Kevin L. Hoover
Mad River Union
ARCATA – The City of Arcata has put a lot of thought into the first impressions created by its “gateways.”
It successfully strove to locate the California Welcome Center on Heindon Road at the the town’s north end, and funded costly and extensive road, landscaping and signage improvements to formerly dilapidated Samoa Boulevard at the south end, all to create an attractive welcome to town.
Those entering Arcata from the west side along State Route 255 behold an entirely less appealing sight – hundreds of feet of graffiti-slathered fencing at the former Waste Transfer Station.
The graffiti situation at the Winkel-Floyd Business Park – the former site of Arcata’s iconic California Barrel Factory – has deteriorated from random tags to garish, cryptic logos set against the otherwise majestic backdrop of Arcata and its redwood-covered hills.
The City has been trying to get the mess cleaned up for months. Painting over the tags doesn’t help, as new ones quickly return.
“This property has been an ongoing graffitti issue for us,” said APD Lt. Ryan Peterson. “We have been working closely with the property owners.”
On Dec. 16, the City sent a letter to property owners Richard and Karen Winkel suggesting that the slats in the west side cyclone fence be removed, thus eliminating the canvas on which vandals paint their tags.
Community Development Director Larry Oetker said he reviewed the Land Use Code and decided that the slat removal would not require review by the Historic and Design Review Commission.
There is a condition – that new vegetation be planted on the west side to restore the screening effect which obscures the former waste transfer station beyond. Fence-blocking shrubbery is credited with preventing similar vandalism to the south-facing fence.
Realtor Dave Wells and attorney Bradford Floyd, who manage the business park, did not return calls.
The City provided the property owners with a list of native plants from which to choose.
“This is a very ugly spot that we have been working on to improve,” Peterson said. “Hopefully our new plan will make a difference.”