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Eureka Mayor Frank Jager: “There’s a lot of controversy over big box retailers. But this Wal-Mart — our Wal-Mart — I think is going to be different. It’s going to be something that’s involved in the community and really help us out.”

Andrew Goff has all the highlights of the opening ceremony.  The doors open tomorrow, as a new economic dawn accompanies the new political order in Humboldt County.

Apparently they will eventually sell diet Squirt.

Is it appropriate that the high school ROTC provide security for a private company?  Even if it is merely ceremonial?

Lastly, I really find the first comment in the NCJ blog thread offensive, even if he or she is on the side of the angels.  I think other Wal-Mart opponents should chime in their objections as well.

EIR for a major expansion in Ukiah to do in what ever’s left of the old economy and add more sprawl to the suicide-inspiring landscape of the south side.

Also, a new courthouse in the works.  One thing I really like about the existing courthouse is that the courtrooms have natural light – unlike its Humboldt County counterpart.  I hope the new one does as well.  Many courthouses were built around the philosophy that you don’t want jurors staring out the window in their boredom during trial.  But they can just as easily stare at the wall, or one of the attorneys’ tacky ties.

Hank says it’s probably happening.

Addendum:  Growing heated thread at the Herald.

Not New York anyway.  But the city adjacent to Berkeley feels a stake in the controversy.

My question – did they take a stand on the widening of Interstate 80?

Albany has, to my knowledge, California’s only Korea Town with a great theater which exclusively plays Korean film.

Wikipedia says this of the city’s history:

In 1908, a group of local women protested the dumping of Berkeley garbage in their community. Armed with two shotguns and a twenty-two-caliber rifle, they confronted the drivers of the wagons near what is now the corner of San Pablo Avenue and Buchanan Street. The women told the drivers of the horse-drawn garbage wagons to go home, which they did quickly and without complaint. Shortly thereafter, the residents of the town voted to incorporate as the City of Ocean View. In 1909, voters changed the name of the city, primarily to distinguish the city from the adjacent section of Berkeley which had previously been named Ocean View. On a vote of 38 to 6 the city was renamed in honor of Albany, New York, the birthplace of the city’s first mayor, Frank Roberts.

I think this entry to Wilipedia may need updating, at least as far as what they are “trying to attract.”

The major retail and business areas in Albany are Solano Avenue, which is a pedestrian-oriented street lined with mainly small shops, restaurants, and services; San Pablo Avenue, which is more automobile-oriented; and an area near the Eastshore Freeway, which the city is trying to attract big-box stores and offices, and currently houses a two-story Target store.

The band Metalica resides in Albany.

An article long overdue which explores some of the misunderstandings of the project and the strengths and weaknesses of both sides of the argument.  The whole thing is worth a read, but this portion stick out to me.

In response to a question about corporate stores that are already here, EPIC’s reply was, “Your mention of existing big-box stores with their own fleets of trucks establishes that the STAA designation is not necessary.” But not necessary for whom? If the big boxes don’t need STAA access to be here, how can providing that access be the cause of their coming here? The argument seems to be circular and self-defeating. It is, of course, “necessary” for Caltrans to be in compliance with federal law — a fact that was curiously ignored at the Feb. 24 forum.

In next week’s installment of the story, Cristina explores some of the claims about business needs regarding the project, and I hope she has helped to clear up conflicting claims about whom would benefit the most – big boxes or small business.

At the end of this first installment Cristina mentions that EPIC intends to file suit on the inadequacies of the DEIR, and it does seem like there are plenty of omissions to justify criticism.  But if compliance with federal law is the issue, wouldn’t such a lawsuit simply being forestalling the inevitable?  By focusing on the DEIR rather than any explicit violations of law in the project itself, they are leaving out a key defendant in the federal government, and fundamentally whether the STAA-accommodation requirements violate federal environmental regulations.  If not, then it seems like this project is inevitable in some form.

On another point, the article confirms my take on the development issue.  While I remain agnostic on many of the issues, the whole “maintain the bottleneck to prevent development” approach is misguided.  Development is controlled by smart growth policies.  If we don’t want a big box in Eureka, or Fortuna, we push for ordinances which restrict that development, and we oppose variances such as those being sought for the Marina Center.  To the controlled growth issue, this one seems like a distraction.

