on your desktop for a bigger view. Learn more about our city.

No menu items!

HomeImportant TopicsAffordable HousingPre-Meeting Ideas from our City Councilmembers: City Council - Joint Study Session -...

Pre-Meeting Ideas from our City Councilmembers: City Council – Joint Study Session – August 22, 2023

Estimated reading time: 11 minutes

Click or press here for the original City PDF.


  1. No new through-road on L Street. No couplet. Explore all the many safety improvements to K Street, while retaining K Street as a two-way street. Perhaps 4 blocks of a Woonerf in the L Street corridor (pedestrian-oriented, with 5 mph yielding car traffic, for access to existing homes and businesses). And 6 blocks of totally car-free natural pathway.
  2. Inclusionary Zoning needs to be looked at. (Inclusionary Zoning involves incorporating low and very-low income housing in the same building with market-rate apartments.) Many questions about how to make this work. This is definitely a key question for housing in Arcata. Much less talked about is workforce affordable housing — for people who work and want a place to live. “Market rate” rentals may wind up being too expensive, even for people with good jobs.
  3. Community Benefits program. The point system needs to be looked at. Mayor Schaefer commented that there is a good number of points as an incentive to build owner-occupied affordable housing. I respectfully disagree. I do not believe the Community Benefit point system awards anywhere near enough points to encourage any kind of owner-occupied housing, whether affordable (9 points) or not (just 2 or 4 points). As an example, building student housing gives 6 points, building with even 15% of wood gives 2 points, and providing wi-fi or a 5 x 5 community garden gives 2 points. Add that up, and it’s a whole lot easier than building affordable owner-occupied housing… which is  economically very difficult these days.
  4. Building Height and Massing. The conversation is open on this one. Much need for real 3D modeling in order to get a feel for what taller buildings would feel like to people on the street and what the solar shading would be. See articles on on this theme.

Some bold highlighting and notes have been added to the original document.

City Council – Planning Commission Study Session
August 22, 2023
Gateway Policy Review
Pre-Meeting Policy Ideas from City Council


Inclusionary Zoning
K and L Couplet
Building Height / Massing

Inclusionary Zoning

Inclusionary Zoning – Sarah


By keeping inclusionary zoning requirement below the required percentage by State Density Bonus do you believe it will incentivize more development under the Community Benefits program?

Policy Recommendations:

I am in agreement with PC recommendation. Within community benefits program affordable, owner-occupied units provide the greatest number of points and are incentivized by the program. 


Inclusionary Zoning – Meredith

I generally agree with the inclusionary zoning recommendation, but would like to ask some questions and get some clarification. 


Inclusionary Zoning – Kimberley

  1. How are we going to deal with density bonuses vs. the Gateway community benefits program?
  2. I feel currently our percentages of 4% to 9% is exclusionary zoning rather than inclusionary zoning. A good start is 20%.
    1. GA-3d, GA-3e, GA-3f, GA-3g packet pg 62 (track change pg 60), I see nothing to guarantee or help home ownership opportunities.

      [Note: The sections the draft plan are shown below. Generally, in the language of planning, the word “encourage” is weak. Without a mechanism to attract the action or to enforce it, just including the word “encourage” can have little effect. It gives the developer the choice in the matter — as opposed to having the City directing what is desired. The policy “Employ multiple strategies to promote the creation of affordable housing” is a throw-away, worthless phrase.

      I also take great issue with the notion ofaffordable by design” in GA-3f which is based on the idea that a smaller apartment is “more affordable” than a larger apartment. Well, duh. But having a 200 square foot studio apartment at $2,200 a month being viewed as “more affordable” than a one-bedroom at $3,000 a month does not make that studio be actually affordable — only that it’s less unaffordable. See What are the definitions of “Affordable Housing”? Item 4. Also, as any of us who have lived in a rental with roommates will personally know, a 3-bedroom or 4-bedroom place is far more affordable than living by yourself — far more affordable. And it is more affordable to build: One kitchen, one heater, one water heater, one or two bathrooms, etc. versus the three of each that three studio apartments would take. Smaller apartments are more profitable for the developer. In terms of “letting the market decide,” there is a demand for solitary living spaces… and there also is a demand for 3- and 4-bedroom spaces. “The market” does not create affordability.]

      GA‐3d. Range of Unit Sizes. Encourage a range of unit sizes, from micro‐units (200 square feet or minimum per building standard) to units with three or more bedrooms.

      GA‐3e. Student Housing. Encourage new low‐cost housing for students, including single room occupancy housing, group living accommodations, and micro‐units.

