Chico: The squeaky wheel gets the grease – start squeakin’!

20 May

My husband and I were running errands the other day that took us past Depot Park. Wow. What a fucking mess. I know a lot of college students are forced to live in that neighborhood – it’s cheap and they don’t know any better. There are also plenty of families that live in there, single moms and little kids all over the place.

Depot Park is also the train station. No, the train doesn’t stop, but you can catch a bus there at about 4:30 am to connect with trains elsewhere. I’m guessing the train won’t stop there anymore because Chico is well-known as a transient town, Amtrak has complained about people blocking the tracks with garbage, fires, and their own bodies. A friend of ours was on her way to Portland when bums burned the trestle at Edgar Slough and the train was delayed for hours waiting for busses.

Wow – when I realized all our friend sees of Chico when she blast through town is Depot Park, it made me embarrassed. Why is this happening? Yesterday they reported 43 beds at Torres Shelter and 15 pallets open. But they need to build a new site on Cohasset? For folks that just won’t agree to the rules at the established shelters?

Welcome to the State of Lawlessness, brought to you by Chico City Council. These idiots probably can’t balance their own check books, and here they are fucking with our lives. Drug overdoses, car thefts and general mayhem in every direction, and Chico PD has the balls to declare crime is down in Chico? I’m going to guess – they’ve just stopped arresting people. Car thefts are not down, but it depends on the age and perceived value of the car as to whether or not it’s a “crime”. Drug arrests are still a regular event, and there have been three fatal overdoses reported in Chico just this week, but “crime” is down?

And again, town looks like shit for Chico State graduation ceremonies – ever wonder why enrollment has gone down 22% in the last five years? From over 16,000 students to about 12,000. That might help explain so many empty store fronts Downtown?

Not enough housing? You’ve got to be kidding. They build and they build, but rent keeps going up! New and refurbished apartment complexes all over town, but rent per person averages about $600/month. And the city has almost eliminated parking requirements for new housing, meaning, you have nowhere to securely park your car. They are requiring half a parking space per unit, even units with more than one bedroom.

Looking at rentals online, I see there are usually neighborhood ratings as to “connectivity”. Most neighborhoods in Chico receive a low rating here, because there’s nowhere residents can walk out and shop. But Chico continues to sprawl up and out, into areas of town with no services. They think a bike bridge over the freeway is going to correct this situation – how about fixing sidewalks and bringing commercial areas up to grade? Chico is still 30 years behind the Americans with Disabilities Act – many neighborhoods HAVE NO SIDEWALKS. Businesses families need are leaving Chico, the small shopping centers are dilapidated and neglected. Who’s moving here? Smoke shops and liquor stores. What’s “family friendly” about extending liquor service to parks and sidewalks Downtown?

A good title for Chico City Council would be “The Blind Leading the Morons”. They chase the bums from camp site to camp site like Keystone Cops. They refuse to admit we have a major crime problem. They refuse to admit businesses are leaving town because they have to follow their customers. You really think those parking kiosks are there to make the customer happy?,since%20these%20kiosks%20went%20in.

According to Van Overbeek, the parking kiosks went into place to increase parking in downtown Chico and that the kiosks are more cost effective than building a new parking structure. He says the kiosks help create more parking enforcement with the time limits when it comes to people inputting their license plate number.”

No, they’re there because humans can’t issue parking tickets fast enough, the machines make a parking ticket automatic. They’re also equipped to track your car as you move around town, along with the license plate readers we just bought for Chico PD, they will be able to track your movements and send you advertising based on your habits, via that app you have to load on your cell phone. I didn’t guess that, or make it up – they talked about it in meetings, even in the newspaper.

So no Leann, I’m not coming Downtown to buy your overpriced slave labor crap, and not just because of the kiosks. Hey, Kalen, you’re charging twice as much for a deli sandwich as Spiteri’s and The Locker, just because you’re located in Downtown Chico – don’t try to pass that off on me. There are no businesses Downtown that carry stuff I need for prices I can afford. It was funny to read the owners of North Rim Adventures Sports complain that Downtown landlords are the problem – who can afford to shop at North Rim? Chico Chamber CEO Katy Thoma asked me recently if I ever shopped at Colliers – no, they charge too much for stuff I can get at the box stores south of town, or even online, for much cheaper. Really silly stuff, like a drain stop for my tenant’s bath tub, or a new shower head, or maybe some screws to fix whatever. Those nickels and dimes add up to a rent increase, Landlady ain’t a charity operation.

We quit Northern Star Mills after we found our brand of dog food online for about half the price. I shopped in those stores since I was too small to see over the counter, but I won’t be gouged by somebody who’s being gouged by the City of Chico to pay their salaries and benefits.

So yes, I can see why Downtown, why all of Chico, is in trouble. With a capital T and that rhymes with P and that stands for Pensions. That’s all they think about when they make decisions, like the recent decision to halt work on the Bruce Road widening – because they can’t find a contractor to do the work for $23 million? No, I’m going to guess they’ve already “allocated” (dipped into) that funding and there’s not even $23 million left. They promised us new streets when they marketed Measure H, now we get pothole patches and slurry. What next? Parcel tax for the widening of one stretch of road that should have come out of developer fees? According to Mark Sorensen, the developers who gave us the Fogarty and Doe Mill/Merriam Park subdivisions have never paid street/road fees.

Think about that next time you’re sitting in your car trying to get to work or the store. Then write a letter to council about it. The squeaky wheel seems to get the grease around here.

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