Car city

At the May 17 City Council meeting, one downtown business owner told the council her greatest problem with downtown parking is the fact her customers have to run out of her store every two hours to feed the parking meters. I’d say her problem is more along the lines of really slow customer service. I think she meant her employees have to exit the store every two hours, and I know that is a big problem. I used to work at Tower Books (remember that store?), and I parked right in front of the place in one of the two-hour spots. By city ordinance, drivers using those spots must move their vehicles after the two hours expire and drive at least once around the block before trying to reclaim the spot. This law is seldom enforced by the parking-meter enforcers, who carry with them a long stick with chalk attached to mark the parked cars’ tires.

The Downtown Chico Business Association organized a campaign in which they asked downtown business owners and patrons to sign form letters that were then forwarded to the City Council. One letter read, “As a downtown [fill in description here], I spend a lot of time in downtown Chico, on average of at least [fill in number here] times a week, it is an extreme hardship on me to find parking during the day, I am a [fill in occupation here] and I go out of my way to support downtown businesses.” It goes on to say the letter’s signer supports the parking garage to be built at Second and Wall streets. There is a separate form letter for downtown business owners. That one says the signer not only supports the structure, but also the meter-fee increase. The council received four such letters from a guy named Bill Fishkin of 210 W. Sixth St. Does he drive four cars to work each day? Fishkin/the DCBA writes, “I urge the city council to recognize that the unabated growth in our community, the projected enrollment growth of California State University, Chico and the resurgence of high-density development in downtown have put additional pressure on the downtown community to provide available parking.”

But what’s this resurgence of high-density development downtown? Are they talking about the high-rise (by Chico standards) buildings like the one next to the Senator Theater where Bob Linscheid and Steve Gonsalves live in their respective penthouses? (I just adore a penthouse view.) Or the one that Eric Hart wants to build next to it, or the ambitious plans of Tom DiGiovanni, all of which are going to call for more downtown parking? Is this, more than the perceived problems of downtown business owners, what’s really driving the push for a massive new parking garage? Joining Fishkin, by the way, in his support of the big garage is Ron “Round House Ronny the Clown” Palmer.

Inspiration: I saw Rep. Wally Herger, R-Chico, on the local news this Sunday. Earlier he’d given a speech at the Chico State graduation ceremonies and apparently the TV reporter asked him to sum up his talk. This was his response: “Somebody once said when the going gets tough, the tough get going and when you reach the end of your rope tie a knot in it because the sun’s gonna come out tomorrow.” Man. I can’t believe that’s going to inspire anybody to go on to bigger and better things. I wonder if he slipped in phrases like, “We’re gonna take it one game at a time,” or, “Every cloud has a silver lining,” and, “It’s always darkest just before the dawn”? How about, “Red sky at night, sailors’ delight. Red sky at morning, sailors take warning”? Don’t worry, you graduates who had to endure Herger’s parade of clichés. Remember, when you’re handed lemons…

Went and saw the Star Wars movie last week and would have enjoyed it a whole lot more if the eyeholes in my Darth Vader helmet were positioned better and the theater manager didn’t pull a power trip and make me turn off my (blue) light saber. It wasn’t bothering anyone, except maybe my kid.