Occupation: Business Owner / Creative Director
Where did you grow up? Aurora, Colorado.
How long have you lived in Arcata? Since 2020 and in Humboldt since 2016. I could never afford to live in Arcata if it wasn't for my partner and I moving in together at the beginning of the pandemic.
Tell us a little about yourself, why you are running for a council seat and what you can bring to the dais.
The apartment complex where I live was the last independently owned, multi-unit apartment in Arcata until it was purchased 13 months ago by Steve Strombeck. All other multi-unit properties are owned by either: Strombeck, Kramer or Danco.
Overnight, I was concerned that I wouldn't be able to afford my apartment and immediately started researching what protections we have as renters, which unfortunately, are pretty thin. With that, I got involved and started attending the CERC Housing Group to be as informed as I could be on countywide housing issues, and what solutions were being presented. Through this, I became more aware of the dire need for renter representation on the city council.
These three developers do a very good job at matching each other's prices, which then in turn creates the "market rate" we see locally. I would use the powers of the city council to pass more stringent rent control laws in order to protect the current renter population now and as we grow into the future. While there are statewide laws in place to give us a little protection, there's nothing preventing us from enacting stricter laws to curb the price gouging we're seeing in the rental market.
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?
While homelessness is a big issue, I do believe the Valley West project to house our houseless neighbors is a good step forward. I do believe that we should be taking measures before people end up homeless to ensure we have affordable housing available to our community.
One of my neighbors works at a popular fast food restaurant. She's a single mother and has lived in the complex for 11 years. She's worried about becoming homeless if her rent keeps going up. We should be doing more for people to prevent them from being in this situation. There's many things that can be done once a person becomes homeless, but not all that many to prevent it from happening in the first place.
What are your views on the proposed Gateway Area Plan?
The Gateway Plan can be an opportunity to shape the future of our city to be able to reflect our community values and serve our population as it grows.
I would like to pass the Gateway Plan with a few key features:
• Inclusionary Zoning refers to a mandated percentage of units in any new development are capped at what they can be rented for. By requiring affordability, we can ensure that our community remains intact as we grow and ensure a diverse population of people in the city. Diversity is key to a healthy community.
• Rental protections for condos and incentives for developers who can build condos in our community. I would like people to be able to create roots and housing security for themselves. With diverse types of homes, we can meet the needs of more people. I'm concerned with the retirees who can't or don't want to maintain their home anymore, but can't sell their house because they have nowhere else to go. I'm thinking about the young professionals like myself who don't want to live in a dorm (which unfortunately, is what a lot of apartments here are like since they cater almost exclusively to students).
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?
Lol no, I don't have any conflicts of interests in this regard. The only conflict of interest I have is my conflict with the lack of interest in my bank account. (ba-dum-cha). But in all seriousness, I am a representative of 60 percent of Arcata. That is the percentage of people who live here and rent, yet none of our representatives are renters and are seemingly unaware of the current state of affairs for people like myself. I think it's crucial to have our voice included in the final approved Gateway Plan.
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?
While we have a need to act quickly, I don't think we should act rashly. Passing the Gateway Plan and doing it right is going to be the best bet we have for ensuring that future students and community members have a place here. I would like Arcata to remain a town with a college, not a "college town." This comes back to diversity, we can't become a community which is solely reliant on the boom and bust of the school year. By diversifying we can ensure that as the student body grows, we also have a place for community members outside of the Cal Poly Universe whether that is business owners, doctors, nurses, working professionals, etc. etc.
What is the city's greatest flaw in responding to residents' needs and what could be done to fix it?
The city, like the government in general, is seemingly unapproachable, formal, and intimidating. A lot of the people who speak up are all the same voices, over and over, and there is a general lack of participation from a diverse group of people because of the onerous nature of different aspects of participating in government. I don't think the fault lies with the city in responding to needs, I think there is a general lack of participation, which is a bit of a two-way street. It's like any relationship, you need communication to understand one another best. I don't think that the majority of people realize the power that they have to influence the government, or — in a lot of instances — the time to spend participating. I would like to see more community building by the part of the city to encourage diverse conversations and establish more relationships in the community. Rather than checking people off and engaging with them when there is an immediate issue, how can we build the conversation, get to know one another as human beings, and co-create a future that is going to sustain us?
Anything else you would like to address or mention.
Our community character is made from our interactions with one another, not the size of our buildings. I believe that with thoughtful planning, beautiful design, and strong core values, we can build Arcata up to serve us into the future. (Yes, I'm speaking to the riff in the community on building height ordinances.) Building up is going to be what will enable us to create density, economic opportunity, avoid traffic jams and sprawl, preserve and protect our beautiful environment, and most importantly, provide a home for the people who live in our community now.