City should stop messing around in private enterprise

1 Dec

I made it to Wednesday’s Finance Committee meeting and I was not disappointed. There were several items on the agenda but the two discussions that interested me were variable fees for residential development – with “incentives” for high density – and “street urbanization” fees – and that turned out to be the real eye-opener.

T-shirt printer and new urban developer Dan Gonzales and his partners have been pushing the city to offer “incentives” – in the form of deferred and lower fees – for higher density projects. It started with Tom DiGiovanni of New Urban Builders getting the city to allow him to write a “parallel code” with lower setbacks and variances for the “footprint” of a home.  Under his code, the builder was allowed to take the walls of a home right to the edge of the lot, right to the edge of the public sidewalk. Some of the homes at  the Doe Mill subdivision have a back wall that actually serves as the “fence” to the neighbor’s yard – they just don’t put windows on that wall, how’s that for privacy?

Dan Gonzalez kept saying we needed smaller homes for “the workforce”  – I finally had to add, “We need jobs, is what we need for the workforce.” What we don’t need, are a bunch of slapped up 2 x 4’s covered in press board with bamboo flooring and “granite” countertops that end up pricing out at the top of the market. They told us Doe Mill was going to be “affordable.” It might be crap, but it’s not affordable to anybody in “the workforce,” if we even had a “workforce.”

Scott Gruendl, former Chico mayor and former head of Glenn County Health and Human Services had to rent bedrooms in his Doe Mill house to make it “affordable.” 

After Tom DiGiovanni built Doe Mill,   he got “Meriam Park” through the permits process using his “ ” Another name for DiGiovanni’s “parallel code” would be “sub-code” – that’s what they used to call it when a builder was granted variances to everything in the standard code. 

Why have a code? Ever been to an earthquake in Iran? 

Well, I’m going off at the mouth – the committee heard all about why they should do this and then Mark Sorensen summed it all up with “Nice try, but  take it out back and bury it…”  Mayor Sean Morgan had already made many comments indicating that he was not interested in going any further with the variable rate discussion. Randall Stone, a developer by trade, said he would “love to support” a variable rate but “we aren’t there yet…”   I think he meant by that, he’s stuck with a conservative majority on council and knows they won’t pass it. 

Why did they direct staff to study this issue for the last two years? If you have to give developers a discount rate, they’re peddling substandard goods. The market should be the incentive. Gonzalez claimed, “Look at the trends… the number of people per household is going down…women are having fewer children…” 

If that’s true, then the demand for his type of homes should be all the incentive he needs.  

The room was full of developers who didn’t want the variable rate because it was going to make the three to four bedroom houses they build unaffordable.

The government doesn’t have any business toying around in the free market. Our council changes with the wind – why would we give these people the power over changing our city and our quality of life so much? 

And the $taff time tied up in this discussion – they actually apologized to $taffer Brendan Ottoboni, who makes over $130,000 just in salary, to do the bidding of these idiots. But Ottoboni actually lobbied for the variable rate – saying, “I just want to do the right thing…”    Who is he “doing the right thing” for? Knowing fully well that while the rate would be lower for high density units in the beginning, the property tax profits for the city would be huge and go on forever. 

I’ll get back to the “urbanization and street fees” next time, on this old blog with Juanita.


11 Responses to “City should stop messing around in private enterprise”

  1. bob December 1, 2017 at 9:46 pm #

    Why the h#ll would anyone pay a fortune to live in Doe Mill?

    I wouldn’t live there if it was free.

    They cram as many people in as they can. You literally live in your neighbor’s lap. And the streets are so narrow they are dangerous. And no yards, just cram as many people in as possible.

    This is just what the Agenda 21 folks want. Get people all crammed in and then make owning cars unaffordable.

    • Juanita Sumner December 2, 2017 at 6:34 am #

      Well, last time I checked, there are plenty of cars at Doe Mill!

      I have had friends who’ve moved in there, not sure why, and then made me listen as they complained about it. One family we know brought forward a formal complaint with the city when DiGiovanni changed the design to build “Hutchinson Green,” calling DG the city’s “pet developer.” At that time he was.

      Now the council majority has changed, and he’s sent off to peddle his papers. Not for long – if council majority changed next year this issue would be back on the table. DiGiovanni, Gonzalez, and Gonzalez’ partner Beer Man Ken Grossman will keep pushing for it so they can build Meriam Park with little or no respect for the code as we know it.

      • bob December 2, 2017 at 10:22 am #

        The cost of car ownership is going up. The average cost of a new car is over $33,000, a record. And auto-loan defaults are at a record. And wait until oil gets back to $80 a barrel. Gas will be over $5 a gallon in California, easy after all these tax increases. And auto-insurance is going up. I have had a 24% increase in my premium in the last year and I have no accidents or tickets. And the cost of routine car maintenance has gone up. So I think it’s working out nicely for the Agenda 21 folks as more and more people are being priced out of the car market. I’d bet most people who live in Doe Mill have a lot of car debt and if they lost their jobs they would be unable to keep their cars. Add to that the expense of living in Doe Mill and they’d be out on the street. It would be Deer In The Headlights Mill for them.

      • Juanita Sumner December 2, 2017 at 3:09 pm #

        I hear you on car ownership – neither of our kids would have cars if we didn’t help them find and pay for good used cars, and then pay for their insurance as part of our plan. I worry constantly about repairs – as soon as we feel a little ahead on finances we need to get some sort of high dollar repair on one of our fleet vehicles. You’re right – it’s the expense, not housing or any other ploy that has got people out of cars. And then they are still at a disadvantage in employment, that’s not going to change. What employer wouldn’t hire a person who has a car over a person who rides the bus, given equally qualified individuals?

