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Local Government Committee offering free city sewer lines to county dwellers, talking about hiring a homeless coordinator to bring in federal funding, and how to cover Station 42 – May 3, City Hall, 3:30 pm

27 Apr

One of the best meetings to  attend, to get an overview of both city and county business and stuff that will be on future council and supervisor agendas is the Local Governments Committee. These are held four times a year and cover issues that will affect your lifestyle.

The next meeting is Wednesday, May 3, here’s the agenda:

http://www.ci.chico.ca.us/document_library/minutes_agendas/Local%20government%20commission/5-3-17LGCAgendaPacket.pdf

Attached to Wednesday’s agenda you will also find the minutes from the February meeting, be sure to read those. Having attended these meetings and then read the minutes taken by the clerk and approved by the board, I find attendance is better – the minutes are often lacking, don’t tell everything.  But they’re better than nothing. 

You’ll find, the city is laying free sewer pipe for a new subdivision in the county.  That’s inappropriate, as far as I’m concerned, but they’re desperate to get people to hook up to sewer since they expanded the sewer plant.

Yeah, I was wrong about the sewer plant being at capacity. That was several years ago, I found notes for a more recent meeting.  Yes, according to the sewer plant manager and ass city manager Chris Constantin, the city spent millions expanding the sewer plant and then the economy took a dump. This was December 2015. The economy has  rebounded somewhat, but the sewer plant is still starving. The plant director urged the city to come up with new fees to pay for this stuff, while the city works manager is hooking people up to sewer as fast as he can. They laid free sewer pipe all over the city, and now they’re moving into the county.

But in my neighborhood, a neighbor whose house burned down is being held from rebuilding – they want him to pay the entire cost of having a sewer line laid down the easement alongside his house.  That seems weird – county dwellers in brand new houses get free sewer, but my long-time neighbor has to spend 10’s of thousands bringing the city sewer down an annexed driveway? 

That’s the kind of stuff you find out about when you attend these meetings.

Pay Attention!

 

What ya gonna do?

22 Apr

Today, at 9 am, my husband and I encountered a man at Mangrove Safeway who was so intoxicated he was trying to enter the “EXIT ONLY” door. He just stood there with his nose to the glass, pressing at the door with his chest, pushing the concrete with his feet. His face was red with alcohol poisoning.

When we’d entered the parking lot via the back alley, we saw him laying in a fetal position behind Kwando, two wine bottles laying nearby.  We were surprised to see him lumbering up to the front door of Safeway a few minutes later. He looked to be in his late 20’s, long hair, unshaven, but weirdly clean. He was wearing new clothes – a t-shirt and what appeared to be medical scrubs for pants, and bright aqua blue sneakers. 

When I was young I worked at a retail store on a busy boulevard in Sacramento.  The entry had an old brick planter with an awning over the front, to shade the store from the intense afternoon sun. We’d long since given up trying to plant anything in the planter box, the bums would sit on it all night, drinking cheap booze and watching the cars go by, it would be full  of empty bottles and other junk the next morning.

The boss would schedule a team of two to open the store – one big, mean looking guy to deal with the front entrance, and another person to run the cash registers and get the store going. The planter and awning created a neat little shelter.  Most mornings there would be at least one human body blocking the front door, and the ground would be sticky with urine, spilled drinks, food trash, and sometimes a pile of human poop.

The front door guy was given a janitorial style mop bucket on wheels, a jug of bleach, a push broom, and a big, yellow fat hose, with a key to open the spigot on the side of the store. Of course that had to be locked up good – we’d actually  had transients who’d found a way to get on the roof, set up a neat little camp, with a hose running down to that spigot for fresh water! Ginchee!

One morning my co-worker came into the store to say he thought the old man on the front steps might be dead. His own face had a tint of green – the old man had thrown up blood and booze all over the entrance, and he wouldn’t respond to my friend’s prodding and pleading.

These people drove us nuts. We were open late at night and they were always trying to  get into the store. If they made it past the front cash register we’d have a hell of a time getting them out, and the cops wouldn’t help us. I think the oldest one of my co-workers was about 24 years old, we’d all grown up in the suburbs, the worst thing we’d seen was our dad with a hangover.

So my  friend and I were both really scared this guy was dead. It wasn’t exactly sympathy, but we had never seen a dead guy before. We went into the back of the store to call the cops and – you guessed it – when we came back the old bastard had picked himself up and wandered out into the busy street, swearing and swinging his fists at the early morning traffic.  And then he was gone, but not quite forgotten…

Nothing left to do but call the cops off and clean the front entry. Yeeeeeeccccchhhhh!

