Controversial student housing gets another attempt in Arcata
In August of last year Arcata City Council voted against a proposed housing development called Village Student Housing Project, or simply “The Village.” Although the city council opposed The Village project, they reserved the notion that if changes were made in development plans they would reconsider, that time has come.
“What we are trying to do on the 30th is to bring community back together,” David Loya, director of community development for Arcata, said. “We want to get a sense of the concerns with the council and provide a working environment so our community can provide feedback to the council.”
Humboldt County, along with the entire state of California, is falling short for affordable housing while the wealth gap between rich and poor grows larger. According to the nonprofit Housing Association of Northern California, the state is short of 1.5 million affordable rental homes. Humboldt County needs 3,300 new housing units with 1,300 of those being for low-income residents, according to the California Department of Housing and Community Development. Loya said the staff at Arcata City Hall is excited to continue dialogue on The Village and that they support the project because of the housing crisis we are in.
“Students can’t find housing in Arcata,” Loya said. “They look to McKinleyville or Eureka and the city needs to play a role in fighting for student housing.”
The Village’s proposal was brought before the city council six times before being shut down by a split vote of two for and two abstaining with one vote absence. The city council received hundreds of letters and tens of hours of public testimony from divided community members. The original development plan for The Village was to be an off-campus student-only housing project, but city council members wanted the project to integrate more than just HSU students.
City council member Susan Ornelas said in a letter written to The Village developer, David Moon, that “while we need student housing, we need every kind of housing in this community. We need professor housing, we need millennial professional housing, we need housing for young families.” Loya said Ornelas had discussions almost immediately with AMCAL after the project was opposed, addressing concerns with marketing housing instead of only student housing.
“The project was critiqued by quite a bit of people because of its expense,” Loya said. “But the reality is it’s expensive to live anywhere in Arcata with the average rent being $600-650 per room. The apartments on Foster Ave. are upwards of $800 which isn’t really affordable to students, but that’s where they’re finding to live.”
According to the City of Arcata, the project owner has reconsidered its development plans and has modified the project to include both open market and student oriented development as well as other “substantial changes.” Loya said the meeting will be open to the public and the developers will be there to answer questions.
“We would love to hear students talk at the meeting and tell us any ideas they have about the project,” Loya said.
City council meeting on The Village will be January 30, 2019 | 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. | Arcata City Hall Council Chamber | 736 F Street