Cell tower static
The cell-phone tower approved for the Hooker Oak Recreation Area faces a new challenge. Two groups, Chico Citizens for Community Justice and Valley Associates, are suing to stop the project in Bidwell Park.

Attorney Richard Harriman—a “Chico resident by choice” with a practice in Fresno—said he will file the lawsuit later this week, requesting a “writ of mandate” voiding the use permit. The suit will name the city of Chico, the Chico Area Recreation District and wireless companies as “real parties in interest.”

Harriman said a mandatory settlement meeting will take place in late January or early February—“an opportunity to sit down and see if there are any cracks of daylight relative to other alternatives.”

Both the City Council and CARD voted to approve cell-phone antennas on a park light standard and a 75-by-75-foot equipment building, for which CARD would receive rent money.

Council axes commissions, adds task force
After more than 40 years, the meter finally ran out on the city’s Parking Place Commission Tuesday night (Dec. 19), when the City Council, in an efficiency move, voted to disband it and two other commissions and reduce the meeting schedules of several others.

The action had been recommended by the council’s Internal Affairs Committee at the urging of City Manager Greg Jones, who is trying to save money by reducing the amount of staff time needed to accommodate all the commission meetings and the tasks they generate.

Also eliminated were the Redevelopment Agency Citizens Committee, which lasted less than one year, and the Solid Waste Committee. Existing council committees such as Internal Affairs and Finance will absorb the disbanded committees’ workloads.

Parking Place Commission Chairman Ali Sarsour (pictured), who’s served for 10 years, praised the work of fellow committee members and then urged the council to “take a positive step” and create a new “downtown committee” to deal with all the issues facing downtown Chico, including parking.

Councilman Scott Gruendl also advocated creation of such a commission, but for the time being he was content when the council decided to replace the PPC with an ad hoc committee to deal with the upcoming report issuing out of last year’s downtown parking access charrette.

The council also agreed that the Airport Commission and the Ad Hoc Bicycle Advisory Committee would meet only quarterly in the future. In the case of the latter group, the council apparently agreed with local environmentalist John Merz, who complained that the bike committee’s meeting were held so irregularly “there’s no place [for a citizen] to go right now.”

In a related move, the council required that all of its seven boards and commissions prepare work plans every two years outlining their goals and, two years later, reports providing overviews of the work accomplished.

Ironically, shortly after disbanding the commissions, the council voted to establish a new 15-member task force to assist in implementing the U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement signed in November. Jones pointed out that it, too, would require considerable staff time.