Eureka on-board with county’s plan to create 4th Street parking lot

City council agrees the plan is consistent with General Plan

The 4th Street block, which includes several residences and Raliberto’s Taco Shop, in Eureka that Humboldt County is looking to raze to make way for a parking lot that would accommodate the expansion of the jail. The Eureka City Council voted unanimously to affirm the structure would conform with the city’s general plan if the county were to centralize its services there. (Google Street View)
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The city of Eureka has given its nod of approval to Humboldt County for the parking lot structure that will replace the buildings on the 1000 block of 4th Street.

The Eureka City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously 3-0 to find that the county’s plan to build a parking lot there to accommodate the jail expansion conforms with the city’s General Plan, with the caveat that it should eventually have an office building complex sitting atop it. Councilmembers Austin Allison and Heidi Messner were absent.

“I will not pretend that I love this plan necessarily,” said Councilmember Natalie Arroyo. “Although I think the end goal of parking with an administrative complex and hopefully improved services to reduce recidivism and improve peoples’ transition back into the community will be for the general public good more than perhaps the buildings that are there right now.”

The county is expanding the jail by building the Humboldt County Community Corrections Reentry Resource Center on the gravel parking lot currently to the east of the courthouse. The county has to provide at least 64 off-street parking spaces for the courthouse, and the lot provides 78 spots.

The resolution states that “parking could be provided in the form of a one-story underground parking facility that would accommodate approximately 85 stalls for use by county vehicles, elected officials, and specified upper management positions” as well as maintaining the 15 county-owned parking spaces currently on the block.

County administrative officer Amy Nilsen said the county has been looking into other sites, including a state-owned parking lot, for a while and hasn’t had any success. The council came to a consensus that it would send a letter of support on behalf of the county to encourage the state to open up access to that lot.

At the moment, the county is leasing 80 facilities for county services, which Nilsen said the county is trying to bring into centralized county-owned facilities.

“This is an endeavor to improve the experience of county services,” Nilsen said. “But also to help provide some more collaboration among county departments because we’re pretty dispersed.”

Councilmembers expressed concern about the current tenants of housing on the block and whether relocation assistance would be provided to them. The county isn’t looking into providing that, Nilsen said.

Once the residents get a termination of tenancy notice, Nilsen said the Department of Health and Human Services would contact them to see what assistance it can provide. The county is also looking into purchasing the Budget Motel to provide affordable housing, she said.

“The county back in January of 2018 allocated $100,000 to the Betty Chinn Trailer Project and so the city hasn’t requested those funds, but that has been allocated in our budget,” Nilsen said. “And we are carrying it over year-to-year until you all are ready for that.”

Sonia Waraich can be reached at 707-441-0506.

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