Home > City of Eureka, Marian Brady, Marina Center, Rob Arkley > Eureka still blowing money on illegal Waterfront Drive extension

Eureka still blowing money on illegal Waterfront Drive extension

[Submitted anonymously.]

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?”

  1. Anonymous
    April 15, 2012 at 12:24 am

    It’s hard to tell what’s what given the author’s complete inability to pretend to be impartial on this matter. Inflammatory language doesn’t make a case. It harms your credibility.

  2. What Now
    April 15, 2012 at 1:10 am

    Just when it appears that the troglodytes on the Eureka City Council have hit bottom they show up with tunneling equipment capable of enabling their descent to new lows.
    I’m a city resident and homeowner.
    If the Council chooses to proceed on this I’d be happy to pitch in on legal costs to fight THIS as well as organizing a recall against every proponent on that board.
    Their idiocy is beyond redemption.

  3. Giggles
    April 15, 2012 at 1:47 am

    The Coastal Commission will come zooming out to stop this like they did the last time. The only thing that’s puzzling is why the Eureka Council doesn’t get it… *newsflash* this is NOT a good place for a road…

  4. twonotches
    April 15, 2012 at 2:08 am

    I hate to be cynical, but money talks. Especially in eureka. Mr Arkley enjoys his little kingdom by the sea.

  5. April 15, 2012 at 4:55 am

    Eureka, as a town, violates the law…who knew…

  6. walt
    April 15, 2012 at 6:36 am

    Not waiting until Mr. Douglas’ body is cold, there’s a chance to make some real money here. I know. . .we could call it “Douglas Drive”! Haw haw!

  7. Ponder z
    April 15, 2012 at 7:07 am

    This is the perfect place for a road. In fact the road is there now. The city owns the land, and will be selling to investors. The homeless path will now be a paved street. The CCC and Douglas can go back to LA. Most of the citizens here want this. The environment will not be harmed because the improvements will be to code to handle rain and waste waters. What will it be? Industry? Condos? Hotels and convention center?

  8. Toohey
    April 15, 2012 at 7:20 am

    Mr Douglas, an interesting man, provided an argument for term limits. The Coastal Comission is an unelected uncontrolable body that was created with good intentions but what is it they say about good intentions?

  9. Anonymous
    April 15, 2012 at 7:36 am

    So I take it you would welcome paving over another wetland Toohey? Perhaps we could mitigate by creating a new wetland in your driveway.

  10. Gil Yule
    April 15, 2012 at 7:36 am

    I wasn’t even aware this project still had life. I thought it was a dead issue years ago and it has completely fallen off my radar. Thank you for bringing it back to my attention. What an obvious waste of city time and money!

  11. High Finance
    April 15, 2012 at 8:01 am

    You’re all just upset because the extension will disturb all the transiet camps out there.

  12. Anonymous
    April 15, 2012 at 8:16 am

    So the aquatic environment has no significance to HiFi. Maybe if it payed taxes there would be something in it for him.

  13. Anonymous
    April 15, 2012 at 8:51 am

    this will cause no enviro damage, it will give better access and safety to the city /// it is not illegal, it is in a process /// this is a blog and you have a right to your bias /// don’t pretend to speak as a journalist

  14. Useyourbrainu
    April 15, 2012 at 9:18 am

    I don’t really get it maybe I’m missing something. We don’t have the economy to support this or the ballon tract. Much of our retail and commercial space is vacant why would we build more? Look around people, this is like saying building a Walmart will create jobs. Not true, displacing jobs or in this case retail space won’t creat revenue. Plain and simple there’s only x amount of money here, with out changing that over developing our fishbowl will not change anything except leave blighted vacancies around the county making our cityscape less appealing to possible transplant who could bring moneys our way.

  15. Mitch
    April 15, 2012 at 9:34 am

    /// this is a blog and you have a right to your bias ///

    But not to your own facts.

  16. Anonymous
    April 15, 2012 at 9:47 am

    Give it a rest Larry

  17. moe & curly
    April 15, 2012 at 10:10 am

    larry who?

  18. High Finance
    April 15, 2012 at 11:04 am

    Useyourbrainu should try using his “brainu”.

    You don’t start or not start projects like this or the balloon tract because of what the economy is like today. These projects are for the long term and take years to get through all the incredible red tape California puts up for anybody to do anything.