      . Multiple Strategies to Promote Affordability. Employ multiple strategies to promote the creation of affordable housing, including rent‐restricted units affordable to middle and lower‐income households, smaller units that are affordable‐by‐design, alternative ownership models including limited equity housing cooperatives, student

      housing, deed‐restricted owner‐occupied housing affordable to middle and lower‐income households, single room occupancies, and housing for low‐income families.

      . Mixed‐Tenure. Encourage a mix of both owner‐occupied and rental housing.

  3. Attachment F- Table (Community benefits points table). I would like to address point assignments.
  4. Construction costs will go down. We don’t want to paint ourselves into a corner and give everything away. We know the State laws are ever changing. State/Federal monies will be coming around the bend. Let’s not get impatient and assume nobody will build.
    1. GA-3k Incentivize affordable housing as a community amenity.
    2. 29.050.G -Change Inclusionary Zoning requirements to 4% and 9% for very low- and low-income income units- respectively. Yes, this definitely needs to change. We need to prioritize very low income and low-income housing, lest they become gentrified projects. Those who live here now, won’t be able to afford to live in the Gateway (artists, students, unhoused, 55 years or older, and mobility impaired).

Click here to go to the top — Click here to go to the Contents

K and L Couplet

K and L Couplet – Sarah


Does the plan anticipate the development of Q street as part of the barrel district? It appears that Q street will go through to Samoa?

Has this circulation plan been looked at or discussed with Cal Poly Humboldt as they are growing their healthcare hub building on Samoa Blvd? With Caltrans who oversees Hwy 255?

Policy Recommendations:

People and place centric development. We need to start prioritize walking and biking in the downtown area over cars. More congestion on K street does not need to be alleviated by building more roads. 

Development of L street should be limited to between 10th and 7th streets and it should be designed in the “woonerf” style with low speed limits, local traffic only, with cars yielding to pedestrians and bikes in the roadway. This woonerf could prioritize public art space in roadway or green belt/trail. In my conversations with Dan Burden he believes that one-way street couplets are a car centric solution to congestion. Solving congestion is thinking about the needs of cars above all else. (See street park Seattle or Wharf St. in Washington, DC) L Street should only be an implementation measure in the future if all other options or K street solutions have been explored and implemented.

K street needs to have parking reduced between Samoa and 11th to allow for a bike lane. The fact that K street doesn’t have a bike lane is unacceptable. I am requesting staff to provide options for making safety updates to K street including, removing parking to favor bike lanes, providing bulb outs, enhanced crosswalks especially in the school zone at 8th and K streets, reduced speed limits and speed feedback signs. 


K and L Couplet – Meredith

The K/L Couplet is a part of the GAP that has been met with much conjecture, passion and conversation. I have been following the conversation closely, but really wanted to give the Planning Commission time to thoroughly discuss and come to their conclusions before I weighed in. Though I appreciate all the input from the community, in the end I came to the decision that I feel is best for the City and most accurately aligns with our values and desire to have a walkable, safe community.

While revisiting the draft circulation element, several things jumped out at me, such as the removal of the couplet and removing parking on K.  If we are going to have a complete streets City we have to be comfortable with not just making one street  — L — accessible for all modalities, we have to continue that vision throughout the City when possible. In updating the GAP we have to prioritize shifting transportation from being car-centric to “one in which transit and active transportation are competitive, or superior, in terms of convenience, perceived and actual safety and accessibility for all residents.”

The backbone of my campaign was safer streets and responsible transportation, with an emphasis on public transportation and streets that are safe for all modalities. To that end, I would recommend not building any new roads, and maintaining L street as a linear park, and to continue to look for other alternatives to alleviate not only the congestion on K street but the barrier that K Street provides to safe access of the Creamery District and Gateway Area. 


K and L Couplet- Kimberley

Abandon K & L street couplet, in favor of addressing transportation safety issues on K street that can be mitigated now. 

    1. I recommend investing in immediate safety improvements for K Street now.
      1. Reduce speeds to 20 mph (as HCAOG and Planning Commissioners have recommended)
      2. Add additional crosswalks
      3. Increase frequency of crosswalk maintenance
      4. Designate crosswalk corners as no parking to increase visibility at intersections
      5. Add radar speed feedback signs
      6. Add multiple stop signs
      7. Install flashing crosswalk signals
      8. Begin discussion about removing sections of on-street parking spaces
      9. Install speed humps, bumps or lumps
      10. Install curb extensions at intersections
      11. Implement the other recommendations from Dan Burden’s audit
    2. I recommend directing staff to develop a detailed scenario for L Street :
        1. As a full-width (50 feet wide) Linear Park without routine car access (but WITH emergency access) AND providing car/truck access to land/sites west of L Street mainly from East-West streets
        2. Bring this scenario to the Planning Commission and Council for further discussion.
          • The City of Arcata Transportation Safety Committee has strongly recommended and has declared four times that they are against this K-L Street couplet.
          • Over 1000 residents have signed the petition to create a car-free linear park along L Street
          • The Sierra Club Redwood Chapter North Group has endorsed the designation of the L Street Corridor as a Linear Park.

iii.      This corridor is already a beautiful “community benefit,” a treasured safe pathway and the perfect “opportunity zone” to become an even more amazing community treasure.

