equity arcata & Community Development
Collaboration on the Arcata General Plan
The Arcata General Plan shapes how the City of Arcata will look, function, provide services, and manage resources for the next 20 years. A General Plan is the City's “constitution” for physical development and change within the existing and future city boundaries. Throughout the development of the General Plan: 2045 the City has committed to evaluating City policy for social justice and racial equity impact, and equity arcata has played a significant role in the latter part of 2023 in supporting this work.
The City recognizes that it is crucial to ensure that the General Plan review process has meaningful input from Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) community members while not placing the responsibility for dismantling structural racism at the feet of those most impacted by it. Targeted meetings with BIPOC stakeholders were set with this in mind, with the intent of seeking guidance on policy shifts that will lead to meaningful outcomes and respect the time and resources necessary to undertake the work. The City contracted with Blanck and Oram equity partners to bring together a diverse group of paid community members to inform the priorities and policies of the General Plan Update with the understanding that centering marginalized voices and making decisions accordingly improves things for everyone in the community.
In eight hours of virtual group meeting time, equity partners facilitated conversations with 16 community members that addressed the areas of culture, employment, health, housing, mobility, recreation, and transportation. The voices of community members of color were prioritized with opportunities for white-identifying community members to share as well. Recommendations to the City include increasing overall safety by improving infrastructure with street lighting, flat sidewalks, and more public bathrooms and showers; prioritizing the community benefits of more housing as well as increasing active and creative transportation options; and outreaching more intentionally to reach more Arcata members about pre-existing and new developments in transportation, programs, and facilities. The final report summarizing this work is available on the City’s website, linked here (see “Engagement Data” tab).
In partnership with City of Arcata's Community Development department and Blanck and Oram equity partners, equity arcata helped organize working sessions to review three core content areas of the General Plan, using Blanck and Oram’s Report to frame the review:
Community Health & Housing
Student & Community Safety
Two working sessions were held, one in May and one in August. These sessions were organized in response to the report from Blanck & Oram equity partners which emphasized the need to build community engagement and accountability structures across jurisdictions, and convened local policy makers from various governmental and non-profit institutions with relevant policy expertise. Attendees represented organizations such as the Potawot Health Village, County of Humboldt, Cal Poly Humboldt, the Humboldt and Wild Rivers Area Foundation, the Humboldt County Association of Governments, Caltrans, and College of the Redwoods. Feedback from this group refined draft updated policies submitted by staff, which will be submitted to the City Council for review and approval through the last quarter of 2023.
Moving forward, equity arcata and the Community Development Department will continue to work as accountability partners, with the purpose of ensuring that the voices of BIPOC community members are heard, uplifted and reflected in relevant policy. The scope of this work is admittedly limited and implementation is critical. Ultimately, the policy establishes the framework—an idealistic vision or version of the Arcata community—but it is acknowledged that it will take sustained commitment from the City to meaningfully implement the policy. Equitable implementation requires a commitment from both the community and its decision makers to ensure that racial equity considerations are kept central throughout the process. This work as part of a larger change in conversation, where the City and equity arcata have an opportunity to refine partnerships and explore various structures and methods to shift outcomes and reduce racial disparities moving forward.