McK’s Town Center an opportunity to redefine
Right now McKinleyville is at the cusp of some profound changes and opportunities. Seventeen years ago when the McKinleyville Community Plan was adopted it called for the creation of a Town Center Ordinance to help clarify the goals for establishing a Town Center in the area surrounding Safeway. But no one was in charge of actually doing it.
Although we do have a hard working, elected, Community Services Board which does the best it can with what it has it is not endowed with a great deal of power to steer for the future or envision positive changes for our community and the MCSD Board wasn’t given the power to write the ordinance or facilitate the creation of a Town Center. Thankfully, for many years there has a been a group of volunteer community members getting together in living rooms, coffee shops and borrowed offices around town working to do just that. For all this time this small group has worked to envision a vibrant, walkable, welcoming, and living Town Center to create a kind of anchor at the heart of our community for all of us who call McKinleyville home. And of late they have been gaining traction and building momentum.
On Wednesday, Nov. 13 from 5:30 to 8:30, there will be a public meeting at Azalea Hall hosted by the Humboldt County Planning Division and the McKinleyville Municipal Advisory Committee (McKMAC) to share information about the current actions related to the town center and continue discussion about the next steps.
What strikes me is that an incredible (and rare) opportunity is presenting itself to all of us who are living in McKinleyville right now. Personally, I have not been engaged in any community projects. I go to work, try and raise the kids, keep the ship afloat like most of us living here. But I’ve been lucky to have a good a friend who has managed to get me out to a few meetings and who has introduced me to many of these folks who have kept this vision alive.
Aside from being awed by their energy and persistence I am also struck by the wide openness of this opportunity. I’m writing this letter to the paper to make sure that anyone reading this will understand that McKinleyville is truly standing at a turning point and that it will be up to us, this generation of McKinleyvillians, to shape the future of this town. We are not fighting against some big out-out-of-town developer.
We are not fighting against a heavy-handed government bureaucracy looking to force a particular vision on our community. We actual have the opportunity, right now, to think about creating an incredible center for our town.
It’s up to us to think about what would make a vibrant Town Center. It’s up to us to think about what would bring us out for an evening downtown? What can we build that will feel like home for us and for our kids?
This conversation is actually happening right now, thanks to that group of volunteers who have been toiling away for years. All of us who haven’t taken part yet still have an opportunity to connect with this once-in-a-lifetime experience of building a Center for our Town. The door is open.
On Wednesday the 13th, the meeting is focused on the Town Center project and writing this Ordinance. But many of these same community members who have been working on the Town Center have also been exploring the possibility of actually transforming McKinleyville from the Unincorporated Area that it currently is into a self-governing city able to plan for its own future.
Of course these two conversations are definitely separate at the moment. We can work for a Town Center and never become a city. We can work to become a city and never specifically develop a town center. But in my mind these projects are deeply linked as both are parts of the same opportunity to step up and hand-craft the future of our home. No matter where you fall on the political spectrum or what you might like to see in your City Center, if you live in McKinleyville the future is wide open and looking for your input and energy.
How we move forward with the Town Center will obviously effect any action with incorporation. And any movement with incorporation will effect the feel of the Town Center. I’m writing this letter today because I’m excited by the idea of taking part in shaping the future of this place where I am living my life and raising my children. And also because In today’s day-and-age of flickering news bites, TV personality politicians, and line-in-the-sand negotiations it is downright uplifting to connect with real people, in an actual human-to-human meeting and think, together, about what might make for a great place to live.
It’s really up to us to step up and support the years of work already done by these volunteers and join the table as the momentum gathers.
Climate change requires difficult action right now
Unprecedented rates of sea level rise, wildfires, and species declines in recent news should have us all in a state of alarm and poised to take serious action.
Unfortunately, even though we human beings are the most adaptable species on the planet, it is in our nature to cling to the status quo. And even though we are the most foresighted, we tend to believe versions of the future which make the least demands of us.
What else can explain how we got to the loss of 96 percent of wild mammals on earth, disappearance of a third of all birds in the U.S. in just 50 years, and wildfire increases of 500 percent to 800 percent rates and areas burned in California in the last 50 years?
These statistics are not static, they are ever-growing, and have been for a long time. Warnings were coming long before the 1970s, when the trajectory of destruction seemed to take a steep ascent.
It is long past time for us to change our ways and start applying the brakes to this, and there are a couple of precautions I can think of.
We can’t expect to continue being passive customers and spectators of the business and politics that got us here. We shouldn’t rush into easy-sounding solutions, especially if they are offered by commercial entities standing to profit.
We have to stop complaining and take responsibility for being well-informed, doing the hard work of listening, understanding, and communicating with open minds, and making it a regular part of our lives to participate in the decision-making crucial to the future.
In the familiar “think global, act local”, the second part is more difficult. Human land use is a top global driver of the environmental crisis, but local examples are less exciting, and getting down to the realities is complicated, technical, and often involve personal relationships in the community. Decision-making is typically under the radar, usually understood and influenced only by those with immediate financial stakes.
