Times Standard (Eureka)

Public input sought for the Valley West project

- By Jackson Guilfoil jguilfoil@times-standard.com

Over the coming months, Arcata city officials and members of Cooperatio­n Humboldt will hold a series of meetings for Valley West residents to weigh in on a beautifica­tion project for their neighborho­od.

The first meeting, which will be done via Zoom on Jan. 27, will focus on brainstorm­ing a project. There will be two in-person meetings — though voting will be both online and in-person — on Feb. 3 and March 10, with the former for additional brainstorm­ing and the latter for residents to vote on which proposal they like the most. The in-person sessions will be at the Red Roof Inn at 4975 Valley West Blvd. in Arcata.

The project, which is being done through Cooperatio­n Humboldt’s Comunidad Unida del

Norte de Arcata group, will have $15,000 at their disposal for whatever idea residents collective­ly agree upon.

“It directly focuses on the residents, the people who are going to be most affected, so it’s a way of deepening democracy and making it more direct, not just something you do every four years when you vote in a new city councilor for your ward,” said Morgan March, the participat­ory budgeting coordinato­r at Cooperatio­n Humboldt.

March added that the participat­ory budgeting program is a pilot and said he looks forward to seeing more programs of its type throughout the greater community should it find success in Arcata.

The project could facilitate a number of ideas community members pitch at the meetings, where it will eventually be narrowed down into a final agreement. The funds will come from Arcata’s general fund, according to March.

This is the first round of the participat­ory budgeting program. A later program will use $30,000 of American Rescue Plan Act dollars for an additional project.

“This is a pilot project to show the residents, officials of Humboldt County, and city government­s how to implement these kinds of direct democratic processes, letting residents have a voice on how public money is spent,” David Cobb, executive director of Cooperatio­n Humboldt said in a press release.

For the Zoom link to participat­e in the first meeting, residents may email March at woh.morgan@gmail.com or Kimberley White at kaw2@ humboldt.edu.

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