Kevin L. Hoover
Mad River Union
ARCATA BOTTOM – Between Thursday and Friday, the Arcata Land Company's (ALC) proposed Arcata Bottom cannabis grow saw major changes – in its composition, its scale and the nature of its opposition in the community.
A new project overview in a Notice of Public Hearing for the special April 22 Planning Commission meeting on the ALC proposal describes an 8-acre project, far reduced from the original 22.9 acre plan. The newly reformulated project consists of 2.3 acres of outdoor light deprivation cultivation and 5.7 acres in new greenhouses.
It also includes "ancillary support features" including 30,000 square feet of existing propagation hoop houses, an administrative building, office building, utility building, a new wastewater treatment system, stormwater. detention basins, plus unpaved parking and fencing.
Unmentioned in the cursory description is any revision in the number of workers the grow would employ. It was cited as 116 in the original proposal. That detail and others may be clarified in the full staff report, which is expected to be posted online Friday, April 16, or the following Monday.
Arcata Land Company
Friday morning, project applicant Lane DeVries issued the following statement:
"Arcata Land Company (ALC) has listened carefully to the concerns of the community related to its proposed cannabis cultivation project. After thoughtful consideration, ALC has voluntarily agreed to reduce its project from approximately 23 acres of cultivation to 8 acres. Even though the original project included measures to fully mitigate its potential impacts, ALC believes that this scaled-down project will further address neighbors’ concerns regarding the potential for odors, noise, traffic, water, and energy use.
"This scaled-down project also responds to Humboldt County Grower Alliance (HCGA)’s concerns. HCGA indicated in two letters to the County that it would formally withdraw its opposition to a reduced scale project of 8 acres or less. In an April 5 communication to ALC President Lane DeVries, HCGA Executive Director Natalynne DeLapp stated that ALC’s commitment to the reduced-scale project was a valuable gesture, and that HCGA would submit a letter withdrawing its opposition. ALC, as landowner, and Headwaters as the project operator, both look forward to working with HCGA and continuing to foster a collaborative relationship.
"ALC has made multiple attempts to set up a meeting with neighbors to no avail and continues to welcome a meeting with neighbors with constructive dialogue regarding the project."
Humboldt County Grower Alliance (HCGA)
For its part, the Humboldt County Grower Alliance (HCGA) also issued a statement:
“Arcata Land Company’s revised project description, 8-acres of new commercial cannabis cultivation, appears to conform to the legal standards held within Humboldt County’s two cannabis land use ordinances," said Natalynne DeLapp, HCGA executive director.
While that softens HCGA's former opposition, the organization is awaiting the detailed staff report, and is expected to issue another statement after analyzing it.
The group had opposed what it said was still a 12-acre project, since it involved 8 acres of cultivation and four acres of nursery space to grow saleable starts. But the latest version of the project appears, pending a more detailed description, to be more in line with accepted standards for grows, which typically allow 10 percent more area to be committed to support functions.
However, area residents who have opposed the project, informally known as "Team 27" since many reside on 27th Street, aren't on board with the new project. The group has revised its petition in opposition to the project to read:
"Arcata Land Company/Sun Valley Bulb Farm is trying to put in 8 acres of hoop houses filled with cannabis plus another .7 acre hoop house cannabis nursery on the Arcata Bottom close to homes, neighborhoods (Westwood, Bloomfield, Pacific Manor, Vassaide, etc.), schools, and churches just outside the city limits of Arcata, but within Arcata’s “Sphere of Influence,” Community Planning Area, and Western Greenbelt. This corporate mega-grow does not belong in Arcata or in Humboldt County. It will negatively impact the lives of the people in nearby homes and neighborhoods through effects in water, air, odor, noise, increased greenhouse gasses, increased traffic (especially on Sunset, Foster, Alliance, and Samoa Blvd), crime, etc. It converts agricultural lands by covering them with hoop houses on a foot of imported sand (destroying tilth) and almost 2 additional acres would be covered with concrete for offices and parking! This goes against the Humboldt County stance of supporting small, local businesses. Will your home or community be the next one threatened by a corporate mega-grow like this?
"We, the undersigned, are concerned citizens of Humboldt County who demand the Humboldt County Planning Commission deny the MITIGATED NEGATIVE DECLARATION for the ARCATA LAND COMPANY, LLC COMMERCIAL CANNABIS OUTDOOR LIGHT-DEPRIVATIONAND MIXED-LIGHT CULTIVATION PROJECT APPLICATION NO. 12255"
Team 27 has been doing outreach at the Saturday Farmers Markets on the Plaza, and collecting petition signatures nearby since the North Coast Growers Association prefers to keep the market apolitical.
Another area resident who had attempted a leading role in the controversy is Sean Armstrong, co-owner of Tule Fog Farm on Foster Avenue. He now says he is withdrawing from that role, saying he will henceforth "be quiet so the less vulnerable among us can stand up" on the matter.
Armstrong had announced an initiative to negotiate concessions from DeVries, including an organic conservation easement on Sun Valley's property, creation of a trail along a railroad grade linking Foster Avenue and Alliance Road, creation of solar-powered farmworker housing and a reduced-size project.
Armstrong said he was "using the cannabis Conditional Use Permit as leverage to get those changes." He'd scheduled a Zoom meeting Thursday night to shape his proposals, but Team 27 activists condemned the move as occurring outside public process and as self-interested, since applicant Lane DeVries co-owns 26 acres of land which his farm occupies.
The grow project opponents had urged a boycott of Armstrong's meeting, and that was successful. Just two attendees turned up on Zoom for the 6:30 p.m. online meeting, one of them a reporter. But the meeting itself lasted only a few minutes. Armstrong, appearing with an image of a baby and a baby goat in the background, began by discussing the project's scope. But his Wi-Fi appeared shaky, froze, restarted, then halted altogether. The meeting ended after just a few minutes, and didn't resume.
Friday morning, Armstrong sent out the following email message to Team 27 activists:
"The internet cut out at my house at 6:35, and came back on 10 minutes later, but nobody was there to talk when it cut out, just two people to listen, and nobody's there now. 🙂
The Humboldt County Planning Commission will hold a special meeting on April 22 at 6 p.m. to continue its public hearing on this project.
Here’s how to watch and/or participate remotely:
Listen or Watch the live stream of the Planning Commission Meeting in three ways:
- https://zoom.us/j/95367422487 Password: 581379
- Call in via telephone at 346 248-7799, enter meeting id 953 6742 2487 Password: 581379
- A live stream of the meeting can be found by using the following link: https://humboldt.legistar.com or by watching Access Humboldt on cable channel 10