Combined Notice of Availability of a Draft Environmental Impact Report and Public Hearing for the McKinley Statue Removal Project
Notice is hereby given by the City of Arcata as the lead agency pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) that the above-named draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) is available for public review and comment. Comments on the DEIR will be received for a 30-day period, commencing on October 5, 2018 and ending at 5:00 p.m. on November 5, 2018, after which a final EIR will be prepared containing comments and responses to comments that, together with the DEIR, will form the Final EIR. The Final EIR will be used by the City of Arcata in its consideration of approval of the proposed project.
PROJECT LOCATION AND DESCRIPTION:
The City Council (Council) of the City of Arcata (City) voted on February 21, 2018, in favor of removing the statue of President William McKinley that has been located at the center of Arcata’s Plaza since it was donated by Arcata resident George Zehndner in 1906. The statue has periodically been the focus of concern by citizens who question the appropriateness of having a commemorative work of a former President in the center of the town Plaza who is associated with a controversial period in America’s history, namely the western expansionist period of the late 19th Century. This period is further associated with the poor treatment of the indigenous peoples whose lands were the focus of the expansionist policies of the US government at the time. Through this correlation to the treatment of indigenous peoples, attention has come forward that the statue, and all of Arcata and the Humboldt Bay area, is sitting on the ancestral lands of the local Wiyot Tribe. A movement to remove the statue in honor of the Wiyot Tribe and all indigenous people has resulted in several demonstrations on the Plaza and public meetings before the City Council.
The removal of commemorative works has become a national issue. In March of this year, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP), an independent federal agency created by the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) of 1966, to promote the preservation, enhancement, and sustainable use of our nation’s diverse historic resources, and to advise the President and the Congress on national historic preservation policy, issued a policy statement to help communities address controversial commemorative works. The policy statement is included as Appendix B. In short, the ACHP statement provides guiding principles to assist local governments when facing decisions regarding the disposition of controversial public commemorative works and acknowledges that communities’ values change over time and that appropriate stewardship should balance stewardship responsibilities for publicly-owned commemorative works with recognition of the sensibilities, cultural responses, and emotions over memorialization and remembrance of difficult chapters in the nation’s history. (ACHP, March 2018) This guidance supports the City Council’s decision to remove the statue for the reasons stated herein. The statue is proposed to be stored at a City-owned offsite location until its permanent disposition is determined.
The McKinley Statue is identified in Policy H-3g of the Historic Preservation Element of the General Plan as one of several principal features of the Plaza which defines its historical character and which shall be preserved. In order to remove the statue, a focal point of the Arcata Plaza Historic District (District) and one of the principal features of the Plaza’s historic character, the Council has found that a General Plan amendment will be required. Additionally, a Design Review permit for alterations to a structure within the District is required pursuant to §§ 9.72.040.B.2 and B.3 of the City’s Land Use Code (Code).
The project requires discretionary approval and as such is subject to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The City, as the lead agency, must identify and document the potential environmental impacts of the project in accordance with CEQA (Public Resources Code § 21000 et seq.), and the CEQA Guidelines (California Administrative Code Section 15000 et seq.). The City determined that the impact to the historic resources that are the McKinley Statue and the District is potentially significant. To fulfill CEQA’s environmental review requirement, the City of Arcata determined that an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) be prepared for the project. The EIR will be focused on potential impacts to Cultural Resources, with a very cursory analysis of the other CEQA impact categories.
The purpose of the Focused EIR is to:
• Provide public disclosure of the potentially significant environmental effects of the project;
• Indicate means by which to avoid, minimize, or mitigate potentially adverse environmental effects;
• Analyze a range of alternatives to the project that may reduce or avoid one or more significant environmental effects; and
• Consider cumulative effects and other environmental effects.
ANTICIPATED SIGNIFICANT ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS:
The DEIR’s analysis of project impacts identified significant impacts on the following:
• Historical Resources – the statue is identified in the City’s General Plan as an element of the historic Plaza District.
