STORY | GARDEN | GOOD NEWS | CALENDAR
Jan. 23, 2003
review of Target project flawed, report says
Coastal Commission staff
recommends state intervention
GEOFF S. FEIN
THE CITY OF EUREKA'S STUDY OF
THE potential environmental impacts of the proposed Target store
at the north end of town is inadequate and the project should
be reviewed by the state, according to a report by the staff
of the California Coastal Commission.
If the Coastal Commission decides
to go ahead and scrutinize the plan, as now appears likely, the
Target project could be set back by several months at a minimum.
The report said that a challenge
to the project brought last month by the Garberville-based Environmental
Protection Information Center has merit. The EPIC appeal has
been ridiculed by city officials.
The City Council approved Target's
coastal permit and finalized its environmental impact report
on Dec. 17. By a 5-0 vote, the Council approved, among other
items, buffers ranging between 40-feet and 250-feet for the site.
The report, finalized last week,
was skeptical of the city's claim that buffers of less than 100
feet between the store and Humboldt Bay will protect the fragile
wetlands environment near the site.
"The biological information
relied upon by the City in approving the project does not demonstrate
that a reduced buffer width would protect the resources of the
habitat area as required," the report said.
The report also asserted that
the city's evaluation of the project's possible impacts to wildlife
was based on scant data. Land owned by the Humboldt Bay National
Wildlife Refuge is located near the proposed site for the store,
currently occupied by an abandoned Montgomery Wards.
"The biological evaluation
lacks site-specific information regarding impacts from increased
disturbance associated with operation of the project to birds,
mammals, or other species that utilize the Eureka Slough Habitat
Area," the report stated. "There is no information
regarding the current level of use of the [area] by wildlife
and how that level of use would be expected to change as a result
of the project."
City Manager David Tyson defended
the council's decision to give a green light to the project.
"We feel the council adopted the EIR [environmental impact
report] and coastal permit based on facts," Tyson said.
He also raised concerns about
the commission coming in and possibly overturning the city on
a major project. "The direction of a community can be taken
away," Tyson said, adding that municipalities throughout
Humboldt County should pay heed. "Local control over matters
of local concern can be removed from the Council."
The commission's 12-member voting
board is expected to decide whether to hear EPIC's appeal at
a Feb. 6 meeting in San Diego. Eureka city officials will be
in attendance, Tyson said.
Should the commission follow
its staff's recommendation, a whole new state permitting process
would begin. That would certainly mean a delay for the demolition
of the Montgomery Wards store and construction of a new Target
store. But how long a delay is anybody's guess.
Tyson said it all depends on
whether a hearing to review EPIC's appeal is set quickly.
"If [a hearing] is held
beyond May or June, it will affect the building season,"
A coastal commission review
of the project could mean, among other things, that it will have
the final say on the key issue of whether a 100-foot buffer is
In addition to criticizing the
environmental study, the report calls into question the adequacy
of the city's General Plan, which allows some flexibility on
buffers. City staff have maintained that a 100-foot buffer is
not required at the site and that development can take place
as close as 40 feet to the bay.
They have said that the buffers
nonetheless provide some protection to the bay and will serve
as aesthetic landscaping. The city is requiring that Target treat
storm-water run-off before releasing it into the bay.
Buffers separate a development
from environmentally sensitive areas to minimize disturbances
to plants and animals and to reduce the chances of water pollution.
Lisa Shikany, an environmental
planner with the city, has repeatedly said Eureka's General Plan
does not require a strict 100-foot buffer.
The plan states that buffers
"adjacent to all environmentally sensitive areas" are
required to be a minimum width of 100 feet, "unless the
applicant for the development demonstrates on the basis of site-specific
information, the type and size of the proposed development, and/or
proposed mitigation (such as planting of vegetation) that will
achieve the purpose(s) of the buffer, that a smaller buffer will
protect the resources of the habitat area."
A mouthful to be sure, but city
staff says what it means essentially is that buffers are flexible.
That's why they say the EPIC appeal is groundless.
"Everyone at city hall
thinks the appeal is without merit," said City Councilman
Jeff Leonard. "I don't agree with the issues in the appeal.
I don't feel it has a lot of basis."
EPIC's appeal outlined three
issues: the buffer, treatment of water runoff from the parking
lot and lack of a citywide wetlands management program. The last
two issues were not deemed significant by coastal commission
staff in their report.