So I don’t know what to do when I see these people flocking all over the Mangrove Plaza. As could have been predicted, the warm weather is bringing them in droves.

I don’t know what to do about the general atmosphere of “Who gives a shit” that seems to be overcoming our town.  Worse – so many people are in point blank denial – today the park is packed with people participating in that paint run – are they blind to the condition of the park? There are pot holes with white spray paint circles around them in the park road  – Hello!?! 

The other day my husband and I went up to walk our dogs along Humboldt Road. Wow, what a mess that’s become, but if you watch out for broken glass there are a few nice hikes.  We found a place along the road that’s become a couch dump – even a big screen tv. Wandering along a little creek, we came upon a trashed car we hadn’t seen before, so we guessed it’s been dumped within the last month or so. The trunk, hood, doors were wide open, stuff was torn out all over the place. A faded note held in place by a window wiper said the car had not been abandoned, please leave it alone. 

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Anybody recognize this car?

It sure looked “unused, disused, neglected, idledeserted, unoccupied, uninhabited, empty” to me.  I always wonder if these cars have been stolen and are in the process of being stripped. 

Even though this is within the city limits and jurisdiction of Chico PD – a city work crew was up there, dumping slobbers in pot holes – I don’t even know who to report it to. When I reported a very much inhabited campsite we found down there,  Chico PD acted as though I was just being a pill.  I can’t believe the city road crew didn’t see all that stuff from the cab of their big bulldozer. The county has known about it for years.

I sent a picture I took of the homeless camp out front of Home Depot to the Enterprise Records’ “Hotshots,” we’ll see if they print it.  I don’t know how else to draw attention to this issue when so many people just don’t want to hear or do anything about it. 

Bums putting the pressure on long time local businesses, meanwhile, $215,000/year city manager demands $63,000/year park rangers carry guns, make arrests

6 Apr

Yesterday I went to Safeway on Mangrove to pick up some groceries, and I had to ask myself – am I shrinking, or are these carry baskets getting bigger? 

So I couldn’t resist, when my checker made the usual small talk, I asked him about it. He didn’t seem too eager to talk at first,  saying the baskets were sent by a contract distributor, that Safeway didn’t really have anything to do with it. 

I said, “That makes sense, I notice there’s usually advertising on them.” I figured, the baskets are probably  free or very cheap to Safeway because of the advertising.  But the word “advertising” loosened my checker’s tongue, he said, “yeah, but with the transients stealing them and leaving them laying all over town, it was becoming bad advertising for Safeway…”  So now they are just plain brown baskets, they don’t even have the Safeway logo on them anymore.

Oooooo! I get it! I actually found one of the old ones in front of my house on Palmetto. I watched it scoot along the gutter for a couple of days before I picked it up and took it back to Safeway. I just walked right in with it and dumped it in the stack by the door as I grabbed a wheeled cart.  I figured a neighborhood kid had stolen it for a prank, and never mentioned it to anybody. 

According to my checker, these baskets were being found in and along Chico Creek, particularly near One Mile. Well, again, that makes sense. The creeks and the park have become illegal campgrounds. 

Yesterday walking my dog in middle park, I noticed another new trail, heading right into a dense tangle of blackberry and other non-native overgrowth. 

Meanwhile, the city of Chico discusses arming park rangers.

http://www.chicoer.com/general-news/20170405/chico-park-rangers-could-become-armed-sworn-officers

“The city is facing increased “criminal behavior” in its parks and public spaces, O’Brien said. Park rangers are encountering a criminal element with “much greater frequency” than in the past.

“’We want both the public enjoying our parks and our park staff to be as safe as possible,’ O’Brien said. ‘The issues in the park include a more sophisticated criminal element, not simply kids trying to sneak alcohol into Bear Hole or people letting their dogs off leash as in years past.’”

When I asked the checker at Safeway if they’d reported their problems to the city or the police, he frowned and shook his head. A sour “yes” was his verbal answer. I offered, “but they don’t do anything?” A sour look and a shake of the head was the answer to that.

If you look at the city’s salaries, available here:

http://publicpay.ca.gov/Reports/Cities/City.aspx?entityid=79&fiscalyear=2015

The first pages, sorted by salary, are full of police and fire employees, with salaries over $100,000/year,  plus packages starting at $35,000, as high as $65,000/year. 

