Chico’s waning Camp Fire sympathy

If anything, a homeowner planning to share her property sets an example for the community

The CN&R watched Chicoans come together to support those in need following Nov. 8. Money was raised, supplies were donated, doors were opened to friends and strangers alike. The generosity heartened us.

At the same time, our cynical inner voices wondered when the good will would end. Sympathy has waned here and there—especially vile are the greedy landlords cashing in on the disaster by putting rentals on the real estate market for exorbitant prices—but we were caught off guard by one recent case of NIMBYism.

Nearly five months to the day after the Camp Fire, we watched with jaws agape as several Chico residents appeared before the City Council (last Tuesday, April 9) to appeal a woman’s plan to let a handful of displaced residents temporarily reside in RVs on her Royce Lane property, as allowed by special emergency ordinance permitting.

The gripes varied. Some were concerned trenching for power lines might harm old-growth walnut trees or that additional vehicular traffic would further deteriorate the private roadway already in disrepair. Others worried about potential septic issues and noise, and charged that the permit lasted far too long. In general, they feared a decline in quality of life. “Please don’t put the needs of temporary residents above the needs of longtime Chico families,” implored one neighbor. They lost the appeal on a vote along party lines (5-2).

The project’s applicant, a local doctor who lives on-site, appeared responsive to her neighbors’ complaints and ably defended the plan to share her 1-plus acre lot with up to four families. One prospective occupant is a longtime Chicoan—a nurse displaced when the house she rented was put on the market.

Will her and others’ presence pose an inconvenience to existing neighbors? Perhaps. Is it severe enough to outweigh the merits of the project? We think not. This is precisely the sort of temporary housing Chico desperately needs for the greater good—which is the reason the council approved them in the first place. If anything, we encourage other Chicoans with the means to consider embarking on similar projects. Let’s remember, we’re in this together.