Juggling several terms that would identify the region in a new main airport name, county supervisors have decided to use them all.
A process to rename the Arcata-Eureka Airport to the California Redwood Coast – Humboldt County Airport was authorized by the Board of Supervisors at its May 28 meeting. Staff will now proceed to file the verbose name change proposal with the Federal Aviation Administration and Tom Mattson, the county’s director of public works, said it could take more than two years to get it approved.
He told supervisors it will cost about $20,000, including staff time on the application and installation of new signs. But the effort is said to be worth it, as words like “redwood” are believed to be visitation-enhancers.
The Redwood Region Economic Development Commission (RREDC) kicked off the name change effort several months ago and proposed a more modest moniker – the Redwood Coast Regional Airport.
Don Ehnebuske, RREDC’s executive director, said the idea was motivated by a desire to improve tourism. The county’s visitors bureau did a study “to see what words really work for attracting people,” Ehnebuske told supervisors, and “‘redwoods’ and ‘coast’ seem to work.”
Mattson said having “California” in the name would give the county’s main airport the unique ability to command the field in Google search engine returns.
Residents of McKinleyville have persistently pointed out that the Arcata-Eureka Airport is actually in McKinleyville. Deferring to the preference of the town’s proud residents, staff members and supervisors politely referred to the airport as “the Arcata-Eureka Airport in McKinleyville.”
But Dave Ravetti, chairman of the county’s Aviation Advisory Committee, said that the two-locale version of the name is a confusing one to post on airport monitors. “I’ve been flying here since 1974 – it was confusing then and it’s been confusing ever since,” he continued.
The California Redwood Coast – Humboldt County Airport is one of three names that were recommended by the advisory committee, although Ravetti said that one committee member supported sticking with the existing name.
After RREDC proposed its name change idea awhile ago, Supervisor Rex Bohn recommended having a contest to re-name the airport. That idea wasn’t taken up and supervisors instead opened the floor to suggestions by residents and the aviation committee, asking that their name creations include the words “Humboldt” and “redwoods.”
But at last week’s meeting, Ehnebuske told supervisors that “the words that we do know attract people are not Humboldt, unfortunately, but ‘California,’ ‘redwood’ and ‘coast’ – they seem to be the ones that attract people most.”
Supervisors chose a name that uses them all and decided to add Humboldt to denote local relevance. Bohn said the new name is appealing as it “uses all the buzz words.”
Residents submitted over 200 suggestions for airport names, many of them relating to their views on the airport and the county itself. Many stood no chance of being selected but were dutifully included by staff in a list of candidates.
They included: The Homeless Hippie Haven Airport, The Incredibly Foggy Humboldt Redwoods Airport, The Masonic Meth and Marijuana Airport, Pothole Regional Airport, Stoned Shores of Sodom Airport, Stupid Humboldt Redwoods Renamed Airport and The Humboldt Redwoods Good Luck Because United and/or SFO Will Royally Screw You Regional Airport.
Supervisor Mark Lovelace’s favorite among the colorful batch is The Big Flat Area Designed to Accommodate Planes Carrying Passengers Who May, Among Other Things, Want to Visit HSU or See Redwoods.