Tyson pointed out that there
are currently no buffers in place at the site; the Montgomery
Wards parking lot is built right up against the wetlands, he
"The proposed project improves
the current condition," he said.
If Target wanted to, it could
move into the existing Montgomery Wards store and begin retail
sales tomorrow, Tyson said.
Target wouldn't have to build
any buffers or provide any mitigation for runoff from the parking
lot, Tyson explained, because they wouldn't be making any changes
to the property.
Target is proposing to demolish
the existing 86,253 square-foot Montgomery Wards store at 2525
4th Street and replace it with a 138,000 square-foot retail store
and garden center with 452 parking spaces. Target has yet to
file for either its demolition or building permits.
off to war? Military call-ups hit home
GEOFF S. FEIN
Joe McManus, 19, joined the
Marine Corps to play in its renowned band and to take advantage
of the GI Bill, which funds vocational and higher education.
McManus left for Miramar Naval
Air Station in San Diego two days after graduating from McKinleyville
High School last June. He is now awaiting deployment to the Middle
"I don't like it at all,"
said his mother, Mary McManus, of McKinleyville. "It's tough
to see a kid go off."
But she has faith that her son
will be okay.
"I keep praying for peace,"
Since the Vietnam War, young
American men and women have been called up for active duty to
such faraway places as Central America, Grenada, the Persian
Gulf, Kosovo, Ukraine and Afghanistan.
Last week, as the country inched
closer to war with Iraq, 62,000 men and women in the regular
military, the reserves and the National Guard were called up
for duty in the Persian Gulf. Some, like McManus, are from Humboldt
In California, there are 22,000
men and women enlisted in the National Guard. Of that number,
about 2,000 have been called up since Sept. 11, 2001, to assist
with engineering, to work in fuel depots or to fly refueling
How many of those recruits are
from Humboldt County is not known, according to Capt. Michelle
Van Der Linden, National Guard spokeswoman in Sacramento.
Although their final destinations
are classified, most members of the California National Guard
will either remain at Beale Air Force Base in Marysville or at
Travis AFB in Fairfield. But Van Der Linden said some will end
Sgt. First Class Larry Wolf,
a correctional officer in the Humboldt County Jail, has been
with the National Guard for 17 years. He joined out of a sense
of patriotism and a belief that "it's the right thing to
Although Wolf, 56, has not been
called up, he knows it's just a matter of time.
"It's a question of when,"
he said. "I've been told [the day] will come."
Wolf believes he will most likely
be called to assist in homeland security.
Whether Wolf is deployed overseas
this year, he knows that next year he will be headed off to Germany
to play the opposing force in a multinational war game.
He also knows that being called
up amounts to a pay cut.
"If you have a car or house
payment it can be rough," he said. "It's a hardship
on younger guys."
Pay varies by rank, but Wolf
said he doesn't think about it anymore.
"It's a job. The pay is
there," he said.
Wolf has been called into service
on several occasions, but never for combat. He served in Honduras
-- where he had to carry a loaded weapon whenever traveling off
base. And in 2001 he served alongside soldiers from 20 other
nations in a peacekeeping exercise in Ukraine.
Besides Wolf, there are two
other correctional officers and two deputy sheriffs who are in
the National Guard. Should all five of them be called up it could
affect scheduling, especially in the jail, said Brenda Gainey,
press information officer for the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office.
There are no National Guardsmen
working for the city of Eureka or the Eureka Police Department.
The city of Arcata has one police officer, Sgt. Ron Sligh, who
is in the Coast Guard Reserves. But he has not been called up
Sheriff's Deputy Gary Cooper
just returned from a 10-month deployment that included nine days
of training at Camp Roberts -- a former Army base in Paso Robles.
He has been told he will be called up again, most likely by the
end of the month. He expects to go overseas.
Cooper, 35, is an MP -- military
police. He has served in the Middle East and was called up after
the Sept. 11 attacks. He and his detachment had four days to
put their lives in order before heading down to Pittsburg. Cooper
was then sent up to Fort Lewis in Tacoma, Wash., for 10 months.
"It could have been worse.
I could have been [stationed] in the desert," he said.
At Fort Lewis, Cooper served
in the MPs. The job is almost the same as his job in Humboldt
County, he said. He served as law enforcement for a community
of about 50,000 facing the same issues as a regular city -- domestic
violence, crime and drug use.
