“The slide shows, they are nice, but we should probably talk about real issues that brought us here.”Since early this morning different meetings took place between Trinidad’s City Council, their City Manager and local Tribal Councils.
At 2:00 p.m there was an open session at Trinidad’s Town Hall.
Various members of the Yurok Tribe and the Trinidad Rancheria’s Tribal Council were present, as well as The Tsurai Ancestral Society.
The Yurok Tribe were adamant that moving the lighthouse 22-feet was unacceptable and they would occupy the lighthouse until a stop-work order was issued.
These meetings come after six days of protest and occupation of Trinidad’s Memorial Lighthouse.
“There is only a couple of options. One option, the city and the Civic Club felt they had the legal right, is to move it over to this new foundation, it buys time,” Trinidad City Manager Dan Berman said at the open session.
The Civic Club who owns the property where the lighthouse sits, obtained an emergency-permit to move the lighthouse 22-feet because it is in danger of slipping off the bluff due to soil erosion.
“I don’t think any of us know how long until a landslide, but it gets us out of this crisis situation we have now. Then, there would be time to work with all members of the community to find a safe home for it. That’s not an easy process to design and look at. Setting it on a trailer, taking it somewhere, has something like a 50 or 70 thousand dollar price tag and those resources haven’t been identified.”
Although the Civic Club obtained a Cultural Monitor from the Trinidad Rancheria for their lighthouse move, they failed to consult with the Tsurai Ancestral Society, who have direct lineage to the lands.
Moving the whole piece even 22-feet requires a construction crane–something that needs to be brought into the area with an estimated cost of around $20,000. However, the City and the Civic Club were lucky enough to borrow a crane from another local project.
“This was part of the motivation behind the move.”
“What are the plans for the base?” A Native man questioned. “The lighthouse is cut around it so are you just going to leave it there, or are you going to move the base? And if so, where are you going to move it to?”
An older man named Roland Johnson got up to answer the question. Johnson is a consultant and Trinidad native who seems to be somehow involved with the planning or oversight of the lighthouse project. He stated that there was no money in the budget to remove the structure and it would stay as is because it did not pose an immediate problem. “Move the lighthouse due to instability, to less instability,” he said.
“Less is not enough,” someone in the crowd responded.
“Wherever you want to move it, water is going around it or through it,” Axel Lindgren III said. He mentioned run-off water from septic tanks into the hillside as a factor which affects the proposed new location of the lighthouse.
“It is the Civic Club’s agenda that is being pushed. And since they are writing the paycheck, of course the contractor is going to try to accommodate whatever their wishes are,” a woman from the Tsurai Ancestral Society said.
“We had been asking for more information and were not given enough information to even formulate an opinion, until the emergency-permit was filed. We wanted this to go through a public process and you all were not interested in that. That is how we got here. The Coastal Conservancy told you not to do the project, the Coastal Commission has some concerns. The Tsurai Ancestral Society sent you a letter of opposition and you granted it anyways. If we are not going to talk about that, the slide-shows they are nice, but we should probably talk about real issues that brought us here.
A man from the Trinidad Rancheria raised his hand and said that if they were able to allocate funds for the move, the Rancheria is willing to put the lighthouse on a piece of property they own down by the pier.
The City Manager apologized to the Yurok Tribe and said that “better communication” could have happened.
“The city did not believe that ground disturbance was going to happen. I still should have reached out and I apologize about that,” Berman said.
The mayor of Trinidad said that the Rancheria’s proposal is one option that could work and she views it as something that everyone can work together to make possible.
The mayor stated that a stop-work order will not be issued but that no work will continue on the lighthouse as of now.