        Whoever is behind Agenda 21, I think they want to pressure us into believing we need mass transportation projects and high density housing because it means a lot of money for infrastructure and residential developers. New Urban and redevelopment, the high speed trains and the new airports are all a boon for developers and real estate magnates, whether they really believe it is good for the planet or people is questionable. One housing bender after another, they’ve told us housing would become more affordable and more sustainable. You look around Chico and you see the results of one fad after another, but prices still go up, traffic gets worse and worse, and our infrastructure is like some third world country.

      • bob December 2, 2017 at 3:38 pm #

        I have an old vehicle and was shocked when I took it into a shop. All the maintenance work that I needed done was over $600 and this was two years ago.

        Mind you, we’re not talking about fixing anything as the vehicle was operating without a problem. This was for an oil change, coolant flush, transmission fluid change, tune up and brake fluid change and I think tire rotation was thrown in. Over $600. That’s about a third of what I could probably get if I tried to sell the vehicle as it’s 25 years old but it is in relatively good shape.

        I read the other day that about half the people in this country have a negative net worth. Doesn’t surprise me at all when you consider the cost of transportation and housing, not to mention health care and “higher” education. And I really think the people who lord over us are quite happy about that. After all, if you can make life unaffordable it’s not too hard to get total control over people which is just what they want.

      • bob December 2, 2017 at 4:24 pm #

        And people are going to be pretty unhappy when they realized they’ve been had on these fuel and car tax increases. They are going to be a lot of pot holes around this state, forever. Already the lamestream media is prepping us for this. You see what that idiot Little wrote in his editorial. And he was called out for it in the comments.

        When we asked for nominations for which roads should be fixed (and
        more than 400 people responded), several people wrote in simply, “All of
        them.” Many added that it’s ridiculous that roads were allowed to get
        this bad, so politicians need to ensure that all are fixed.While we understand that sentiment, it’s not realistic…

        This editor has said many stupid things in his time and this ranks right up their with the stupidest.

        Why is it unrealistic to expect that ALL the roads be maintained???

        WHY DO WE PAY AN ARM AND A LEG IN TAXES if the corrupt politicians can’t even maintain the roads??? THEN WHY DO WE ALLOW THEM TO STEAL EVEN MORE OF OUR HARD EARNED MONEY???


        And just wait until it and the 20 plus cents a gallon tax increase in diesel filters its way through the California economy!

        How about a poll for which politicians are the most responsible for ripping
        us off and letting the roads go to h#ll while increasing our taxes even

        In case you haven’t noticed, California has the highest fuel
        prices and taxes in the country, even higher than Hawaii. And Hawaii must import oil products from thousands of miles away.

        And it is the job of the government to maintain ALL the roads, not just
        some so there should be no need to have this poll.

        Why isn’t Little telling his readers why they must have huge tax
        increases to gas, diesel and the car registration tax just to maintain
        SOME of the roads? And why doesn’t he find out why the roads and everything
        else has been allowed to fall apart? THESE ARE THE IMPORTANT QUESTIONS

        Before these tax increases California already
        had some of the highest fuel taxes and prices in the country and the
        worst roads.

        The problem is that the state, counties and cities have been
        deferring maintenance for many years and not just on roads and highways.

        They have been funnelling money to employee pensions and for employee raises
        (not to mention boondoggle pork projects). For example, just recently
        the city council of this corrupt little city voted to increase the
        compensation of a pack of bureaucrats.

        So there’s never enough
        money to fix the roads and everything else but plenty of money for
        continual raises for bureaucrats among other things.

        So they let the roads and everything else fall apart and then it becomes
        EVEN MORE EXPENSIVE to fix them due to NEGLECTED maintenance so then
        they raise our taxes even MORE!

        Little needs to get his head out of the sand and tell the truth to his readers about HOW THEY ARE BEING RIPPED OFF!

      • Juanita Sumner December 3, 2017 at 5:27 am #

        You and Jim are getting into Installment 2 – I’m sorry I haven’t had time to post the rest of that meeting yet. City finance ghoul Scott Dowell admitted, pensions are 15 percent of the “street and urbanization” fees, right off the top. $taffer Steve said they were still working on repairs identified in 2009, and they just dropped a bunch of those off the list because they are “unfunded”.

        I’ll get on that post today. It’s outrageous.

  2. bob December 1, 2017 at 9:50 pm #

    Well, old Lando is going to run hOroville’s parks for a while. Geez, can’t he take his six figure pension and just go away? Why can’t these people just leave us alone? Haven’t they done enough damage already?

    And it looks like the parks district is getting sued. I wonder how much that will cost us. Whatever it might be, the bureaucrats don’t want the public to know what’s going on.

    “Also discussed in closed session was anticipated litigation against the parks district. Board member Victoria Smith said since both items were in closed session, the board members could not disclose more information at this time.”

    • Juanita Sumner December 2, 2017 at 6:37 am #

      Lando has his dick in everything. He’s been interim manager of Oroville parks before, got Ann Willmann the manager’s job there, when she left in a scandal over a camera in the girls bathroom he got her the management position at CARD.

      Chris Constantin told me Lando still runs the city of Chico, or tries to.

      Oh well – when a friend of mine from high school asked me about Oroville – he was looking to relocate from Sacramento – I told him to watch The Klansman.

  3. Jim December 2, 2017 at 2:47 am #

    The city is desperate for the developer fees to help fund their pension plans. New development slowly drags the whole city down, but heck the grifters running the city don’t care, they will be retired and move elsewhere.

    • Juanita Sumner December 2, 2017 at 6:40 am #

      Thanks Jim – that will be covered in Installment 2! Stay Tuned!

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