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Sewer impacts, building height among Arcata Gateway plan concerns – Times-Standard

Potential negative impacts on Arcata’s sewage and associated impacts from high-rise buildings are among the biggest concerns in a preliminary survey released by a group of Arcata citizens regarding the city’s still-developing Gateway Project plan. town.

Responsible Growth Arcata circulated a survey from February 5 to February 23 to seek community feedback on issues related to Arcata’s plans for the future infill and redevelopment of several lots occupying over 130 acres in the west side of town for up to 3,500 new housing units.

Chris Richards, a member of Responsible Growth Arcata who owns a car shop in the area of ​​the proposed project, told The Times-Standard this week that the group began to take shape in December after the draft plan for the gateway area was released. from the city.

“Everyone was a bit in shock and no one had heard of (the Gateway project) for various reasons, but people started coming together and then this group, now officially called Responsible Growth Arcata, came together. completely evolved and they started going door to door and talking to people,” Richards said.

Sampling was done at the local farmers’ market in the square and on the group’s Facebook page. The study received responses from a very small segment of the local population, with a sample size of 114 participants. A preface to the findings acknowledges that the sample is limited due to its small size, and that a study incorporating a larger and more complete sample of Arcata as a whole is planned for the next phase of this survey effort.

Although the sample size so far is limited, Richards believes it captures a good chunk of people living in and around the Gateway area.

“The Gateway community has a wide variety of people. There are council members, city planners… there is a wide range of people with different ideologies who have had access to this poll,” he said.

Potential negative impacts and risks to the city’s wastewater and stormwater capacity were rated the most significant among respondents, with 61% of participants rating it as very important and 27% rating it as a subject of great importance. A total of 88% rated these impacts as high importance or very high importance.

Responsible growth Arcata consultant Craig Tucker says at the time it was unclear how the city’s plan for sewage treatment systems will work and will be affected by an increased stress load once the developments will bring more people to the city.

“You’re about to spend $60 million to make sure the Arcata sewage treatment facility meets water quality standards, but they’re not increasing capacity. That’s a really big question. … The way sewage treatment is implemented here in Arcata is quite unique. he said.

Responding to a question regarding research studies on the project’s impact on wastewater capacity, Arcata Community Development Manager David Loya told The Times-Standard that the plan’s environmental impact statement was on going redaction.

“This document will assess the impact on infrastructure, including the sewage treatment plant, and identify the mitigation measures needed to support the planned growth,” he said.

Arcata’s wastewater treatment facility is integrated into the city’s marshes. (Mario Cortez/The Times-Standard)

Potential negative impacts and risks associated with high-rise buildings, such as the impact on solar access and emergency services, saw 67% of respondents rank them as very important, and 18% of participants attaching great importance to them. A total of 85% rated these impacts as high or very high significance.

More than 50 participants said that four is the maximum allowed number of building floors in the Gateway area. Less than 30 answered three stories as the upper limit. One and two stories were the most frequent responses for minimum building height, with the two receiving 44 responses each, for a total of 88 responses, or more than two-thirds of responses.

“A lot of people think that four levels seems like the highlight, as you can see from the graphic, and also worry about open space, shading with tall buildings and keeping a sense of what what it’s like to live in a small community,” Richards said.

Tucker said members of Responsible Growth Arcata thought tall buildings would feel out of place.

“It just doesn’t fit the character of Arcata,” he said.

Current land use designations for the Gateway area allow for maximum building heights of four stories in the “Gateway Neighborhood” designations up to eight stories in the “Gateway Barrel District”, located on the site of a former factory. barrels on Samoa Boulevard in the southwest corner. from the city.

Loya pointed out that the plan proposes said boundaries, as these are not yet set in stone.

“It is a critical point of discussion with the community and the decision makers. The maximum building height is linked to other policy areas, such as providing more housing, so there are trade-offs to consider,” he said.

The survey shows positive perceptions of several impacts on the ability to own a home, pay rent, recreational facilities and improved public transit in downtown Arcata.

Responsible Growth Arcata members have already engaged with the city and plan to remain engaged throughout the development process of the Gateway project.

“These guys wrote letters and went to council meetings, testified or asked questions throughout the process. As a group, if you go to one of those meetings that the city council has about the walkway, those guys are all there,” Tucker said.

Richards said the survey results have been sent to city staff and city officials have attended recent meetings of the group.

Loya said the city is looking to reach more people as the plan progresses.

“We are encouraged by the public engagement on this important plan update. We would like to speak to as many people as possible in the community. If you have lived experience with affordability in housing, employment, streets, sidewalks, parks and other community spaces, we want to hear from you. Please contact us or come to one of our meetings,” he said.

The full survey results are available online at https://bit.ly/3N7jGyQ.

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