FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 18
Hello. I’m Mayor Susan Seaman. As I’ve shared with you in my previous communications, the City of Eureka is continuing to work tirelessly to support the health and well-being of our citizens, our community, and our economy during the COVID-19 pandemic and other matters of great significance to the region — like the wildfires continue to engulf our neighbors.
We’re nearly six months into the County’s COVID 19 restrictions, and we are continuing to address the ongoing pressures and changes in our community due to the pandemic while addressing other concerns and the daily business of running a City.
This week, the City Council had a couple items on the agenda relating to the Humboldt Area Center for Harm Reduction, or HACHR. There was a lot of discussion at the meeting and additional reporting in local media, but it still may be unclear what those decisions mean. I think it’s important to manage expectations about what those two items will actually look like in the coming months.
The first item addressed at the meeting was about repealing the 2016 Resolution adopted by the City Council in support of HACHR and replacing it with another resolution that supports Syringe Exchange Programs without identifying a specific program. To HACHR and the public, this action alone will not result in any changes of the program. What the resolution does, is to allow the Council to consider a new ordinance for syringe exchange programs at a later date. Prior to embarking on writing a new ordinance, however, City Staff was asked to present the Council with some mediation options for the program, their neighbors and other stakeholders as a final effort to create a workable situation.
The second item regarding HACHR was a letter to the California Department of Public Health with a recommendation to not renew HACHR’s certification to operate a Syringe Exchange Program. The actual decision to renew certification is made by the California Department of Public Health. They have their own metrics and take into consideration recommendations from health care professionals, additional municipalities, community members and others. This letter could play a part in persuading the California Department of Health to not renew HACHR’s certification. but should the State Department choose to renew their certification, the city does not have the authority to override that.
This does not mean that these actions were futile. They help clarify the expectations of Council to HACHR and the public. It also provides a road map to make more changes in the future.
Another proactive topic on the City Council agenda last week was the approval of the Eureka CARES Restaurant, Bar & Retailer Relief Program. This program is an effort to support those businesses that have been most effected by COVID 19 and the regulations surrounding it. The program includes several components.
One, it will provide funding to help restaurants establish parklets allowing additional outdoor seating.
Two, it will expand the effort of waiving encroachment fees for sidewalk and parking lot uses currently provided to restaurants, cafes and retail stores. In addition, if neighboring restaurants are interested in a street closure to accommodate outdoor dining and shopping, the City will work with the business, as long as other neighboring businesses give their approval.
Three, The City of Eureka is working with the Eureka Visitors Center to create an outdoor dining area at Clarke Plaza where patrons are encouraged to get take out from a restaurant in Old Town to eat at the designated outdoor dining area. If other neighborhoods are interested in an outdoor dining area and are able to help with the management of the tables and supplies, they are encouraged to contact staff.
Four – In a combined effort with Eddy Alexander, the City of Eureka will be promoting a #DineOutEureka social media campaign. Restaurants are invited to post their menu, hours, and information that is current during COVID-19 while using the #DineOutEureka hashtag. Customers are encouraged to post pictures of favorite meals and experiences using the hashtag, and together we can help promote and support our favorite establishments.
Five – Food delivery companies that operate in the City of Eureka will be required to cap the fees they charge restaurants at 15 percent during this emergency. Restaurants currently have limited dine-in service. In order to stay open, restaurants are offering take-out and delivery, and many restaurants rely on third-party delivery to provide that service. While some delivery services have waived fees on the customer-side, they continue to charge restaurants a commission which can represent a significant portion of a restaurant’s revenue. While delivery companies provide an important service and support local employment, establishing a cap on commission fees is one way to help keep our restaurants open at this difficult time.
And Six – For those businesses that have already expended capital to create outdoor seating, this program allows for reimbursable expenses up to $5,000 for things like tables and chairs or outdoor heaters and more.
We are thrilled to be able to offer opportunities to provide tangible support to our community and preserve Eureka's culture of nurturing independent business. To get more details and find out if your business is eligible, visit the City of Eureka website at ci.eureka.ca.gov.
Again, I’m Mayor Susan Seaman, and I appreciate your attention to this message. Be safe, stay healthy, be patient with yourself and kind to your neighbors and family. We’ll talk again soon.