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HomeHumor & MusicApril Fools' DayThe Gateway Area Plan: A modest proposal

The Gateway Area Plan: A modest proposal

Futuristic photo showing the partial build-out of the Gateway Area Plan. The Plan was finally adopted in 2031, following nine years of discussion and community input. Pent up demand for market-rate housing resulted in an explosion of construction. A minor typographical error in the final version resulted in a 70-story maximum height, rather than the previously agreed-upon 7 stories. As anticipated, many developers opted to construct smaller buildings than the allowable maximum.

Originally written May 12, 2022.

Now that the discussion of Building Height in the Gateway Area has come to the City Council, a somewhat simplistic argument has come to our attention: If we really want more housing, shouldn’t we want MORE stories on our tall buildings, rather than fewer stories?

Or, as the world-renown City Planner who came to Arcata said: “Why stop at 8 stories?  30 or 40 stories will accomplish our aims for housing for the future much more efficiently.”

Please note:  This is satire.  Not one little bit of it is meant to be real.  Okay ?

Pien D. Skye rides into town

November, 2022.  The current Community Development Director has voluntarily stepped aside to make room for an Interim Director, the world-renown rural/urban ex-metropolis City Planner known throughout the Western hemisphere as Ms. Pien D. Skye.  Regarding the controversy over 8-story buildings, Pien says:  “Why stop at 8 stories?  30 or 40 stories will accomplish our aims for housing for the future much more efficiently.”

A Hong Kong real estate investment company purchases the air rights for the space above the Creamery Block, and will be constructing a building that is on “stilts” perched 6 stories above the ground, tall enough to clear the Creamery tower.  For adequate engineering support, the stilts are sunk into the ground to a depth of 1,200 feet.  Engineers for the developer calculate that such a deep foundation could “conceivably likely almost certainly, surely” mitigate the effects of soil liquefaction from any currently-predictable earthquake.  The building is thus eligible for massive Federal Advance-Disaster Prevention funding.

Lions and Tigers and Ministerial Approval, oh my

Other outside-of-town and outside-of-the-U.S. developers rally to the cause as they recognize the potential financial windfall, and over a period of two weeks there are 37 projects received by the Planning Department for apartment buildings to be perched over existing structures.  Each single stilt has less than the footprint of a standard Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) and so each stilt is individually by-right approved.

The apartment buildings are subject only to the ministerial review of Interim Director Pien D. Skye, and so with 37 strokes of the pen all projects are approved.  The public doesn’t hear about them until the cranes are in place and construction is underway. The solar shading aspects of a single building are said to be minimal, and the collective solar shading potential of the 37 buildings was not a consideration, based on newly revised CEQA law.  Since the buildings are all perched up on stilts, not a single existing beloved Arcata building is disturbed, and everyone is happy, or so we are told.

Rejoice !  Apartments rent for a Dollar (maybe)

Based on the “law of supply and demand,” the construction of 18,720 more housing units should, mathematically at least, cause housing prices to drop to a tiny fraction of current rates, thus ensuring that anyone and everyone can afford to live in Arcata.  Cal Poly Humboldt recognizes the folly of constructing new student housing, and instead purchases six of the new buildings plus the entire Arcata neighborhoods of Westwood and Vaissades.  The Craftman’s Mall is miraculously saved, and is re-named as The Craftperson’s Galleria.

And back at the lab….

Meanwhile, researchers discover that those abandoned couches regularly discarded around town just after Finals Week all contain a microorganism that, when combined with the particular unique nature of the Arcata silt/decomposed-redwood Bottoms soil, can be used to create a clay-like paste that promises to rejuvenate and revitalize human skin.  Skin care facilities and spas around the world immediately covet the goo, and once again a Humboldt organic product creates a must-have frenzy. Overnight, hundreds of garage-scale small businesses arise in the left-over “blighted” buildings saved by the Gateway stilt construction, all selling ounce-sized baggies of the Arcata soil / microbe blend on Etsy, and the City is in the nick of time awash with cash.  The noisy Diesel pickup trucks from the now-defunct pot industry growers are replaced by silent Priuses Prii and Teslas as the new businesses each day take their soil sachets to the post office.  And the tax revenues from the new-found income allow the City to put a large sculpture on every street corner, thus ensuring that we are surrounded by Art.

Down at the Wastewater Treatment Facility….

Down at the marsh, a poll taken among the ducks and other water birds present reveals that they would prefer to live in a more dense housing environment. The polling consisted of throwing day-old bread to the ducks and at the same time asking them if they would prefer to eat in dense groups or would prefer to be hungry and alone. It’s their choice, and the results from the survey are clear:  The ducks want to live in dense housing. Plans are made to close down all but one of the marsh ponds and convert the remaining ponds to true “green space” by letting algae and aquatic plants take over and solidify to the point at which trails and bike paths can be constructed over the pond water.  The excess effluent from the sewage treatment plant will be inserted into the deep holes created by the process of mining the discarded-sofa-microbe-rich soils as part of the stilts’ deep foundations’ sterling engineered design.

And Finally !

The Gateway Plan is a success. The renters are happy.  The homeowners are happy. The bicyclists are happy. Even the ducks are happy.  Everyone wins !