Chico Internal Affairs Committee to revisit parklets – new meeting time, 1pm

4 Nov

Yesterday I was telling you the real work continues after the election – have you ever considered attending a daytime committee meeting? That’s where things really happen Downtown, by the time it gets to council, it’s usually a done deal. But last week I saw council actually reject a plan approved by the Internal Affairs Committee. It seems not everybody was on board with the suggestion to use American Rescue Plan Funding for a complete remodel of Downtown.

Last year, Chico City Council approved the use of $300,000 in American Rescue Plan funding for the development of parklets at Downtown bars and restaurants. Downtowners raved about the trendy new fad – repurposing public parking places into dining islands restricted to the use of paying customers – meaning, expanding the size of their business without paying more in property taxes. And for some reason, staff suggested that the city pick up the cost of design and construction instead of charging the usual fees to business owners – with money intended to help the entire town recover from the effects of the COVID shutdown. In other words, handing public property over to a private owner without any vote of the taxpayers, and then using taxpayer money to improve said property. Giving away our communal goods seems to have become a habit with these people over the last few years.

Fortunately, not everybody was happy with the Asst Manager’s estimate of the total cost of the project – $1.1 – 1.5 million. Just for Downtown. Council balked at the plan, because of public scrutiny – that’s YOU! – voting to terminate the use of parklets on December 1, the date they also FINALLY decided to “end” the COVID “emergency”.

So far only $25,000 of the original $300,000 allocation has been spent. But, due to demands from bar and restaurant owners, as well as some people who think it’s okay to consume alcoholic beverages out on the street, staff has brought the subject back to next Monday’s Internal Affairs Committee meeting.

Yes, they decided to change the time of the meeting to 1pm, I don’t know why, but it seems more convenient to me than the old late afternoon meeting. I hope more people – including committee members Tandon and O’Brien – as well as a few candidates – will show up.

And maybe some of us would like to see this kind of money being spent on the street in front of our house – you still have time to contact committee members Reynolds (chair), O’Brien and Tandon to let them know what you think –  kasey.reynolds@chicoca.gov ; mike.obrien@chicoca.gov ; deepika.tandon@chicoca.gov

The report is available here:

Some highlights:

At the October 18, 2022 City Council Meeting, Council voted for businesses to terminate the use of Temporary Parklets on December 1, 2022 when the COVID-19 Executive Orders expire. Council redirected the topic of Developing a Parklet Program to Internal Affairs Committee.

Recommendation: The City Manager recommends the Internal Affairs Committee determine whether to study expanding the Outdoor Cafe program, and provide a recommendation to the full Council to either:

Maintain the current Outdoor Cafe program as is which includes Sidewalk Cafes and Permanent Cafes. Cancel RGA contract and redirect the remaining ARP funding (approximately $275,000) which was approved for Parklets to the Parking fund or another fund.

Analyze downtown Parking needs and make a recommendation on whether to expand the Outdoor Cafe program to include Parklets. Authorize the use of the remaining ARP funding allocated for Parklets to update the City’s parking study and potentially develop a Parklets program.

FISCAL IMPACT: The City Council allocated $300,000 of one-time American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds toward the design, construction, and implementation of temporary parklets in the downtown area. $39,000 of the ARP funding has been encumbered for a consultant agreement and $25,000 of the contract has been expended. During the estimating process, it was determined that the cost to build new Temporary Parklets would be $1.1 to $1.5M not including soft costs and program development; therefore, the $300,000 ARP funding was not adequate for its intended purpose. With Council voting to terminate the use of temporary Parklets on December 1, 2022, the ARP funding could be used to prepare an updated parking demand and update the Outdoor Cafe program to minimize the
impact to parking and potentially include Parklets.

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