Business / Economy

Saturday, March 25, 2017

In 'Crisis,' Yuroks Suspend Commercial Salmon Season

Posted By on Sat, Mar 25, 2017 at 12:01 PM

The Yurok Tribe's allotment of Chinook salmon this year equals about one fish for every 10 tribal members. - FILE
  • FILE
  • The Yurok Tribe's allotment of Chinook salmon this year equals about one fish for every 10 tribal members.

For the second year in a row, the Yurok Tribe will not have a commercial fishery — a devastating blow to the tribe’s culture and economy.

“We are in crisis mode,” said Yurok Tribal Chair Thomas O’Rourke in a press release that lamented poor conditions on the Klamath River that have led to historically low salmon returns. “The Klamath is our grocery store, our church and our main highway. It’s our lifeline. We will leave no stone unturned in search of additional short-term and long-term solutions to address the most terrible fisheries disaster in the Tribe’s history.”

The release comes after the Pacific Fisheries Management Council released its predicted Chinook salmon returns for 2017 at 11,000 fish — the lowest on record — and the tribe’s fish harvest allocation at 650 fish, or one for every 10 tribal members. The predicted return comes after two years of disease outbreaks in juvenile fish due to low flows and elevated water temperatures in the Klamath River.

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Sunday, March 12, 2017

United Changes Schedule, Drops a Flight

Posted By and on Sun, Mar 12, 2017 at 2:43 PM

The new, bigger jet that will be coming into the Arcata-Eureka airport. - UNITED
  • United
  • The new, bigger jet that will be coming into the Arcata-Eureka airport.
United Airlines is dropping one of its daily flights between Arcata-Eureka and San Francisco but is switching to a larger plane for the route and will still be able to accommodate the same number of daily passengers.

Jonathon Guerin, a senior manager for United Airlines, said the reason for reducing the number of flights is efficiency. The airline is switching to a larger jet for the route, which will be able to transport 400 passengers daily spread across three flights — just four passengers fewer than the route used to be able to accommodate with four flights.

Of course, fewer flights means less flexibility for travelers.

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Monday, March 6, 2017

Uber Arrives on the North Coast as Company Crisis Continues

Posted By on Mon, Mar 6, 2017 at 8:46 AM

This is what Uber looks like.
  • This is what Uber looks like.
There’s a new transportation option in town, but it comes with some baggage.

Uber — the online ride sharing service that offers an alternative to taxi cabs — recently made its debut in transportation-starved Humboldt County. But Uber’s expansion comes in the midst of what can only be described as a rough six-week stretch for the company.

The Journal, having publicly advocated for more transportation options as a way to help curb Humboldt County’s impaired driving epidemic, was eager to take this new Uber thing for a local spin. For the uninitiated, Uber works like this: Customers download an app to their phone, which then connects them to a fleet of independent contractors driving around looking for fares. And because there’s little overhead for the company — drivers use their own cars and pay for their own insurance and gas — rates are generally cheaper than cab companies, which are in scarce supply in Humboldt County anyway. Some are also drawn to Uber because you enter your credit card information directly into the app, which means there’s no cash exchange in the car — you simply say thank you (give a tip if you wish) and go on your way.

So on a recent Wednesday, I downloaded the Uber app to give it a spin. I was looking for a ride from the Journal’s office in Old Town Eureka up to my home in McKinleyville. When I punched in my address, the GPS on my phone told me there was a driver about 11 minutes away. I wasn’t quite ready to leave, so I held off. About an hour later, ready to head home, I brought the app up on my phone. No drivers were available. Worried I’d missed my window, I waited. Five minutes passed. Then 10. Then 15. Finally, after about 20 minutes, the app let me know a driver was free and could be at the office in less than 10 minutes. I agreed, packed up my stuff and went outside on the lookout for a red Ford hybrid driven by “Piers.”


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Saturday, March 4, 2017

PenAir Scales Back But Remains Confident in Portland Route

Posted By on Sat, Mar 4, 2017 at 12:03 PM

A graph looking at the total number of passengers by month on PenAir's almost year-old route to and from Portland. - SAM ARMANINO
  • Sam Armanino
  • A graph looking at the total number of passengers by month on PenAir's almost year-old route to and from Portland.

PenAir recently reduced the number of daily flights from the Arcata-Eureka Airport to Portland from three flights to two, but insists the change isn’t related to passenger interest in the route.

Missy Roberts, the company’s vice president of sales and marketing, said the changes will affect everyone looking to fly with PenAir. She said the changes are mainly due to two issues: a shortage of pilots and the lack of a close maintenance space.

“The impact could be minimal or the impact could be great,” Roberts said. “Depending on (customers’) down-line connections.”

