Photo By Meredith J. Cooper

Blabber and bluster
The Chico City Council spent a good three hours going around and around on a proposed rezone and General Plan amendment Tuesday night and still didn’t come to a real decision—though some members did have time to engage in some barbed political potshots.

At issue was an 18.3 acres on Eaton Road between Morseman and Burnap; the developer wanted to change the zoning to accommodate a slightly larger (by 15 units) project and a slightly smaller commercial core (1.8 acres instead of 3.5). It was a complicated matter involving procedural questions, neighbors opposed to the change, an airport-overfly zone and all kinds of issues, and the council often seemed utter bamboozled by it. The result was a lot of the thinking out loud and impromptu planning this council tends to do when matters get complicated.

On top of that, politics entered the picture, with Councilmen Dan Herbert and Steve Bertagna chiding Councilwoman Maureen Kirk for insisting on higher densities. (Kirk is running against Bertagna for the 3rd District county supervisor seat.) “Your policy created high density for the neighbors,” Herbert said. Kirk denied the charge.

In the end, the council sent the proposal back for a rewrite to eliminate the commercial area and limit density to 10.5 units per acre. Though that density was higher than even the developer wanted, Bertagna and Herbert were among those who voted in favor.

Follow that barking story
The city of Chico is backing off from its announcement that it will assume operational control of the Fair Street animal shelter in January. Assistant City Manager David Burkland said the city has offered Butte Humane Society a contract through June 30, 2007, with an eye toward working on a long-term deal. BHS has handled the city’s mandatory-sheltering services for 19 years, but its most recent contract expired in June. “We know they want to do a good job and have the capacity to do a good job,” Burkland said, adding the city and BHS will work together to address complaints. The city does not intend to take over the shelter’s euthanasia on Sept. 15 as previously discussed.

Little change in test scores
The latest test scores for students in the Chico Unified School District show they’re holding steady, with some schools showing improvement and others slipping back, though only slightly.

Altogether, 14 schools met their improvement goals, while seven did not, though two of them—Little Chico Creek and Rosedale—missed by only one point. Chico Unified’s overall score improved by six points over 2005, from 748 to 754.

Chico charter schools had mixed results. Chico Country Day School scored high, at 864, an improvement of 58 points, but Blue Oak Charter School fell slightly, from 678 to 673.

The best-performing multi-school district in the county was Durham, which had an overall score of 780.