Eureka seeks public input on zoning codes

EUREKA – It’s a policy that officials say is paramount to a city’s success but still seems to put people to sleep. News Channel 3’s Meriah Miracle takes the zzzz’s out of zoning.
Have you ever wanted to build a fence or add a second story to your house? Landscape or expand your business?
All of that and more is dictated by zoning codes.
“Anytime anyone wants to build anything zoning codes come in to play,” said Brian Heaton, City of Eureka Associate Planner.
Eureka’s Development Services Director Rob Holmlund said, “Zoning codes are a body of rules. It’s part of having a democratic society. It’s what is supposed to stop neighbors from fighting with each other.”
In spite of their importance, Heaton says many find zoning codes to be not so interesting. “they’re so boring because they’re law. They’re local land use regulations and law is tedious and has to be very, very specific. It’s difficult in the way its written. It’s difficult to digest.”
Eureka’s zoning codes were first adopted in the 1960’s.
According to those codes, a telegraph operator could open in Old Town but an Apple Store could not.
Holmlund explained, “The city’s current zoning code is fundamentally identical to 1966. And if you look around and look at the best development in eureka it all occurred before the rules existed.”
Now the city is updating those polices to make them easier to understand and more appropriate for modern development needs, and they want your help to do it.
The Development Services Department is hosting an interactive zoning code workshop where you can walk a giant map of Eureka and ask questions about a property or business you own.
“There will be staff with computers, so that you can go straight to them and say this is my address, how would the zoning code affect my property,” Holmlund said. “So there will be the opportunity for personal interactions about specific parcels and a lot of conversation about the big picture.”
Planners say the workshop offers the chance to shape policy that will guide Eureka for decades to come.
“If a community gets together and says we really want to have this kind of regulation, we really want our residential areas to develop in this way,” Heaton said. “There’s really good ways for people to effect change in their own community.”
City staff say anyone who lives, works, or owns property in Eureka or cares about the city in any way is invited to the workshop. It begins Tuesday night at 6:00 at the Wharfinger Building.
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