Tag Archives: camping in Bidwell Park

City of Chico is management top-heavy, and it shows

31 Aug

Well, I don’t know if the needle giveaway happened at Humboldt Park yesterday. I had a stack of chores yesterday morning, including fix my bike, so I didn’t make it over there to check. I looked at various social media sites today, and there was no mention of it, so I’m  going to guess it just went away. We’ll see.

My bike looks great, and I’m getting the new tires today – all the freaking way from Holland. I guess they love old bikes in Holland. 

I probably won’t ride my bike in Bidwell Park.  What a mess. Tents still line the waterways, along with the requisite trash piles. We’ll see how long it takes council to be good on their word, and whether this new police chief – $20,000/year richer than the old police chief – will clean them out. There’s also a discussion scheduled for tomorrow’s meeting about a “sanctioned campground” at the Silver Dollar. We can’t let them take the fairgrounds, make yourself heard on Chico Engaged.

Yesterday I read Natalie Hansen’s interview with Councilors Brown, Schwab and Huber about social media. Brown is full of shit – I not only email them, I make comments on Chico Engaged. Brown has NEVER responded to even the most polite emails.  I believe she believes any disagreement is “impolite”.  I believe they all look at the sender before they read, and if you’ve criticized them or disagreed with them in past, they just skip your comments. Brown can prove me wrong by reading the Engaged comments out loud. The councilors should have to do that, not the clerk. But Brown has her own agenda, her mind is wrapped up in a Zip-lock bag to keep out any dissenting viewpoints. 

So I write the occasional letter to the editor.

The city of Chico is now being sued by a jogger badly injured in 2017 when a huge tree branch fell on her in Lower Bidwell Park. She was trapped for 30 minutes and had major injuries.

The suit alleges the city does not budget for tree maintenance in Lower Park, which is “traversed by tens of thousands of people every year.” The plaintiff was using an established path, alongside “various recreational amenities, including picnic tables and barbecue pits.” According to the suit, many staffers knew the tree, hanging over South Park Drive, was dangerous, but not only failed to prune or remove it, they didn’t bother to place signs or barricades to keep people away from it.

In 2017 the city budgeted about $45,000 toward “Park Tree Maintenance”.  This year $57,500. For perspective, my family paid $10,000 to have 16 dead trees removed from our property. Bidwell Park has thousands and thousands of trees, many of them dead or dying.

While staff claims to have been cutting positions and costs, the city manager recently hired another management position for Public Works, at $125,000/yr, plus benefits. He created a new management position – Public Information Officer – and is asking council to approve another full time management position – Homeless Coordinator.

Meanwhile staff is “considering” a fire suppression plan after homes were threatened near Annie’s Glen.

Our city is management top-heavy and it shows. The park is horribly neglected.  We need timber cruisers and heavy equipment operators, but we get people who sit in meetings all day.

Juanita Sumner, Chico




Butte County Behavioral Health director describes process by which more homeless are attracted to Chico to provide salaries for public workers

5 Nov

I attended the Local Government Committee yesterday afternoon, and after listening to the Butte County Behavioral Health Director Dorian Kittrell talk about his departments’ efforts to administer to the homeless, I’m depressed.

I wanted to get to the bottom of this discrepancy between what I’m hearing from Chico PD about their spending hours at Enloe with “street people” and what I have been hearing from Kittrell about all the staffing and programs the county offers to administer to the same people. 

According to County Administrative Officer Paul Hahn, over half our county resources – employees and budget – go to programs to administer to the homeless and poor. 

This item was agendized by Chico council member Reanette Fillmer, who said “people” don’t think the city is doing enough to administer to the homeless, and she wanted to hear what the other various agencies were doing. 

Here’s what they’re doing – they’re bringing homeless people to Chico every day, providing millions and millions of dollars in housing and “programs” to facilitate their dysfunction. Some of these programs, according to Kittrell, are intended to house these people only for a couple of days, get these people cleaned up, sometimes “back on their meds,” and then back out into the community to go back to being a problem.  He even mentioned one program for which patients are being brought in from outside the county to fill the beds.He acted as though that was great! Yeah, it means more money for him and the rest of the hogs. 

Kittrell is even trying to enlist private landlords to house these people. This, he answered Reanette Fillmer, is “the gap” in local homeless services, we aren’t providing enough housing for these people. Even after he listed the various types of transitional, temporary, and “emergency” housing the county and other agencies offer, and the millions that go into these programs. 

You know what that means – instead of having to get a use permit and deal with public hearings, they just sneak what amounts to a group home into your neighborhood without having to even tell anybody. This is the kind of thing that makes neighbors hostile toward landlords and rentals. 

Kittrell says they actually spend about $2 million a year on employees who are supposed to be contacting local landlords, asking for housing for these people, openly described as having “mental problems” and even substance abuse problems.  Not just housing, he says, but people who care enough to babysit their tenants, make sure they pay their rent on time, mow their lawn, and take their meds. 

Excuse me for saying this, but that’s nuts.  They spend millions on buildings that only house 9, or 11, or 16 people at a time, millions more on staff to run these programs, and then turn to the public and tell us, we need to be our brother’s keeper.  We’re all qualified to provide care for mentally ill people? But Kittrell gets a package worth over $200,000? 

Kittrell and others tried to tell us, 80 percent of our “homeless population come from Chico.” What does that mean in a transplant town like this? Where do their parents live? That’s where “they come from”. Where was the last place they served time? That’s where “they come from.” For every one of these people who was born in Butte County, I’ll show you somebody that followed the Grateful Dead out here, or came here because we have a college campus, or came here because we have “good” social programs. 

What does “local” or “townie” even mean around here anymore? Nothing. Kittrell lives in Yuba City, his last job was in Sacramento. What we’re talking about, are the two kinds of people that take advantage. The first kind are creeps who have learned to live a life that doesn’t have any  rules or boundaries, just blend in with the local scene and don’t get caught red-handed. If you do get caught, your crazy, and that includes your drug problem, and you must be taken care of like a new baby.  

The other kind of take advantage types are the public workers who make a very sweet lifestyle out of administering to these creeps.  The first kind might break into your car, or sell drugs to the kids at the high school, but the second kind gets into your purse, into your bank account, attaches themselves to your property taxes.

It’s like being eaten alive from both ends.

At one point Kittrell said he wants to get to people “before they are in crisis.” Well, I’ll say, Kittrell and these others are creating crisis in our community. They’re ripping us off of money we need to pay our bills, send our kids to school, money we could  be spreading more around this community. While our streets and other public facilities are in ruin, these people manage to get a bigger budget every year, telling us they’re looking out for our interests. They’re just feathering their own nests.

Here’s why they don’t go into the park, or “under the bridges”, as Kittrell says – they’ve cut the funding for that kind of outreach in favor of paying $100,000 + salaries and $25,000 + compensation packages. They don’t have enough money for outreach workers – one man blamed it on Arnold Swarzenegger. No, it’s mismanagement. It’s managers eating all the money for themselves and leaving nothing to hire people who actually work “hands-on” with the patients. 

Why are Chico  PD spending so much time at Enloe with “street people”? Because even with all these agencies and staff who are supposed to be equipped to deal with the mentally ill, I was told, law enforcement can’t tell when a person is drunk or on drugs or has schizophrenia, so they have to take them to Enloe ER to be evaluated. Kittrell insisted that Butte County BH has plenty of staff to take these people, but I’m still told that a police officer has to be present. I’m just not getting it.

What I am getting, is that with these people in charge, we will soon be living in the most expensive mental hospital north of San Francisco.