McKinleyville Town Center planning kicked up to county level

MCKINLEYVILLE TOWN CENTER This map shows some of the proposed trails and open space areas for the undeveloped area of the Town Center. The circle on the left shows the Pierson Pond. On the bottom, south of Hiller Road, there is an area designated as a possible park. However, portions of that strip are already developed with homes, businesses and a church. The McKinleyville Municipal Advisory Committee does not support that area as being a park as designated on the map. Humboldt County Planning Department image

Jack Durham
Mad River Union

McKINLEYVILLE – After nearly a year and a half of public meetings about the McKinleyville Town Center, the McKinleyville Municipal Advisory Committee voted unanimously March 31 to direct the Humboldt County Planning Department to create a draft land use ordinance for the heart of the community.

The vote brings to an end the first phase of planning for the McKinleyville Town Center.

Since the fall of 2019, the McKMAC has held numerous meetings to discuss the community’s vision for the Town Center. The advisory committee has discussed wetlands, open space, trails, roadways and mixed use development, much of it centered on the undeveloped property located behind the McKinleyville Shopping Center.

This input will now be used by the staff of the Humboldt County Planning Department to create a draft ordinance for the Town Center, which stretches from McKinleyville Avenue to Pierson Park and from Railroad Drive to an area roughly near Heartwood Drive.

The county is working with local architect Kash Boodjeh, who is creating drawings that will be included in the ordinance.

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“My hope is that the words and drawings together will be a nice, tight package,” said Supervising Planner Michael Richardson, who said that Boodjeh is working “feverishly” on the drawings, which may be completed in a few weeks.

The committee’s decision to move forward came about after a discussion about “key themes” that emerged during public input at the March 24 meeting. McKMAC Chair Maya Conrad compiled the list and presented it to the McKMAC.

However, some participants objected to the list because it didn’t include everything that was said at the meeting, or at prior meetings. 

McKMAC member Greg Orsini found a way around the problem and made a motion to direct planning staff to draft an ordinance using all of the input received since the fall of 2019. The motion was ultimately approved by the committee.

“At some point we need to be considerate of the planning department because this isn’t the only work they’ve got to do,” Orsini said during the meeting. “I think it’s time for us to say enough is enough and let’s move on to the next part of this process.”

Rather than discussing the Town Center in generalities, the committee will be able to review the actual proposed land use regulations when it receives the draft ordinance.

“Really, where the rubber hits the road, is the ordinance,” said McKMAC member Patrick Kaspari.

“It’s time to do it,” said Fifth District Supervisor Steve Madrone. “I applaud you for your work and your commitment. You guys have really been carrying some heavy water and you are doing a great job.”

Walking, biking

This summer, the McKMAC will also provide input for what’s being called the “McKinleyville Multimodal Connections Project Plan,” which will identify options for enhanced safety and connectivity for walking and biking between McKinleyville and north Arcata and to the McKinleyville Town Center.

Humboldt County Public Works is paying for the study using a $196,700 Caltrans Sustainable Transportation Planning Grant. Emily Sinkhorn of the Redwood Community Action Agency is leading the effort.

Sinkhorn told the McKMAC that there will be meetings with small groups and there will be virtual meetings early this summer to get input on the plan.

The next McKMAC meeting is Wednesday, April 28 from 6 to 8 p.m. Agendas for the McKMAC meetings are posted at humboldtgov.org/238/McKinleyville-Municipal-Advisory-Committ.







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