Roberts said PenAir’s completion rates — the percentage of scheduled flights that are completed — dropped almost 25 percent, from 95.6 percent in 2016 to a 72 percent this year. Roberts said this is mostly due to a Federal Aviation Administration regulation that requires pilots to work more hours.

Emily Jacobs, program director of the Eureka-Arcata airport, said in an email to the Journal that PenAir was scheduled to land 950 flights and completed 859 from April of 2016 to February of this year, for a rate of about 90 percent.

But Roberts said a new regulation requiring pilots to work fewer hours has led to PenAir having fewer pilots available. Roberts said this isn’t just PenAir and a similar process is happening at pretty much every airline in the United States. “There are fewer pilots out than there are needed,” Roberts said.

PenAir has the same number of pilots as it started with, although the company has since added six new routes and Roberts said this stretches crews thin.

The other major problem that led to the decrease in completion rates was maintenance operations. Because the company is based out of Anchorage, Alaska, every time a plane needed a new part it had to ship it from Anchorage to a facility in Aurora, Oregon.

Roberts said the company’s on-time performance dropped from just about 66 percent to a little over 50 percent. PenAir’s controllable delay rate — which is excludes unavoidable weather delays — is about 81 percent on time.

But using the facility in Aurora for maintenance checks led to problems with completion rates because the company would need to fly the planes to the facility to be checked. If there was something wrong with the plane, even if just a light was out, it would need to ship the part and repair it in Aurora, a slow and inefficient process that severely dug into completion rates.

“Even though it’s 15 minutes away [by flight], it still takes time to preare the crew,” Roberts said.
The company will soon be operating a leased facility at the Portland airport and started shipping plane parts there about three months ago. Roberts said having a facility in Portland will allow routine checks to be a lot faster and help completion rates.

As of January, 9,186 people had flown from Arcata-Eureka to Portland on the new PenAir. But Roberts said she doesn’t expect the number of passengers to change with the new schedule, an indication that perhaps not all three daily flights were full leaving the local airport. But Roberts said she expects the market will continue to grow, and PenAir will grow with it.

PenAir began the new route with only two daily flights from Arcata-Eureka and Roberts said it was so excited by how successful the route was initially that it added the third flight. Roberts said, in hindsight, maybe the expansion was a mistake.

Editor's note: This story was updated from a previous version to correct an error regarding the new regulations referenced by Roberts. The Journal regrets the error.
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Monday, February 27, 2017

TL;DR: Last Night at Roy's

Posted By on Mon, Feb 27, 2017 at 9:47 AM

The neon sign at Roy's, now dark. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • The neon sign at Roy's, now dark.
Busy week? We get it. Here are some highlights from this week's cover story, “Last Night at Roy's,” to get you caught up.

If you noticed the smell of garlic and the glow of neon missing from D Street in Old Town, it's because Roy's Club Italian Restaurant has finally closed, ending the Fanucchi family's 98-year run. For our cover story "Last Night at Roy's," we pulled up a barstool for the long goodbyes and soaked up the stories of gangsters and bootleggers as family, friends and patrons gathered for a last supper.

Here are five takeaways (and a bonus challenge) from our farewell to the speakeasy-turned-landmark.


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Thursday, February 23, 2017

Humboldt County Fair Board Responds to Enterprise Settlement

Posted By on Thu, Feb 23, 2017 at 3:32 PM

FILE PHOTO
  • FILE PHOTO
Humboldt County Fair Association General Manager Richard Conway issued a statement today in response to questions about a legal settlement the association paid to the Ferndale Enterprise, covered in this week's Journal.

In his statement, Conway blames the HCFA's failure last April to provide Titus with a document requested under the California Public Records Act on an "oversight" made because the association had already sent a "multitude" of other documents. Conway says once the error was realized, the association immediately provided Titus with the documents. He accuses Titus of intending to "inflict hardship upon the fair" by suing the HCFA despite having received the documents in question.

Titus and her lawyer, Paul Nicholas Boylan, dispute this interpretation of events. Titus says she asked for the fair's 2015 Statement of Operations twice before stating that she would "seek judicial remedy."


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Monday, January 30, 2017

The Next Generation March on Wells Fargo: 'Divest' the DAPL

Posted By on Mon, Jan 30, 2017 at 10:50 AM

Four protesters brought a large white bucket filled with molasses, which mimicked the look of oil as they let it drip down their arms in protest of Wells Fargo. - SAM ARMANINO
  • Sam Armanino
  • Four protesters brought a large white bucket filled with molasses, which mimicked the look of oil as they let it drip down their arms in protest of Wells Fargo.
A group of seven young protesters gripped a long white banner reading, “Divest,” which stretched across G Street in Arcata. As the youth leaders marched north, they yelled, “Water is what?” “Water is life,” the fellow protesters responded.