Although Cooper received active
duty pay, he was still losing about $1,000 a month in pay from
his sheriff job. However the county will make up the difference,
Cooper, who is single, acknowledged
that getting called up is harder on guys with families and kids.
"I don't mind going,"
he said. "You just put everything on hold."
cypresses may be spared
At press time, the Eureka City
Council was considering a plan to save 10 of 27 cypress trees
along K Street near the city's giant powder blue water storage
tank, a local landmark.
The plan also calls upon the
city to plant up to 32 new trees -- not cypresses but a smaller
species -- along Harris, Wood, K and H streets.
The city had begun removing
the stately trees on Dec. 5 as part of a project to replace the
old tank -- which dates to the 1950s -- with a new one more in
line with current seismic safety codes.
The original proposal called
for removing all of the Monterey Cypress trees.
Numerous calls to City Hall
led to a decision to halt work on the project until the public
works staff could determine how best to proceed.
The city brought in arborist
David Hegemann to determine if the trees needed to be removed.
According to the city staff report, Hegemann believes the trees
are stable, pose no serious threat to the water tanks and have
about 25 years of remaining life. [see CORRECTION
in Jan. 30, 2003 NEWS]
Last month Public Works Director
Brent Siemer said the trees were being removed largely because
of the 9-11 terrorist attacks. City officials feared someone
could access the fenced-in property by climbing on over-hanging
Project engineer Jeff Tedder
added that the roots of some of the trees were in the way of
a planned underground pipeline.
Michelle McKeegan, president
of Keep Eureka Beautiful, had said that the original project
flew in the face of a council resolution that envisioned Eureka
as a city of tree lined streets and directed staff to undertake
projects to make that vision a reality.
But after seeing the city's
new plan, McKeegan said the city is making a good faith effort
to save the trees that can be saved.
"I'm sorry to see the big
old trees go, but given they are down, this is a good resolution,"
A treesitter is challenging
Pacific Lumber Company's practice of removing treesitters using
Jamie Leroy Harris, recently
removed by climbers, is suing PL head of security Carl Anderson,
Eric Shatz (also known as climber Eric), PL President Robert
Manning and PL itself for, among other things, knowingly endangering
him while removing him from a tree.
According to his complaint,
he was lowered from 200 feet in the air suspended from a strap
around his chest, with his wrists strip tied.
"Sure, [PL is] facing harm
because they can't log the tree, but that's not even comparable
to the risk of loss of life to a treesitter," said Stephen
Christensen, a legal aid worker helping Harris prepare for the
case. Harris is representing himself.
So far no one has died while
being removed from a tree, but, according to one treesitter,
many have been injured.
"They've never [killed
anyone] taking them out of a tree, but is that what it's going
to take for them to stop?" asked longtime treesitter Remedy,
who's been sitting in a tree in Freshwater for 10 months.
A preliminary hearing in Humboldt
Superior Court is scheduled for Jan. 24.
After weeks of rumors, it's
official. Arcata Police Chief Chris Gallagher is stepping down
effective Feb. 4.
Gallagher is leaving to head
the police department in Susanville, Calif., located in the northern
His almost two-year tenure was
marred by controversy last summer after he came out against music
venues on the Plaza serving alcohol.
In a meeting after last November's
elections, City Manager Dan Hauser reportedly told Gallagher
there might not be enough votes on the newly elected city council
to keep him on when his contract came up for review in March.
Lt. Randy Mendosa will be taking
over as interim chief of police while the city conducts a search
for Gallagher's replacement.
The Jacks ran into a bit of
hard luck on the road last weekend when Central Washington ended
HSU's winning streak at 13 Saturday night.
Central Washington forced 34
Humboldt State turnovers while thrashing the previously invincible
The team was fresh off a victory
two nights earlier against another Washington team, Saint Martin's
College, where they prevailed 69-62.
The team is still tied for first
in conference play with a 4-1 record in the Great Northwest Athletic
Conference, but whether they remain the top-ranked team nationally
is yet to be decided. The national rankings are due out next
The Jacks will have a chance
to extend their record 25 home-game winning streak this weekend
as they host Western Washington's Vikings on Thursday.
On Saturday the Jacks will go
head-to-head with their greatest rival, Seattle Pacific, in a
showdown which will determine who is number one in the GNAC.
All games start at 7 p.m. in
HSU's East Gym, but get there early -- tickets sell out fast.
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