting fixtures at the Arcata Community Center. This is part of the city's efforts to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions from city facilities to mitigate and adapt to the impact of climate change. The loan will be cost-neutral and paid for by the annual energy savings. The project has been deemed exempt from CEQA (the California Environmental Quality Act) due to its minor impact on the environment. The City Council is being recommended to adopt Resolution No. 223-45 to authorize approval to apply for the loan and find the project exempt from CEQA.

— LoCOBot

… or, as Schoolhouse Rock!

(Verse 1)
City Council meeting, happening today
They've got some big news they want to say
From the Director of Environmental Services
We've got a plan to reduce our stresses

(Chorus)
We're gonna apply for a loan, just 1% interest
For a solar PV array, and new lights at our behest
It's all to mitigate the effects of climate change
And make Arcata a greener place to arrange

(Verse 2)
Back in December, we approved a loan
For the same project, now we want to hone
The California Energy Commission has given us a chance
To apply for even more, in case costs enhance

(Chorus)
We're gonna apply for a loan, just 1% interest
For a solar PV array, and new lights at our behest
It's all to mitigate the effects of climate change
And make Arcata a greener place to arrange

(Bridge)
It's all part of a bigger plan
To reduce our energy use, as much as we can
We've got ARPA funds, allocated for this task
And city goals too, to make sustainability last

(Chorus)
We're gonna apply for a loan, just 1% interest
For a solar PV array, and new lights at our behest
It's all to mitigate the effects of climate change
And make Arcata a greener place to arrange

(Outro)
So now we need to approve this resolution
Find the project exempt, for a swift restitution
Let's make a change, and take this opportunity
To make our city better, for everyone to see.

— LoCOBot

DOCUMENTS:

Staff ReportA. Sample Loan ApplicationB. Arcata Community Center Solar Feasibility StudyC. Resolution 223-45 ECAA Loan App


G. 4151 : Adopt Resolution No. 223-46 Authorizing the Execution of the Certifications and Assurances and Authorized Agent Forms for the Low Carbon Transit Operations Program (LCTOP) for the Following Project: A&MRTS Free Fares in the Amount of $14,000.

The City Engineer recommends that the City Council adopt a resolution authorizing the execution of Certifications and Assurances and Authorized Agent forms for a Low Carbon Transit Operations Program (LCTOP) project. The project is to provide free bus rides in the summer months for the City's transit system, A&MRTS. The LCTOP program provides operating and capital assistance for public transportation agencies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve mobility. The funds for this project were provided by the Humboldt County Association of Governments and the State, and there will be no financial impact on the City's transit revenues. The City Council will need to approve this resolution as part of the formal application process for LCTOP funding.

— LoCOBot

… or, as a chanson!

In Arcata we have a new plan
To help our planet, to lend a hand
Low carbon transit is our aim
To reduce emissions and bring change

Our free bus program will start soon
Thanks to LCTOP's funds in tune
We'll offer rides for two summer months
And encourage more to use our buses once

This program has been long awaited
And now with funding, we are elated
We hope to see new riders aboard
And make our transit system adored

Certifications and assurances
Are needed for this program's assurances
But we believe it's worth the work
To help our planet, to not shirk

A&MRTS will be the one
To offer free rides under the sun
We hope this program will be a success
And reduce our carbon footprint, no less.

— LoCOBot

DOCUMENTS:

Staff ReportA. Resolution No. 223-46


H. 4128 : Request the Annual Engineer's Report and Preparation of Notices to Declare the City's Intention to Continue to Levy and Collect Assessments of Existing Assessment Districts to Include Mad River Parkway Business Center Landscape Maintenance Assessment District, Windsong Subdivision Landscape Maintenance Assessment District and Janes Creek Meadow Landscape Maintenance Assessment District.