  19. Percy
    April 15, 2012 at 11:10 am

    Getting rid of the marsh will get rid of the homeless encampment out there and all those homeless will just disappear into the night, gone forever. Right. The Brady Bunch is in a rush do Arkley’s bidding while they have control over city finances, realizing that their little reign of terror will come to an end with the next city council election. Their record on Jefferson School, Barnum’s BS railroad and now the resurrection of this Waterfront Drive boondoggle to benefit Arkley’s bay front parking lot for Home Depot will be a wonderful platform to run on. I think we should name it Ponder Z drive, the road to lala land.

  20. Derral Campbell
    April 15, 2012 at 11:40 am

    Relentless.
    The majority of the citizens of Eureka plainly opposed Wal Mart, but it got weaseled in. This fool’s errand gets revived as if there were no past, no history. “Going forward,” they like to say. I call it re-writing history to suit their greed. Here in Redding, duh-velopers are keen on a new shopping center (around the size of 13 football fields), between Redding and Anderson on I-5. All the while, dozens upon dozens of vacant storefronts dot the vicinity, dormant and rotting. But the great god Jobs gets invoked, regardless of consequences.
    And they never stop, always pushing their steamroller agenda with their greedy cronies and complicit media pals. Relentless.

  21. Goldie
    April 15, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    I think this is a perfect plan for the city to look like they are doing something. Here they are again, trying to create jobs and being unfairly blocked by the Coastal Commission. Smoke, mirrors, and empty conversation under an umbrella issue. A city council with little to show for their time in office needs an enemy to focus the pubic gaze upon.

  22. Anonymous
    April 15, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    The highway to Arcata is a perfect example of wetlands being changed to a road, and while businesses were allowed to pop up here and there and cattle roam the land contained by levees, now there is a reversal out there. Much of the pastures are now owned by the BLM and will be left for green space/wetlands. This sort of thing can be done well, and a compromise can be reached.

  23. Forget it, guys
    April 15, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    The difference between this project and the road to Arcata is that the latter (Hwy 101 safety corridor) was built and levied long before the Coastal Act made the same thing illegal, i.e., new roadbuilding and roadway extensions.

    There will be no compromise reached here. It is not only because this section of Waterfront Drive extension is hugely out of compliance with the Coastal Act, but also because to allow a road of this sort through a textbook example of biologically productive, Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Area wetland in the Coastal Zone would establish a horrible statewide precedent. The CCC would absolutely not go it, as this wouldn’t be petty stealing. It would be Grand Theft Auto.

  24. Anonymous
    April 15, 2012 at 6:09 pm

    It’s important to remember that the City of Eureka originally purchased the Eureka Marsh with funding from the Coastal Conservancy in the 1980s. The City has received funding since to restore the marsh, and it has promised to restore it to offset impacts from filling other wetlands around Humboldt Bay — including when the Bayshore Mall was built. Building a road through it hardly seems like restoration to me.

  25. Cappy
    April 15, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    So Heraldo! I used to be a big fan and still enjoy reading. You have lost much credibility with us local Eurekans by not posting anything about the recent Owsely/Eureka settlement. Where before we were ashamed, truth is this case seems to go a long way in showing that the old police chief may have been the problem all along with our recent police dept. mess. Was Tyson really the sole cause of having to pay out thousands of taxpaying $$? Why did the chief really get fired? How does this Owsely settlement fit within the whole story?

    The chief seemed to make progressive changes, but it hardly seemed plausible that he reportedly took no blame at all for the mess, something many of us in town questioned. The Owsely outcome certainly doesn’t support your view which has served to isolate and cast shame on our elected officials and by extension our beloved town. Yes some take it seriously. We locals don’t come to this blog expecting support for local heritage and historical economies, rather we come to learn about alternative viewpoints in these changing times, with perhaps a false hope for some refreshing common ground to move us foward on issues of the day.

    Your lack of posting on this issue, particularly after your hammering while it unfolded, demonstrates a lack of respect shown for those locals who have followed this story, have lived here nearly our entire lives and raised our families here trying to do the right thing. Truth is this Owsely thing goes a long way toward vindicating Dave Tyson at city hall. Waterfront Drive is a devisive issue in town and deserves our time, but please post a fair perspective on this police issue. Show some objectivity, a little less divisiveness (on this issue), and win me back sister.

  26. Anonymous
    April 15, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    Oh, Cappy, start your own blog if you don’t approve. This is someone else’s.

  27. April 15, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    I’m ignorant about the advantages that this road would offer were it built. I’m not trying to make a point, just wondering if someone might be able to present the pro-Waterfront Drive arguments.

