Don’t sell the ranch

Rick Coletti’s offer to buy 200 acres of the Bidwell Ranch property at $150,000 an acre, netting the city $30 million, sounds pretty good at first blush. Coletti’s development plan would include bike paths to Bidwell Park, a buffer zone between the park and the development and a habitat and wetland preserve placed into a conservancy for permanent protection. In return all the city has to do is put out $10 million, including the cost of a bridge over Sycamore Creek, to legally entitle the property for development. That leaves the city $20 million for much-needed park development.

As we said, it sounds good, but it’s nothing new. No developer will touch that property because of the baggage it carries, including a past referendum and threats of lawsuits. The city solicited requests for bids to purchase all or part of the property as is and received none. If the city were to consider Coletti’s proposal, with all its conditions, why not open the process again to all developers and see what they are willing to pay?

On April 5 the Chico City Council will take up the issue of whether to zone the property as open space. Some have said put it to another vote; others have argued finish the process. We agree with the latter. Zone the land as open space. Do it for the late Councilwoman Coleen Jarvis.