The Humboldt Bay area may become the site of the first offshore wind energy project on the west coast of North America. The pieces are quickly falling into place for Redwood Coast Energy Authority to become the first local government entity to apply for a commercial offshore wind lease from the federal government. Unlike land-based projects, this lease bid would be just the beginning of a series of studies and related permits that could culminate in project development in 5-7 years.

Sunday night will bring what is called a super blood wolf moon, the last lunar eclipse of the decade. 


The king tides will occur Sunday and Monday and Arcata is urging local residents to take pictures of areas around the bay as the king tides move in an effort to document the water level at high tide.


“The initiative is to get people thinking about what the high tide will look like in the coming years as the ocean rises,” said Jennifer Kalt, director of Humboldt Baykeeper. “Humboldt Bay is experiencing twice the rate of sea level rise as the rest of the state and Jay Patton and his fellow geologists at Cascadia GeoSciences have found that the ground beneath the Humboldt Bay area is sinking due to tectonic subsidence at the same rate that sea level is rising — meaning that this area has twice the rate of relative sea level rise as the state average. Conversely, the coast in the Crescent City area is uplifting due to tectonic activity at the same rate as sea level rise — meaning that there, the rate of relative sea level is essentially zero.”


Kalt said the goal is to document the high tides so that future planning can be geared toward the rise of ocean levels and for low-lying areas in Arcata and the county that will mean impacts to wastewater treatment plants and where to build future public infrastructure.


“We need to raise people’s awareness and we need to plan for this because it’s going to happen,” Kalt said. “It will only be disastrous if we fail to plan. We built all these dikes 100 years ago and now the bay is 18 inches higher and if we’re going to spend public money to upgrade wastewater treatment we should start thinking about moving them. Both Eureka and Arcata are looking at $40-to-$50 million upgrades, but where are they going to move to?”

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A series of zone reclassifications that would change what kinds of activities are allowed in various Humboldt County areas triggered significant pushback from locals last month, prompting the county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday to push zoning decisions on several areas to May.


"Rezoning" of areas in Willow Creek, Blue Lake, Glendale, and McKinleyville will be held for the time-being, partly to allow those individual communities to have a say in how the land is classified. 


"I really hope that people out there are going to re-engage and recognize this is their chance to speak up for the community and try their best to speak to the things that would benefit their community," said 5th District Supervisor Steve Madrone.


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Humboldt County’s recently-updated General Plan is more controversial than ever and has hit a wall of opposition as the Board of Supervisors considers its implementation. 

 

At a December 11 hearing, supervisors took up the rezoning of hundreds of thousands of parcels in accordance with the General Plan’s land use maps. The plan’s text and maps direct changes that include increasing residential densities and designating industrial uses. 

 

Last month, the county’s Planning Commission recommended that the board approve most of the rezones and set aside a few controversial ones for community planning processes. 

 

Explaining the commission’s reasoning, Senior Planner Michael Richardson outlined the public process that led to the General Plan’s approval. Between 2000 and 2015, it included 47 community workshops, 111 Planning Commission meetings and 75 Board of Supervisors meetings. 

 

When Richardson said that the Planning Commission believes “the public has been heard,” including in the Glendale and Fieldbrook areas, the audience responded with a round of sarcastic laughter and jeers. 

 

Earlier, Richardson told supervisors that the commission is “comfortable” with the public process. The audience again sounded off, this time with approval, when Third District Supervisor Mike Wilson said that although a majority vote was gained at the commission’s November hearing, it was “anything but comfortable.” 

 

“The entitlements that you would be giving to change the zoning on these parcels today has not been fully addressed in the EIR for the General Plan,” said Jen Kalt of Humboldt Baykeeper. 

 

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Many questions unanswered about ordinance that would rezone 500K acres of Humboldt

Shortly after the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors convenes in the New Year, it will face a massive and controversial package of zoning changes that will bring new land use designations to almost 500,000 acres throughout the county, after board discussions on the matter stalled Dec. 11.

 

That meeting saw more than 50 members of the public speak in opposition to the proposal, discussion of which began at 10:30 a.m. and stretched into the midafternoon, with only a 15-minute break. Much of that time was spent discussing changes to a single set of parcels on the banks of the Mad River close to the intake wells of the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District. But other areas of contention arose, as well.

 

Clearly frustrated with some of the public comment, some of the supervisors said that the proposed land use designation changes had already been made last October when the board approved the county's General Plan Update. The proposed zoning changes are a formality, they said. Judging from their comments, the public wasn't buying it.

 

By 10 a.m., the supervisors chamber was packed with a long line of people standing in the back and extending out the door. Even four and a half hours into the meeting, the room remained half full.

 

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