The comments attached to the article raise some good points and some lame ones, but it’s the kind of discussion we need.  Like I said in a previous post, I wish someone would organize a panel debate in lieu of the one-sided pep rallies all sides organize to pump up their own positions and do little to address the nuances and factual disputes.  It should be easy to confirm whether Randy Gans is telling the truth about lobbying, since everything should be public record.  Or whether the Crescent City Home Depot takes in STAA deliveries from the north.  And I would like to see some detailed botanical analysis as to the potential danger to the roadside old growth due to the compromising of the root structures with an air spade, hot asphalt, etc.  It seems that all sides are charged up with big opinions while lacking crucial information.

And thank you again Cristina and NCJ!

Much as I just haven’t had the time to keep up with the rapidly moving story due to the volume on my plate, I’m starting to get drawn in.  As you’ve probably read or heard, the Eureka City Council approved a development permit allowing, among other, things a clean-up  site.  An appeal has been requested with the Coastal Commission on the basis that the EIR was inadequate and that the proposed clean-up plan is inadequate.

Earlier this week two of the three council members (Jeff Leonard and Mike Jones) accompanied a couple of city staff to the Coast Commission meeting in San Francisco.  Bonnie Neeley, generally seen as on the opposite side of the controversy, now chairs the commission.  The decision to hear the appeal based upon the finding of “substantial issue” was decided without input from the public, including the city representatives.  Councilman Larry Glass (who did not vote to approve the permit) and others had called the trip a political stunt.  From the other side comes criticisms of Neeley, accusing her of preventing input from Jones and Leonard, though another commissioner made it very clear that public input is not generally solicited for the mere issue of whether there is substantial issue to justify an appeal.  You can access the video from a post at Heraldo’s.

The Times Standard’s editorial of today politely slams Leonard and Jones, while wagging fingers at everyone else in the debate as well.  The TS lamentation about the discussion seems to be underscored by the thread attached to the article as well as the many threads over at Heraldo’s (Heraldo has been covering the issue extensively since the Eureka City Council took up the matter).  There is also an article which pretty much sums up the story to date.

Heraldo has covered the events from one perspective.  You can find another at the Humboldt Mirror.  This will likely become the next polarizing issue for the county, and will no doubt play prominently in the 2010 Supervisor elections, particularly in Neeley’s district with rumors of challenges from Leonard and Mayor Virginia Bass (rumors of challenges from the left are greatly exaggerated at this point, but there’s plenty of time).

Hank Sims has also weighed in.

Here’s a virtual tour of the proposal.  Notice the intact railroad tracks!

And more to the point of the moment, Phase 1:

Addendum: An emailing reader corrected my misspelling of Neely (I think I’ve been spelling it wrong for some time) and the number of City Council members.  He also states that Neely’s position on the project is ascertainable through more than mere perception.

Bonnie Neely was the former spokesperson for C.R.E.G. (Committee for Regressive Economic Growth), whose one and only purpose was to stop the Marina Center project.  Don’t know how else you can spin that.

Second addendum: Ryan Hurley uncovers the smoking voice mail!

Some of the other blogs are all over it.  At least it’ll be somewhat contained within the existing mall.  Can’t have enough sweat shop generated CPC.  Kohl’s will replace Mervyn’s.

On the bright side, maybe those annoying “going out of business” signs on Broadway, especially the guy who twirls it around on the corner of Wabash.

I was actually in Mervyn’s recently looking for a pair of dress shoes.  I wasn’t particularly impressed with the prices for what was offered, even if they were marked down forty percent from whatever they had been at.  It’s been a few years since I bought dress shoes, so maybe I’m just out of touch.

Over half a million jobs killed in November, the worst one-month carnage since 1974.  What do you think that will do to Christmas season retail?

The only retail companies thriving are WalMart and online services.  Economic cleansing is on the way.

With fuel prices dropping, why isn’t food?  Everything is going down except food.

