On Monday, Oct. 14, 2019, Humboldt County published the study evaluating potential environmental impacts for the proposed acquisition and develop of three parcels located on Fourth Street between K and L Streets within the City of Eureka. The proposed Initial Study and Mitigated Negative Declaration was developed in conformance with the California Environmental Quality Act and can be found on the county's Natural Resources planning web page.
The public review period for this document extends from Oct. 14 through Nov. 12. The Board of Supervisors is expected to consider adopting the Initial Study and Mitigated Negative Declaration at the Dec.10 meeting.
Consideration of the project was initiated in 2016 to pursue an opportunity for acquiring property listed for sale near the Humboldt County Courthouse in order to develop a new facility for co-located county services. Co-locating services is a strategic initiative to improve service delivery to the public, increase work efficiency, and promote inter- and intra-departmental collaboration. Co-locating services is one of the primary goals of the County Facilities Master Plan effort currently in progress. Developing a new facility would also advance the county’s efforts to meet accessibility requirements (Americans with Disabilities Act and California Building Code). In addition, planning for this project is accounting for the pending construction of the Humboldt County Correction Reentry Resource Center Project on a portion of the undeveloped land (currently used for parking) east of the courthouse, which will result in a loss of off-street parking. Agreements between the County and the Judicial Council of California include a requirement for the County to provide 64 public parking spaces for shared use by court staff, County staff, jurors, and the general public.
The Initial Study identified 11 mitigation measures related to aesthetics, cultural resources, geology and soils, noise, transportation, and tribal cultural resources that would be incorporated into the project to ensure that environmental impacts are not significant. In addition, the County is pursuing several voluntary measures not directly related to CEQA:
Options to address the loss of affordable housing
The proposed project would result in the loss of ten residential dwelling units. Most of these units are in a state of disrepair and do not meet accessibility requirements. Some tenants have already found other housing arrangements and the current property management company has expressed the intent to help all tenants find housing. Humboldt County is evaluating options to help alleviate the loss of affordable housing units within the City of Eureka. The Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is currently assessing the property located at 1140 4th Street as a possible location for providing emergency and supportive housing services. This site is currently being renovated and has the potential to provide up to 44 dwelling units. DHHS is reviewing potential funding sources in collaboration with other local agencies and community organizations. In addition, in 2018 the County allocated $100,000 for the Betty Chinn’s transitional housing project, which envisions using 11 trailers donated by PG&E to provide housing for 24 individuals and six families.
Alternative parking options
The county is exploring options to address the loss of parking spaces that will result from construction of the Reentry Resource Center Project. One potential option is to lease a portion of the parking lot owned by the State Employment Development Department situated on 5th Street between K and L Streets. Another option is to seek negotiations with the Judicial Council to amend the terms of the existing joint occupancy agreement and transfer agreement. The county is reaching out to legislative representatives to assist in the coordination with these state agencies. In addition, the county is evaluating the cost of providing transit passes to county employees in order to reduce the demand for parking spaces in the vicinity of the courthouse.
Historical documentation and salvage of historical materials
The county will photo-document the existing structures on-site prior to demolition and conduct architectural salvage of historical materials to the greatest extent feasible.