Tag Archives: City of Chico spends ARPA money on Downtown bars and restaurants

Letter to the Editor: City misusing American Rescue Plan funding, contact your district rep and tell them you want some money spent on the street in front of your house

19 Sep

I hope you are enjoying this rain as much as I am. My husband and I spent the weekend cleaning gutters and putting away stuff that can’t get wet, routing out winter clothes and bedding, etc. Get ready, 10 months ago there was flooding on the Sac, freeways were flooded, and there were mudslides in SoCal. It’s absolutely amazing how quickly things turn around in California.

But don’t forget to pay attention to what your government is up to. After I attended that Internal Affairs Committee meeting last week, I felt compelled to write a letter about it. I’ll guess, most Chico taxpayers don’t know about the day meetings, they don’t read the agendas or reports, and 9 months or a year later they are caught completely off-guard by headlines saying the deal has already been done. Or they drive Downtown once or twice a year and notice all these big changes but don’t realize – it was paid for by the taxpayers, not the DCBA or the Chamber. We’re all paying for it out of COVID Emergency Funding that was supposed to be used for the benefit of the entire town, not just a handful of cronies.

And, for those of you who do enjoy shopping in the Downtown business district, there will be fewer parking spaces, smaller sidewalks, and I’ll predict, more drunken behavior than ever. So I thought I better write a letter to the editor about it, maybe it’s not too late to stop this obvious misuse of funding.

At the September 12 Internal Affairs Committee meeting, staff and committee members discussed ending the city’s COVID Emergency status. The city is still operating under a state of emergency, the county ended theirs in April. The city has received over $20,000,000 in American Rescue Plan funding since the state declared the COVID shut down, another $12,200,000 received just last month.

Downtown bar and restaurant owners, already receiving PPP funding, are eager for the city to pour more COVID money into their businesses. Staff reported that many Downtown businesses had been allowed to extend their seating areas into the public right of way. The city paid for the installation of “K-rails” – large cement buttresses used to cordon off parking spaces and sections of city sidewalk for use by bars and restaurants.

Business owners attending the meeting expressed their concern that the temporary “K rails” are “unattractive”. The city manager announced she had awarded $300,000 to a local architect to design and build “parklets” so that businesses could continue to commandeer the public right of way, even after the Emergency declaration has been ended. She reported 42 parking spaces had already been “eliminated” by parklets now in use.

She also commented, “$300,000 does not begin to cover this.” She is asking council to approve the use of hundreds of thousands in American Rescue Plan funding to put parklets at Downtown bars and restaurants.

If you disapprove, now is the time to contact city council, before more money is spent.

Juanita Sumner, Chico CA