The California Coastal Commission, which regulates all development along the state’s coast, holds meetings across the state.
In August, those meetings will be held at the Wharfinger Building in Eureka, giving locals the opportunity to weigh in on contentious topics, including the Trinidad Rancheria tribe’s proposed hotel, proposed modifications to U.S. Highway 101 by Caltrans in the Eureka area, and proposed changes to cannabis regulations in the coastal zones of Eureka and Humboldt County.
The Trinidad Rancheria’s hotel was previously rejected by the commission primarily over concerns that the city of Trinidad doesn’t have the capacity to provide the hotel water from its supply, which is sourced from Luffenholtz Creek. At a May 8 meeting of the Trinidad City Council, city engineer Steve Allen presented the “Water Treatment Plan Production Rate Test and Analysis,” which found the city’s water system had a limited capacity to handle additional water use but that more studies needed to be done before that could be stated conclusively.
“It should be noted that current water demand are met with the existing water treatment plant staff and facilities,” the report states. “Increasing the pumping rates and total amounts of water produced will certainly require additional efforts in treatment plant staff time, pumping electrical costs, maintenance costs, monitoring costs, and chemical costs.”
The report also indicated there was a need to evaluate the impact to water tanks needed for firefighting purposes and the impact to the water supply system’s disinfection process.
A few residents indicated that they weren’t in favor of more studies while others said the city should proceed with caution with the decision to supply the hotel with water, according to the council’s May 8 meeting minutes.
The Trinidad Rancheria and Bureau of Indian Affairs did not respond to requests for comment by publication time.
At previous coastal commission meetings, members of the tribe said the hotel was essential for the tribe’s economic development and for the betterment of its members as a whole.
“We deal with homelessness, drug addiction, unemployment, funding for education,” tribal chairman Garth Sundberg said. “Law enforcement is one thing we really need, but it costs a lot of money. We need the revenue.”
The hotel project will be discussed at the Aug. 8 meeting, which begins at 9 a.m.
At the meeting the day before, which begins at 11 a.m., the commission will discuss Caltrans projects to modify Highway 101 that amount to several million dollars and include extending the acceleration and deceleration lanes along exits between Arcata and Eureka, closing the median crossings, and constructing a new interchange at the Indianola Cutoff, among other things.
“This has been discussed since the early 2000s,” said Myles Cochrane, Caltrans District 1 public information officer for Humboldt and Del Norte counties. “So we’ve had our eye on this area for a long time.”
Cochrane said that’s because the Indianola Cutoff has a collision rate that is “twice the statewide average.” The proposed changes would make that stretch of the highway safer for motorists, he said.
The modifications are being designed with sea-level rise in mind, too, Cochrane said. For instance, proposed ramps at an overcrossing would be designed so that if the sea level were to rise faster than expected, those ramps could be raised to a higher level.
“Everything will be designed in a way that we can adapt the design instead of rebuilding it all over again,” he said.
At an April 23 meeting held by Caltrans to discuss the meeting, Cochrane said public opinion on the project was mixed. Some residents were supportive, while others had concerns that included the potential removal of a grove of eucalyptus trees.
“We always welcome comments from the community,” Cochrane said. “It’s important that we have transparency, so we can work with the community to create a safe and reliable transportation system for the North Coast.”
Changes are also being proposed by Humboldt County’s standards for indoor and outdoor cannabis cultivation for personal use and for standards related to medical dispensaries.
The Coastal Commission’s public information officer, Noaki Schwartz, said she was unable to provide more information about the projects, but the commission will be releasing more information about all the projects, along with the commission staff’s recommendations, roughly 10 days before the meetings begin.
One item did have a staff report attached — Eureka’s proposed changes to cannabis regulations, which would include the elimination of a prohibition on cannabis business signs and the introduction of onsite cannabis consumption in the coastal zone. The staff recommended approving the changes with some small technical modifications that would make the language within its legislative documents consistent.
“The proposed amendment would also maintain consistency with and carry out the coastal resource protection policies of the certified (land use plan) as the proposed amendment would not affect existing coastal development permitting requirements, development standards, and coastal resource protections in the certified (implementation plan),” the staff report states.
Implementation plans lay out how each municipality will carry out its local coastal program, which regulates local land use in the coastal zones. These programs must receive a stamp of approval from the coastal commission.
Eureka city staff were unavailable for comment by publication time.
Sonia Waraich can be reached at 707-441-0506.