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Business hostile city management to hear appeal of Simplicity Village

19 Sep

It’s always interesting to see the search terms by which people find their way to this blog. For about a week now the Yuba County sales tax lawsuit has been at the top of the pile:

yuba county sales tax 1% increase by voters,

homeless in ca chico 2019,

homelessness problem chico,

homelessness chico,

kamala harris corrupt

But this week “homeless” related terms are moving in on the number 1 spot, bumping out the perennial favorite, “kamala harris corrupt”  

When my husband and I went out to run errands the other morning, we noticed the tents had sprung up again at “Devil’s Triangle,” the median next to Little Chico Creek at Mulberry Street. As we made our way out to 20th Street we saw the army of zombies leaving various shelters in the neighborhood, some of them carrying trash bags bloated full of aluminum and plastic stolen from recycling bins. Some pulled mounds of crap in their sagging bike carts. One man walked along behind a stolen shopping cart full of what looked like rags and unrelated objects routed out of garbage cans.

A man stood unabashed, panhandling at the door of Food Maxx. We’ve noticed a lot of stores have finally developed no tolerance policies toward panhandling, but transients still try to slip in unnoticed, walk up to you in the parking lot as if asking for directions, and hit you up.  We walk past these people stone faced. I don’t want to hear their stories, I got stories of my own that keep me awake at night. Spare money? Are you  fucking kidding me? Why would I be shopping at Food Maxx if I had money to hand out on the corner?

Next stop Payless Building Supply to replace some warped and broken old fence boards at one of our rentals. Payless has helped us keep our rental expenses down with low-cost building materials. We do our own work to save money, we know if our rentals are too expensive we won’t be able to find tenants. For years we’ve enjoyed a good relationship with PBS, who also offer credit so you can spread out your payments on big enterprises. This has really helped when we’ve bought old crappers that needed a lot of work before they were even habitable.

PBS owner Frank Solinsky notified us a few months ago that he was appealing a City of Chico decision to place a tiny house “Simplicity Village” on the lot adjacent to the PBS yard. For years that lot has been a problem because the city has turned a blind eye to illegal camping and other activities there. We’ve seen the shanties they’ve built with lumber and supplies stolen from the yard, just a hop over the fence and back. Solinsky has had to add security measures to the cost of our building materials, and I resent that.

I also resent this group not wanting to comply with the building code, or pay the ridiculous fees put not only on developers but any homeowner who wants to do anything to their property, even fix a leaking roof. I stood in the county permits line once behind a lady as she was told she would have to pay 100’s of dollars in permit fees to replace the rotting wooden steps off her kitchen door. 

Chico Housing Action Team, the group that is trying to force the tiny village onto a lot with no plumbing, no infrastructure like sidewalks, and against the city building code. They want put people in sheds with no plumbing, heat or air conditioning. They want a central toilet, but have not explained who will pay to have that facility hooked up to city sewer. They want to be excepted from just about every law on the books.

They say the residents will be carefully vetted, and held to rules of behavior. But there will be no onsite supervision, this group of otherwise dysfunctional transients will be “policing themselves”. I think Solinsky is right to be alarmed with this situation.

When the city council first permitted this pending train wreck, Solinsky hired lawyer Rob Berry of Chico First to bring an appeal before council.  You have to pay to file an appeal, so you have to have money to throw away. It used to be $180, and there was a low-income waiver, but years ago, former council member Andy Holcombe, outraged because our neighbors successfully appealed a decision in our neighborhood,  vindictively went about getting rid of the low-income waiver. It never came to council, he did it “administerially”  Holcombe couldn’t believe that a homeowner would be low-income, yet he champions low-income housing projects like CHIPS and Habitat for Humanity. The hypocrisy in this town is just overwhelming.

Solinsky is a small business owner, and it’s the nickel and dime crap that brings down a small business. As customers walk away  because they don’t like what’s going on in the neighborhood – or paying for it in the price of their goods –  he’s finding himself fighting for his livelihood.

So when Council (scuse me, that was the Planning Commission) rejected his first appeal, he decided to bring it back. I don’t know the process, but I’m wondering if there is a point where he will just sue the city. Anyhoo, council has agendized a special meeting to hear his appeal, on September 24, 6 pm. I don’t know why they need to have a special meeting instead of bringing it up on a regular agenda.

