Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

California Town Turns `Green' with Election Pro-Environment Party Takes over City Hall

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

California Town Turns `Green' with Election Pro-Environment Party Takes over City Hall

Article excerpt

Once called the "White City by the Bay" for its tidy rows of gleaming Victorian homes and shops, and noted in National Weather Service statistics as the foggiest town in the contiguous 48 states, Arcata is turning Green.

Arcata has become the first U.S. community to give the pro-environment Green Party control of City Hall.

"It's almost unthinkable that such a thing happened. But it did," said Robin Arkley, a 50-year resident and retired sawmill owner. He and his wife, Lois, identify themselves as two of the remaining conservatives in this coastal town of 16,000 nestled amid redwood forests and green pastures 300 miles north of San Francisco. In the 1950s, the area had more than 40 lumber mills, and timber workers easily outnumbered students at Humboldt State University, the town's liberal arts college. But most of the mills have closed, largely because of environmentalists' efforts to protect owls and salmon. Nowadays, students and faculty make up more than half the population in a town now known for its Volkswagen vans and bicycle commuters, its big composting and recycling effort and its pot-smoking "hemp" festivals. Over the years, Arcata pushed unsuccessfully to allow bikes on freeways. It declared itself a sanctuary for conscientious objectors to the Gulf War in 1991. And it's now battling to preserve a nearby stand of ancient redwoods from timber-industry chainsaws. On Nov. 5, two Greens won office. With incumbent council member Jason Kirkpatrick, 28, a food co-op employee, they constitute a majority of the five-member City Council. The rise of the Greens unsettles some of Arcata's old guard. "It'd scare you to death. You've got anarchists and socialists in this town," said Nancy Barnes, a 32-year resident who is planning to move. Arkley said he's put up with "hippie kids" from San Francisco, Los Angeles and elsewhere. …

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