The city has annexed its first piece of property since the 1980s, but there may be issues with flooding on the property down the line.

After years of talking about it, the city of Eureka has extended city limits to include about 100 acres just north of the city along U.S. Highway 101 known as the Brainard site. The area is currently the home to property owned by the California Redwood Company, which is zoned for industrial uses; a portion of a Highway 101 right-of-way; and a railroad right-of-way owned by Northwestern Pacific Railroad Company.

“This was driven by the property owner because right now they’re not connected to water or wastewater systems,” said Robert Holmlund, Eureka’s director of development services. “The city cannot really connect to properties outside of city limits.”

There are no current plans to extend water or wastewater service to the property, but that would likely need to happen if new development was proposed on that land. At that time, the Coastal Commission would need to approve any changes, but the commission expressed concern that the area is going to become inundated as the sea level rises.

“I fundamentally disagree with the Coastal Commission,” Holmlund said. “We’re talking about 80 years from now. That’s generations of businesses.”

One local sea-level rise expert, Aldaron Laird, has speculated there could be as much as a foot of sea-level rise by 2030, two feet by 2050 and more than five feet by 2100.

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Sunday night will bring what is called a super blood wolf moon, the last lunar eclipse of the decade. 

The king tides will occur Sunday and Monday and Arcata is urging local residents to take pictures of areas around the bay as the king tides move in an effort to document the water level at high tide.

“The initiative is to get people thinking about what the high tide will look like in the coming years as the ocean rises,” said Jennifer Kalt, director of Humboldt Baykeeper. “Humboldt Bay is experiencing twice the rate of sea level rise as the rest of the state and Jay Patton and his fellow geologists at Cascadia GeoSciences have found that the ground beneath the Humboldt Bay area is sinking due to tectonic subsidence at the same rate that sea level is rising — meaning that this area has twice the rate of relative sea level rise as the state average. Conversely, the coast in the Crescent City area is uplifting due to tectonic activity at the same rate as sea level rise — meaning that there, the rate of relative sea level is essentially zero.”


Humboldt Bay has the highest rate of sea level rise on the entire U.S. West Coast, which within the next century has the potential to inundate thousands of acres of agricultural land, local highways, critical utilities and infrastructure along with entire communities, according to a report published Thursday.

By 2050, three feet of sea level rise could cause Humboldt Bay to expand by 13,000 acres — an increase of more than 60 percent, according to the new report released by Aldaron Laird and Trinity Associates.

The report’s purpose is to inform communities and county planners on how coastal lands will be affected and how the will have to adapt to rising ocean levels.

Sea level rise projections for Humboldt Bay show that water levels will rise about 1 foot by 2030, nearly 2 feet by 2050, more than 3 feet by 2070 and more than 5 feet by 2100, according to the report. Humboldt Bay already has the highest sea level rise rate on the entire U.S. West Coast having risen 18 inches over the last century, according to the report.

“King tides on average are 1 foot higher than our monthly maximum tides, so when we experience 2 feet of sea level rise in the future (the high sea level projection for 2050 is approximately 2 feet) then the King Tides will cross that threshold potentially tidally inundating thousands of acres of former tidelands,” the report states. “We have located critical utility and transportation infrastructure on these former tidelands that are vulnerable to sea level rise.”

“Some areas, we’ll need to retreat and some areas we’ll need to protect,” 3rd District Humboldt County Supervisor Mike Wilson said. “We’re going to have to evaluate the costs and the benefits of all of those. Some of these changes may be beneficial to some other uses and not to others. Do you protect them, do you move them, do you remove them?”

For now, the county is working to update a more than 30-year-old planning document for its coastal lands, known as a local coastal program. The plan for the Humboldt Bay region has not been updated since 1982. Wilson said efforts are underway to begin updating the plan this year and potentially having a draft for the California Coastal Commission’s consideration by the end of the year.

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Sea level rise reports

• The Humboldt Bay Area Plan Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Assessment can be viewed online at

• More information on Humboldt County’s Local Coastal Plan Update can be found online at


Have you wondered what parts of the Humboldt Bay area are most threatened by sea level rise? According to this new report by Aldaron Laird of Trinity Associates, Highway 101 and 255, as well as the communities of King Salmon, Fields Landing, and Fairhaven could all be under water by 2050. Also at risk are municipal water and wastewater lines, electrical distribution infrastructure, gas lines, fiber-optic communications lines, and approximately 10,000 acres of agricultural land. By 2100, rail lines, marinas, boatyards, and docks will be at risk. How will we plan for the future?

Photo: NCRA railroad tracks behind sea wall, damaged during winter storms of 2015 and 2016.