Council will also be discussing Vice Mayor Brown’s recent request to waive user fees for Chico State’s “Lame Debate,” which sucks – everybody else has to pay to use City Hall or City Plaza, just like we’d have to pay to use any facility at Chico State. Brown, Schwab and Morgan are employees of Chico State, which seems like inappropriate influence.

And, of course, there’s a closed session item – “conference with legal counsel” over “anticipated litigation”. Oh, gee, is somebody suing the City of Chico, again?

This special meeting deserves some special attention. Here’s the agenda:

http://chico-ca.granicus.com/GeneratedAgendaViewer.php?view_id=2&event_id=688

 

 

 

Throw the bums out!

5 Jun

Chico Area Recreation District (CARD) recently hired another consultant to run yet another survey trying to get the voters to tax themselves. As usual, the survey was leading and suggestive – but here’s something new – it didn’t produce the results they were looking for. Instead of a fancy new sports complex, the respondents made it clear they want their existing parks cleaned up and properly maintained and they want the transient camps gone. 

I mentioned in a previous post, if you read the comments on various social media sites, or if you happened to read former CARD board member Terry Cleland’s recent letter to the Enterprise Record, you hear complaints of transient camps at soccer fields, transients stealing from snack bars and even personal  belongings from the participants. 

When my son played travel sports, we found ourselves in towns all over California, like Oakland. The manager at the facility in Oakland told us to park and stay within two blocks of the facility, and to report “anything weird…”  Is that what’s happening to Chico? 

But Cleland’s letter sounded a little too in line with suggestions the CARD consultants have made – every  consultant they’ve had has told them, get members of the public to speak for you. As a former CARD board member and a candidate for the board in the recent election, Cleland would be the perfect dupe to put their tax proposal out there, as if it came from the mouths of babes.  Well, here’s my response – let’s talk about a real solution to the transient problem – throw the bums out!

Chico Area Recreation District wants a new tax to provide security at playgrounds. Terry Cleland detailed the problem in his letter, and the Editor has written of families who are moving out of Chico because of this situation.  We have a serious criminal transient problem in our city.

Here’s why.  78% of the nearly $74,000,000 Butte County Behavioral Health budget comes from “intergovernmental revenues” –  money received from other cities and counties to “provide beds” for their mentally ill and drug addicted transients. 

In 2016 BCBH director Dorian Kittrell told me the county received $550 a day for each “client” they took in from cities and counties all over California that do not offer services. He explained in a budget memo that these “intergovernmental transfers” are the main source of funding for BCBH. Transfer patients are held for 45 days, and then released at their own recognizance from either the Chico or Oroville BCBH facility. Many are given prescription medication. They are offered rides to various shelters, but are not required to enroll in any program.

This is a legal form of getting rid of transients – just send them to a mental health facility in another town. Unfortunately, Chico has become that other town.

Our once incredible Bidwell Park, CARD playgrounds, retail areas, the college district, and lower income neighborhoods, are becoming overburdened by this practice of human dumping. We don’t need new taxes or more services, we need to tell our county supervisors loud and clear – stop the transfers.

“Shelter Crisis Designation” has brought in more than $8 million to city of Chico coffers

27 Jan

It looks like the area known as “Devil’s Triangle” (at the intersection of 12th and Mulberry Streets) is filling up with illegal campers again. The camp disappeared when the Red Cross set up their Camp Fire evacuation shelter at the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds, but now that Red Cross is pulling out, the little tents and trash piles are starting to appear around town again.

It was no secret that for the last few weeks, maybe more, there have been more transients than evacuees at the Red Cross Shelter. Within days of the evacuation a Norovirus outbreak was announced, but we won’t know how many people became sick.  There was also at least one death  – a 62 year old Magalia woman became ill at the shelter earlier this month, and “was rushed to the hospital”. She later died, the cause was released to be pneumonia. Pneumonia is a killer, highly contagious, and spreads readily in sub-par conditions, like a dirty overcrowded shelter full of transients.

Karl Ory, a member of the local Red Cross board, indicated as much in a recent letter to the News and Review.

