STORY | CALENDAR
Nov. 28, 2002
A $2 million problem
GEOFF S. FEIN
Eureka city staff has a challenge
on its hands: determining how to make $876,000 in upgrades to
city facilities in order to comply with the Americans with Disabilities
Act, a federal law.
The cost to modify all city
facilities, outlined in a consultant's study, could skyrocket
to more than $2 million when the cost of upgrading 600 intersections
in and around downtown is included.
Given financial constraints,
it could take 20 years to get the work done, estimated Brent
Siemer, public works director.
"The work could be done
sooner, but construction costs could be expensive," he said.
Although all city departments
will have to make some changes, some of those will be as simple
as replacing door knobs, Siemer said.
More dramatic improvements,
such as adding handicapped-accessible bathroom stalls to public
restrooms, will require more time and cost significantly more.
Even though the city is woefully
behind in upgrading its facilities for the disabled, Jennifer
Aggeler of Deaf Counseling Advocacy and Referral, a Eureka agency,
said the city deserves a four-star rating for its efforts to
help those who are hearing impaired.
If a deaf person requires sign
language to understand what is being said at a city-run meeting,
the city will provide a signer, she said.
"If our clients make a
request [to the city] a week in advance, they get what they need,"
City Council meetings broadcast
on Cox Cable, however, are not closed-captioned for the hearing-impaired.
Aggeler said that needs improving.
The cost for the technology
to provide closed-captioning can run between $4,000 and $15,000,
and that doesn't include a real-time captioner, Aggeler said.
T.R. Wilson, president of the
board of directors of the Humboldt Access Project in Eureka,
said he has no complaints about the accessibility of city-owned
Wilson, 63, is wheelchair-bound.
Although he has been in and out of a wheelchair most of his life
(due to post-polio illness, strokes and complications from diabetes),
for the past six years he has been confined to a wheelchair.
He said the city needs to fix traffic lights to make the green
"You take your life into
your hands when crossing in a wheelchair," Wilson said.
The city could also use some
handicapped restrooms downtown, he added.
One building that some disabled
persons complain about is the Post Office and Federal Courthouse
at H and 5th streets. Social Security disability hearings are
held on the third floor of the courthouse, yet the building is
difficult for many handicapped persons to access. But the building
is owned by the federal government, not the city of Eureka. The
federal government does not have to comply with ADA standards.
Robert Trevino, 52, is a volunteer
with the Humboldt Access Project. He and his wife are both disabled.
They must rely on canes to help them navigate stairs. He believes
the city needs to step up its efforts at making Eureka handicapped-accessible.
Some handicapped parking, for
example, is too far from the entrances to buildings and some
places don't even have parking for the disabled, he said.
But before city officials look
at bringing facilities up to the ADA's regulations, the newly
elected City Council will have to carefully weigh the costs against
other infrastructure projects, such as the boardwalk and Waterfront
Drive. The three new council members and the new mayor will be
sworn into office Dec. 3.
"We'll bite it off in chunks,"
said City Councilman Chris Kerrigan. "When we do our priority
session, we'll figure out how we can make some improvements."
That session is planned for
The study of city-owned facilities
by Equal Access, ADA Consulting Architects, examined 23 buildings,
including City Hall; 15 city parks; 17 city-owned parking lots;
and the 600 intersections. The San Diego-based architectural
firm ranked city-owned facilities according to the most urgent
in need of modifying.
The report was given to the
City Council on Nov. 19.
The Adorni Center and the Municipal
Auditorium are among the top priority sites (see accompanying
"Most buildings in the
city are [top] priority because of age," said Bob Evans,
co-owner of Equal Access, to the council at its Nov. 19 meeting.
The total cost for upgrading
the 13 facilities, 16 parking lots and two parks listed as top
priorities is $314,000, he said.
Some of the upgrades, such as
lowering fire alarm boxes, can be done by the city's public works
department, Siemer said.
Also included in the top priorities
are upgrades to Jacob Haney Ball Field, Sequoia Park and all
parking lots with the exception of the Myrtle and Sunny lots.
