Letters to the Editor, September 23, 2020

Misinformation plagues Measure F

We desperately need to pass Measure F this Nov. 3 to keep the communities of Arcata, McKinleyville, Bayside, Manila, and Jacoby Creek safe from fire.

These days in California, it shouldn’t take much convincing for one to understand the importance of having a well-functioning fire department serving our community. Although coastally in our area we are fortunate enough to not live in a high-risk fire zone (yet), localized fires still occur regularly, and in order to protect our personal and professional livelihoods, it is paramount we are able to fully staff our currently overwhelmed Fire Department.

A severe budget crisis has resulted in the loss of eight firefighters. Due to inadequate staffing, the District’s 3 fire stations have been forced to implement rotating fire station closures. This has created a terrible situation and a serious threat to the public safety of our community. 

There has been a lot of incorrect and misleading information circulating around. Despite ongoing efforts, it’s been very difficult to reach the 37,000 people the District serves with accurate facts. For example, it is still common to hear from people who don’t realize the Arcata Fire District is also the fire department for McKinleyville, Manila, Bayside and Jacoby Creek. I’m also hearing from people who don’t realize the Fire District receives no funding from the city or county governments!

How can our five communities go without a functioning fire department?! We must find ways to better inform the people who live within our 62 square mile Fire District of this very urgent situation. Please get the word out and vote YES on Measure F this Nov. 3rd, to restore the vacant firefighter positions needed to keep our fire stations open. Thank you!

Jason D Osburn

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Measure F facts

To the residents of the Arcata Fire District.

I would begin by saying the Name of the district is a bit of a misnomer, since the District serves Arcata, Bayside, Manila and McKinleyville, and the mission of the District includes both Fire and Rescue/Emergency Services. In fact the Rescue/Emergency Services consume more of the District’s time and money than is spent on Fire Suppression. I have been attending the Virtual District Board meetings for the last few months and here are some takeaways from those meetings

1. The paid staff and Volunteers of the District are extremely dedicated to their mission and continually do their upmost to support and protect our communities

2. The residents of the district have been receiving an extraordinary bargain for the money that was paid to fund the District. Between 2012 and 2017 the budget for the District was supplemented by FEMA grants which allowed continued operation without additional tax revenue. Those grants were not available after 2017 which forced service reductions that we are now experiencing.

3. We all need to realize that the “bargain” has ended. If we wish to continue to receive the quality and quantity of services of the Fire District has provided, we will need to pay for it.

4. If Measure F passes, ( i.e. if we agree to increase the financial support for the District ), the District will be able to continue its mission. Staff will be adequately paid for their service and the equipment and facilities that the district relies on will be maintained, upgraded and serviced as required. 

5. If Measure F fails, the Arcata Fire District will have no choice but to further reduce services to those of us who live in the District .It is very likely that there will be only the Mad River Station to serve the District. The Arcata Downtown Station would be closed, the McKinleyville Station would be used for administration only, and the specialty equipment would be sold off.

6. The alternatives suggested by some to use Cal Fire or Humboldt Bay Fire as the provider of emergency services will not reduce costs. In fact, fees paid will likely be greater than those proposed in Measure F. It has been made clear to me that IF Cal Fire or Humboldt Bay Fire agree to provide the services, and it is by no means certain that they will, the way in which they allocate personnel will increase cost. More firefighters will be mandatory when a truck is dispatched. There is also no guarantee that another agency would use the current facilities used by Arcata Fire. Cal Fire has facilities in Trinidad and Fortuna, and Humboldt Bay Fire is based in Eureka..

If you visit the website for the Arcata Fire District, arcatafire.org, click on What’s New, and then click on Measure F FAQ’s you will see what the District will look like if Measure F passes or doesn’t pass. You will see that without the increase in fees, there will be a significant reduction in service. In the future, a return to the services we are accustomed to MIGHT be available at a substantially greater cost coupled with uncertain response time.

I have resided in Humboldt County since 1969, spent four years as a Humboldt State University graduate student, and then went on to co-found a number of new businesses to help diversify our economy. My goal was to create economic opportunities for me and other community members who wanted to live in a beautiful , thriving place. Protecting those enterprises and those that are associated with them is very important to me and I feel a duty, if you will, to ask you to do the same. 

I would like to encourage you, my fellow residents, to support our Fire District, retain the local control of our Fire Department, and honor the extraordinary dedication of our Emergency Services personnel. Thank you

Steve Cole

Protect our communities

Like others I know, I have been shaken by the horrible wildfires that have devastated so much of our state and beyond. They have made me aware of the importance of having a fire district that can respond promptly to the first signs of impending disaster. 

That is why I’m asking everyone I know to vote YES on Measure F to ensure the opening of all three of our Fire District’s fire stations that support the communities of Arcata, McKinleyville, Manila, Bayside and Jacoby Creek. Let’s protect all our communities by voting YES on Measure F!