Apparently, our mayor Randy Stone has been trash talking on Butte County Fires and Accidents website, saying that anybody who doesn’t support the establishment of shelters for these transient criminals and druggies is a “homeless hater”. What a change of heart Stone has undergone in the last few years since he used a gun to chase a transient out of his house in the middle of the night, firing two shots into the air in his crowded Chico neighborhood.

https://www.newsreview.com/chico/close-encounter/content?oid=3190696

A juvenile high on drugs crawled through Stone’s dog door and woke Stone and his wife in their bed. Stone chased him out of the house and then fired a couple of warning shots? When my friend did that the cops showed up and told him it was called “negligent discharge,” and don’t do it again. 

In 2015 Stone told me he kept a gun, using it to patrol his neighborhood at all hours with his neighbors. He used Nextdoor and his position in the community to get help from then police chief Mike Dunbaugh.

“I created our neighborhood on NextDoor.com after discussing NextDoor’s benefits with then-Interim Police Chief Mike Dunbaugh.  I’ve always respected and appreciated Chief Dunbaugh and after he indicated he’s used NextDoor for some time I knew it could be beneficial if correctly constructed.  I started on the effort gently in January of this year.  That kicked up quickly once we realized (ironically through NextDoor) that there was a serial tire slasher operating in the early morning hours.  Our efforts through NextDoor helped focus safety efforts and pool our data and resources.  Last Summer we coordinated bicycle and walking patrols (really just eyes and ears on the street) in the middle of the night.  I was out with neighbors on our streets sending the message that we were done with riffraff in our community.  I was with neighbors when we thwarted a few petty crimes and ran off other n’er-do-wells.”

Oh yeah, in 2015 they were riffraff and n’er-do-wells.. If we say that now we’re “homeless haters”.

So forgive me if I find Stone’s sudden concern for transients and drug addicts to be insincere. He just wants the funds that come in with “Shelter Crisis Designation.” In the last year the city has received over $8 million in grants related to the shelter crisis designation and the consolidation of services at the fairgrounds.

 

 

Karl Ory needs to go

3 Jan

Last night the new “liberal” council bit off more than they could chew, trying to shove second units into neighborhoods all over town. They also tried to overturn a rule that came out of nearly a year of arguing for owner-occupancy of homes with “accessory dwelling units” in the Chico State – Enloe neighborhood.  They even wanted to let developers off the hook for fees – even after the past two years of heated discussion over developers not paying enough in fees for roads and other city services.f

Here we go again, every time there’s a shift in council, they spend countless staff hours – $$$$$$! – trying to overturn decisions made by the previous council. 

What they don’t get is, those decisions were made because many citizens had come forward with complaints about developers, like Wayne Cook, who were being allowed to add third, fourth, even fifth “second units” without providing parking or street fees. What they were protesting were landlords who turned backyard, unplumbed sheds into “studio cottages” and allowed their tenants to cram onto a property, oftentimes causing neighborhood conflicts over parking across driveways, trespassing, and overflowing parties that brought the cops every weekend. 

And the new developer fees that took two or three years of arguing between the city and various developers just took effect. The city development fund has been, as Ann Schwab would put it, “in arrears” for years now, with other funds being kyped from to pay for stuff like sidewalks and other improvements that should have been paid for by developers.

And now the “liberrals,” led by Karl with a ‘K’ Ory, have found a way to allow higher density developers to skip paying for fees, by trying to get rid of fees for “accessory dwelling units” – second units by any other name would still stink!

Ory asked for an ad hoc committee to discuss this – meaning, no notice to the public of meetings, no agendas, no minutes. Last night Ory tried to pull stuff that wasn’t on the agenda, and he got called on it. And I’m guessing he didn’t like having to listen to so many people who didn’t agree with him – I was at a meeting chaired by Ory and he tried to tell me I’d already made a comment and didn’t get anymore! This guy isn’t a liberal, he’s a fucking fascist!

Ory also initiated the attack on the 20th Street Scrap Yard. Because? He wants to put low income housing on the property, like the CHIPS houses they’ve already shoved in. Right in the middle of a light industrial zone. 

Ory is business, citizen and taxpayer hostile, he’s a disaster for our town and needs to go. RECALL!