Modifying Jacob Haney Ball Field
will cost the city $49,450. Upgrading City Hall will cost $38,250.
The cost to upgrade the 16 city-owned parking lots is $61,500.
The most expensive modification in the report, however, is to
bring the Ink People Center for the Arts at 411 12th St., up
to code. The nonprofit arts organization is on the top floor
of the Municipal Auditorium.
In order for the art gallery
to meet ADA requirements, the city would have to construct a
200-foot ramp from the parking lot to Ink People's offices. Building
a ramp that length is not feasible, according to the report.
The only alternative would be to spend $202,000 to build an elevator
to make the gallery and office space above the Eureka Municipal
Auditorium accessible. The report instead recommends relocating
the arts organization.
One problem for Eureka, as well
as many cities across the country, is that the federal government
is continually revising the ADA guidelines. That means the city
has to play catch-up in meeting the act's requirements, Siemer
One example is the changing
design requirements for intersections. Last summer, the federal
government required every sidewalk in America to have a raised
three-foot bump at each intersection to alert vision-impaired
people they are entering an area where there are vehicles. The
bumps have to be made out of a plastic material or an expensive
tile, Siemer said. The material has a downside. Besides the cost
of it, the bumps could create a slippery foundation for skateboarders,
rollerbladers and strollers, he added.
Siemer said it could cost at
least $14,000 an intersection.
"But we don't believe it
will be that cheap," he said.
Congress passed the disabilities
act in 1991. Under its guidelines, cities, counties, states and
the federal government had until 1995 to comply. Evans reminded
the council that while the ADA gave governments five years to
make public facilities accessible, there is an understanding
that everything can't be changed overnight.
A city was able to get an exemption
if it could show it could not financially meet the requirements.
After the ADA was adopted, Eureka
did a study of what it would take to meet the federal law. City
officials discovered it would take a substantial amount of money,
Eureka didn't have the funds
to move the study forward, he added.
Here are some of the sites in
Eureka identified as top priorities for bringing the city in
line with federal handicapped accessibility requirements:
top ADA priorities
City Hall, 531
Install four wheelchair locations with adjacent companion seats,
two semi-ambulant seating locations, and one aisle seat without
a sidearm or with an arm that is removable in the City Council
chambers; provide listening devices in council chambers; modify
handrails on exterior stairs; improve handicap accessibility
in first-floor restrooms; install new drinking fountains; lower
one public phone so that it's more reachable; relocate elevator
call buttons on all three floors; provide audible signals for
elevator; provide Braille signage for elevators; remove the existing
elevator emergency call phone and replace it with a device that
does not require voice communication; provide visual fire-emergency
Adorni Center, 1011
W. Waterfront Dr.
There is a need for a more accessible route to the entrance of
the center from the parking area or public sidewalk. Recommended
changes include providing new handicapped parking; installing
curb cut ramps from the accessible parking spaces; installing
handrails along a pedestrian ramp; building a handicapped bathroom
stall along with reachable faucets; and installing lower public
1120 F St.
The city needs to post handicapped parking only signs; provide
a van-accessible handicapped parking space; build a ramp from
that space to a pedestrian ramp leading to the entrance of the
building. Handrails must be installed on stairs and both the
men's and women's bathrooms should be modified to include facilities
for disabled persons.
(Not including modifications to make Ink People accessible.)
F and 2nd streets Gazebo
Install a railing or some other form of edge protection near
the steps where the plaza drops off into the fountain; repair
uneven joints and cracks in the brick surface and areas where
wood spacers are missing; either remove the existing upper portion
of the curving ramp and construct a new one, or close off the
ramp access entirely and remove the upper level seating.
Woods service Saturday
There will be a memorial service
Saturday for John Woods, who was instrumental in the founding
of several Arcata-based community service organizations over
the past 35 years and was once a counselor to troubled youths.
Woods was found bludgeoned to
death Nov. 15 in his Arcata home. His son, Benjamin Woods, 17,
has been arrested and charged with his murder.