The protesters marched from the Arcata Plaza to Wells Fargo on Saturday, led by Indigenous youth from the Karuk, Hoopa and Yurok tribes. After gathering, the group of more than 100 marched to the local branch of one of the largest banks financing the North Dakota Access Pipeline.

Hoopa Valley tribal member Nah-Tes Jackson was the first to speak to the crowd of 100 or so protesters on the Arcata Plaza on Saturday. - SAM ARMANINO
  • Sam Armanino
  • Hoopa Valley tribal member Nah-Tes Jackson was the first to speak to the crowd of 100 or so protesters on the Arcata Plaza on Saturday.
“We are all connected in the same journey,” Nah-Tes Jackson, a Hoopa tribal member, said after he shared his own experience of protesting in Standing Rock for four months. The protest and march came three days after President Donald Trump inked an executive order to rekindle the pipeline project, as well as the Keystone XL.

On the plaza prior to the march, three native youths stepped nervously in front of the crowd as it continued to expand. Kis-dyan-te’ Joseph, a 16 year old from the Hoopa Shoshone Piute and Karuk tribes, lead a Brush Dance song she discovered while protesting in Standing Rock.

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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Final Numbers for County Cannabis Applications Show Late Push

Posted By on Tue, Jan 3, 2017 at 5:35 PM

Three generations of growers, Rain on the Earth with her nephews Mark Switzer (far right) and grand-nephew Myles Moscato (center) pose with Wall as Moscato proudly holds the receipt for his application, the first submitted in the county. - LINDA STANSBERRY
  • Linda Stansberry
  • Three generations of growers, Rain on the Earth with her nephews Mark Switzer (far right) and grand-nephew Myles Moscato (center) pose with Wall as Moscato proudly holds the receipt for his application, the first submitted in the county.
Almost one-third of the total commercial cannabis permit applications filed with the County of Humboldt in 2016 were filed on deadline day, according to numbers from the cannabis services division of the Humboldt County Planning and Building Department. As of the Dec. 30 deadline, a total of 2,334 applications had been filed. Eight hundred and eighteen of those arrived after the Journal checked in with county planner Steve Lazar last Tuesday morning.

“Many are very incomplete,” said Lazar, adding that it could take “several years” to process all of the applications, which they hope to get ready for processing before the state’s new marijuana laws take effect in 2018.

“Some will go quicker than others,” he added. “Some are grossly incomplete, with people just trying to get it in before the deadline.”

Just prior to deadline, Lazar said county staff were busy but “hanging in there,” and that consultants were scrambling to help their clients get in before the deadline.

Megan Azevedo, an environmental planner with Green Road Consulting, said the firm’s staff had been “pretty darn busy” for the last three weeks.

“We’ve had a lot of last minute clients who want to get in the door,” said Azevedo in a phone interview today. “Two weeks ago we were swamped.”

Green Road helped about 200 clients fill out their application forms, complete “plot plans” of their cultivation areas and sign acknowledgement and indemnification agreements as well as navigate the county’s regulation guidelines.

Azevedo said many of the clients were surprised by the strict zoning regulations and the sudden increase in application fees, which hiked about a month ago.

She added that Green Road’s staff expected to be pretty busy over the next six months assisting with applications that had been turned in incomplete.

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Friday, December 30, 2016

Crab Fishermen in West Coast Ports Pull Pots in Solidarity with Humboldt

Posted By on Fri, Dec 30, 2016 at 3:29 PM

Felixnando Martinez, left, and Arturo Bertran band Dungeness crab at Wild Planet Foods’ processing shed near the new Fisherman’s Terminal. - PHOTO BY HEIDI WALTERS
  • photo by Heidi Walters
  • Felixnando Martinez, left, and Arturo Bertran band Dungeness crab at Wild Planet Foods’ processing shed near the new Fisherman’s Terminal.
A week's worth of negotiations have failed to break the stalemate between Humboldt Dungeness crab fishermen and the Pacific Group, which locally owns Pacific Choice Seafood. Last week, Pacific Group announced it was lowering its buying price for crab from $3 per pound to $2.75.

Fishermen in District 7 — which stretches south from Humboldt Bay’s North Jetty to Point Arena in Mendocino —refused to accept the price and went on strike, delaying the start of the season. According to Ken Bates, vice president of the Humboldt Fishermen’s Marketing Association, fishermen in other ports from Westport, Washington, to Bodega Bay, California, have also tied up their vessels in solidarity. Boats in San Francisco and Half Moon Bay, which are currently receiving the full price of $3 a pound, will also tie up at midnight tonight.

