How many ordinances do we need to clean up the park and get rid of the criminals?

15 Sep

Today I had some errands Downtown, so I set off on my bike about 1pm, on the usual trek through lower Bidwell Park and over the creek via various trails, bridges and subways. As the park becomes more overgrown and the trails deteriorate it’s become more of a gauntlet.

I have never liked the subway at Annie’s Glen. I wanted to believe it would encourage more, hmmmm, should I say appropriate use, of that part of the park, and provide a safe passage over a very busy car zone, but I knew it would become a pee-smelling dungeon of horror.

I was trying to get a good picture when a cyclist entered the tunnel and I got out of the way.

I couldn’t get a better picture of the tags, the litter, or the still wet puddles of pee.

The tunnel is dark and the light shining in at the end washes the shot. I didn’t want to stand around down there too long – it stinks, and you have to be careful somebody doesn’t come along and run you over. As I was standing there, a man carrying a dirty back pack and covered in grime himself, slowed to a stop and said “Hi” way too friendly. I got on my bike and left.

The whole park gives me the creeps. Overgrown weeds, stands of dead trees, fallen piles of dead limbs, and overgrown poison oak as far as the eye can see. Long used trails, both paved and unpaved, undermined by gophers.

Here the bike trail is crumbling into the weeds.

Here the paved bike trail is crumbling into the weeds.


Broken pavement is dangerous for bikes and pedestrians, a real liability for the city of Chico.

Broken pavement is dangerous for bikes and pedestrians, a real liability for the city of Chico.

I wanted to take more pictures, but I’ll tell you what – I don’t feel safe milling around Bidwell Park by myself, anywhere in the park, any time of day. Every time I stopped to hold my  camera to my face, I could hear some cop saying, “well, you really got to keep an eye out for yourself Ma’am…”  I felt uncomfortable taking my hand off my bike to steady the camera.

It’s not just the park, of course.  How about that sign on the post office annex on Vallombrosa – after it’s been open 24 hours for years, they’re closing it at 10pm, until 7am, “due to security concerns.” How many of our personal freedoms will we end up handing over to these creeps? 

Clean and Safe, a group started by Downtown business owners, in partnership with the city of Chico, Chico Police, Chico Chamber and Downtown Business Association, held a press conference to talk about a general feeling of insecurity around town, the rise in crime, and the filth in our public areas. They’re asking citizens to come out for a creek clean-up this weekend.

I’ve participated in public clean-ups run by Butte Environmental Council, but I feel this has become a job that goes way beyond the scope of a feel-good volunteer weekend. They’re talking about deconstructing homeless camps, dealing with human feces, old bedding and clothes that could be contaminated with bed bugs and scabies, hypodermic needles, and all kinds of questionable debris. 

Here’s a red light – they want all participants to sign a waiver of liability.  BEC has never asked me to sign anything like that. 

I did stop at One Mile to take a picture of the work being done there at the parking lot. They’ve contracted with Butte County sheriff for low-risk “home release” inmates. Wow, this is just the kind of work they should be doing all over the park.

Here at the parking lot at One Mile they've cleaned away non-native species and just plain dead stuff.

Here at the parking lot at One Mile they’ve cleaned away non-native species and just plain dead stuff.


Here's a pile of Vinca they've just rolled away - Vinca is non-native, pushes out natives, and makes a great hiding place for  rats.

Here’s a pile of Vinca they’ve just rolled away – Vinca is non-native, pushes out natives, and makes a great hiding place for rats.


Wow! There's the usual pile of broken beer bottles.

Wow! There’s the usual pile of broken beer bottles at center.


Here's our crew - "home-release" inmates from Butte County jail.

Here’s our crew. The guy in the reflective vest is jumping up and down on a pile of stuff they’ve loaded into the dumpster. 

While I love what they’re doing, I wish they would move it along a little. It’s been going on for a few weeks now. These people are obviously not professionals. It’s a physically demanding job, they should have better equipment, better shoes and clothes too. They move like people who are doing it for free. 

Some friends of ours who live in Forest Ranch got their entire five acres swept like this by a professional outfit with industrial power tools, arranged through Butte Fire Safe Council. It cost them $900 and it was done in three days.

Looking at Bidwell Park right now, you see what would be considered egregious fire code violations only 15 minutes into the hills. That park cuts a swath right through some of the most heavily populated areas of our town.

The overgrowth and neglect of public properties just invites camping and other illegal activities being reported throughout the park and other water ways in town.  The park and creeks serve as highways for criminals to predate our neighborhoods. 

Cleaning up their camps just allows them to come back and make a new mess. 