The younger Woods was also charged
with use of a deadly weapon, first-degree robbery, vehicle theft
and special circumstance of committing murder during the course
of a robbery. He will be arraigned on Dec. 4.
John Woods was one of the founders
of Youth Educational Services at Humboldt State University and
authored the acronym Y.E.S. He helped establish and was a founding
director of the Humboldt Open Door Clinic. He was one of the
original members of the Arcata Co-op, now the North Coast Co-op,
and helped form the Redwood Community Development Council.
Woods was raised in Southern
California and moved to Arcata to attend HSU in the mid-1960s.
During the Vietnam War, Woods performed alternative service at
Alta Bates Hospital in Berkeley. Woods worked as a general contractor
under his business name, Home Services Community.
The service will be held at
2 p.m. Nov. 30 at the Arcata Veteran's Hall, 14th and J Streets,
Just two days after its grand
opening, Arcata House's newest transitional home is almost full,
and representatives of the nonprofit agency believe that all
six beds will be filled by mid-week.
The former Eagle's Hall (a fraternal
organization) will give women with children and single adults
a place to live until they can save enough money to move into
The house at 1005 11th St. has
all new appliances, a large shared kitchen, two shared bathrooms,
a living room, a dining room and a deck in the back yard. There
are also two front rooms converted to office space for Arcata
House. Solar tubes provide natural sunlight throughout.
On Saturday, neighbors, Arcata
city officials and about 100 others got a first glimpse of the
new house before residents moved in.
On Monday, Arcata House officials
were making final preparations for a single mother with three
children to move into the new facility. Another adult will also
be moving in on Monday, according to Executive Director Karen
This is the third house that
Arcata House has built or remodeled in Arcata in 11 years.
Olson stressed that the Arcata
House organization is not an emergency shelter, a rental service,
a medical or mental health housing program, a domestic violence
shelter or an alcohol or drug aftercare house.
The goal of Arcata House is
to help people who are in temporary financial crisis. Residents
are required to have a source of income, a percentage of which
must be turned over each month. Those funds are placed in a trust
to help residents save enough money to move out on their own.
"Moving into Arcata House
allows a client to regroup, to create a plan [for moving out].
That's what we are aiming for," Olson said.
Residents are responsible for
the upkeep of the home and must follow very strict rules: no
drugs or alcohol, no weapons and a 10 p.m. curfew during the
week and 11 p.m. on weekends, Olson said.
"Taking care of [your]
room and the house are major requirements at Arcata House,"
In return, residents get a place
to sleep, bedding, towels, dishes and cookware. Arcata House
staff also help residents fill out rental applications and send
them out to low-income apartments throughout Humboldt County,
The appliances, bedding, towels
and some food is donated. The Arcata 4-H Club donated several
bags of canned food for the residents. Bank of America helped
pay for a voice mail system for each resident.
On average, residents stay three
to five months.
While some neighborhoods often
balk at the idea of a transitional home in their midst, Olson
said the neighbors along 11th and J streets embraced the project.
Part of the reason for the area's acceptance of a transitional
home was that the Eagle's Hall was an "eyesore in the neighborhood,"
"This was a dark dank structure,"
And some neighbors even had
relatives who had lived in a transitional home, she added.
"There was very little
nimbyism in the neighborhood," Olson said.
It took Arcata House about a
year and $250,000 to turn the old fraternal hall into a new-looking
home. The agency also saved on rent by relocating its offices
into the front of the home.
Much of the funding came from
the City of Arcata and through federal housing assistance monies.
While there are many people
in Humboldt County in need of transitional housing, Olson said
there is no strict waiting list at Arcata House. That is because
they never know when a resident will move out. When a spot does
open up at one of the agency's three houses, Olson will go back
through the files and contact people who had submitted applications.
A proposal to build 50 moderately
priced homes on 80 acres of converted timberland in Cutten was
nixed last week by the Humboldt County Planning Commission.
The commission said the development
was incompatible with the county's General Plan because it didn't
provide enough housing.