"Pacific Group took advantage of a situation," said Bates in a phone interview this afternoon. "Traditionally the prices don’t go down as the season progresses."

Bates added that last year's chaotic season, which was delayed due to a domoic acid scare, further complicates the picture.

In a press release, Bates said no movement was expected until after the New Year's holiday. A call to the Pacific Group's media contact was not returned.

Roger Rowland, a local crab fisherman, said the delay has been especially hard on smaller local vessels that don't fish out of other ports.

"Everybody who has not gone fishing deserves the same price," Rowland said. "It's not bad with us; the other guys who have not got to fish are struggling. Some guys don't get unemployment. It's not easy on the families, not easy to wait."

Rowland, whose vessel left to fish in ports that opened earlier this year, said they plan to stay tied up over the holiday. He added that while many of the crabs they have caught this year are large, the numbers have dropped dramatically since they first dropped their pots in November, from 3,000-4,000 pounds a load to 2,000.

Diminished hauls and a continued strike may mean another difficult year for commercial fishermen who were hoping to rebound after last year's poor season.

"Probably a lot of really tight Christmases," said Rowland. "A rough holiday this year."

From the Humboldt Fishermen's Marketing Association’s Board of Directors:

Dungeness crab fishermen continue to tie up in support of the $3.00/per pound price for Dungeness crabs in California, Oregon and Washington State. The $3.00 price had been being paid for all crab deliveries in California and Southern Oregon since November 15, 2016. On or about December 22, 2016, Pacific Group announced their intention to reduce the ex-vessel for crabs by .25 cents to $2.75 effective Monday December 26, 2016. District 7 fishermen refused the lower price drop and tied up their boats.

As of today, fishermen from Westport, WA to Bodega Bay, CA are on strike. In the ports of San Francisco and Half Moon Bay, those boats will tie up at mid-night tonight. They are presently fishing for $3.00/pound or more for their crabs.

No action or progress is expected over the New Year’s holiday. Small and medium sized fish companies are anxious to resume buying crabs at $3.00, but are unwilling to risk buying crabs if Pacific Group is successful in lowering the price.

For additional information, please see press release dated December 26, 2016. 

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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Huffman Demands Accountability for Treatment of Pipeline Protesters

Posted By on Tue, Nov 29, 2016 at 4:10 PM

Protesters are pepper sprayed while occupying the proposed route of the Dakota Access Pipeline. - ROB WILSON
  • Rob wilson
  • Protesters are pepper sprayed while occupying the proposed route of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
North Coast Congressman Jared Huffman penned a letter to President Barack Obama today requesting an immediate meeting to “demand accountability for (the) alarming treatment of Water Protectors and peaceful demonstrators at the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota.”

Huffman, who penned the letter with Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Arizona), also took the opportunity to denounce the Army Corps of Engineers announced plans to close the Oceti Sakowin camp. Both Huffman and Grijalva led 21 members of Congress earlier this month in urging Obama to deescalate tension in the Standing Rock protests. It seems those urgings went unheeded, as circumstances have deteriorated since then with daily reports of violent clashes between protesters and law enforcement.

From the congressmen: “[H]eadlines of mass injuries, frigid water being sprayed at demonstrators in sub-freezing temperatures, and of rubber bullets and similar anti-riot weapons being fired at peaceful, unarmed civilians, make it clear that this situation is only getting worse.”

See the full press release from Huffman’s office copied below, and their full letter can be seen by clicking here. And for more on the pipeline project and local efforts to combat it, see past Journal coverage here.

Reps. Huffman, Grijalva Demand Accountability for Brutal Law Enforcement Tactics at DAPL

Washington, D.C.- Representatives Jared Huffman (D-CA) and Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) today requested an immediate meeting with White House and Department of Justice officials to demand accountability for alarming treatment of Water Protectors and peaceful demonstrators at the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota, and to denounce the closure of the Oceti Sakowin camp. The lawmakers, who jointly led 21 Members of Congress in urging President Obama to deescalate the tension at Standing Rock in a November 14 letter, noted today that circumstances since then have only deteriorated:

“[H]eadlines of mass injuries, frigid water being sprayed at demonstrators in sub-freezing temperatures, and of rubber bullets and similar anti-riot weapons being fired at peaceful, unarmed civilians, make it clear that this situation is only getting worse.  Additionally, the Army Corps of Engineers letter announcing the closure of the Oceti Sakowin camp to demonstrators represents a concerning and disappointing course of action by the federal government.

“We question the plan and reasoning given by the Army Corps of Engineers to close the Oceti Sakowin camp to the Water Protectors. The members of the Standing Rock Sioux and the hundreds of Americans who join them in opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline are constitutionally protected in their right to peaceably assemble.”

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