UPDATE: On February 20, the Humboldt County Planning Commission voted 4-1 to postpone the Special Permit on the fallen Elk River billboard until more information is provided. The new hearing date was scheduoled for March 19, but has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The billboard uprights snapped in a windstorm on Nov. 27, and although billboards are not allowed in wetlands or floodplains - and the County does not allow billboards anywhere but lands zoned for commercial or industrial uses - the county staff is recommending approval.

Two billboards that crumbled under strong winds in that powerful pre-Thanksgiving storm may be gone for good. The Humboldt County Planning Commission is expected to decide their fate at a public meeting sometime in the next two months. 

One of the two billboards face-planted on the north side of Hwy. 101 between Arcata and Eureka. When the tide was high this billboard’s footing was nearly submerged by the waters of Arcata Bay.

The other billboard was south of Eureka between Humboldt Hill and Elk River Road, on the east side of the freeway. It, too, sat close to coastal waters, near the confluence of Elk River and Swain Slough. 

Jennifer Kalt, executive director of Humboldt Baykeeper, has been among the most vocal critics of these roadside advertisements. She said the latest two to fall should not be resurrected.

“These billboards should never have been built in coastal wetlands and shouldn’t be rebuilt since the county code only allows them in commercial and industrial land,” she told the Outpost

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Two billboards collapsed into Humboldt Bay wetlands in recent storms - one along the Highway 101 Safety Corridor, and one in the Elk River marsh adjacent to Highway 101, just south of Eureka. We will keep an eye on these to ensure that all applicable permitting and environmental review is done before any billboards can be rebuilt. 

These signs were all built long before current permitting and land use planning, and would never be allowed to be built in coastal wetlands today. 

Since 2012, 18 billboards have been removed from the shores of Humboldt Bay, mostly along the Highway 101 Safety Corridor between Arcata and Eureka.