Letters to the Editor, August 9-16, 2023

Maybe HUD can help

Dear Mary Bolger (Union, July 19),

Speaking up is so very courageous and important!

My understanding and experience living in a HUD subsidized rental is that the base calculation is to be NO MORE than 30 percent of your adjusted income. There also may be some additional deductions but no inflation add-ons that I am aware of.

There is quite a lot regarding this on the web. One interesting site I looked at is lawhelp.org. They show a way to calculate HUD rents in an article:

Legal Aid Society of Hawai’i: “Public Housing – How to calculate rent”

I also encourage you to check in with your local HUD folks to confirm what they calculate as your appropriate rental.

DANCO seems to have figured out how to get a lot of HUD money by building and renovating places for affordable housing.

This is a service to our communities, and if they are not abiding by HUD regulations to determine rents, that is a big problem that needs to be addressed.

I do not know how oversight is done between DANCO – Dan Johnson and HUD.

My best to you,
Judy Sears


The facts support the Gateway Area Plan

Dear City Council.

I am a 57-year resident of Arcata. I have been active in the community as a school board member, City committee member, was Director of the Head Start Program for 30 Years and have been involved in many other community activities. I regularly read the Mad River Union and have followed the Gateway Plan progress closely.

You need to know that despite a few very loud people you have my full support to move forward with approval of the Gateway Form Based Code. The nay-sayers have thrown much mud on the wall about this plan in hopes that something will stick. And, as you know, there is also much misinformation and hyperbole being tossed about.

In almost every case the nay-sayer arguments do not hold water. They oppose the L Street plan because it will ruin a tiny green area, when in fact the implementation of the plan will actually expand and improve the bicycle, pedestrian green area.

The say there is no budget for this. Of course, there is no budget because this is only a plan that may not come to full fruition for many years. It would be silly to build a city or fire department budget for the year 2040.

They say the bottomland will flood. Yes, perhaps 50 percent of Arcata including the waste treatment plant may flood. Arcata will have no alternative but to build levees around the town just as Amsterdam, which is 7 feet below sea level has done.

They say that the long proven economic theory of supply and demand regarding housing doesn’t work. They cite a San Francisco study as an example. SF is one of the highest rent areas in the world and cannot be compared to Arcata.

They talk of the truck route as if L Street will become like I-5. The large trucks that come to Arcata deliver to the Co-op, Murphy’s, Hensel’s etc. If they do not drive on L Street, they would be on H Street. Would we have the trucks not deliver food to our grocery stores? These are a brief sample of the misinformed and illogical arguments that are being made.

I talk to many Arcata people and some of the NIMBYs and BANANAs (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Anytime) are old friends. But the overwhelming majority of Arcata citizens support your efforts in completing the general plan that includes providing housing and improving transportation in the Gateway area.

Petitions circulated at the Co-op include names of people who do not live in Arcata or even Humboldt County. These people are generally uninformed or misinformed. Do not fall prey to the nay-sayers’ tactics.

As the plan moves forward the screams of the BANANAs will grow louder. They are a small group and do not represent the wishes of the majority.

Thank you for your service to our community. It is a time-consuming and sometimes difficult job.

Siddiq Steve Kilkenny

Vote them out, create the linear park

To date, over a thousand people have signed the petition to create a full-width (car free) linear park along L Street, yet our voices aren’t being heard. The Arcata Planning Commission went ahead with a vote to make the K-L couplet a goal, despite strong opposition from Arcata residents. Meanwhile, our city leaders (planners and the council) continue to talk about the K-L couplet as if it were already decided and affirmed.

My mom and I attended the July 10 meeting at the Arcata Playhouse concerning the L Street linear park, and it was jam packed with every seat taken and more folks in the aisles. Judging from the conversation that ensued, people were pretty darned upset at the way we’re being ignored by the folks we elected to represent us. It appears more and more that we aren’t well represented by our so-called “leaders,” and Arcata residents are starting to take notice. One gentleman voiced the general frustration by asking, “How do we get this council to stop acting in such an arbitrary and authoritarian manner?” (to paraphrase him).

I think I may have an answer: Vote them out! There are three council members up for re-election next year. People have a tendency to vote for incumbents, especially those with a familiar face. But if these incumbents are just voting for what they (individually) want, and don’t care about what matters to the community, they certainly don’t deserve a seat on the council. It’s a sad fact that people who feel secure in their position often get drunk on their own power and stop listening to the community. Yet they’ll tell you everything you want to hear when they’re running for office, unless of course they feel they can coast to an easy win.

