Business / Economy

Monday, November 5, 2018

After Heated Meeting, Planning Commission Sends Zoning Changes to Supes

Posted By on Mon, Nov 5, 2018 at 10:05 AM

Things got heated in Supervisors Chambers at the courthouse during the Nov. 1 Humboldt County Planning Commission meeting. - FILE
  • File
  • Things got heated in Supervisors Chambers at the courthouse during the Nov. 1 Humboldt County Planning Commission meeting.
For the second time this year, Mercer-Fraser Co., a well-known road construction company, aroused public alarm via a requested zoning change that some fear could endanger the drinking water of more than half of Humboldt County's population.

The company owns a parcel of land next to the Mad River intake wells of the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District, which sells drinking water to 88,000 customers. Mercer-Fraser came to the forefront of public awareness in January when it requested a change in zoning from Agricultural-General to Heavy Industrial and applied for a permit to operate a cannabis extraction business on the site, which would have placed dangerous chemicals in close proximity to the intake wells. After furious public controversy — and the threat of a lawsuit — Mercer-Fraser withdrew the request for the permit. However, apparently the accompanying request for a zoning change to industrial use remained on the table (Mercer-Fraser CEO Justin Zabel told the Times-Standard that plans for the cannabis extraction facility on the site are “off the table.”)

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Thursday, October 25, 2018

Crab Season Opener For Patrick's Point North Delayed by Domoic Acid

Posted By on Thu, Oct 25, 2018 at 12:08 PM

As crab season nears, domoic acid raises its ugly head. - C. JUHASZ/CDFW WEBSITE
  • C. Juhasz/CDFW website
  • As crab season nears, domoic acid raises its ugly head.
It’s official: The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has “enacted a delay” of the recreational Dungeness crab season for areas stretching from Patrick’s Point north to the Oregon border due to “unhealthy levels” of domoic acid.

The remainder of the state is set for an opening on Nov. 3. Read previous Journal coverage of the elevated levels of the toxin found in local testing samples here.

“This closure shall remain in effect until the Director of the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), in consultation with the State Public Health Officer at CDPH, determines that domoic acid no longer poses a significant risk to public health and recommends lifting the fishery closure in this region,” the fish and wildlife release states. “CDFW will continue to coordinate with CDPH and OEHHA to test domoic acid levels in Dungeness crab to determine when the Dungeness crab recreational fishery in this area can safely be opened.”


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SECOND UPDATE: Warning Issued on Dungeness Crab After Testing Shows Toxin

Posted By on Thu, Oct 25, 2018 at 10:21 AM

As crab season nears, domoic acid raises its ugly head. - C. JUHASZ/CDFW WEBSITE
  • C. Juhasz/CDFW website
  • As crab season nears, domoic acid raises its ugly head.
SECOND UPDATE:
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has “enacted a delay” of the recreational Dungeness crab season for areas stretching from Patrick’s Point to the Oregon border due to “unhealthy levels” of domoic acid.

UPDATE: The California Department of Public health is now warning the public against eating Dungeness crab caught from Patrick’s Point near Trinidad to the Oregon border due to elevated levels of domoic acid.

“Dangerous levels of domoic acid have been detected in the body meat and internal organs of Dungeness crab from this region,” the release states. “Cooking crabs neither decreases nor destroys the toxin.”

The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, or OEHHA, in consultation with CDPH, is now recommending a delay in the opening of the recreational crab season in these areas. The season was slated to begin Nov. 5.

PREVIOUS:

The most recent round of domoic acid testing in Dungeness crab shows a few “hot spots” of elevated test levels, including samplings off Trinidad and George Reef in Del Norte County.

California Department of Public Health results of the six samples taken at those locations between late September and early this month show elevated levels were found in varying degrees. One location in the Bay Area, Bodega Bay, also showed higher domoic acid levels while San Francisco, Half Moon Bay, Monterey and Morro Bay sectors tested clear.

Domoic acid, as most of us will remember, all but destroyed the 2015 season. This year’s recreational season is currently slated to start Nov. 3 with the commercial season opening on Nov. 15.


