Do you agree with Council’s spending priorities?

20 Nov

No, I have not received any response to my complaints about campers in Upper Bidwell Park, and as of Friday, the campers were still in place. I’ll keep you posted.

I just watched a story on the news about Gavin Newsom’s promise for more “homeless” funding if jurisdictions have an aggressive plan to “clean up ‘our’ streets...” I don’t know if more money is a good thing, given the spending habits Downtown – proof that money can get you into Trouble. With a capital ‘T’ and that rhymes with ‘P’ and that stands for Poor House.

On a related note, Friday I saw a story on Ch 12 news saying that three Downtown businesses have shown interest in applying for a total of six permanent parklets. It was a very poorly researched and written story. The reporter didn’t include the cost of the parklets or who will be paying. He admitted to me that he got the story from City of Chico staffers. I attended the meeting – staff reported 7 parklets would cost about $978,000 – that’s over $140,000 per parklet. According to the reporter, these three businesses will only pay $1500/year for the use of two parking spaces each, or $750/parking space/year. The reporter mentioned to me that American Rescue Plan funding will be used for construction, but for some reason he didn’t include that fact in the story. There was no mention of building fees, which are being waved because the city is doing the work. Which raises the question of prevailing wage. None of that was included in the story, included below.

They were just designed to be temporary ways for businesses to still serve people during the pandemic, but The Banshee owner Will Brady says it’s brought a big boom to business... ‘It’s probably 25% more revenue that we’re generating,’ said Brady.”

That is a problem for me. The parklets were intended to offset the affects of a government shut-down, and onerous spacing restrictions for customers. Since the local government had set “emergency” standards that threatened business’ bottom lines, it seemed appropriate at that time to allow these businesses to expand into the public right-of-way. But we’ve already suffered the “emergency” long enough, and it’s time to get back to business as usual. I think it’s going too far when a business owner admits the taxpayers have paid for him to increase his revenues 25% over what they were before the shut down.

I also resent that Brady threatens to lay off staffers if he doesn’t get the parklets. “He has hired even more staff because of that, so not having the parklet would be detrimental. ‘We probably would have to lay off 10 then,’ said Brady. ’10 out of 40 of us who work there would probably have to go and we really didn’t want to do that.‘” Well, since he brought that up, I’ll ask, what kind of jobs does Brady provide? What kind of salaries does he pay? Are his employees able to support themselves without public assistance? Where do they park, or do they sleep on the kitchen floor?

Council has decided to allow interested businesses to apply for permanent parklets with new rules – only two parking spaces per business, and “has to look more appealing than the current concrete or plastic blocks…” Here’s another problem I see – the taxpayers not only paid to rent and install those ugly cement and plastic blocks, they paid for the designs that will be recommended to replace them. And the taxpayers will be paying for the construction. The only payment asked of the business owner is the $750/parking space, per year.

Here’s their ploy – “’The idea is that, for it to be something that looks like it belongs to the city and is part of the beauty of downtown,’ said Downtown Chico Business Association (DCBA) Vice President David Halimi.‘” But not the taxpayers, who will not only be losing parking spaces but will only be allowed to use the parklets if they purchase food or beverages at the restaurants who pay the rent. That is a theft of public property, as far as I’m concerned. What next?

Not only does Halimi claim that lost parking revenues will be offset by the rent paid, he told the reporter “That’s on par with the annual cost businesses with permanent outdoor dining spots have to pay now.” But those businesses, like Crepeville and Tres Hombres, all paid for the fees, design and construction of their outdoor dining areas. And yes, they still pay rent.

Here’s what’s coming – “The city says it wants to see how these permanent parklets look and how much money is brought in, to make this a possible option for more businesses in the future.”

Our city council and staff seem to think American Rescue Plan money is just manna from Heaven, found money, like they just turned over the couch cushions and there it was. I don’t think using public money for the benefit of a handful of people is appropriate. If you agree, contact council and let them know about it.

https://www.actionnewsnow.com/news/three-downtown-chico-businesses-apply-to-keep-parklets-past-deadline/article_8532d624-670b-11ed-ba92-3fb077832a35.html

CHICO, Calif. – Downtown Chico parklets might be here to stay for some businesses. Last month, Chico City Council voted to not extend them past Dec. 1 deadline, but some may become permanent.

The parklets were first introduced during the pandemic after the city announced the local emergency.

They were just designed to be temporary ways for businesses to still serve people during the pandemic, but The Banshee owner Will Brady says it’s brought a big boom to business.

“It’s probably 25% more revenue that we’re generating,” said Brady.

He has hired even more staff because of that, so not having the parklet would be detrimental.

“We probably would have to lay off 10 then,” said Brady. “10 out of 40 of us who work there would probably have to go and we really didn’t want to do that.”

City Council’s decision to not extend the parklets still stands though. The Banshee, Naked Lounge and Duffy’s Tavern are all applying to make their parklet permanent.

The city will work with all the other businesses that still have parklets on a time to help take them down around the Dec. 1 deadline.

There are several rules they’ll have to follow. The parklets have to shrink and can only take up two parking spaces.

“We feel like we can keep three tables that way and we can be full all the time then,” said Brady.

It has to be in front of the business and has to look more appealing than the current concrete or plastic blocks.

“The idea is that, for it to be something that looks like it belongs to the city and is part of the beauty of downtown,” said Downtown Chico Business Association (DCBA) Vice President David Halimi.

The city will meet with each business next week and as long as all the paperwork and design plans are in, they’ll meet in front of city council for the final decision that can come as early as Dec. 20.

If it’s accepted, they’ll get a grant of license letting them keep the modified parklet for $1,500 a year for the two parking spots they’ll be blocking.

“So that just basically offsets the revenue that space would’ve brought to the city,” said Halimi.

That’s on par with the annual cost businesses with permanent outdoor dining spots have to pay now.

The city says parking will still increase throughout Downtown Chico though. The parklets are currently blocking 26 spots and in December, at least 20 of those spots will open back up.

The city says it wants to see how these permanent parklets look and how much money is brought in, to make this a possible option for more businesses in the future.

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