Currently, there’s only one council member with a genuine commitment to community engagement. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you who she is, because the others will get jealous and start bullying her. But if you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know who I’m talking about. She’s a jewel, and the only one who deserves to be re-elected, in my humble (or not so) opinion. She has the pulse of the community, and as far as I can tell, there has never been an issue more important to Arcatans than this one, and she’s with us. This may sound harsh towards the others, but she’s truly the only one who is responsive to our concerns. Or so it appears for now.

Why is this so important to us? Well, for one thing, there are cities all over the world clamoring for what we’ve got. Linear parks are springing up around the world as people discover that safe and pollution-free (i.e car free) pathways to walk, bike and run contribute to the health of the community. The peace and serenity of these parks contribute to our spiritual well being and sense of being in a special place, untampered by the relentless noise and pace of city life.

The beauty is that we don’t have to tear up streets like so many cities are doing to create this oasis. The Gateway Plan touts “community benefits” like parks as an amenity. But we already have a beautiful linear park along the L Street corridor that just needs a bit of enhancement as to landscaping. My mom and I walk it regularly, and it’s such a beautiful and peaceful respite. Why on earth would we want to destroy a “community benefit” that already exists just to create a noisy, soul-destroying truck route that would fundamentally change the character of this beautiful arts/ park district?

Let’s rethink this! If we truly want an arts district that attracts people, best not to turn it into a noisy congested corridor, don’t you think? A council member responded to my letter about the L Street corridor back in October by suggesting that we could have both a linear park and a truck route running next to it. So let’s be clear: Those of us advocating for the linear park want it to be a car free linear park with no car/truck thoroughfare running alongside it, as that would destroy the tranquility and beauty of this park and arts district beloved by so many.

We love this peaceful oasis with the L Street linear path running through it – perfect for walking, biking, skating – and want to preserve it for future generations to come. This is a “community benefit” worth preserving. And let’s get real: there’s no guarantee that developers will deliver on parks or affordable housing, or any other “community benefit.” As one Planco commissioner said: “It’s all pie in the sky right now.”

However, the L Street corridor already exists and it’s just waiting for us to improve on it. We might choose to have cafes, beautiful art work and landscaping along the route. But please, let’s not destroy it with a car/truck route. This is an arts district meant to uplift human beings and bring serenity, so unlike a noisy truck route. Let’s do our best to preserve it. And let’s elect council members who care about preserving our parks, the environment and public spaces in general. We deserve better.

These next few weeks will be crucial. Please show up for City Council meetings, but especially the meeting on August 22. Even if you’re shy about speaking, you can hold up a sign, or you can call in on Zoom. Much love and respect to the community and all who have fought so hard for this. Together united, we can win!

Lisa Pelletier

The nature of truth

The “Silly Season” is upon us. I had hoped that the election season would give us a break, but not so. I have refrained from commenting on all the loony tunes, unrelenting, non-sense in hope it would die down. Now I feel compelled to comment about what is going on in politics.

As many of you know I spent my formative years, in the late 1960s, at UC Berkeley studying history, political science, sociology, religion and all the great liberal arts with a view to making sense of the formation of the society in which we live and work. One of the ongoing discussions, always, was about the nature of truth. Are there universal truths outside of science? And truths in science are just hypothesis until proven over and over again. Are moral truths dependent on religious understandings or do they exist outside the orthodoxy? Can someone convince you, by lying loudly and repeatedly, that you cannot believe the truth of what you see with your own eyes?

I tell you folks, lately truth is taking a beating. Now comes the notion that political lies are protected speech. Politicians, pundits, religious leaders – none of them are required to tell the truth, because their lies are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution. What about common decency? What about telling the truth because “the truth will set you free”? What about the consequences of lies? Are we finally going to see some consequences rain down on Trump? Or is anyone going to believe Trump’s new lawyer that his actions were “aspirational” and not criminal conspiracy?

Yes, we have all heard the old joke: “How can you tell when a politician is lying? Because their lips are moving.” But this pack of lies has had some serious consequences for our country.

I recently took a road trip to Wyoming, primarily because I needed a road trip, but ostensibly to see the Devil’s Tower. I drove through Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, South Dakota and Nevada. In other words, I went to Trump country and I have to tell you that is a collection of mean, angry and dangerous people. I talked to strangers, mostly because I like to learn about people, and was absolutely astounded by the rage.

This is a collection of woe-is-me white folks that blame everything that is wrong in their lives on a mythical enemy, The Left. They complain bitterly about the federal government but are always at the front of the line for any federal funding. Of course, they have their hero telling them the truth, not lies.

The good news is that truth exists. We should expect to hear the truth and strive to tell the truth. Plan accordingly.

Next time we will look at the conspirators and the truly terrifying consequences of letting Trump hold national office ever again.

Thank you for listening,
Jan Phelps