I feel the police need to be more aggressive in their sweeps of these areas. I think they should do a different section of park or water way every day, and use the kind of lines used in cadaver searches – line up arms’ length apart with people from fence to creek, and literally beat the bushes. They should continue this aggressive policy until they stop finding people camping in these areas.  I don’t know what they’re doing, but we keep seeing pictures of extensive, filthy abandoned camps under bridges and other obvious places, camps that were obviously built and lived in over a long period of time, at least a week – but we wait until they leave and then we clean it up?  


I’m assuming this is what is behind Clean and Safe’s efforts to get a new ordinance, extending the Sit and Lie ordinance, which was written specifically only for Downtown Chico, to creeks and other public greenways. I don’t know how many ordinances they will have to pass before things get better. 










7 Responses to “How many ordinances do we need to clean up the park and get rid of the criminals?”

  1. bob September 15, 2015 at 5:43 pm #

    Six months from now they will be telling us the people did do enough so if you want your parks maintained you’d better approve a sales tax increase.

    • Juanita Sumner September 16, 2015 at 5:21 am #

      Yeah, I can hear them already. In fact, I was listening to an interview with a man from this Chico police “support group”, he mentions they will be going for a tax increase. I’ll have to blog that. Been busy.

      thanks for those letters you been writing, keep it up.

  2. Jim September 18, 2015 at 12:28 pm #

    Is it really any surprise that the bike tunnel has become filthy and mostly used by vagrants? The tunnel at Old Town Sacramento has very bright lights and loud classical music. They also have it regularly patrolled.

    I saw that sign go up at the post office annex. I have a box there and went in to check my mail about a month before the sign went up. That morning someone had made a bed out of postal shipping boxes. They bum was gone, but left his mess behind.

    Hopefully I’m wrong, however the whole “Clean and Safe” thing reeks of hot air. Lots of talk, meetings, cute posters with a colorful logo. It’s the kind of thing you do to make it look like you are doing something, when you are actually accomplishing nothing.

    • Juanita Sumner September 18, 2015 at 1:51 pm #

      I think regular police patrols, on foot, in retail areas and the parks/greenways would be the answer. Right now the creeps act unafraid, that means they don’t see cops often enough.

      It would also be nice to have a city maintenance department again. They’ve stripped the worker positions to fund the management salaries and benefits, as you know. In other towns you see an early morning street sweeping crew, people fixing street lights, flushing gutters, power washing sidewalks, emptying and cleaning garbage cans, etc. In Sacramento, when I used to ride the transit buses to college in the early morning, I often saw a “paddy wagon” that went around at about dawn, coaxing bums out of the bushes, taking them to the soup kitchen, or jail, or the hospital, whichever.

      I’m certain the Clean and Safe program is just a fundraiser for the sales tax increase campaign.

    • bob September 18, 2015 at 8:23 pm #

      It’s the kind of thing you do to make it look like you are doing something, when you are actually accomplishing nothing.

      Then they will blame the public for not doing enough volunteer work and tell us we must vote for tax increases if we want to keep the park from going to hell. And they will scare the shiite outta the sheeple telling them without a tax increase there won’t be enough police implying they will be victims of crime.

      It’s all a set up, the first steps in a campaign to raise our taxes. But what can you expect from a government whose average employee make between double and triple the median household income of the city they supposedly serve.

      • Juanita Sumner September 19, 2015 at 4:53 am #

        You got it – they’re desperate to pay salaries/etc.

        I just got a tip that the chief is speaking to the Women’s League of Voters at the Baptist Church on Palmetto, this morning, 9:30. It’s a membership drive, so I believe it’s open to the public.

        I also heard an interview on Alan Chamberlain’s podcast radio show, with a man who identified himself as a member of some police support group, and said they’re going for a sales tax increase.

        Then I saw a story in the ER about the school district wanting a bond.

        It’s like Downtown Chico – you step out of a doorway and a half dozen palms are extended at your face.

      • bob September 19, 2015 at 6:47 pm #

        If you can find a link to that interview please post it.

        I’d like to learn more about what our public “servants” are doing behind our backs to raise our taxes. (And whatever they are doing I’m sure they’re doing it on the taxpayer’s time. We are paying them to conjure up ways to raise our taxes so they can continue to make two or three times (or even more for the cops, fire fighters and bureaucrats) what the median household in Chico makes.)

        The salaries and benefits these “servants” receive has been unsustainable even before they all got raises this year (teachers, cops, sheriff deputies, etc.) How is it all going to be paid for?

        One thing is for sure. Next year it will be open season on the taxpayers. Lando and all of his cronies, the Chamber of Cronyism, the cops, the fire fighters, the teachers and of course all the liberal do gooders are going to be putting on a full court press for tax increases and more bonds.

        They are all odious creatures and it all makes me sick.

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