Sue Morse

Timing was everything

As I write this the air is filled with smoke and there is an unnatural orange glow. I remember three years ago when we were minutes away from a disaster. On Sept. 16, 2017 there was an arson fire at one of Arcata’s town landmarks, the Presbyterian Church on the corner of 11th and G streets. Fortunately it was a busy Saturday night with people walking by at around 9 p.m. There was a witness who saw a man hurl an ignited flammable object into the entryway of the church where a homeless man woke and made his way to the street with his hair on fire. While one bystander called 911, another ran to the local fire station and rang the on duty firefighters. The church entryway/porch became engulfed in flames. The Arcata Fire Department was able to get to the fire quickly and extinguish the blaze before the fire reached the inside. One of the first firemen to arrive said that if they had been minutes later that the fire would have gotten inside. The result was a charred entrance but only smoke damage inside. We could have lost the whole church building. Timing was everything.

 The burn victim was later listed in serious but stable condition and was transported to the UC Davis burn center for recovery.

 Measure F will help fund the Arcata Fire District’s three fire stations. Having all three fire stations open allows for a minimum of time for fire fighters to respond to a call. Please vote YES on F on Nov. 3.

 Members of Arcata Presbyterian Church

Lee Dedini, David Goodman, Stephanie and Bill Witzel, Joan and Fred Tempas and Katy Allen

Restore the fire department

As raging wildfires and skyrocketing insurance rates become the norm in California, we need to consider the importance of adequate fire protection for our communities. 

Reinstating lost firefighter positions to keep all three Arcata/McKinleyville stations open is one way to improve local safety. Make this happen by voting YES on Measure F.

Jeff Self

Support first responders

We have been residents of McKinleyville for over 35 years and it has always been a comfort to know that the fire station on Central Avenue was staffed by the Arcata Fire Department. 

We cannot allow for the possibility of that station closing and our having to rely on medical or fire response from teams that are three to four times farther away. 

We need to support our first responders and our community by voting YES on Measure F.

Beth & Marc Chaton

We can, and did, work it out

Over the past year, our community on Warren Creek Road has been dealing with the challenge of a Cannabis Permit application for a 10,000 square foot project on a five acre parcel at the end of our narrow, unpaved road. It was the overwhelming consensus of residents that this project would result in significant, negative outcomes for our close-knit community. 

Last March, the Planning Commission responded to our concerns by denying the permit. The applicant appealed to the Board of Supervisors, who on Aug. 25 asked that the parties meet to try to resolve the issue. As a result of that meeting, the applicants agreed to move the project to Southern Humboldt. 

We would like to express our appreciation to the Costa family for being willing to listen to our concerns and accept that the project was unacceptable to our community and to Planning Department Director John Ford for facilitating the meeting. In addition we would like to thank the Mad River Union for their accurate coverage of the issue in their March 18 and Sept. 25 publications and for giving our community a voice in the process.

Kathleen Lee
Mike Zeppegno

Regarding divestment

Note: The following is a City Council candidate’s unedited response to a question about divestment from fossil fuel industries. – Ed.

Jason Kirkpatrick served on Arcata City Council, and as Mayor, when I was in high school. I consider his tenure, and the accomplishments of the first Green Party city council majority in US history, a high point in Arcata’s evolution. I recently reconnected with Jason to pick his brain about running a campaign and our conversation moved towards this very topic.

How can Arcata declare a climate emergency, but invest in (Chevron) one of the worst climate damaging companies?

The question is a vital one. Declaring a climate emergency should not merely be a symbolic, yet hollow gesture. I am unashamedly committed to dissolving Arcata’s relationships with entities actively destroying the planet. Corporations survive on the backs of public funding. This includes corporations Arcata has previously invested in, while simultaneously making public statements against their practices (such as investing in General Electric while declaring Arcata a Nuclear Free Weapons Zone, or in Philip Morris while making proclamations against multinational tobacco companies targeting Humboldt’s youth). How, with Arcata’s tradition of being environmental champions, has a losing investment in Chevron gone unchallenged?

Arcata has over six million dollars in the Local Agency Investment Fund (LAIF) per the report given to all candidates by City staff last week. While stability and returns are important, diversification is also possible (with potentially even better returns), when focused on community values. The current emphasis on greater returns through risky investments in the waning oil industry is short-sighted, especially when viewed through the current market analysis (Chevron showed significant losses the past several years). 

As representatives working for the people, It is financially irresponsible and morally questionable for a city that touts itself as “green” and “progressive” to continue investing in companies whose interests do not favor Arcata (or the world for that matter). The current city investment priorities are: Security, liquidity, and yield. While I heartily agree with these three priorities, I would suggest and emphasize a fourth... Community Interests.

Though it is not a simple task, I would strongly support diversification, including divesting funds from the LAIF and advancing community interests over big corporate interests (which invariably take money out of the area). Investing in our community would cultivate Arcata’s self-reliance and sustainability, keep our money local and send a clear message that Arcata’s investments reflect our values.

Oryan Peterson-Jones


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