The City proposes to adopt mitigation to address the potentially significant impact of the project; however, the project with mitigation is expected to result in a potentially significant impact. A comprehensive interpretive report will be developed by the City of Arcata, in collaboration with the area Wiyot Tribes, the Historic Sites Society of Arcata, and the Humboldt County Historical Society. The report shall include text and photographs with information about the statue itself, the artist, the patron, its relationship to the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, why it was erected, its lifetime on the Plaza, and why it was removed. The interpretation will include the pre-history of the site as Wiyot land before Anglo discovery.
PUBLIC REVIEW PROCESS:
One of the purposes of CEQA is to inform the public of the likely environmental consequences of projects. The purpose of this Notice, consistent with Sections 15086 and 15087 of the State CEQA Guidelines is to consult with and request comments on the DEIR’s environmental analyses from responsible agencies, organizations, and interested parties.
The DEIR is available for review during normal business hours (9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.), Monday through Friday, at the City of Arcata Community Development Department, City Hall, at 736 F Street, California, 95521. The DEIR is also available for review or download on the City’s website (http://www.cityofarcata.org/787/McKinley-Statue). Comments on the DEIR may be submitted to:
McKinley Statue Removal Project EIR
City of Arcata, Community Development Department
736 F Street, California, 95521
Please include a return address and contact name with your written comments. Comments can also be sent via email with subject line “The Village DEIR Comments” to: [email protected]
Although CEQA does not require formal hearings at any stage of the environmental review process (State CEQA Guidelines Section 15202[a]), it does encourage “wide public involvement, formal and informal, in order to receive and evaluate public reactions to environmental issues” (State CEQA Guidelines Section 15201) and requires the lead agency to provide the public with the opportunity to provide comments. The City, as lead agency, circulated a Notice of Preparation (NOP) of an EIR (SCH # 2018052032) for the proposed project on October 14, 2016. The NOP was distributed for a 30-day comment period that ended on June 11, 2018. In addition, the City held a formally noticed public scoping meeting on May 17, 2018, to solicit input on the scope and focus of the EIR. An agency scoping meeting was subsequently held on May 18, 2018. Comments received on the NOP and during the public scoping meeting were considered in the preparation of the EIR.
There were no public or agency responses to the NOP. Like the NOP, the DEIR is being circulated for review and comment by appropriate agencies, as well as organizations and individuals who have requested notification. In accordance with Section 15205(d) of the State CEQA Guidelines, the City has scheduled a 30-day public review period for the DEIR, ending on November 5, 2017, at 5:00 p.m. Within that 30-day period, the City will hold at least one public hearing to request comments on the DEIR.
NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that the Arcata Planning Commission will conduct a public hearing on Tuesday, October 23, 2018, beginning at 6:00 p.m. (or as soon thereafter as can be heard) in the City Council Chambers, Arcata City Hall, 736 F St., to receive comments on the DEIR for the above referenced project, which will require a General Plan Amendment.
NOTICE IS FURTHER GIVEN that anyone desiring to present testimony regarding said project may do so prior to or at the public hearing noticed herein.
NOTICE IS FURTHER GIVEN that the information regarding the proposed project and environmental review may be reviewed at the Community Development Department at Arcata City Hall, 736 “F” Street, Arcata, on weekdays between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. at (707) 822-5955.
NOTICE IS FURTHER GIVEN that, pursuant to state law, “If you challenge City action on a proposed project in court, you may be limited to raising only those issues you or someone else raised at the public hearing described in this notice, or in written correspondence delivered to the hearing body at, or prior to, the public hearing(s).
NOTICE IS FURTHER GIVEN that the meeting facilities will be accessible to persons with disabilities. Reasonable accommodations requests may be made by contacting Bridget Dory, City Clerk, at 707-825-2103 or [email protected] at least 48 hours before the meeting.
Following the close of the public review period for the DEIR, the City will prepare a final EIR, incorporating all comments received during the public comment period, for consideration by the Planning Commission, at a date for which notice shall be provided. As required by CEQA (Section 21092.5), the final EIR, including written responses to the comments submitted by public agencies, will be available at least 10 days prior to certification.