Locals seek Coastal Commission post

Daniel Mintz
Mad River Union

HUMBOLDT – Emphasizing the importance of having local representation on the state’s Coastal Commission, Humboldt County’s Board of Supervisors has nominated city officials from Arcata and Eureka for an open seat. 

At their Feb. 26 meeting, supervisors agreed to nominate Arcata Mayor Brett Watson and Eureka City Councilmember Natalie Arroyo for the Coastal Commission seat. Former Fifth District Supervisor Ryan Sundberg is leaving the commission following his loss in the last election. 

Coastal commissioners must be elected county or city officials. California Governor Gavin Newsom will consider nominations from the North Coast region that includes Humboldt, Mendocino and Del Norte counties. 

Arcata Mayor Brett Watson

Supervisor Mike Wilson sponsored the agenda item that advances the nominations and he said Watson and Arroyo are “both qualified have the drive to do this.” 

He added that it helps to have Humboldt represented on the Coastal Commission. “I think it’s important that we advocate for Humboldt County in this regard – we have a lot of projects coming up and access to a seat on that board will be important to us in so many ways,” he said. 

Watson is the founder of Humboldt Traders, a web portal specializing in local products, and HumBot 707 Tech Solutions, a website development business. He’s also worked as a biological and forestry technician for the U.S. Forest Service and is a wildland fire management lecturer at College of the Redwoods. 

Arroyo is a senior natural resources planner with the Redwood Community Action Agency and a Coast Guard marine science technician. She also lectures on environmental conflict resolution at Humboldt State University and Wilson said she wasn’t in attendance because she was teaching her class. 

Watson attended the meeting and told supervisors he would be committed to Coastal Commission work. 

“It’s definitely something I would put everything I have into and just do the best I could for our community,” he said.

Eureka City Councilmember Natalie Arroyo

In a cover letter with her resume, Arroyo described herself as being “dedicated to public service and conscientious decision-making.”

Supervisors supported both nominees. Supervisor Steve Madrone, who replaced Sundberg on the Board of Supervisors, said, “I know that either of you will do a great job representing our community.” 

Supervisors expressed appreciation for having two qualified candidates willing to take on the responsibility and hard work of being a coastal commissioner. Supervisor Estelle Fennell said it’s “a huge amount of work,” as “the agendas are very long and the meetings go all the way to midnight sometimes – it’s not for the faint of heart.” 

There are also significant political implications. “You’ve got to study and you’ve got to know what you are talking about because you will be meeting with people from all across the state, all up and down the coast, some of whom come from very powerful neighborhoods,” Fennell said. 

She agreed that it’s important to have Humboldt representation. 

Wilson noted that in a letter to the county asking for nominations, Newsom said candidates should be “officials committed to and knowledgeable about coastal preservation and conservation.”

Wilson said of Arroyo and Watson, “Both of these people have that drive and that experience.” Supervisors unanimously approved the nominations. Board Chair Rex Bohn was absent. 



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