The article contains some lame explanations:

Inman said many of the major food producers made bad bets earlier this year, locking in prices on ingredients before the economy collapsed. Another problem is that with fewer Americans dining out, the demand for supermarket food has risen.

“Ingredients” is key here.  Later in the article we learn that produce has actually dipped a bit because the primary cost is transportation.  If health wasn’t enough of a reason, you now have additional incentive to avoid processed and packaged foods.

As for the “dining out theory,” don’t restaurants have to buy the food they sell you?  So they’re selling less wholesale, meaning they have more food available for supermarkets, and the price goes up?  Something’s wrong there if you believe in the calculus of supply and demand.  I’m wondering if there is widespread hoarding as Kym wrote about some weeks ago.  And it explains the produce, which isn’t practical for hoarding.

Meat also remains high by the way, because supply is low due to the earlier prices of feed.  We may be poorer next year, but maybe we’ll also be more healthy.  Always looking for the silver lining.

The North Coast Journal has an article entitled “Small Box” which briefly examines small business politics in Humboldt County. With all the debate about big box developments on this thread and elsewhere, I’m thinking of framing the discussion with a list of advantages and disadvantages of both, with the obvious caveat that it’s not necessarily and absolute choice between the two. You can have some of one and some of the other. But it would still help to lay out the relative positives and negatives and then discuss each of them. The biggest economic debate is jobs vs. prices with wages a matter of dispute. Then we can discuss the overall impacts on the community, positive and negative. Then we can discuss the particular locations of certain businesses, as in Eureka vs. Fortuna, etc.

Who knows? Maybe we can even discuss it rationally, with actual facts. Anything’s possible.

When Michael Moore visited Arcata some time ago, he expressed an opinion not quite in sync with local progressive sensibilities, although I think he sometimes says things for the shock value. But it’s worth bringing up, because there is not necessarily a consensus within progressive (nor conservative) constituencies on the subject. Sometimes blue conflicts with green. Sometimes new money conflicts with old money. There again, I love ironies like that. Spice of politics.

“You know in my town the small businesses that everyone wanted to protect? They were the people that supported all the right-wing groups. They were the Republicans in the town, they were in the Kiwanas, the Chamber of Commerce – people that kept the town all white. The small hardware salesman, the small clothing store salespersons, Jesse the Barber who signed his name three different times on three different petitions to recall me from the school board. Fuck all these small businesses – fuck ‘em all! Bring in the chains. The small business people are the rednecks that run the town and suppress the people. Fuck ‘em all. That’s how I feel.

So I guess Michael won’t be endorsing Larry Glass?

I didn’t get to hear all of Thank Jah this morning, but I did hear one caller take issue with Sue’s letter stating that Clif is the only candidate who opposes big box development. It is clearly the biggest difference between the positions of Clif and Estelle, and I would summarize each candidate’s position as follows.

Clif – while certain big box developments may be appropriate for other communities, it is not appropriate for the Second District. The Second District is not large enough to metabolize such a development without serious negative alterations of the local economy. While Fortuna does mostly have the institutional power to make the decision on its own, it is an issue which affects the district and the county as a whole and a supervisor should take a public leadership role and participate in the discussion in behalf of the district and county, even if it means “stepping on some toes.” Supports a mixed use plan for the PALCO land.

Estelle– doesn’t oppose all big boxes and supports mixed use which may include a big box. Believes that it is ultimately Fortuna’s decision to make. Has not offered any discussion of what role, if any, she would play in the discussion if elected supervisor.

Roger – it’s Fortuna’s business and nobody else’s.

Johanna – ???

If I’ve misstated or left anything out of the positions, please let me know. And yes, I understand that you might disagree with a particular candidate’s position on an issue and still support him/her. We can have two threads of discussion here – the issue itself and its significance for the Second District election. Personally, I believe it relates to larger issues of development of the county, the general plan, and questions of vision. We know that code enforcement issues are being linked to development issues, and very unusual alliances are being struck which could result in some odd realignments of local politics. You might ask why certain conservative forces seem to act as if they’re more threatened by Clif than Estelle. It’s certainly been evident in these threads.


July 2020