I could not have said this better so I will quote a community member:
         [Note from Fred Weis:  This is not a quote from me.]

“This is a rare opportunity we have to potentially turn this corridor into something really special. That potential doesn’t currently exist anywhere else in Arcata. I feel it’s imperative we emphatically designate it as a people’s gathering place/destination that remains car-free. I’m not closing my eyes to the effect this would have on a proposed K St./L St. couplet, but I believe we can commit to this while also committing to doing something to ultimately improve K St. We may not have the best answers right now, right in front of us, but surely, we can work together as a community and even enlist additional experts, if necessary, in order to arrive at viable options that may not have been considered.”

iv.   Even if engineers were able to fit vehicles, parked vehicles, bicyclists, pedestrians, strollers, rollers, wheelchairs, walkers, etc into this space, the feel of the pathway would be significantly altered and the peace and tranquility would no longer exist.

v.    The Creamery District has worked on visioning since 2012, let’s not undo all of their hard work.


Building Height / Massing

Building Height / Massing – Sarah

I largely agree with the planning commission recommendation. I would be open to discussions about design review for larger buildings over 5 stories if that is a sticking point for other council members. On “gradients of agreement” for this topic I am in the 2-3 range. I am open to a larger discussion with councilmembers if they are uncomfortable with the PC rec. 


Building Height / Massing – Meredith

GB- 7 max- In the “implementation” section (pg 111) it states that the timeline for the Barrel District Master plan is still TBD. Will that affect how soon buildings will be able to be built?

GH 6 max  [Hub]
GC 5 max  [Corridor]
GN 4 max  [Neighborhood]

What would we give up/what is preventing us from having stepbacks at the 4th story?

Density bonuses- If we say that the maximum height is 4 stories in the Gateway neighborhood, can builders, with the density bonus, then be able to go higher?


Building Height / Massing – Kimberley

  1. This is a big challenge without any visuals. We need 3D modeling examples to really make these decisions. Without the necessary tools this is what I came up with.
  2. Five (5) stories- but only in the Barrel District.
  3. I am separating the Corridor district into two building heights: four (4) stories along Samoa and three (3) in the rest of the Corridor.
  4. Require setbacks on all new developments. Without 3D solar shading models to reference, I propose anything over 2 stories will require a step-back (no more Sorrel Place buildings).
  5. “GA‐9f. Solar Shading. Ensure new development minimizes solar shading to surrounding properties.”
    This is a very important policy. I want to thank the energy committee for recommending this.
  6. Safe housing — I stand in solidarity with the Arcata Fire District (AFD). I am anxiously anticipating the Standard of Cover[age] that is currently being developed with AFD, Cal Poly Humboldt (CPH), and the City.
  7. I propose nothing over 3 stories be next to any existing single family residential housing.
  8. Creating new housing is essential, but we must not lose sight that this in the end, is about people. Housing is a roof over one’s head, but not necessarily a home. Cramming in people is not what we aspire to, but rather thoughtfully designed and people-centric housing.
  9. Let’s link densities to the total number of bedrooms, rather than housing units, since 90 dwelling units with 3 bedrooms implies a much higher population than 90 dwelling units with one bedroom each.


Other Topics

Click here to go to the top — Click here to go to the Contents

Form Based Code and Community Engagement — Meredith

Final thoughts: In our March council meeting, we agreed to pause community engagement meetings until the release of Form Based Codes. Now that these have been circulated and are being discussed by the Council and PlanCo, I think we need to have one more community engagement meeting and input before the Form Based Code comes to a Planning Commission and Council study session and a final decision is made.


Other discussion items: Kimberley

  1. Any ministerial approval should/must include a plan for an entire site or parcel, even if the actual development will be staged into the future. This isn’t addressed anywhere in the draft, but after two recent projects for sites not in the Gateway (Westwood Garden Apartments and Greenview neighborhood), it does seem to be a really important point.
  2. In-person Community Open House
  3. 3D Modeling
  4. There are no schools, playgrounds, or parks (other than Wing Inflatables)
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x