Crime Rising, Citizens Rising Up
Kevin L. Hoover
ARCATA – From Valley West to Sunny Brae, the quality of life and peace of mind of regular, law-abiding citizens is being undermined by an intensifying climate of crime.
Home, business and vehicle break-ins, along with vandalism, have inspired citizen reaction, with public meetings scheduled for successive Thursdays on both ends of town.
The first is an informational meeting for Sunny Brae residents regarding the City of Arcata’s Neighborhood Watch program this Thursday, March 28 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Sunny Brae Middle School Cafeteria. Included will be information of how to form a Neighborhood Watch program, and tips on being a helpful, observant neighbor. For more information contact Susan Ornelas, Arcata City Council at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Next week, it will be Valley West’s turn. At the prompting of several Valley West business owners, the City of Arcata will hold a neighborhood meeting on Thursday, April 4 from 1 to 3 p.m. in the Hampton Inn conference room at 4750 Valley West Boulevard.
“The business owners wanted to meet with the City about a broad range of issues,” says Arcata City Manager Randy Mendosa, “Everything from potholes to police patrols. I feel it’s important for us to hear from as many Valley West residents and businesses as possible.”
Mendosa, plus staff members from Community Development, Environmental Services, Public Works and Arcata Police, will be on hand at the meeting to answer questions and listen to concerns.
“Valley West is an important part of what keeps Arcata running,” says Mendosa. “We want to encourage as many people who live, work and do business in Valley West to come to the meeting and talk with us.”
For more information about the Valley West neighborhood meeting, call the Arcata City Manager’s office at (707) 822-5953.
Last week, Police Chief Tom Chapman briefed the City Council on crime trends and opportunities for abating it.
Under Assembly Bill 109, passed in April of 2011, those who commit property crimes are to be incarcerated in local or county jails. But the Humboldt County Correction Facility is maxed out, and is prioritized for violent offenders.
The result is that burglars, including those with costly heroin habits, are not being kept out of circulation. Accused thieves are cut loose after booking.
That, in turn, may have to do with the “shocking numbers” that Chapman gave to the council. Property crime in Arcata is up 23 percent; residential and commercial burglaries have more than doubled, increasing 199 percent; vehicle burglaries are up 20 percent; and auto thefts have increased by 61 percent. On the other hand, Chapman noted, violent crime is down seven percent.
At last week’s meeting, the council approved Chapman and the City of Arcata serving as the “fiduciary agent” for distribution of $122,574 in Community Corrections grant funds. Chapman said the monies will be used to improve communication among local law enforcement agencies.