Join Chico Taxpayers Association – get some peace of mind by giving others a piece of your mind!

8 Mar
At the intersection of Mangrove and Vallombrosa

At the intersection of Mangrove and Vallombrosa a little circus parade entertains the drivers as they wait for the light to change.

My husband, out on errands yesterday, sitting at a red light, snapped the picture above with his cell phone. There was a woman with a similar rig in front of the car, wrangling her unruly pitbull as she trundled her household on wheels across the traffic island, walking out across the traffic lane just as the light was turning green.  My husband said the man had a pirate flag flying from the back of his trailer, but couldn’t snap the shot in time to catch it, unfurled and glorious. 

At a recent meeting city council extended an ordinance that had originally been written almost exclusively for Downtown and the Lower Park, “criminalizing” camping, littering, loitering, defecating, urinating, defacing and generally disrespecting our shared “public” areas.

This is so conflicting for me sometimes. I mean – public lands and spaces belong to the public, and that’s everybody, right? At the same time, I have to remind myself – like Harvey Two-Face, I am of two minds on many things – so I have to remind myself, that means, no one person should be able to flop themselves out and take over any given public space for more than what another member of the public would think is reasonable.

In the city of Chico, “reasonable” includes, willing to pay for it, according to a price scale made up by city staffers. I don’t have to time to look it up, it’s in the Municipal Code, and that’s your assignment for today  –  learn it, know it, live it…  Certainly everybody should know their own Municipal Code, it should be a condition of graduation from the Eighth Grade. You should know that the average person or group wanting to use, just for example, the City Plaza, would end up paying hundreds of dollars, minimum, for use of stuff like the public bathroom that’s supposed to be open all the time anyway, and may very well be vandalized or pooped beyond use and locked up good and tight when you arrive with your party. But, here’s the funny thing – if you have a city councilor friend who is willing to “sponsor” your event, in any of the city’s facilities, including City Chambers, you get it free. Probably get the toilet cleaned up and running for you and everything!  Isn’t that the way we scratch each other’s backs here in Hazard County?

No, I don’t like the way the city of Chico manages our “public spaces.” They been selling public sidewalk to various Downtown restaurants – at one meeting a few years back, it was an annual payment of $15,000, per parking space of street frontage. That sounds like a shakedown  to me, but these big restaurants are willing to pay it to increase their square footage, get more bodies inside to pour down their marked-up liquor and crap food. $$$$$$$$!

Ever been Downtown on a warm evening? The smell of garbage will knock you over. But people are willing to pay to sit out on these patios in 105 degrees and smell that swamp odor, go figure.

Meanwhile, pedestrians are relegated to a tiny strip of sidewalk barely wide enough to walk single file, facing moving cars with their strollers and dogs and the parcels they’d ideally be carrying from the shops they’ve supposedly patronized. Uh-huh.

But, here in my retail neighborhood, I’m tired of seeing something that wouldn’t be tolerated Downtown – bodies plopped out under trees and across shady sidewalks  all around long-time businesses like Rite Aid and Safeway and the Vallombrosa post office. Transient parades stopping cars crossing the streets on red lights, or simply running or riding bikes out in front of cars, oftentimes dog running loose, between intersections.  I keep hearing other shoppers or postal patrons around me ask why transients are allowed to have shopping carts, obviously stolen property.

 I don’t like leaving my car in the parking lot at Mangrove Plaza, because I’ve seen transients meandering among the cars, obviously checking for unlocked doors and easy grabs inside. Having seen them run out of Payless Shoes with stolen merchandise, I wonder how long before they get bold enough to smash car windows out in the no-man’s-land between the gas station and the store fronts. 

 Why do the police need new ordinances to ticket or even arrest people for breaking laws that are already on the books? It’s always been illegal to camp in the park – in fact, it’s illegal to be “loitering” in the park more than a half hour after sunset, according to signs that have been posted in various locations in Bidwell Park since I was a kid. I’ve heard discussions Downtown specifying “loitering” to mean, not walking home, or using the park to “get somewhere“.  In other words, you better be moving.  None-the-less, the cops needed a new ordinance to kick transients out of de-facto campsites – tents with campfires! – around the park and other public parks and waterways around town, and then they need to expand that to cover the rest of town, not just the Downtown grid. 

They also lobbied council to give them a “sit-and-lie” ordinance, even though a very specific panhandling ordinance had already been on the books for 10 years, but had rarely been enforced. 

Meanwhile they’ve tweaked the “disorderly events” and “noise” ordinances so that they no longer need complaints from neighbors to wade onto private property to investigate when any officer may suspect is an illegal situation taking place. They also weakened the provision saying that landlords/property owners must be notified before they can be charged an unspecified amount in “response charges.”

All along whining and  crying that they don’t have enough cops in the department because pay and morale are low. Council has given them new hires and also instituted an administrative pay step increase plan that insures automatic promotion and pay raises, but they still want more money for stuff like new radios, license plate readers, and they’ve even  wish-listed a “substation” at Enloe Hospital.

That latter item because they say they spend so much time with transients down at Enloe, they need a private room off the beaten path where they can fill out their reports. Or do whatever they damned-well please out of the scrutiny of the inquisitive taxpayer.

Our local daily  editor David Little has acknowledged a campaign to raise sales tax, a “public safety” tax to benefit the police department. He’s berated the CARD assessment, leaving me to believe he and the paper will endorse this “public safety” tax.

Wow, I’ll tell you what – I see a public safety crisis alright – Chico PD!  A pack of purse snatchers, is what they are. They want your retirement money. They want your kids’ college money. They think you’re rich enough to pay for their outrageous lifestyles, just because you haven’t been foreclosed! They want your money, and they are going to pull out the stops in November to get it.

They’ll show you pictures like the one above, and tell you the only way you can get your beloved town back is throw more money at them. 

Get ready to pull out your bottle of these.

My mom gave me these.  She used to go to a lot of these meeting too.

I hope you haven’t used yours all up with the presidential debates.

You know what else you  can do? Join Chico Taxpayers Association – we’re having a lifetime membership special – FREE! All you need is a sense of righteous indignation.

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