The rise of Bum Town

1 Sep

My husband and I were floored when we ran into an old friend the other day and he said he and his wife are thinking about moving out of Chico. Our kids grew up together.

“Chico’s just not the same town anymore,” he lamented. What an understatement.

I know this man came here as a college student, but he’s lived here most of his life now, married, raised kids, paid property taxes. As a person who’s lived in this area since early childhood, I’ll say it’s a nightmare. As I wander around town – what was it Woody Guthrie said? I never see a friend I know as I go rambling round.

Many of the older people I knew have  retired elsewhere. Many of the people I knew of my own age have moved out of Chico, staying just close enough to commute to jobs, mostly moving into the outer lying communities  like Paradise, Forest Ranch or Concow. None of their kids seem to be staying in Chico. For one thing, there are no good jobs for young people in Chico. My son and his girlfriend are both employed in Chico, but their bosses hold them to less than 30 hours so they don’t have to pay Obamacare. On that income  they can’t afford to live in Chico unless they want to live in the ghetto and get their cars  broken into every night.

That’s what I’m hearing from a lot of my old friends, Chico is expensive but it’s a s*** hole. Why pay a lot of money to live in a s*** hole? That’s what our friend was saying, the areas surrounding the old subdivision he lives in are like Zombie Town. When I was a kid, that whole part of town was brand spanking new. Now the streets are in lousy condition, as are most of the residential streets in town, and the retail sector’s are trashy and rundown. It’s just a perfect setting for a bunch of bums to move in, take up residence in bus stop shelters and bushes lining the streets. Or in any of a number of crapped out old motels that are not held up to code.

I’ve known homeless people, I’ve been homeless. When I was working and going to college I was always on the verge of homelessness. But I stuck with my family and friends. I lived on my sister’s couch, I lived in my mom’s spare bedroom, and when I was in between Apartments I stayed on Friends couches or in spare bedrooms. I never had to worry about a place to stay, because I wasn’t a dysfunctional drunken drug addict. I didn’t get what I wanted by demanding it and waving around a dirty knife or smashing a bottle on the floor in a grocery store. My friends didn’t have to worry that I would be robbing them while they were asleep.

On the other hand, I did have friends and even family members who robbed me while I was asleep. Sometimes I didn’t have the best judgement in friends and when somebody was in trouble maybe I didn’t realize it was because of their own doing. I did get taken advantage of when I was nice to people sometimes. I had a cousin who wasn’t trusted by any member of the family because she always had a hard luck story but as soon as you were out of the house she was routing through everything you owned and making long distance phone calls.

I learned that people like that never had any remorse for their bad behavior, if you let them they would take advantage again and again. When I was young there was a concept called Tough Love, and it still makes sense to me. You really aren’t helping your loved ones – or anybody – when you don’t hold them to higher standards for their behavior.

A woman who spoke to my health science class in college talked about the concept of “enabling”. Enabling means allowing people to behave badly, whether it’s drug addiction or spousal abuse or just plain dysfunctional Behavior towards friends. Enabling means not holding people accountable for their actions.

The city of Chico, in its Declaration of a shelter crisis, allowing these creeps to physically take over our town, is a classic enabler.

I’ll say most enablers get something for their enabling. Often times it’s just friendship, but in the case of the city of Chico, it’s the funding that comes along with this designation. I can’t remember all the figures I’ve seen and heard but I do remember that city manager Mark Orme mentioned a $450,000 Grant would be available if we congregated all of our homeless services at the fairgrounds. The shelter crisis designation would bring another pot of money, I can’t remember how much.

In closing, I’ll also say, Mark Orme is a big part of our problem. Look at how our town has deteriorated since he came here about 5 years ago. He’s the highest paid city manager we ever had, making over $200,000 in in salary, plus about an $80,000 benefits package.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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