The City Engineer is recommending that the City Council request an Engineer's Report and Notices to declare the intention to continue to collect assessments for three assessment districts. These districts are for public landscaping and lighting maintenance and are paid for through property tax assessments. The reports include plans, costs, assessments, and parcel information. No changes are recommended, and the Mad River Parkway district will see an increase based on the CPI. Failure to continue assessments would reduce funds for maintenance. The total recommended funding for all districts is $37,974.38. The Council will hold a public hearing and vote on the Engineer's Reports and continuing assessments.

— LoCOBot

… or, as a Funkadelic song!

Verse 1:
Listen up, people, let me tell you 'bout the city
They got some assessments, gonna make it all pretty
Landscape maintenance, gotta keep it clean
Mad River Parkway, Windsong, Janes Creek, you know what I mean

Chorus:
Gonna levy and collect, gonna keep it up
Gotta keep it green, gotta keep it lit up
So let's approve this resolution
And keep these three districts in proper solution

Verse 2:
Gotta follow the Landscaping and Lighting Act of '72
Gonna create assessment districts, gotta follow through
With the Engineer's Report and Resolutions of Intent
Gonna incorporate it into the annual budget process, heaven sent

Chorus:
Gonna levy and collect, gonna keep it up
Gotta keep it green, gotta keep it lit up
So let's approve this resolution
And keep these three districts in proper solution

Verse 3:
Gonna maintain the improvements, gonna do the work
Gonna keep the costs in check, like a cool jerk
Got the plans and specifications, gotta file 'em
Gonna assess the parcels, gonna itemize 'em

Chorus:
Gonna levy and collect, gonna keep it up
Gotta keep it green, gotta keep it lit up
So let's approve this resolution
And keep these three districts in proper solution

Outro:
So don't forget to approve, keep the funds in check
Or the grounds and lighting might just become a wreck
It's all in the reports, gotta follow the law
Let's keep it all in check, let's keep it raw.

— LoCOBot

DOCUMENTS:

Staff ReportA. 2023/2024 Mad River Parkway Business Center - Engineers ReportB. 2023/2024 Windsong - Engineers ReportC. 2023/2024-Janes Creek Meadow - Engineers Report


9. ITEMS REMOVED FROM CONSENT CALENDAR

10. OLD BUSINESS

A. 4156 : Receive a Report on the Mad River Community Hospital's Special Considerations.

This report is about the Mad River Community Hospital and its special considerations in the city's General Plan and Land Use Code. The report explains that the hospital has a special consideration that requires it to conserve 50 percent of the total campus area in open space, but it also allows for residential uses that are compatible with hospital uses. If the hospital wants to add other uses or remove the special consideration, it would require amending the General Plan, Land Use Code text, and potentially a Planned Development amendment. The report does not have any policy implications and any amendments would require application and full cost recovery.

— LoCOBot

… or, as a Dungeons & Dragons campaign!

Title: The Curse of the Mad River Community Hospital

Background:
The Mad River Community Hospital has long been considered a safe haven for those in need of medical care. However, a curse has befallen the hospital and the surrounding area. The curse has caused strange illnesses and injuries to occur, leading visitors and staff to question the safety of the hospital. As a group of adventurers, it is up to you to investigate the curse and put a stop to it before it spreads beyond the hospital and into the rest of the city.

Objective:
Investigate the cause of the curse and put a stop to it.

Adventure Hooks:
- A member of your party has fallen ill and seeks medical attention at the Mad River Community Hospital. Upon arrival, they are told of the curse and the strange happenings at the hospital. They ask for your help in investigating further.
- A local priest has reached out to your party, claiming that he has been hearing strange whispers and seeing odd, shadowy figures around the hospital. He fears for the safety of the community and asks for your assistance in finding the source of the curse.
- The city council has reached out to your party, citing concerns about the safety of the hospital and its impact on the surrounding community. They ask for your help in investigating and finding a solution to the problem.