Park ranger appears pages later, with a salary of about $63,000/year and a much smaller package.

The story in the paper says rangers have been told they have 15 months to make a decision – do they want to carry a “firearm” and make arrests in the park? Or get another job. 

“On top of that, Orme ($215,000 in salary with an $80,000 benefits package) said there is no dramatic increase in revenue projected that would allow for more city employees, and resources are already limited.”

Look at the government compensation charts for the last few years – police and fire salaries have been going up-up-up.  The city manager’s salary has increased by over $10,000 in the last five or six years. 

I think Mark Orme should have to go out in the park and roust the bums. 

 

You can’t always count on the cops – know your neighborhood, and keep an eye on it

8 Jan

My husband takes our dog Biscuit out every morning for a walk around the neighborhood. She’s diabetic and needs the exercise to keep her blood sugar  down, and my husband is on alert ever since a car was broken into across the street last year. We both feel it’s a good idea to walk the neighborhood regularly, different times of day, keep in touch with our surroundings.

No matter what the weather, they take their morning constitutional over to the park. After she came home soaking wet a couple of times, my husband  decided to make her a raincoat from a garbage bag.

She was not thrilled about the raincoat.

She was not thrilled about the raincoat. That’s not a happy face, and the tail is all wrong.

Of course she cowered and tried to shake it off at first, but as soon as she realized it meant WALK, she was on board. Now I put it on her anytime I want to take her outside.

What a fashion maven.

Taking Fashion Maven Biscuit out to the mail box.  There’s the correct tail posture. 

Of course, Badges has to have everything Biscuit has, so we fitted him with his own little jacket.

You THE MAN! Badges.

Marshall Badges and Deputy Ding-Dong during a rare moment in between dumpers.  

Badges wasn’t too sure either, but like Biscuit, he now identifies the raincoat with WALK, and he actually holds his head up to have it pulled on. 

Don’t let the weather keep you from being active. Get out there and keep an eye on your hood. 

Move the recycling center – city has permitted too much housing in that spot, so should help Chico Scrap Metal move to a new location

5 Jan

Yes, Debbie Presson is incompetent and should step down.  As David Little reported in this morning’s editorial,City Attorney Vince Ewing said he hadn’t prepared his legal opinion on the matter yet [Chico Scrap Yard]. Obviously the city clerk and the mayor didn’t realize that when they set the agenda. And so 11 people got up in front of the council to ask for a decision, only to be told it would be put off for two weeks.”

Presson really jumped the gun on that – the signatures were only turned in a couple of days before the meeting, the agendas had already been sent out. She had to send an amended agenda the day of the meeting. That’s not very good noticing, but hey, look who we’re talking about here. 

This is the same woman who once told me the noticing distance for a project was only 300 feet when it was actually 500 feet. When I pointed this mistake out to her she actually giggled. Her mistake meant a neighborhood meeting had to be cancelled and rescheduled, but who cares about the inconvenience of the public at the clerk’s office?   A few months later the distance was “administerially” changed to 300 feet, meaning Presson had to notice less neighbors of impending subdivisions and other projects. I had to wonder – how long had she been noticing only at 300 feet? When it was pointed out to her the rule was changed.

She also told my neighbors and I that the 300 feet extended only along the sidewalk, from the “front door” of the project. Our project was an empty lot, but she still refused to notice any of the neighbors that lived along the back border of the project, their back fences lining the lot. She said the distance was measured along the city sidewalk, and the notice only had to include the neighbors on the facing street. What a bitch.

Frankly, I’m guessing Mayor Sean Morgan, who can be found leaning over Presson’s desk quite regularly, encouraged her to agendize the matter quickly so he wouldn’t have to listen to the little mob that has formed around this issue. While I question Karl Ory and Mark Stemen’s motives in this movement, I know Morgan likens listening to the public to listening to a set of fingernails being dragged down a chalkboard.

I honestly believe Morgan would like to run this issue under the radar, but the city attorney nailed him on it.

Little complains this issue has dragged out for 40 years. Well, in that time, the city has permitted housing right up to the boundaries of the property. Instead of protecting an industrial area by moving the old houses that were present, they permitted one low-income development after another. You realize, over the past 40 years, staff and elected officials have changed so much, the right hand hardly knows what the left hand is doing. That area is a planning disaster.

