Eureka still blowing money on illegal Waterfront Drive extension
What part of “no way” don’t you understand?
On Tuesday, April 17th, the Eureka City Council will consider whether to press forward with its ill-conceived and patently-illegal longtime plan to extend Waterfront Drive straight through the biologically-fragile wetlands of the Eureka (“PALCO”) Marsh, from Del Norte Street to Hilfiker Drive on Eureka’s south end.
Shortly after announcing the project in 2001, the City received a rash of letters from the California Coastal Commission, the State Coastal Conservancy, and a coalition of virtually every local environmental organization in Humboldt County, telling them “no way, no how, never.” While traffic congestion has in recent decades been an issue on 101 through Eureka, the City faces a very big problem with the plan. It would fill and plow a road through some of the most environmentally-sensitive habitat area (ESHA) in the City, a use strictly forbidden in California state law for new roads or roadway extensions.
One of the letters to the City was penned by the late, great Peter Douglas, longtime Executive Director of the CCC and a principle author of the Coastal Act itself. His letter is unambiguous:
“I . . . reiterate[e], as clearly and directly as possible, that we see no way this project can be recommended for approval by the Commission because it is clearly inconsistent with applicable, enforceable policies of the California Coastal Act. . . . we respectfully urge the City not to expend any additional public resources in pursuit of it.”
(Full text of Douglas’s letter and an even more scathing one from Redwood Region Audubon Society, calling out the City for the project’s “misfeasance and cronyism,” is available at the end of the City’s staff report on next week’s agenda item here.)
Given the substantial and powerful opposition, any other project this illegal and ill-conceived would have been killed by any right-thinking public agency long ago. However, we’re talking about the City of Eureka here, and most pointedly, the group of four council members known about town as “the Brady Bunch.”
The extension of Waterfront Drive through the Eureka Marsh has been identified in the Marina Center EIR as a critical traffic mitigation and alternative back-door access route for Rob Arkley’s proposed Big Box Mall. Without the illegal Waterfront Drive extension through this prime bird and waterfowl habitat, plans for the Marina Center are in BIG trouble. Accordingly, expect these council members to defy logic and sensible stewardship of City resources, and press on with their tilting at windmills, despite the clear warning in the staff report that continuation of plans for this quixotic road will cost much more than the $153,000 that the City has already allocated for the project. Most Eurekans would ask: how many fire or police officers would that be?
Please show up for the 6 pm meeting Tuesday, April 17th in council chambers to vent your displeasure and urge the City to do the right thing and kill this vampire. Just remember that the biggest unseen presence in the room will be Rob Arkley, defiantly whispering into the listening ears of the Brady Bunch, “who’s your Daddy?”