Encounters:
1. Upon arriving at the hospital, the party is met with a wave of sick and injured patients. The hospital staff is overwhelmed and unable to keep up with the influx of patients. The party must navigate the chaos and find a way to help those in need.
2. The party discovers that the curse is the result of a powerful necromancer seeking to gain control over the hospital and its patients. The necromancer raises the dead and uses them to attack the party in an attempt to stop them from interfering.
3. As the party delves deeper into the hospital, they discover that the curse is the result of a botched experiment conducted by the hospital's research department. The experiment has created strange, mutated creatures that roam the halls and attack anyone who enters.
4. The party must navigate a maze of tunnels beneath the hospital in order to reach the source of the curse. Along the way, they encounter obstacles and traps created by the necromancer and their followers.
5. The necromancer has raised a powerful undead creature to guard their stronghold within the hospital. The party must defeat the creature in order to confront the necromancer and put a stop to the curse once and for all.

Conclusion:
After defeating the necromancer and putting a stop to the curse, the hospital returns to a state of normalcy. The city council thanks the party for their help and assures them that their services will always be welcomed in the city. The hospital staff is grateful for the party's help in restoring order to their workplace, and they offer whatever medical care they can to the injured members of the party. As the party leaves the hospital and returns to their travels, they can't help but wonder what other curses and dangers may be lurking in the shadows of the world.

— LoCOBot

DOCUMENTS:

Staff ReportA. Arcata Municipal Code section 9.26.070 Special ConsiderationB. Mad River Community Hospital master plan


11. NEW BUSINESS

A. 4155 : Provide Direction to the Planning Commission Regarding the Timeline for the Strategic Infill Redevelopment Program.

The city council meeting discussed a plan called Strategic Infill Redevelopment Program. The Director of Community Development recommended that the council provide a timeline for the General Plan update and the Gateway Area Plan Element. The council wants the Planning Commission to provide recommendations on the Gateway element of the General Plan by July of 2023. The Planning Commission, Committees, and public are currently evaluating the various elements of the General Plan. The City's consultant is working on the draft Form-Based Code associated with the Gateway Area Plan for review by the Planning Commission in June. The General Plan update is largely funded by grants that have completion deadlines at the end of 2023, and has been recognized by the community as a laudable effort. The council went through a timeline of milestones leading to adoption of the General Plan and Form-Based Code, detailing dates for review and public engagement events.

— LoCOBot

… or, as a high-energy radio advertisement!

Attention all citizens of Arcata! Are you ready for some major redevelopment to take place in our city? The Planning Commission and City Council are teaming up to produce a public review draft of the General Plan update and the Gateway Area Plan Element. That’s right, we’re talking about some serious improvements to our community! This will all be done through the Strategic Infill Redevelopment Program!

Thanks to the hard work of the honorable Mayor and City Council Members, we are getting closer and closer to adopting these plans. We’re talking about a comprehensive review of the General Plan elements, the Form-Based Code, and much more.

The Planning Commission is currently reviewing each one of these aspects individually, so be sure to check out the timeline on the City of Arcata website. The final goal is to have the General Plan and associated Codes adopted by early 2024 after the Environmental Impact Report is completed.

All of this has been made possible through a combination of grants, including the Sustainable Agriculture Lands Conservation, SB2, and Local Early Action Planning grants. The City has already received extensions on these grants, but we can’t afford to miss the deadlines. If we do, we’ll be forced to pay back $225,000.

So, let’s rally together as a community to support this effort! The Planning Commission and City Council Members are counting on our support in this initiative. Stay tuned for updates on further progress towards the implementation of these redevelopment plans. Let’s make Arcata the best it can be!

— LoCOBot

DOCUMENTS:

Staff Report


12. ORAL AND WRITTEN COMMUNICATIONS

13. COUNCIL AND STAFF REPORTS

14. DATES OF FUTURE MEETINGS

A. Confirm the 2023/2024 Fiscal Year Budget Study Session, Tuesday, May 9, 2023, at 6:00 p.m., in the Council Chamber.


15. CLOSED SESSION

16. CLOSED SESSION REPORTS

17. ADJOURNMENT


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