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Friday, October 19, 2018

Visions Collide at Harbor District Forum

Posted By on Fri, Oct 19, 2018 at 12:13 PM

harbor_logo.png
Two candidates for the Fourth District seat on the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District board exchanged tersely worded comments at a forum held on Oct. 17, sponsored by Access Humboldt and the League of Women Voters. The forum occurred at Access Humboldt's TV studio, and viewers phoned in or emailed their questions for the contenders.

Incumbent Richard Marks has served on the district board since 2009, a period marked by the dismantling and cleanup of former pulp mill tanks that had been filled with deadly chemicals, the emergence of new aquaculture businesses along the docks, and, at least according to Marks, a pronounced improvement in the district's finances.

Challenger Marian Brady, a current Eureka city councilmember, sees things differently. She wants to see a lot more dredging in the bay so businesses can ship their wares in and out year-round. She does not believe that the financial footing of the district is sound and wants to have a forensic audit of its finances. She supports a proposed east-west railroad that she says could bring increased shipping to the port.

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Thursday, October 18, 2018

Interior Department Moves on Offshore Wind, RCEA's Application Remains in the Mix

Posted By on Thu, Oct 18, 2018 at 4:09 PM

How offshore wind works. - BOEM
  • BOEM
  • How offshore wind works.
The U.S. Interior Department announced this morning that it is officially beginning the process of looking for companies interested in developing offshore wind farms along the California coast.

The department will issue a "call for information and nominations" tomorrow, which will kick off a 100-day comment period that will close Jan. 27.

So what does this mean for Humboldt County? A few things.


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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Residents Raise Water, Design Questions About Scenic Drive Hotel Project

Posted By on Wed, Oct 17, 2018 at 7:27 AM

An early artistic rendering of the hotel — one that Trinidad Rancheria officials say was only a placeholder and doesn’t reflect current design concepts. - BUREAU OF INDIAN AFFAIRS ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT
  • Bureau of Indian Affairs Environmental Assessment
  • An early artistic rendering of the hotel — one that Trinidad Rancheria officials say was only a placeholder and doesn’t reflect current design concepts.

For the second time in less than a month, about 100 local residents filled Trinidad Town Hall on Oct. 15 to ask questions about a large hotel being planned on the bluffs above Scenic Drive by the Trinidad Rancheria.

The meeting was co-sponsored by the Trinidad City Council and by the Trinidad Rancheria. All five city councilmembers were present, along with City Manager Dan Berman. Also present were a team of rancheria officials, including CEO Jacque Hostler-Carmini; Government Affairs Coordinator Shirley Laos, Tribal Councilmember James Brown, Interim Director of the Trinidad Rancheria Economic Development Corporation David Tyson, and consultant Trenton Wilson, representing Analytical Environmental Services, the firm that wrote the Environmental Assessment for the project.

At an earlier meeting held Sept. 27 by HARP, a local citizen's group, residents raised many unanswered questions about the proposed six-story hotel and its environmental impacts. The rancheria had previously planned to meet with the City Council on Nov. 9 but moved the meeting up three weeks so that residents would have time to comment to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which oversees the project. The public comment period ends on October 22.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Hospital Cuts, Awkward Railroad Talks, Shelter Funding on Tap in Eureka

Posted By on Tue, Oct 16, 2018 at 3:33 PM

eureka.jpg
Members of the National Union of Healthcare Workers are expected to ask the Eureka City Council tonight to press St. Joseph Hospital officials to reverse course on the elimination of 35 positions and call a public meeting on patient care issues, including staffing levels.

News of the layoffs, which the union has described as retaliatory, came in September after an informational rally on staffing issues was held outside the Eureka hospital. The health system has described the employee reductions as workforce realignments designed “to provide a more efficient and value-based care delivery system.”

Of the 35 jobs being lost, 10 were open positions that will not be filled. The cuts will impact both St. Joseph Hospital in Eureka and Redwood Memorial Hospital in Fortuna. Read previous Journal coverage here.

