Arcata City Council Continues Deliberation on Controversial Student Housing Project

Rendering of the Village project by AMCAL developers. More renderings and information available at
Rendering of the Village project by AMCAL developers. More renderings and information available at

The Arcata City Council continued their deliberation on The Village student housing project in their July 17 meeting, the latest in a series of ongoing public hearings about the controversial development project.

View of proposed Village housing project from Highway 101. Photo: concept, City of Arcata.

The Village project would be a purpose-built student housing development proposed for the Sunset Neighborhood on St. Louis Road in Arcata, which would house roughly 600 Humboldt State University students. It was originally proposed in 2016 by Los Angeles-based developing firm AMCAL, and has since undergone deliberation by both the City of Arcata Planning Commission and the City Council. The project is intended to help reduce the enormous student housing crisis facing Arcata, but some citizens are concerned that this giant project is not the right fit for the local environment.

Ever since its initial proposal, the project has gathered a great deal of public attention, and many members of the community have continued attending these public hearings to voice their opinions. In this time it has proven to be quite controversial, and many Arcata residents have been strongly opposed to the development project throughout the deliberation process.

Some of the main concerns about the project that have been raised by community members include its major anticipated traffic impacts, the social and environmental effects of such a large concentration of students on the small surrounding neighborhood, and lack of transparency throughout this process between HSU officials, AMCAL developers, and the public.

Those in favor of the project, however, argue that Arcata desperately needs a project like this, that student homelessness is a significant issue that the city needs to focus on, and that this is a unique opportunity for effective infill development within the city limits.

In the July 17 meeting we heard many of these arguments presented again by public commenters, and it is clear that the local community has a strong interest in the outcome of this proposed project.

While the Council did not take an official vote in this latest meeting, they did make significant progress towards outlining the conditions that they would like to see in the final project if it is to be adopted. They also gave AMCAL and HSU Housing officials some suggestions about how they can modify the project to better suit the needs of the community, including providing some sort of convenience store or market for the student residents, and allowing students with families to live at The Village with their children and partners.

Though some Council members still have reservations about the project in its current state, if the project can be altered to accommodate the existing concerns it seems likely that the Council will be willing to move forward with its development. The next public hearing on The Village is set for August 15 at 6 p.m., and the community will be eagerly awaiting a decision from the City Council about whether or not they’re willing to move forward with this project. This meeting is open to the public and will take place at the City Hall Council Chamber at 736 F Street in Arcata.