Mad River Union
ARCATA – Arcata Mayor Paul Pitino says he is looking out for the under-represented citizens of Arcata.
“”There are no renters on City Council,” Pitino said.
“In a town with 60 percent renters, that a big chunk of the population I have to pay attention to. Tenants, students and poor people.”
Pitino, a sun-spotted landscaper who bears his toothy grin under a broad-brimmed hat, has helped put a public bathroom in downtown Arcata, create a Sunday bus service out of the city, and sparked a movement to build a public dog park.
Pitino was first elected to the City Council in 2004, where he pushed for a Sunday bus service from Arcata to Eureka. Before that, he served as a member of the Transportation Safety Committee from 1997 to 2004, when he had a role in building roundabouts and speed bumps to slow down traffic in Arcata.
As a councilmember and citizen, Pitino worked to clean up Arcata’s small neighborhood parks, starting with Rotary Park in his own neighborhood.
“The little tiny neighborhood parks are just left to their own devices, one swing, not completely fenced, no drinking fountain,” Pitino said.
A hands-on activist, Pitino is often seen working among Community Pride & Peace volunteers Friday afternoons at 1 p.m., picking up cigarette butts and other trash in and around the Plaza.
Pitino said his achievements as a councilmember and citizen activist are a result of focusing on concrete goals.
“It’s unbelievable how if you pick something concrete like a bathroom or a Sunday bus service, and say that is valuable, how do you resist that? I just stay with it, eventually you can get it.”
Pitino said that chief among his priorities if re-elected to the City Council would be pushing for late night bus services out of Arcata and creating a rental housing health and safety inspection program.
Pitino said that creating a rental inspection program was crucial given Arcata’s large population of students.
“If you are a young student, it’s very difficult to take a landlord to task,” he said. “We need to look at how we can reasonably require rentals to be safe.”
Pitino said his first project would be a bit more concrete; building a city dog park. Pitino said the need for a dog park had been at the forefront of his mind for a few years.
“Jesus, half this town has dogs,” he said.
Leash laws apply throughout Arcata. Pitino said the lack of leash-free areas is unfair to owners and dogs alike. The result, he said, is that dogs lack a space to socialize and owners don’t learn how to control them.
“[Without a dog park,] we have a whole town of unhappy dogs that act up when they see each other.”