  28. April 15, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    I’m ignorant about the advantages that this road would offer were it built.

    I’ll have to admit I’ve been thinking the same thing: Why?

  29. Forget it, guys
    April 15, 2012 at 8:29 pm

    Proponents say it would reduce traffic on 101 (S. Broadway) by diverting these cars onto the new road through the marsh.

  30. Forget it, guys
    April 15, 2012 at 8:31 pm

    A full discussion of the project benefits and weaknesses appears in the link to the staff report, above. It’s the last 30 pages or so of the 94-page pdf.

  31. April 15, 2012 at 9:22 pm

    Thanks for the info. Warning, the pdf is a whopper (2.8 megs), as it is scanned pages instead of a live type document. Welcome to the 1990s.

  32. Misty
    April 16, 2012 at 5:56 am

    This confused me when I read there was a City Council Meeting talking about the 101 Corridor. I think this is part of a trick to pretend making this road will make it part of the Eureka Arcata 101 corridor; probably for some way to trick the government out of more money.

    Next they will finding a way to extract Headwater’s Funds, if the County doesn’t beat them too it, funneling it back to their own agendas.

    I heard about this STAA truck highway plan to run along the Waterfront, but listening to the debate for the 5th District, someone said that this was not going to be allowed by the California Coastal Commission.

    Also surprising is that some people still think opening 199 down to the Willits Bypass through another sensitive wetland to STAA, will not increase the largest trucks (STAA like you see on Interstate 5), and they are not having fore-thought to realize the damage these larger trucks will have on our local roads and to the highways.

    I can imagine them all scratching their heads and wondering what happened and complain there is no money to fix the roads in the County. Quite frankly, they scare me. Just what the tourists wanted, was to have a bunch of huge trucks clogging our highways, were the trucks currently flowing without restrictions are plenty big enough.

    The City Council Meeting is Tuesday, April 17, at 6 p.m. The address is 531 K St, Eureka. It is located on the 2nd floor.

  33. 713
    April 16, 2012 at 6:29 am

    The trucks aren’t going to damage the roads any more than the non STAA trucks, the max weight is still 80,000 lbs. Allso there will be fewer trips.

  34. Yokel
    April 16, 2012 at 6:44 am

    “I’m ignorant about the advantages that this road would offer were it built. ”

    Do a title search on the neighborhood. M-c-M-u-r-r-a-y maybe?

  35. Labtech
    April 16, 2012 at 8:06 am

    Well, the “Stop All Projects Before They Get Off The Ground” brigade has turned up as usual in full paranoid force.

  36. insider
    April 16, 2012 at 8:21 am

    Lil crappy says “Truth is this Owsley thing goes a long way toward vindicating Dave Tyson at city hall.” Tyson and his various personnel directors, consulting with with the cities Insurance carrier made 90% of the decisions in this matter. Department heads have almost no say in personnel matters. So this is actually a further indictment of Tyson and his management.

  37. April 16, 2012 at 10:34 am

    It’s hard to feel sorry for a city that had the option to chose from three different freeway routes through the city, but turned them all down. Eureka’s traffic congestion is a result of that. The Marshland bypass is just something to keep people excited, nobody expects it to happen any more than building a new freeway.

  38. April 16, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    I’ve seen the plans. If built it will be a narrow 2 lane road with entrance into the back of Bayshore Mall. It will never be a bypass. The best it could do is add access to some private property that is unbuildable. it will require filling some of PALCO Marsh. It will not move any homeless camps.

  39. Down the Road
    April 16, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    This isn’t the proper venue to discuss Suzie Owsley or David Tyson,
    but, any misconception that Suzie Owsley’s settlement was fair or
    correct, is BS. I have one of the victim’s journal regarding the sexual harassment they went through while working for the Eureka
    Police Department. If Tyson reads this, he will surely remember the
    night he subjected an employee to a very uncomfortable situation
    while rubbing the inside of her arm in OH’s.

    Tyson is buddies with Dee Dee Wilson and Suzie Owsley. He paid
    Wilson off before first turning her demand down. I believe this to be a first. In all probability, he advised the insurance company to
    pay Owsley off.

    Couldn’t let this go by. Sorry about the interruption. We do have rain sleeks that have FUDT on the back.

  40. grackle
    April 16, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    We do have rain sleeks that have FUDT on the back

    ?Translation , please.

  41. Buck Sport
    April 16, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    “The best it could do is add access to some private property that is unbuildable.”