So it will take some courage, and willingness to be bored and make mistakes, but if you were willing to read this, please consider attending upcoming Thursday night Planning Commission meetings concerning controversial siting of an industrial wind energy project, and rezoning of our forests and farm lands.
Ask to be added to the mailing list [email protected], or go to humboldt.legistar.com/DepartmentDetail.aspx?ID=25787&GUID=C79B4BC4-E3F3-4AE2-BA90-5618ED18BCB5.
Many thanks for support of NRLT Annual Celebration
On Saturday, Oct. 12, Northcoast Regional Land Trust supporters gathered at the Fortuna River Lodge to celebrate land conservation, habitat restoration and our connections to one another and the lands and waters that sustain us.
Our Annual Celebration is truly a community effort and we are grateful to all the individuals and businesses from across the region who supported our “Boots and Birkenstocks” event by donating or volunteering.
This year, we were honored to recognize two leaders in the organization who embody the “Boots and Birkenstocks” name: Lee Mora, of Humboldt Auction Yard and Humboldt Grassfed Beef, and Dennis Rael, of Los Bagels.
Since joining the NRLT Board of Directors in 2007 and continuing today, they bring shared values of leadership, hard work, and commitment to this organization and to our mission to conserve this region’s wild and working lands.
While there are too many supporters to list here, we want to recognize our generous event sponsors: Green Diamond Resource Company, Points West Surveying, ReMAX/Humboldt Property Management, Humboldt Redwood Company/Mendocino Redwood Company, North Coast Audiology, Pierson Building Center, Stillwater Sciences, American AgCredit, Hubbard’s German Auto, Planwest Partners, Ramone’s Bakery & Café, GHD, Harbers Insurance Agency/The Shaw Group, Humboldt Area Foundation, The Land Man, Conservation Partners, Alexandre Family Farm, Clendenen Cider Works, Humboldt Grassfed Beef, and Los Bagels.
I continue to be humbled and inspired by working with so many amazing people in this special corner of our world. Thank you all!
Dan Ehresman, executive director
Northcoast Regional Land Trust
Lessons from the blackout
If we learned one thing from the blackout, it’s this: Humboldt County needs to use what power it can generate here and not depend on the grid.
But we knew that one. With a history of a rugged embrace of living close to the ground, within our means and independent of the over-developed south, Humboldt pioneered the “off the grid” life decades ago. (Some may say centuries ago).
Let’s not fear the next step, and, following in the path laid down by the Blue Lake Rancheria, truly be responsible for our electrical needs. Rooftop solar and other renewables should be organized into decentralized local power grids. PG&E’s one-grid-fits-all model is unreliable, vulnerable and requires hugely expensive upgrades and maintenance. Now is the time to transition out of that failing grid into something that reflects our strengths and values.
It is fitting that both Blue Lake and Wiyot people are leading the way. The Mega Wind Farm around Scotia would be a step backward: tearing up the countryside, exporting power and dollars and, with increasing frequency, leaving us powerless.
Restore the three key relocation benefits
Petition for Reasonable Relocation Benefits for Displaced Mobilehome Park Residents If an Arcata
Mobilehome Park Closes Down
or Converts to Another Use
Since 2016, Arcata mobilehome park residents have sought assistance from our City government to prevent the loss of our homes, a loss which would result in homelessness for many of us, especially those of us without families or with families unable financially to support us.
We asked our City Council for a mobilehome park conversion ordinance that would provide equitable assistance to Arcata’s park residents displaced when their mobilehome park closes down or converts to another use, like a high-rise condo or a single-family subdivision.
In particular we asked the council to include in the ordinance three key relocation benefits for the displaced residents:
1. Appraisal of each mobilehome by a qualified independent appraiser; and
2. Payment by the park owner for 100 percent fair market appraised value of each mobilehome that cannot be relocated; and
3. A small rental assistance for a year.
The park owner would pay for these 3 key relocation benefits when the park closes down or converts to another use.
At least 18 other California mobilehome park conversion ordinances, including Humboldt County’s, have these three key benefits.
Thus, at the Oct. 16, 2019 City Council meeting, it is understandable that attendees were shocked and dismayed by the Council’s motion to approve the draft conversion ordinance 1515 without the three key benefits for displaced mobilehome park residents, and then by the council’s unanimous vote in favor of the motion.
Although the Arcata city attorney insists that the Arcata ordinance cannot include the three key benefits because of potential lawsuits by park owners, it is important to note that there have been no reported appellate court cases won by park owners opposing these three relocation benefits in conversion ordinances in California.
The outcome of the council’s action is devastating for Arcata’s mobilehome park residents, because when a park closes down or converts to another use, all park residents are displaced and their future independence is negatively impacted.
