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

No menu items!

Sea Level Rise, Groundwater,
and Climate Change

Sea Level Rise - Presentations

Sea Level Rise - Arcata

Environmental Planner Aldaron Laird: Local sea level rise consequences are going to be ‘mind boggling’

Reading time: 10 minutes -- Question: On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is the issue of sea level rise in this area? Answer: I would say it’s a 10. The significance of the change that we’re going to see over the next 40 years is going to be mind boggling.

Sea Level Rise – the basics

Sea Level Rise could affect plans for the Gateway area. See maps here of what Sea Level Rise looks like.

Will we see 7-story buildings in the Gateway Area ?

Three local experts are telling us that tall buildings can not feasibly be built in the Gateway Plan: the Arcata Fire District, Danco president Chris Dart, and renown sea level rise specialist Aldaron Laird. Has the time finally arrived that we might want to listen to people with knowledge and experience?

The California Coastal Commission

California Coastal Commission hears about the Gateway Area Plan

Reading time: 4 minutes -- At some point in the approval process of the Gateway Area Plan, State law requires that the plan come to the California Coastal Commission for review. This is a short introduction of the Gateway Area Plan, as presented to the Coastal Commission on September 7, 2023.

Looking at the details: Coastal Commission approval of Arcata’s Wastewater Treatment Facility

Will the wastewater treatment facility have to be moved to a new location? -- The California Coastal Commission gave their approval to Arcata's plan to update and maintain our wastewater treatment facility. The permit allows operation of our sewage plant through 2052 -- with specific conditions. And the conditions for continued operation are very clear.

Local Studies and Contracts on Sea Level Rise

Caltrans looks at Sea Level Rise along Highway 101 – a presentation

A presentation by Clancy De Smet, Caltrans senior specialist and Climate Change Adaptation Branch Chief, with a discussion of sea level rise and actions by Caltrans in this area. With many graphic images and commentary from Clancy De Smet. From the September 20, 2023, meeting of the Arcata City Council.  With discussion from the City Council and public comment. 24-1/2 minutes.

GHD proposal: Sea Level Rise Vulnerability and Adaptation Planning Services

On September 20, 2023, the Arcata City Council awarded a contract for $154,890 to the Eureka branch of GHD for Arcata Sea Level Rise Vulnerability and Adaptation Planning Services. This article contains the video of that section of the meeting, the staff report on this business item, and the GHD proposal, dated September 7.

Sea Level Rise and Climate Change - Local, National, and Global

Dr. Wendy Ring: The Scotia Biomass power plant operation needs to be shut down

Presentation from Dr. Wendy Ring on the carbon emissions, pollution, and health hazards of the Scotia biomass-burning electrical power plant. 21 minute video plus 15-minutes reading material.

Emerging Groundwater Report from the SF Bay Area

A 67-page report prepared in 2022 for Alameda, Marin, San Francisco, and San Mateo Counties. "Low-lying inland areas could flood from below by emergent groundwater long before coastal floodwaters overtop the shoreline.... Rising groundwater can destabilize foundations... Contaminated Sites:  The interaction of rising groundwater and contaminated sites could pose challenges for public health and the environment. ... The areas most at risk of liquefaction are generally located ... in former floodplains, wetlands, mudflats ... that were filled for development.

U.S. Coastal Communities underestimate Sea Level Rise dangers

More than half of US coastal communities are underestimating the rise in sea levels that global warming might cause in their regions.

The Economics of Arcata's Expansion

What is the financial impact of Gateway development?

What's the fiscal aspect of development in the Gateway area? What will be the changes to Arcata's over-stretched Police & Fire Departments? Who will pay for it? Will the City be running at a deficit in 10 years?

Andrea Tuttle letter from February 2022 — now 15 months later

READ THIS LETTER ! Arcata resident Andrea Tuttle Ph.D. environmental planning, former Director Calif Dept. Forestry (CDF), past Calif Coastal Commission & North Coast Water Quality Control Board, principal consultant State Senate.

Sea Level Rise - Comments from our community

Steve Salzman: Let’s answer the basic questions first

Arcata resident, retired professional engineer, and former Greenway Partners partner Steve Salzman asked some basic questions in March, 2022.  What happened to the public input element of Planwest's Scope of Work? Why are we working on an Area Plan before updating the General Plan? How much additional wastewater treatment capacity will be required, how much will it cost and how will it be paid for? Sea Level Rise:  Update the Local Coastal Plan based on the most recent and relevant scientific studies and planning efforts.

Jane Woodward – March 27, 2023 – Notes for Land Use Element update

First, I want to note that I agree with most of the comments included in the additional comments published this morning, presumably drafted by Judith Mayer, the only experienced Land Use Planning expert on the Planning Commission and who takes the time to thoroughly examine the draft provisions and make suggestions for improvement. **** Are you listening to her? **** Finally, I think it Is very short-sighted and negligent to propose high density housing in areas that are going to be inundated by sea level rise within 30-50 years, regardless of their location within Arcata. We don’t need to build in future flood zones. Move such plans to higher elevations and don't invest in short-term solutions.

Cathy Chandler-Klein – August 9, 2022

"I fully support: -Infill and increased density in the Gateway Area -Strong, safe, segregated bike and pedestrian lanes and increased public transit -The K/L couplet with preservation of L street trail next to one way vehicular traffic on L -Mixed income housing -Strong requirements for electrification of buildings, charging stations, heat pumps and all climate adaptations possible. I am concerned about: -Sea level rise and the Barrel district. My current understanding is that it is OK from the standpoint of actual sea rise but buildings might not be insurable. I assume that the EIR and the Coastal Commission will resolve those questions. If higher buildings cannot be built there, maybe that can be a recreational area."

Lisa Pelletier #1 – August 15, 2022

"I respectfully request that you take the time to read this article by Michael Machi which appeared in the MRU in March, regarding sea level rise and our wastewater treatment plant. I just discovered this piece recently while doing a bit of research, and I think it's imperative to understand that sea level rise could happen a lot faster than any of us think or are prepared for- and could be disastrous for the health and safety of every resident in Arcata."

Caroline Griffith – August 23, 2022

"As has been stated many times throughout this process, planning for development that allows people to live, work and play without relying on personal vehicles not only makes for more livable communities, but it will also help us to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, which is absolutely vital given the fact that we are in a climate crisis. We also mustn’t forget that Arcata is a coastal city in a region that is expected to experience higher rates of sea level rise than other regions on the West Coast and make sure that this factors into planning efforts."

Lisa Brown – September 27, 2022 – to Planning Commission

*** OMITTED FROM PUBLIC VIEW *** Another letter to the Planning Commissioners that was never shown to the public -- not in the packets, and not on the City's website. Lisa Brown has been the co-owner of "Solutions" on the Plaza for 30 years and was a long-time member of the City's Open Space and Agriculture Committee. She proposes to lower the scope of the Gateway Plan, reduce the proposed 3,500 housing units, and be realistic about Sea Level Rise. As a solution, she says to look at the future housing needs for the next 20 years, and to only build on land that is at least 20 feet above sea level.