2020 CANDIDATE FORUM Q&A FROM
1. Do you support cannabis manufacturing, distribution, and/or retail in Eureka?
a. What types of cannabis businesses currently operate in Eureka?
b. What are the pros and cons of the cannabis industry operating in Eureka?
Cannabis is legal in the state of California, and I support the manufacturing, distribution, and retail of cannabis and cannabis products within areas zoned for such business sectors--with attention to restrictions in areas designated by the state and city (i.e. around schools). With no personal involvement in the cannabis industry and not being a user of its products, I am not fully aware of the number or breadth of cannabis businesses operating in the Eureka city limits. A quick scan of the Humboldt Growers Alliance website indicates that there are more than 270 member businesses (likely not a comprehensive list), but not how many of these operate within the Eureka city limits. I would be interested to have more comprehensive data to educate myself about the number and location of cannabis-related businesses.
Positive elements of small cannabis businesses are the same as those for small businesses of any type: they contribute to the tax base, provide jobs for residents, and support community events and organizations through donations. As such, they should be welcome in our business organizations--and we should support efforts to prevent large corporate cannabis producers from getting a foothold in our community. One negative factor of cannabis in general may be negative effects on young people and those who misuse the product. It’s my understanding, however, that our cannabis retailers are rigorous in selling only to adults, and good education by our city and schools as to the effects of cannabis can mitigate user and youth issues.
2. What recommendations could you make to revitalize business in Eureka?
a. What can the city do to help reduce commercial storefront vacancies?
b. What outdoor projects in the city of Eureka do you support?
As business owners in Old Town, my wife and I have significant concerns regarding the number of vacant storefronts in Old Town, downtown, and Henderson Center. Some of these vacancies are due to challenges in starting new businesses, and the City of Eureka could work with SBDC and the Chamber to support entrepreneurs with incentives and resources. Even more significantly, though, many of these spaces remain open due to the property owners themselves. For instance, my wife and I were interested in a retail space open on our block and contacted the realtor to view the property. When we did so, we were informed that the owner was not interested in renting the space--only in selling the building. Two years later, the space remains vacant--a blight on the central Old Town area. The fact that this prime property has remained vacant for years is illustrative of a problem where owners are more willing to take a business loss for vacancy rather than offer reasonable rent. The city needs to reach out to owners of properties that remain unoccupied for significant periods of time to incentivize occupancy.
In regards to outdoor projects, I am a huge supporter of public parks, recreation areas, trails, events, and art--things that make our community attractive and encourage people to engage in activities in our public spaces. The addition of parklets for restaurants was also a good direction, and sidewalk dining due to COVID has been a further way to make our business district vibrant.
3. What is your position regarding the ongoing increases in the cost of city development fees and water rates?
a. If parking becomes a more significant challenge in the future, what solutions would you suggest helping alleviate the problem?
b. What is your position regarding Sea Level Rise regulations?
I have not been subject to city development fees and am not current on this cost increase. In regards to water rates, I would like a better understanding of the reason for the increase. Is it due to infrastructure costs? Reduced resources? Higher contaminant levels? I believe the price for our high-quality water is worth it, but we need to convey the reasons for price increases to residents. Additionally, programs that increase water conservation could help residents reduce water bills by reducing consumption.
The parking “issue” is twofold: there is some shortage of parking for larger events and there is public perception that parking is less available than it is. While folks think nothing of parking at the mall and walking its length, parking more than two blocks from their downtown destination means parking is unavailable. Education/signage about parking, and a parking app showing the types of parking available near a destination, could help change public perception. As for the physical reality of parking, the city should look at using one (or more) of its lots for construction of a parking structure.
Sea level is rising, and as a city built on a bay we need to use science to identify affected areas and educate about the threat--providing timelines based on differing scenarios for the speed of rise. Property owners (including the city) need to be made aware of the possible effects, in order to develop a plan for transitioning to a safe mode.