Meredith Matthews: Arcata City Council Candidate Questionnaire


Occupation: Administrative Specialist at Redwood Coast Energy Authority, City Council member (appointed incumbent).

Where did you grow up? Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

How long have you lived in Arcata? Since 2016.

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

I am an administrative specialist at Redwood Coast Energy Authority and have served on the council since August 2021. I am also the mother to three teenage boys in the Arcata school system. In my short time on the council, I have gotten a lot accomplished — I championed the Complete Streets ordinance, and am building a relationship with the Wiyot Tribe, the result of which is that we now have a land acknowledgement before our meetings, with more projects with the tribe to come. I feel like my work has just gotten started, and I would like to continue to make positive changes.

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 will begin by saying that I am very proud of what the council has done to tackle this issue recently. Project Homekey, the Safe Parking Program, three more years of MIST services and the Community Ambassador Program were all passed during my term. The city also contracts with CUNA to do extensive outreach with our unhoused population in Carlson Park. With the recent displacement of homeless communities in Eureka and Orick, many have moved to Arcata. I believe our next steps should be working with the city of Eureka and the county to provide real solutions for getting people a safe place to live.

What are your views on the proposed Gateway Area Plan?

The GAP provides much needed housing, and infill is the climate-friendly way to go. A dense, walkable area is so much better than sprawl. Most importantly, if the city does not approve a plan, the state can come in and we will lose control of what Arcata will look like. With form-based codes it is possible to have housing for all income levels, while still maintaining the character of Arcata. I will also advocate for opportunities for home ownership, which is lacking at present. Having all these new buildings being net-zero, all electric buildings is also important for me. As far as building heights, the council is eagerly waiting for recommendations from the Planning Commission.

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?

I have no conflicts of interest with this project.

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?

For context, in 2014 the enrollment at Cal Poly Humboldt was 8,293. In 2022, the enrollment is about 5,800. The enrollment is expected to double over time. We need more housing, and now. The wastewater treatment plant will commence with phase one of upgrades, which are sorely needed. We also need doctors, nurses and additional faculty housing. We need a robust relationship with Cal Poly that includes upgrades to our public transportation routes and roads. As someone who does workforce development in my job, I am looking forward to the influx of students with degrees in STEM topics to fill our jobs, locally, to send their children to our schools and to shop from our local businesses.

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

Working for RCEA, I have been very close to the development of our county's Climate Action Plan. I was named 2022 Environmental Champion by the Redwood Coalition for Climate and Environmental Responsibility, and I take Arcata's response to our climate emergency very seriously. This council has dedicated a large portion of our ARPA funds towards renewable energy projects, but it is still not enough. I am constantly looking for ways to address climate change, through electrification, infill, walkable neighborhoods, and a more robust public transportation system.

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

Obviously, the pandemic has accounted for barriers in communication, but I do believe that outreach to residents is something the city could improve upon. We need to realize that not everyone uses social media as a conduit for information and need to seek out alternative ways to get information out. I think we should utilize the Chamber Welcome Center and the Main Street office as additional places for people to get information.

Anything else you would like to address or mention.

I have been endorsed by:

Humboldt County Democratic Central Committee (HCDCC)

Humboldt Progressive Democrats (HPD)

State Senator Mike McGuire

Redwood Coalition For Climate And Environmental Responsibility- Environmental Champion 2022

3rd District Supervisor Mike Wilson

Natalie Arroyo

Kim Bergel

Tory Starr


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