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Wednesday, March 22, 2023
HomeGateway PlanCity's Open House "Engagement Report" is finally (almost) here

City’s Open House “Engagement Report” is finally (almost) here


On January 21 and 22, for two days, the City hosted an Open House at the Arcata Community Center.  The stated purpose was to allow the public to learn about the Gateway Area plan — just released seven weeks earlier — and to give the community an opportunity to weigh in on some of the issues in the plan.  And, boy, were there some issues in the plan.

  • Does Arcata want 8-story apartments ?
  • Does Arcata want 3,500 “housing units” built ?
  • And, at the same time, does Arcata want the recently-renamed Cal Poly Humboldt to expand by 6,000 students over the next 8 years … and only provide 2,300 new beds?  Uh, tell me again:  Just who exactly who is going to be living in these hundreds of theoretical apartments?
  • Can this plan truly provide affordable housing, or will it be composed mostly of “market rate” apartments?
  • What are the bike lanes really going to look like … and will the L Street pathway next to the Creamery Building become ruined or not?
  • And — is there community support for single-person Zoning Adminstrator-type Ministerial Review?  That is, having new projects and development be approved by the Community Development Director (or assignee) without Planning Commission review, without public comment.  Is this what Arcata wants?

For starters, I challenge the Community Development staff to provide raw data that shows community comments in support of Zoning Administrator ministerial review.

We’ve waited almost five months for it — and here it is.  Or, a draft, at least.  Kind of missing the Executive Summary as well as any real compilation of the important issues. But, hey, it’s a start. 

And:  There is lots more Community Engagement than just that Open House.

So:  Do we want 8-story apartments… or not?

Here’s the “Executive Summary.” Does this look like an executive summary to you? Not really. What’s missing — entirely — is any semblance of a summation and a recommendation.  What is an executive summary? How about:

An executive summary should summarize the key points of the report. It should restate the purpose of the report, highlight the major points of the report, and describe any results, conclusions, or recommendations from the report.

This so-called Executive Summary is a list of what some people like and what some people didn’t like.  Is there anything there that would help a decision-maker in making a decision? No, not really.

from Page 5:

Executive Summary
To be developed prior to finalizing report: Finalized summary of engagement themes, findings, and staff recommendations for how to apply community feedback on the draft Gateway Area Plan and other current work product associated with the Strategic Infill Redevelopment Program. This summary may include staff recommended modifications to existing draft Gateway Area Plan and other General Plan Elements currently under development.

• Some members of the public had concerns about environmental review, sea level rise, liquefaction and other geologic matters, parking, building height and compatibility with the Arcata aesthetic, displacement of businesses and residents, solar shading, wastewater treatment capacity, converting L Street to a southbound one-way, housing affordability, the ministerial permit process associated with the Form-Based Code, and growth in general.

• Common comments in support of elements of the plan focused on the emphasis on complete streets, alternative transportation infrastructure, the L Street conversion, emphasizing higher density, housing affordability, ministerial Form-Based Code, the environmental sustainability measures, sea level rise response, and the focus on trails.

For starters, I challenge the Community Development staff to provide raw data that shows community comments in support of Zoning Administrator ministerial review.  Please.

Please be aware that the time of the Open House meeting, the community had been told that “ministerial” meant review by a single person, usually specified as the Zoning Administrator. It would not be until Ben Noble’s presentation on Form-Based Code on June 29, 2022 — five months later — that we would learn that there are three options for “ministerial review.”  One option is Zoning Administrator review.

Back in January those people who did express concern about “the ministerial permit process associated with the Form-Based Code” were expressing concern about single-person (Zoning Administrator) review. 

Strategic Infill Redevelopment Program – Community Engagement Report (Draft)

Submitted to the public on June 17, 2022
Taken from the Agenda Packet for the June 22, 2022 City Council Meeting.

Table of Contents:

Executive Summary 5
Engagement Summary 6
  Overview 6
  Phase 1 Engagement Summary 7
  Building on Previous Data 9
  Program Engagement 
(In the Table of Contents, but not in the document)
  Engagement Summary At-a-Glance 10
Community Vision 13
  Dates/structure 14
  Listening Session/Community Vision Session 1 (December 2020) 15
  Community Vision Session 2 (February 2021) 17
  “Meeting in a Box” Sessions 19
  Meeting in a Box Themes 19
  Online Community Vision Survey 23
  Themes Translated to Updates to Community Vision Statement 28
Committee/Commission Review (2019-2022) 29
  Dates/structure 29
  Themes 31
Walking Tours (June 2021-February 2022) 33
  Dates/structure 34
  Themes 34
  Polling Results 36
Gateway Area Plan Community Review 42
  Dates/Structure 42
  Zoom Town Hall 42
  Community Open House 47
  Open House Themes 48
Draft Gateway Area Plan Targeted Review 54
  “We’ll Come to You” Sessions 54
  Additional Open Houses/Tabling 54
  Themes 55
City Committee Targeted Review 58
  Dates/structure 58
Racial Equity Policy Review 59
  Racial Equity Themes/Data from Community Vision Town Halls 60
  Racial Equity From Open House Data 61
  Summary of Racial Equity Themes from Community Vision Survey 61
Engagement Themes and Conclusions 65
  Themes regarding proposed development vision of the Infill Program 66
  Design Priorities from Community Engagement to Date 67
  Questions for Next Phase of Community Engagement 67
Attachments 68
  Vision Meeting Notes by group  – BLANK
    “Still under development”
  Walking Tour Poll Results  – BLANK
    “Still uinder development”   (with a typo)
  Town Hall Notes by group – NON-EXISTENT
[On the report’s Table of Contents, but does not exist.]
  Open House Poster photos 69
  Survey results-Open Answer Questions (Draft)  [Shown on the Engagement Report as on Page 68.] 110



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