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Kimberley White: Arcata City Council Candidate Questionnaire

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Occupation: I am program coordinator and community organizer for CUNA (Comunidad Unida del Norte de Arcata/Community United of North Arcata), an Arcata Planning Commissioner, community advocate/volunteer, and mother of a teenage daughter. Please join our campaign at www.kimberleyforarcata.org .

Where did you grow up?

I had the privilege of growing up on the traditional lands of the Indigenous people of the Pit River. Burney, California, is a tiny beautiful rural town northeast of Redding in between Mt. Shasta and Mt. Lassen. Burney is also the home of Burney Falls (twin falls) known as the Eighth Wonder of the World. Burney Falls is the second oldest state park in California. The population is 3,000, including the chipmunks.

How long have you lived in Arcata?

Like many, I came here to attend our university where I received my master's degree. I fell in love with Arcata and never left. I have lived in Arcata, land of the Wiyot, for more than 30 years.

Tell us a little about yourself, why you are running for a council seat and what you can bring to the dais.

I am running because of my passion for affordable housing, home ownership opportunities and long-term solutions for the unhoused with dignity and respect. I am running to be a voice for those who have been left out. I want to protect our seniors, our BIPOC and LGBTQ community, the undocumented and unhoused through the lens of equity, as it permeates through everything.

I believe to deepen democracy we must engage the entire community. It is essential to have a well-functioning democracy that ALL voices be heard. I am passionate about deep ecology and very concerned about climate change. Arcata declared a climate emergency in 2019, now let's act on it at a local level. We have untapped talent and need to deepen connections with Cal Poly Humboldt where I received my master's degree.

I bring my experience as a community organizer, my passion for community engagement and my experience as an Arcata Planning Commissioner which I have the honor to serve now over three years. I believe in people over politics. We must mend divisiveness and rebuild trust in local government by shifting and sharing power, creating a more transparent responsive government bringing us together for a stronger, better Arcata.

While a nationwide problem, homelessness is also an acute one in Arcata. What steps can and/or should the council take to address this issue?

I am a member of True North and serve on several housing groups. I became an Arcata Planning Commissioner because of my passion for equitable and affordable housing for everyone. Housing, like healthcare, is a basic human right. I am committed to long-term solutions with dignity and respect for the unhoused and those at risk of becoming unhoused. I believe permanent housing is a solution rather than shelters, encampments, tent cities, etc. There are many examples of tiny house communities that are successful. Humboldt County passed a new housing law on Tiny Housing. These communities are self-sustainable where everyone pays rent and has an investment in the community. It is about a sustainable community that gives everybody dignity and a reason. We need to rethink social policy. It is essential we address issues of equity and social justice and how disparity permeates through affordable housing and the unhoused community.

I live in Valley West and a large majority of the unhoused community are in Valley West/North Arcata. Not too long ago, I wrote a two-part series in Mad River Union News titled, "Faces of the Unhoused".

https://www.madriverunion.com/articles/daniel-and-lonnies-real-world-chutes-and-ladders/

https://www.madriverunion.com/articles/faces-of-the-unhoused-his-name-was-pops/

For more on my solutions for the unhoused :

https://lostcoastoutpost.com/elections/question/750/

What are your views on the proposed Gateway Area Plan?

As an Arcata Planning Commissioner, I'm working on the Gateway Area Plan. There is no question we are in the midst of a housing crisis. We all see the gaps in affordable housing and home ownership opportunities. You or someone you know is likely facing housing insecurity.

It breaks my heart to see our community be divisive. We want the same thing which is housing, but the issue is how we get there, and how many stories do we want.

We need to address resident concerns so we can move on and we can better inform our decision on building height by bringing in expert opinion and more robust community engagement (citywide survey asking for resident input). Experts on sea level rise could include civil engineer Jeff Anderson as well as Aldaron Laird who did a recent seminar at Cal Poly Humboldt. We need to hear from infrastructure experts (wastewater treatment plant and Arcata Fire District) if we want community buy in.

If we plan carefully, and include the community in the decision-making process, we can provide the housing needed for Arcata, and still maintain the character that we all love and why we choose to live in Arcata.

Two current members of the council are required to recuse themselves from Gateway plan discussions/decisions due to owning property within 500 feet of the project's footprint. Do you have any potential conflict of interest issues that might require your recusal as well, if elected, and if so, what would those be?

Conflict of interest in the Gateway Area plan has been an ongoing topic of discussion and concern. Two of our current council members must recuse themselves from voting due to conflict of interests. Currently there are three members of city council who do not have a conflict of interest in the Gateway Area Plan and are able to vote but that could change in this November's election. For a vote to pass, there must be two-thirds of the council approval. I have no conflict of interest with the Gateway Area Plan as I live in Valley West. If a proposed development project were to come to Valley West, I would follow the guidelines of the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC).