Yes, Chico Scrap Metal is an important business. When my family  was buying and fixing up old houses we made trips in there several times a year, with stuff no one else would take.  But that part of town has changed. Would you like to live next to the scrap metal yard? Who would? Especially now that other recycling locations are closing and that neighborhood suffers a steady stream of garbage can miners every morning.  But the city permitted housing right up next to that site as recent as last year. 

The scrap metal yard has been sitting on the train tracks for years – hey, wake up! You should have sued the city to stop permitting housing in your armpit or to help you move to a more appropriate location when they built Ricky Court. 

I do believe the city should provide financial and staff assistance in helping Chico Scrap find a new place. 

But yeah, this just adds more to Chico’s “business hostile” reputation and chases more jobs out of town.

 

Camping in Bidwell Park is a crime – report it!

31 Dec

Yesterday, having reported an illegal camp in Middle Bidwell Park to city of Chico officials, my husband and I walked over to the site to find that the campers seemed to be gone but had left mounds of trash behind. In fact, we encountered more trash yesterday than we’d seen the day before.

These pictures were taken yesterday morning. 

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Here’s the pile we encountered Thursday December 29, still there – notice the dismantled bikes. Somebody had added – a real estate sign? – to the pile.

We noticed new piles, clothes,  trash bags,  kipple of all kinds.

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I wonder if they steal from each other, and here’s somebody’s stuff that has been rifled and left.

 

This is located about a block or two from my home, my tenant’s home. We’ve always locked everything up – Chico was never that nice of a town that you could leave your valuables unlocked, that’s been known for some time.  

But lately we’ve been hearing about weird stuff, stuff that goes beyond home security.  One guy was caught stealing a woman’s panties off her back yard clothesline, in broad daylight. Her husband  caught him in the garage, having broken in through a back door to steal a bike.

A man on the  website Nextdoor reported someone had torn the door off a storage shed in his side yard, but said there was nothing of value, so nothing was taken. Lucky him!  I had been bothering my husband to buy one of those metal  sheds at Home Depot for our tenant’s bikes, so she wouldn’t have to keep them in her laundry room. He laughed  and told me, “that’s like telling the transients, ‘look, here’s some stuff for you…'”  He’s right, these people can just rip the door off a shed, hidden in your back  yard, you and  all your neighbors gone off to work. 

As I’ve said, Chico is not a nice little town anymore. How do we fight this? Report it, report it, report it. Demand action.  I’ll e-mail city manager Mark Orme and ask him who is responsible for cleaning up this mess and when that will be done.  I’ll cc both news editors as well as my third district supervisor Maureen Kirk. I may cc the entire council, but Reanette Fillmer is the one who has shown the most interest in this issue.

Please join me in reporting illegal campers. Follow up – if you still see the problem the next day, politely ask what has been done or why nothing has been done. Don’t be intimidated by their polite refusal to do anything – send your e-mail conversation  here, and I’ll print it verbatim. 

  • Mark Orme, city manager – mark.orme@chicoca.gov
  • Sean Morgan, mayor – sean.morgan@chicoca.gov
  • Reanette Fillmer, vice mayor – reanette.fillmer@chicoca.gov
  • Maureen Kirk, Butte County Supervisor District 3 – mkirk@buttecounty.net
  • Larry Wahl, Butte County Supervisor District 2 – lwahl@buttecounty.net
  • David Little, editor Chico Enterprise Record – dlittle@chicoer.com

NOTE: As of Sunday Jan 1 the trash is gone.  I don’t know who picked it up but will thank Orme for staff’s response. 

 

 

Do we really want to build more low-income housing?

26 Apr

I’m certainly glad Chico will not play host to a “sexually violent predator,” but I wonder how many other violent criminals we have in Chico. How about the story in this morning’s paper – a resident caught a burglar in his Amanda Way apartment, and while he was calling the cops the guy attacked and stabbed him with a knife. 

The attacker was identified as Darin J. Petty. According to Butte Superior Court index, this man is supposed to be under conservatorship, granted by the county of Butte. What is he doing robbing somebody’s apartment? 

According to our county administrator Paul Hahn, the county of Butte spend “over half the budget” on services for the mentally ill, indigent, and drug addicted. A new 15 unit low-income apartment facility to be located near the Torres Shelter will cost about $6 million, over a million of it coming out of the Behavioral Health budget, and more from the city of Chico and other public agencies. More of our taxes spent to bring in more of these people. How many will end up standing over a homeowner with a knife in the middle of the night?