    Exactly.

  42. Anonymous
    April 16, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    You could more easily increase Broadway/101 traffic flow by modifying the Wabash intersection to eliminate Fairfield traffic, making it a 4-way, rather than 5-way intersection. It’s a bottle neck and back up traffic several blocks in both directions.
    A Waterfront Drive Bypass would provide.no more than about 2-3 minutes relief unless the intent is to drive 45-50 along the waterfront, in which case you better watch out for the trucks coming and going from Costco, Schmidtbaurer, etc..

  43. Anonymous
    April 16, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    If we could only follow Red Chinas shinning example and force everyone to ride bicycles we could have Eureka be our own heven on earth and not need new roads.

  44. Anonymous
    April 16, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    Spelling and grammar will not be needed in the shining red bike paradise either.

  45. Matt
  46. High Finance
    April 16, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    Actually Mike Buettner and 3.26pm said the exact thing that I was thinking about this project.

    I just don’t see any benefit worth the cost.

  47. andante
    April 16, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    Make / keep it a trail. Envision bikes, people walking, visitors, revenue. Bike around the Bay?

  48. We're in this together
    April 16, 2012 at 10:38 pm

    Thanks for the links, Matt.

  49. April 18, 2012 at 9:19 am

    With HiFi and Mike Buettner in agreement on this moribund project, I suppose that we could say that common sense prevailed at last night’s city council meeting.

  50. Paul Jardine
    May 17, 2013 at 4:12 pm

    Intelligent land/space usage via invested transformation would take the current wetland area in question from what is now in many minds a little-used eyesore, to a fully operational cultural oasis.

    For arguments sake, Imagine for instance a ‘convention center’, along with all that classification entails by way of supporting infrastructure, with accommodations, food services and other retail space. Architecturally designed to enhance the surrounding space and fit in with the landscape, rather than overwhelm and obliterate it.

    Back in the mid-1970’s, the University of British Columbia in Canada built their new campus
    in Vancouver, upon a heavily wooded area of land owned by the university and hitherto neglected and unused.

    The new campus was designed to incorporate the existing forestry into the campus with the various curriculum departments spread out by sectors. The result being that students walked pathways through the woods to and from their tutorials and university services. You need a map to find the administration buildings and other departments they were so well-concealed. The university proved their agenda to provide educational services for thousands of people can and did indeed harmoniously coexist with a geological space most would consider unsuited for their prupose without destruction of the original space.

    Granted, wetlands and boggy marsh is not a standing forest, and insurance companies are not impressed with anyone wanting to architecturally develop anything anywhere near a flood plain or tidal basin; however, there are ways and means to incorporate what there is, with what is needed. It will take imagination and careful planning, but it can be done.

    Society requires and expects progressive and dynamic solutions to enrich their lives.
    Taking bold steps to provide those solutions will often clash with certain elements within society which are adamantly juxtaposed to change of any kind, regardless of socio-economic benefits that change would undoubtedly help provide.

    In this case, a plebiscite would be necessary to numerically identify the various ‘for and against’ factions, before providing the mandate should there be one, in order to take on the Coastal Commission. Therein lies the rub.

    I personally believe the area in question should be developed, or at least portions of the area, with sections left unmolested for those in opposition to that development.

    Realistically, when you visit in and round Eureka, it’s a mess by any standard. It appears there are numerous and scattered retail buildings which are in wretched condition inside and out, which in any other city or town would be condemned and obliterated. These buildings, most of which are not ‘historic’ places or even architecturally enriching in any way contribute nothing to the society which has to live with them.

    Having a new and beautifully designed cultural, entertainment and social center at the waters edge in Eureka would become the ‘crown jewel’ of the city. A place where resident and visitor would naturally gravitate for special events and other recreational pursuits. Lord knows we are sick and tired of the same unimaginative, unattractive and downright ugly locations such as the Eureka Mall, or any of the rundown and dilapidated areas you pass by on your way north or south.

    You may disagree with what I have written, as is your right; however, if you do not make your reasons for opposition known, one can only presume you to be either obstructionistic soely for the purose of being naturally disagreeable, or you are maintaining a hidden agenda of unknown purpose and motive.

    We need a plebiscite or referendum on this issue. Think progressive. Think dynamic. Think of city revenues, which will provide our essential services with funding and attract and retain all we need to comfortably sustain ourselves as a progressive and dynamic society making its mark upon the world. This will not happen without the desire to shape and nurture change.

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