The comments by union members will come at the start of the 6 p.m. meeting, which includes an agenda item on whether to request that the California Attorney General’s Office conduct an “investigative review” into a $10 billion railroad-to-port investment proposal that has been touted at Humboldt Bay Working Group meetings.

That could prove somewhat awkward seeing as Councilmember Marian Brady — who terms out this year and is running for a seat on the harbor district board — has voiced support for the endeavor and was quoted in local media reports as saying to “naysayers” that the project is “doable” with today’s modern technology.

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Sunday, October 14, 2018

Trinidad Rancheria to Host Meeting on Hotel Project

Posted By on Sun, Oct 14, 2018 at 2:07 PM

An early artistic rendering of the hotel — one that Trinidad Rancheria officials say was only a placeholder and doesn’t reflect current design concepts. - BUREAU OF INDIAN AFFAIRS ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT
  • Bureau of Indian Affairs Environmental Assessment
  • An early artistic rendering of the hotel — one that Trinidad Rancheria officials say was only a placeholder and doesn’t reflect current design concepts.
Those concerned about the Trinidad Rancheria's plans to build a six-story hotel on the bluff above Scenic Drive will have another chance to ask questions at a second public meeting scheduled for tomorrow. People will then have a week to send comments to the Bureau of Indian Affairs before the public comment period on the Environmental Assessment (EA) for the project closes Oct. 22.

"We will be responding to concerns raised by community members at the earlier meeting called by HARP (Humboldt Alliance for Responsible Planning)," said Trinidad Rancheria Chief Executive Officer Jacque Hostler-Carmesin. "Our meeting with the city of Trinidad was originally scheduled for Nov. 9, but we moved it forward so that people would have time to comment."

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Monday, October 8, 2018

Direct Flights to Denver Coming Next Year

Posted By on Mon, Oct 8, 2018 at 2:20 PM

UNITED
  • United
Humboldt County will soon have a new airline route.

The Redwood Region Economic Development Commission and the county announced this afternoon that United Airlines will begin nonstop service from Humboldt County to Denver International Airport beginning in June of next year. The nonstop 50-seat flights will depart the airport in McKinleyville daily at 6:30 a.m., arriving in Denver at at 10 a.m., with return flights leaving at 7 p.m. and landing at 8:50 p.m.

“I know that direct service to Denver International Airport will create new opportunities to increase business and tourist travel,” said Humboldt County Board of Supervisors Chair Ryan Sundberg in a press release.

Back in June, United Airlines rolled out direct daily flights from Humboldt County to Los Angeles. Booked about a month in advance, those roundtrip tickets run anywhere from $265 to $700. United’s website doesn’t yet allow for the booking of a nonstop flight from Humboldt to Denver but the one-stop alternative currently available runs a little more than $900 when booked 10 months in advance.

Meanwhile, the county continues its search for another carrier to replace PenAir, which abruptly ended its service from Humboldt to Portland, Oregon, last summer, shortly before the company filed for bankruptcy protection.

See the full press release announcing the new Denver route copied below:

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Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Eureka Council to Consider Allowing Cannabis Use Establishments

Posted By on Tue, Oct 2, 2018 at 12:59 PM

FILE
  • File
The Eureka City Council is set to consider today whether to allow the consumption of cannabis products — with the possibilities ranging from ointments and edibles to vaping and smoking, or all of the above — at certain establishments in order to provide tourists and others a space to legally imbibe.

If approved, Eureka would be the first city in Humboldt County to move away from the take-out-only approach for cannabis, which became legal for adult recreation use in January. The council will also consider lifting restrictions on signs for cannabis-related businesses.

“The proposed changes to the Eureka Municipal Code will conditionally allow on-site consumption in certain zone districts,” the staff report states. “While this amendment will allow on-site consumption, the existing request for proposal process and the conditional use permit process for cannabis retail facilities will remain in place, allowing for control of what type(s) of on-site consumption, if any, are appropriate for each individual location.”


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