If a project were to come before the City Council from my employer, again I would follow the guidelines of the FPPC. If I was not required by the FPPC to recuse myself, but there was a perception of a conflict of interest, I also would likewise recuse myself.

With Cal Poly Humboldt in transition and the anticipated influx of thousands of additional students to the campus in the coming years, what can/should the city be doing now to prepare for impacts to the city and its services, especially considering its current housing shortage?

Universities can be economic drivers of city's but often the benefits don't reach the communities they are built in. Many residents are upset about Cal Poly Humboldt's purchase of land earmarked for an age-in-place senior living community by Life Plan Humboldt.

When I was a student at Cal Poly Humboldt (then HSU), we were cutting edge and had deep connections with our university. We need to get back to that relationship and partnership once again. We need to deepen our connections with Cal Poly Humboldt and collaborate with them on housing. We are in the midst of one of the biggest changes ever to face Arcata. These changes will forever affect our future. Arcata simply cannot afford, nor should we foot the entire bill for all the required infrastructure upgrades needed as Cal Poly Humboldt expands their campus and off-campus housing projects. Cal Poly Humboldt should help with our infrastructure upgrades (Arcata Fire District, wastewater treatment plant, safe streets, transportation system/bike infrastructure, etc.).

As we move forward with the Gateway Area Plan it is essential we deepen our connections with Cal Poly Humboldt to a formal partnership. They want to be good neighbors. Let's open that door.

How do you view the city's response to addressing impacts from climate change?

We declared a climate emergency (Sept. 20t, 2019), now let's act on it. We need to move away from fossil fuels and focus more on slowing climate change (Green New Deal). It is inconsistent that Arcata declares a climate emergency, but continues to invest in Chevron, one of the worst climate damaging companies. Arcata should divest from all fossil fuels. Arcata's investment policy should be consistent with and reflect our goals and values. We should be moving away from all fossil fuels and toward clean energy alternatives such as solar, wind power, etc. Arcata should be investing with a conscience. Arcata has always been cutting edge and I am committed to continuing the work and to make sure we do all we can to combat climate change. Moving forward with the Gateway Area Plan it is essential we keep our climate goals always in mind. I would like to have the community identify local climate goals. We would check our progress with bimonthly or monthly updates at our city council meetings. We need to set the bar high, hold ourselves accountable and as a City, and be the role model for the rest of the county. Let's lead the charge.

What is the city's greatest flaw in responding to residents' needs and what could be done to fix it?

I am constantly inspired by my conversations with voters as I'm out on the campaign trail. The community wants and needs to be part of local government decisionmaking but often feel left out. Residents don't always feel heard or that their concerns and ideas are taken into consideration. Many times, I have heard from residents that the Gateway Area Plan is staff-led, rather than community-led. If elected, I will assure that all voices are heard including those traditionally left out of the conversation.

I helped spearhead Humboldt County's first ever Participatory Budget Process with CUNA (Comunidad Unida del Norte de Arcata/Community United of North Arcata) for the Valley West/North Arcata community. It was a HUGE success. CUNA hoped that other municipalities would pick up on this community-led "how to spend public money" participatory process. Eureka announced recently they will be doing a Participatory Budget Process for all the districts in Eureka very soon.

I bring to the table my experience in community engagement and Participatory Action Research and the Participatory Budgeting Process. These processes empower residents in the decision-making process. I will work to rebuild trust in local government, making it more transparent and responsive.

Anything else you would like to address or mention.

Equity means access. The Coastal Commission has bilingual meetings, so should Arcata. We need to provide onsite childcare and a light meal for children, so working parents can attend meetings. Many of the older adult community do not drive at dark. We need a shuttle for our senior Lazy J Ranch Mobile Home Park. Many students don't have a vehicle and don't feel safe biking at night, shuttle them. The city of Eureka has a unique program "Eureka Youth Council." We should contact Arcata High's Advanced Placement US Government and Politics class (APGOV) and give Arcata teens an opportunity to get involved and learn about their local government.

City council has a land acknowledgment. We recognize we are on the unceded tribal territory of the Wiyot people. Where is representation from our Wiyot tribe? We should reach out to our tribe whose land we acknowledge, see if they would like to be represented on the city council via appointment by the Wiyot tribe. I reached out to a Wiyot tribal leader and they loved this idea.

I am honored to be endorsed by Humboldt County Democrats, Humboldt progressive Democrats Humboldt and Del Norte counties Central Labor Council and Humboldt Healthcare for all.

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