This ain’t Granny’s unit: Residents of Chico’s “avenues” are organizing a neighborhood association, and this week dozens of them, wearing “We are the avenues” tags on their shirts, showed up at the Chico City Council meeting to register their concerns about upcoming changes affecting second-dwelling units in their back yards and how those units can be built. The city is reacting to recently passed state legislation relaxing the requirements on second dwellings, commonly called “Granny units.” The state said such units no longer require special-use permits; that a simple administrative permit will do. Local jurisdictions have until July 3 to come with their own requirements. Those in the west avenues near the university fear those greedy developers will build student compounds on the rental lots they already own. The answer? Mandate that only owner-occupied residences may add a second dwelling without first obtaining a special-use permit. Planner Pam Figge pointed out that folks aren’t exactly lining up to build second units because a use permit costs $300 and there’s another $12,000 in impact and development fees. After hours of public discussion, the council voted 3-2 to draft an ordinance. The owner-occupied requirement may be added later after further study.
No cuts, butts, coconuts: County officials have no idea what kind of moronic hack job the state Legislature will do to the budget, but they are assuming two things: That it will be late and that it will hurt. The late part is taken care of, as chief administrator Paul McIntosh recently “rolled over” last year’s county budget, which keeps funding levels the same as last year. The state is required by law to pass a viable budget before the beginning of each fiscal year (July 1), but when’s the last time that happened?
To deal with the painful stuff, the county has every single department doing bookkeeping exercises that assume budget cuts of at least 15 percent. That way, cuts can be implemented as soon as they are called for. To put it lightly, it’s an anxious time for county employees.
Supervisor Mary Anne Houx, who has been down this road before, said she’s seen worse. “It’s not as bad as it was 10 years ago,” she said. “We have not as yet done any layoffs, although we are being very tight with hiring.”
In 1993, the county ran out of money and was forced to lay off 10 percent of its workforce and reduce the surviving workers’ pay by 5 percent. As another cost-saving step, all county offices including courts were closed Fridays.
God rules in Paradise: Paradise must be aptly named, as advocates of Christianity in the public schools target the town as if it were heaven itself. But on May 20, the Paradise Unified School District Board of Trustees nixed the idea of a class based on the Bible. All three trustees present voted “no,” despite impassioned pleas by Magalia resident Glenn Stankis, who thought the Bible as history and literature would a nice elective—and a lot better than letting kids be “indoctrinated” in Islam and other Eastern religions.
Paradise schools also made news last summer when trustees decided to end a long-standing practice of praying before board meetings. This time, even the Town Council considered weighing in on the issue.