Write to your county supervisor and tell them to stop funding Butte County Behavioral Health

23 Aug

As my husband and I drive around Chico and use Bidwell Park, it’s apparent our town has an out of control transient population. These people aren’t “from around here” – read the police logs, when arrested, these people admit to having no local address and list towns up and down the state as their prior residence. That’s not “homeless,” it’s “transient”. 

At retail centers, parks, greenways and intersections around town, we see an increasing number of transients standing alone or sitting in groups, laying in their sleeping bags, smoking cigarettes, sharing alcohol, at whatever time of day. One day waiting at a local sandwich shop for our lunch, my husband and I watched a couple stoned out of their gourds, weaving in and out of traffic at a busy intersection, laughing hysterically, as though it was the running of the bulls or something.

It used to be worse around the Jesus Center and Torres Shelter, but now it’s spreading all over town. They walk out in front of cars on Mangrove Avenue, stand at medians at the Mangrove Safeway, wander dazed up and down the sidewalks, sit in bus stop shelters babbling at spirits. 

And they get violent. I’ve had personal experiences, I’ve witnessed stuff, heard about the weird experiences of my friends, neighbors, tenants, and people in line at the grocery store or post office. And today I ran across this face book page.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/butte.county.fires.accidents.crimes/

These are folks who, like me, feel the local media has got a “vested interest” in suppressing negative news about our town. I’ve always known the college, for example, has an obvious interest in keeping bad news about town out of the spotlight because it would  make it harder to get parents to send their kids here. That whole “Number One Party School” thing was a nightmare for the administration at Chico State, it  really made a difference in how parents perceive our college. And then high profile tragedies – drinking and hazing deaths at fraternities. The police have put us on the radar for killing people and beating up young coeds.  Now it’s the bums. The college has obvious reasons to pressure the local media to keep a lid on these stories. 

One man puts a finger right on the problem – “Take a look at the June 26th Butte County Board of Supervisors agenda. It is online. The county behavioral health department had 19 consent agenda items worth millions of dollars dealing with mental health programs. Is seems those programs are not getting to those aggressive transients on our Chico streets.”

Here’s what he doesn’t know – it’s these very programs that are bringing the aggressive transients into our town. “19 consent agenda items worth millions of dollars…”  Yes, millions of dollars in “transfer fees” – the county gets $550 a day per transient they take from other towns/counties/hospitals.

Furthermore, they can hold these “clients” at the county psychiatric facility – nick-named “The Puff” – for 45 days without their consent – you do the math. 

So as you scroll down this facebook page, reading about people from other towns ripping newly planted trees out of the ground at a business on East Eighth Street and threatening the staff with the stakes from the trees, throwing and threatening people with a hatchet Downtown, breaking into cars at the Enloe Center at Cal Park, lighting a fire with a blowtorch on the front lawn of the Chico library – how do you think these people get to town? They are transported here by Behaviorial Health employees from cities and counties all over California. 

When I last inquired, Butte County Behavioral Health staffer Dorian Kittrell, who enjoys a salary of over $130,000 plus about a $35,000 package, told me they get about $63 million a year in transfer fees. 

When that 45 days involuntary hold is up, the “client” is released on their own recognizance, oftentimes with prescription medicine. They are offered rides to shelters in Oroville and Chico, but they are not required to either take the ride or register at the shelter. 

Yes, contact your county supervisors and tell them, first of all, these items need to be set on the regular agenda. They’re on almost every agenda, under the consent section, where they pass without any sort of discussion. 

You realize, many towns/counties don’t even have a psychiatric facility, they just send them to counties like Butte.  

Speak up to your supervisor, write a letter to the editor, describe how the situation is affecting your life. Like another commenter says on the BCFAC Facebook page, I used to  believe these programs were for the good of the citizens of Butte County, but it’s just another revenue scheme that ends up costing us more than it brings in. 

 

 

 

2018: We need to dismantle the Hobo Highway leading into Chico

30 Dec

Another year is coming to a close, I like to scroll over to “Archives” and see what I was doing a year ago.

At this time last year I was posting a lot of pictures of bums camping in Bidwell Park. I’ll tell you what – my husband still hits the park trails with my dog every morning, and even though the weather is dryer than this time last year, he hasn’t found any campers in our section of the park. Yesterday, feeling guilty about taking a shorter walk the day before, he took Biscuit down into the depths, following the meandering bum trails through the overgrowth – not even a trash pile.

