Carol McFarland: Access to the proposed Creek Side Homes project remains problematic

CREEK SIDE LOOP DRIVE Managing access to the new Creek Side Homes subdivision may require rethinking routes. Submitted image

Twelve years ago we decided to preserve our small piece of the Arcata Bottom handed down from great-grandparents because of the possible annexation and development of a subdivision of 150 houses, and the inevitable widening of Foster Avenue for its principal entrances. 

Why? At that time, the front door to our house was less than six feet away from traffic, and with further development of the busy road we had limited choices.

The sprint from the western end of Foster Avenue to Alliance Road, at present, is clogged by limited access to Alliance Road from the Bloomfield neighborhood and Cypress Grove Chèvre, and to two charter schools, St. Mary’s Church, the Sun Valley floral farm — and shared space with farmers and ranchers and slow-moving farm vehicles.

 Originally a one-lane dirt track, Foster Avenue (the segment between Q Street and Janes Road) is a two-lane narrow, fenced county road with no sidewalks. Within a scant mile to the Arcata Plaza, it is also a recreational gateway where pedestrians, cyclists, and sightseers also compete for scant space.

The western segment of Foster Avenue borders the proposed annexation site, measures exactly one quarter mile from the Janes Road intersection to Q Street and is known as “the speedway,” despite a 25 mph limit, and features two 90-degree turns: Foster Avenue on to Q Street, and a 90-degree from Q to 17th street, followed by a dash down 17th to wait in line to turn North or South on to Alliance Road. 

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Anyone who believes an additional surge of traffic will be “insignificant” from the projected 100-person assisted-living complex, and a 150-home mixed development with its multiple service vehicles, emergency/safety needs, residents’ and visitors’ vehicles ought to drive or, better yet, walk or cycle out to see it for themselves. 

Note: A slow, uneventful tour is good for a visit except during hours that residents head to or from work, when schools open and close or have meetings or supply deliveries, during a funeral or church service, when Sun Valley shifts change, when milk trucks visit Bottom farms, Mail Haul commercial trucks arrive, or when Cypress Grove employees and delivery vans enter and leave, during Arcata High and HSU track team practice runs, on Sundays when cyclists mass for a tour, when The Kids’ Marathon or other running events block the roadways — you get the idea.

The owners of Tule Fog Farms, Sean Armstrong and Shail Pec-Crouse, whose home at Foster and Q is less than 10 feet from the 90-degree turn have suggested that the city and planners leave Foster Avenue out of the plan entirely, and create a main entrance beginning at the current three-way intersection on Alliance Road and build a “Creekside Loop Drive” directly in to the future development for more effective traffic control.

Although ultimately rejected, past experience with annexation and development left us with a dozen years of increased Arcata Bottom infill and even greater competition for the western segment of Foster Avenue. Area farmers, ranchers, stakeholders, and planners have had time to consider alternatives for appropriate access to the three-acre parcel — or have they?

Let the planners know what you think by calling or visiting them or attending Planning Commission and City Council meetings.

 Carol McFarland lives on the Arcata Bottom.





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