Once established in place, mobilehomes cannot be successfully moved. Also there are no empty spaces in other Arcata mobilehome parks that will accept an old mobilehome. Consequently park owners will likely “buy” our homes for pennies on the dollar and cart them off as trash.
With our single biggest asset, our home, gone, and without fair reimbursement received for it, we will not be able to afford to buy any mobilehome nor afford security deposit or first and last month’s rents for an apartment. Further, if we owe a mortgage on our lost mobilehome, we will be left with the debt and no asset.
In other words, by deleting the three key relocation benefits, the Council has cast aside 600-plus vulnerable Arcata mobilehome park households. These households are not covered by the Humboldt County Manufactured Home Conversion Ordinance.
…the California Supreme Court has observed that “unlike the usual tenant, the mobilehome owner generally makes a substantial investment in the home and its appurtenances—typically a greater investment in his or her space than the mobilehome park owner…” [Galland v. City of Clovis (2001) 24 Cal. 4th 1003, 1009.]
Arcata has an affordable housing crisis. There is currently a shortage of 148 affordable very-low and low-income units. Where would displaced park residents hope to find an affordable place to live in Arcata if their park closes down or converts to another use?
We feel that the City Council could not have possibly intended an outcome with such difficulties for displaced mobilehome park residents.
Therefore, we ask the Arcata City Council:
• Please do not be intimidated by park owners’ threats of lawsuits against inclusion of the three key benefits in the conversion ordinance, and
• Please do not take the final step to make the flawed Arcata conversion ordinance law at the Nov. 20, 2019, City Council meeting, and
• Please reinstate the three key benefits in Arcata’s conversion ordinance and join 18 other California jurisdictions who have ordinances that provide good relocation benefits for their mobilehome park residents who would be displaced in the event of a park closure or conversion to another use.
Print Name __________________
Resident of an Arcata Mobilehome Park? Yes/No Date: ______________
Jan Derksen, Ph.D.
Arcata Lazy J Ranch Senior Mobilehome Park
Taiko Swing Humboldt thanks for Rockin’ Ramen
Taiko Swing Humboldt expresses their deep appreciation to the nearly 40 volunteers and over 50 donors and sponsors who helped make the recent fundraiser event, Rockin’ Ramen, such a success. We raised over $7,000 towards the support of local performances of Taiko Swingposium on the Road in 2020.
We are grateful to over 200 community members who attended our event, because without your support, we would not have achieved our fundraising goal.
Taiko Swing Humboldt (a program of Humboldt Folklife Society) is hosting five Swingposium performances locally, January 29 through February 1; they are a collaborative creative effort between the San Jose Taiko, Epic Immersive, the Humboldt State University Jazz Orchestra, and local dancers.
Swingposium is a living history tribute to big band music and swing dance that was a source of hope in the WWII Japanese American incarceration camps and a connection to the outside world.
Kudos and gratitude to those providing food, drink and entertainment for Rockin’ Ramen: Chef Johnny Honda of The Pub and crew for delicious ramen; sponsors Booth Brewing Company and Little Japan Market; Gregg Moore’s Bandemonium aka Chindon-Zakura, Japanese street music band; Gary Ronne’s Taiko drummers; and Jessica Eden’s and FiredArts potters’ beautiful hand-turned ramen bowls.
Deep appreciation to our silent auction donors: A & L Feed, Alan Sanborn, All Under Heaven, Ann Lindsay, Annette Makino, Arcata Animal Hospital, Art Center, Bayfront Restaurant , Bee Hunter Wines, Bubbles, Carrie Oyama, Essential Elements Spa, Eureka Natural Foods, Hilliard Lamps, Iris Schencke, Jennifer Smith Massage, Joan Gold, Josh Fox Bread, Joyce King, Karla Austin, Mad River Gardens, Maureen McGarry, Nick Dedini, North Town Books, Obento Humboldt, Onyx Salon, Pacific Mindfulness, Patricia Sennott, Paula’s Puzzles, Phyllis & Darryl Chinn & Sue Mossman, Plaza Grill, Redwood Yogurt, Rees Hughes, Revolution Bicycles, Rumplesilkskin, Scoop, Scrap Humboldt, Sheri Woo, Spring Garrett, Thimbleberry Threads, Tibora Girczyc-Blum, and Tomo Restaurant.
Watch for when tickets go on sale for the January 31 and February 1 immersive performances of Swingposium on the Road at Bayside Community Hall.
It should be noted that there will be a free stage performance of Swingposium in HSU’s Van Duzer Hall, on the evening of January 30, Fred Korematsu Day. A Pop-Up Museum of artifacts and ephemera from WWII Japanese American incarceration camps will be in the HSU Library, January 14-27, 2020.
Team Taiko: Marylyn Paik-Nicely and Pat Girczyc, Rockin’ Ramen co-leads, Alex Ozaki-McNeill, Ali Ong Lee, Amy Uyeki, Patty Saito Hecht, Terry Uyeki, and Vicki Ozaki.
McKinleyville, Arcata and Bayside