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Eureka City Council adopts recommendations to address sea level rise


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Last night, the Eureka City Council adopted recommendations to mitigate and adapt to the rising sea levels in the Humboldt Bay area. This comes after a grand jury report highlighted findings that Humboldt Bay has the highest sea level rise rate in California, which may have devastating effects on coastal communities.

Eureka Principal Planner Cristin Kenyon presented the findings of the grand jury report "The Sea Also Rises" at Tuesday night's meeting. Her presentation included a summary of the report and some of the recommendations put forth by the grand jury.

"Sea level rise is going to increase the rate magnitude and likelihood of coastal hazards like flooding and erosion beyond what we've experienced before," Kenyon said during her presentation.

The City of Eureka has already taken steps to mitigate the effects of sea level rise, including the creation of a climate action plan, which examines was to prevent water levels from rising even further.

Last night, the council agreed to reaffirm their prioritization of the issue and to create a Sea Level Rise Steering Committee that would lead efforts to adapt to the rising levels from an infrastructure standpoint. "The grand jury report is focused on responding to the effects of sea level rise when it does occur, such as elevating roadways and structures and retreating infrastructure inland," Kenyon said.

The original grand jury report also recommended that the steering committee direct the implementation of these efforts based on a feasibility study that has not yet been released, but the council did not agree to that recommendation.

"I think it makes sense to not commit ourselves to actions related to a study that we haven't seen yet," Eureka City Councilmember Natalie Arroyo said.

With this clarification written in the council's response, the motion was adopted. "I just think it's important that we respond in a way that makes it clear that we're not taking this lightly," said Eureka City Councilmember Leslie Castellano.

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The council must send their resolution to the presiding judge of the Humboldt County Superior Court, after which, the county Board of Supervisors will have until Dec. 1 to create the steering committee. A planning approach must be selected before July 1, 2023.

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