Developers push for northwest plan

Stung by the Chico City Council’s decision not to let landowners and developers do their own planning for growth in northwest Chico, some in the development industry are now complaining that the city is not moving fast enough to get the process started.

Two letters, one from developer and landowner Greg Webb, the other from building industry consultant Jim Mann, question city Planning Director Kim Seidler’s devotion to seeing that growth plans for the so-called Northwest Chico Development Area are carried through.

That area is slated as the next region of significant housing growth for the city, which builders say is fast running out of developable land.

The council, which for the first time since the mid-1990s is not controlled by a developer-backed majority, has voted that a consultant working for the city to plan the area would better represent the desires of the entire community than would a firm hired by the developers.

In his letter to Seidler, Mann said he couldn’t understand why Seidler thought that “having the Chico Planning Department handle this process will adequately serve the housing needs for the citizens of Chico.

“We are disappointed with your insistence that the city handle this planning process on private lands,” Mann wrote. “I am told some landowners may opt to hold their land out of development if it becomes some planners’ dream project with unreasonable risk for the developer.”

Seidler wrote back saying that he plans to move forward as quickly as possible. “I do not intend to treat you or any members of the development community differently because of this or any future City Council,” he assured Mann.

Webb’s letter, to Mayor Maureen Kirk, asked that she “light a fire” under Seidler to have him send out the requests for proposals.

“Maureen, I am still baffled as to why the council took all the land planning away from the property owners,” Webb wrote. “What happens if the city does this land planning and the owners do not like it? We do not have to develop if we don’t like it.”

Seidler said the delay in getting out the requests for proposal is due to a number of factors, including a higher level of development than ever before along with more appeals on proposed projects combined with a shortage on his staff due to illness.