Council votes on faith

Panel moves forward on homeless consolidation despite important unanswered questions

Will the Jesus Center’s proposed “consolidation of services” in the south portion of town help local homeless folks in a substantive way? Or will the organization’s move result in a duplication of services and “homeless ghettoization,” as critics charge?

We have no idea, because the City Council didn’t adequately vet the project, which ended up on the agenda of a regular meeting, despite it being one of the most complex issues in Chico’s modern history. Indeed, whatever happened to the charrettes—aka open workshops—that the city and other entities organized to get the community’s input on controversial projects? Neighborhood planning, downtown parking, Enloe Medical Center’s expansion: charrette, charrette, charrette.

What we saw on Tuesday evening (May 1) was a surface-level showcase of the Jesus Center’s proposal to create a one-stop shop for the indigent. Case in point: Notably absent during public comment on the item were the nonprofit’s ostensible partners—local medical professionals and behavioral health officials, for example.

Before casting the swing vote to sell the city-owned property on which the new facility will be constructed, Councilman Randall Stone noted that his hesitation with moving forward had been a lack of transparency. Apparently, he thought this meeting put it all in the open.

We disagree. Many questions remain unanswered, but he and the conservatives on the panel evidently are taking it on faith. That’s a poor way to run the city, to say the least.