The General Plan calls for affordable
housing to be built on the former Louisiana Pacific property.
L-P sold the land in 1995 and the county rezoned it from timber
to residential. Under the county's General Plan, the area, known
as North McKay Tract, is supposed to provide at least 80 homes
and preserve existing trails and open space.
Although the Planning Commission
voted 4 to 2 against developer Robert Morris and Ken Huffman's
proposal, some commissioners said the county wasn't showing enough
flexibility, especially when no other plans for the property
It is likely that the commission's
decision will be appealed before the Board of Supervisors.
The Eureka City Council approved
a $300,000 contract with Redding-based North State Resources,
Inc. to determine the feasibility of the Waterfront Drive extension
project and assess its potential environmental impacts.
The company received the highest
rating among five concerns that bid on the project. The environmental
review of the 1.7-mile extension of Waterfront Drive is expected
to take about 18 months. (See Journal story "Clashing Visions," Sept.
The proposal calls for extending
Waterfront Drive south from Del Norte Street to Truesdale Avenue.
Environmentalists say the project is incompatible with an ongoing
city effort to restore the 113-acre Eureka Marsh. Eyebrows have
also been raised over Waterfront Drive's $9 million price tag.
Two Humboldt State University
freshman remain behind bars on $100,000 bail each after being
charged with starting a fire in the main stairway of Madrone
Hall on Nov. 16.
Jonathan M. Stewart, of Torrance,
Calif., and Brandon M. Wert, of Alta Loma, Calif., both 19, were
arrested last week after a fire broke out in the three-story
dormitory that houses about 50 students.
Two students put out the fire
before firefighters arrived. Although no damage was done to the
building, students were kept out until smoke was cleared from
Stewart and Wert both live in
another dormitory, Sunset Hall.
They were booked into the Humboldt
County Jail on suspicion of felony arson of an inhabited structure.
The City of Arcata will get
$2.6 million, the largest grant the city has ever received, from
the state Wildlife Conservation Board to add 285 acres of old
growth forest to the Community Forest and 150 acres of riparian
forest along Jacoby Creek.
Funds for the purchase of the
combined 435 acres come from Proposition 12, approved by voters
in 1999, and Proposition 40, approved by voters in 2002.
The land was formerly owned
by the Barnum Timber Co. and the upper portion of it is considered
the headwaters of Jacoby Creek.
The additions will help Arcata
protect water quality in the creek and bay as well as deal with
flooding and drainage concerns in the Jacoby Creek Flood Plain.
Five McKinleyville High School
seniors will compete in a statewide Environmental and Spatial
Technology conference next spring after winning a regional competition
for their three-minute video.
Logan Gloor, David Leen, Brian
Sorem, Scott Wallace and Morgan White spent three weeks teaching
themselves about video editing and animation in order to produce
their award-winning video.
Last week the five seniors learned
they had won the competition. They will now make a 10-minute
version of their video to be shown at the EAST conference in
Sacramento next year.
Thermal imaging cameras
So far, $3,000 has been raised
to help the Eureka Fire Department purchase two thermal imaging
cameras that allow firefighters to see into smoke-filled buildings.
The total cost of the two cameras
"Imagine how important
this is to firefighters entering a building and trying to find
someone," said Eureka Fire Chief Eric Smith. "You can
fill a room with smoke and get a clear picture on the camera."
A thermal imaging camera detects
temperature changes and works on the same principle as infrared
technology The cameras are in use by most big city fire departments
across the country. The Eureka Fire Department currently owns
The camera can also be used
to detect hot spots inside a house so firefighters can get a
better idea of how to fight a fire, and it can detect hot spots
that may still be smoldering even after a fire is thought to
National Fire Rescue Magazine,
a trade publication for firefighters, recently wrote that without
the cameras, firefighters were unable to locate a person inside
a smoke filled room 40 percent of the time.
The camera also makes it much
easier for firefighters to find their way out of smoke-filled
"Our goal is to place a
camera on every engine," Smith said.
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