30 years later

Happy anniversary, Chico News & Review! Let me check the calendar … July 16, 2037 … Year of the Snake—yep, 30 years since the 30th year.

My, how this place has changed.

It seems like only yesterday when Chico had 86,000 residents, Butte County had 212,000, and neither had a 21st-century general plan in place. The Decider was president, the Terminator was governor, the Tenant Defender was mayor and Jane Dolan was supreme supervisor. (No one dared nickname her, lest the Mulhollanator come a-knockin’…) We had only 12 Starbucks.

Of course, in glorious 2037 (or, on the lunar calendar, 5797), we have 100,000 people in Chico—140,000 with CSU Chico in session, 160,000 including Estates Drive and Kirktown.

Indeed, the population expansion wasn’t as furious as expected, though there sure are a lot of people in South Oroville now. Remember when Paradise was still a town and Magalia a free-form community? Oh, that’s right, they still are—it’s DeSabla that became a city. The memory fades when you hit 70 …

Good thing we have Sophie Speer as CN&R editor. Who’d have thought Meredith Cooper’s son and Melissa Daugherty’s twins would have gone the legacy route, too? And Mark Lore—still arts editor, still going on and on about The Makai even after his eardrum transplant.

Where were we? Oh, yes, growth.

Meriam Park’s SMU/TND/WXYZ codes sure set a nice precedent for the Spankin’ New Urban development in North Chico. It’s odd to think that Lando Landing land might actually have gone to Wal-Mart. If Elsie McLean hadn’t spent her 112th birthday in front of the City Council, the old Sunset Hills golf course would never have become the new Sunset Hills golf course, with a Starbucks at every hole.

I still remember that meeting—over in just 45 minutes, with polite debate. Charity Bailey and I were reminiscing about the days when councilmembers insulted each other. We never imagined that Kate Holcombe and Raeanne Bertagna would run as a slate, let alone win. Of course, Raeanne went on to become Supervisor Bertagna, when the District 3 runoff came down to a game of H-O-R-S-E and she beat Chuck Kutz on a jump shot.

I’m so glad CN&R’s stance against petty partisan bickering prevailed over muckraking and ranting. Cooperation is how the Greenline got adjusted: Following our editorial recommending the limit line conform to topography, Jane Dolan pushed for the Mud Creek nip and Maureen Kirk secured the South Chico tuck. (Thus the creation of sustainability hotbed Kirktown.)

I sure miss Peet’s, but I’m glad Empire Coffee stuck around. Empire, Bidwell Perk and 45 Starbucks—what a town!

Actually, this is a great town. We’ve protected our trees, preserved Bidwell Park, kept our water clean and reduced air pollution. “Smart growth” trumped knee-jerk planning. And the dreaded deficit from ’07? A thing of the past, thanks to the Gruendl-Flynn Initiative.

Oh, and the CN&R is still free—every Thursday in my Cerebrochip.