One morning about a month ago he found the remains of a camp, but by the time we mounted up on our bike to head to the grocery store later that morning, the camp had been cleaned by a group called Chico Community Watch. They have a city staffer as liaison, kind of a supervisor – which means we essentially pay this volunteer group over $100,000 a year plus pension and benefits. 

Jack Lee, in his blog Post Scripts, has an interesting interview with member Trevor Skaggs here:

http://www.norcalblogs.com/postscripts/2017/10/11/story-pending-chico-community-watch/

The interesting part of the interview is where Skaggs essentially admits that when providing any kind of service for the transients,  “ you kind of setup a slippery slope, you are providing services that make Chico an amenable place for individuals to migrate here from other locations. “

Yes, I feel volunteers like this just exacerbate the problem, while allowing highly compensated city staff to shirk their responsibilities. Why would I want to pay the property taxes that support salaries over $100,000, plus very generous benefits packages, and then wade into the park and pick up human filth? 

And it’s not just the city of Chico – Chico Area Recreation District is currently in talks to take over maintenance of Bidwell Park. CARD has a $7.2 million budget projected for 2018,  $5.2 million spent on salaries and benefits, mostly for about 30 full time employees, who have managed to rack up over $1.7 million in pension deficit. Will they expect volunteers to clean up after the bums?

They will pursue a bond or assessment on our homes in 2018, but haven’t announced yet whether it will be on the general ballot or a mailed ballot. 

I don’t think it’s a permanent solution either – they might chase the bums out of Bidwell Park – temporarily – but they just move to other parts of town. North Chico has had two sprawling homeless camps, one near a trailer park mostly inhabited by elderly people. Residents reported not only illegal camping but public defecation and urination in their door yards, and even threats from transients.

Chico has become a destination on the Hobo Highway, and we need to stop offering the services that are bringing them here. How about a few services for tax paying residents? 

Here’s  the street out front of my house – when do I get some services? 

So yes, I plan to go on complaining about the transient problem in 2018. That’s a resolution. 

 

Portland Behavior

28 Nov
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You’ve heard of “toll bridges,” well this is a “troll bridge.”

I just posted that blog about Portland’s bum troubles, and then I got on the bike with my husband to do some errands. Like many people we use Middle Bidwell Park bike/pedestrian trails to commute Downtown and the Mangrove Corridor, and often use the bridge, pictured above, that spans Chico Creek there across from Immediate Care and Wells Fargo Bank.

The bridge has always been a gathering place for transients, but this morning was over the top – this old man had placed his bike and belongings well into the trail on one side, and situated himself and his backpack into the trail along the other side of the trail. I couldn’t help but think of the story of Three Billy Goats Gruff, and the troll who shouted, “I’m going to gobble you up!”

This is what I would call, “Portland Behavior.” I  feel he’s taking possession of the bridge. 

He muttered something at us as we passed, sounded like an opening for panhandling, but we kept moving.  I wasn’t intimidated because I was on the bike, with my husband, but if I were on foot I might think about taking a different route, or giving up walking altogether. Walking in the park alone is getting to be risky business.

We have a post office box so stopped at the post office annex on Vallombrosa.  There a disheveled man had scattered his crap – uh, excuse me, belongings – along the sidewalk and was pacing the sidewalk muttering at his feet.

1128171107-1

I felt sorry for this man, he was obviously mentally ill. But I also feel sorry for the people who are trying to run a family oriented business on the other side of that doorway he’s standing in front of.

This man’s behavior was very agitated.  Try being a parent with small children at hand, navigating these people at the doorways to businesses all over town. 

These people are brought here by the county, which gets $550/day for housing them.  They can be held 45 days without their consent, and then they are released to their own recognizance, oftentimes with prescription medications. I never know if I’m seeing insanity, or the result of prescription drugs and alcohol. 

There’s no supervision after release unless these people voluntarily enroll in one or another housing program. They can fall off their meds, get back on the booze, and end up right back on the street – in their new home, Chico – get arrested again, and around she goes…

Nobody is served in this cycle, except those who receive  the salaries and benefits.