Recently, the Journal reported on the Harbor District's request to change the zoning at Woodley Island Marina to permit the district to develop the upland area for non-water dependent uses ("Eyes on Woodley Island," June 11). It was appalling to read the gross misrepresentation contained in the quote from Rob Holmlund, Eureka's community development director, when he stated "he hasn't received any complaints from the public regarding the land use designation change."
Mr. Holmlund's office has in its possession two petitions with 581 signatures requesting that Woodley Island Marina be preserved just as it is. The community development office has received over 50 letters from concerned citizens, local businesses and major commercial fishing organizations on the West Coast, protesting the district's development schemes. Sixteen of those letters Mr. Holmlund's office received after the April 9, 2015 "official" harbor district request to change the zoning on Woodley Island.
The real question here is what is the threshold number of public responses to a given issue to determine support or opposition to that issue? Is it 100, 1,000? Or, only one. Obviously, 50 letters and 581 signatures is not enough for Mr. Holmlund's office to report. Your fishing fleet is asking the public to support their efforts to preserve Woodley Island Marina "as is" — no changes. If you have any opinion on this issue, please send an email to the Coastal Commission, Bob.Merrill@coastal.ca.gov.
In the meantime, I have yet to see a single public letter of support for the harbor district's zoning change proposal. City staff is entrusted with the responsibility of providing our city council with an accurate, truthful evaluation of the public interest so that those elected officials can honor and act on the public's requests. This needs to start happening with the Eureka Community Development Department. Thank you.
Ken Bates, Eureka
There are other "Eyes on Woodley Island" that see deception and critical omissions in the information presented.
The article omits some important points, foremost that the proposed land use change from public-quasi public to waterfront commercial is part of the city's general plan update (GPU). At the GPU community workshop held on April 28, focusing on land use, the vast majority of participants indicated their preference for Woodley Island Marina as public open space. I also emailed Riley Topolewski, the senior planner and GPU contact at the city, specifically stating my objection to the Harbor District's proposal.
Robert Holmlund, the Eureka community development director, now says he has received two complaints about this. Perhaps he has received just two written complaints, but three people opposed this at the May 28 Council meeting, and the city's website directs you to Topolewski for all GPU matters. Did Holmlund ignore all the comments gathered in the GPU process?
Holmlund also told the NCJ that "the city — under council direction — is looking at expanding commercial use on the island." But at the May 28 city council/planning commission meeting, this proposed land use change was stonewalled by a 4 to 4 vote of the council and commission, who had obviously been poorly informed on the issue. It will be brought before the council again.
It is difficult for people to participate (complain or applaud) when things are hidden from them. The agenda for the May 28 meeting, scheduled from 4 to 7 p.m., stated only that there would be "a discussion of landowner requests for land use designation changes." Woodley Island was not mentioned, and no supporting documents were provided. Given this lack of notification, it is noteworthy that three parties, including two representing organizations, appeared at the meeting and spoke against this proposed land use change.
Eyes are indeed on Woodley Island, and on the city of Eureka.
Susan Penn, Eureka