Visual aid convincing
After seeing a computer animation showing how traffic flow at the intersection of East 20th Street and Dr. Martin Luther King Parkway would be helped simply by adding a single green right-turn arrow, the Chico City Council voted unanimously Tuesday (Feb. 20) to approve a new, expanded Costco next to its present warehouse facility.

At an earlier meeting (Jan. 2), Councilman Steve Bertagna expressed confusion about how traffic jams on the MLK (as it’s already being called) could be solved by fixing the intersection. He asked for a computer model. In addition, Councilman Larry Wahl wanted to squeeze more money out of Costco to pay for traffic improvements, so the matter was sent back to staff for more work.

The animation and video footage showed just what the black-and-white text had said on Jan. 2: that the biggest traffic problem is caused by cars backing up in the northbound right-turn lane on the MLK. By adding a green right-turn arrow there, traffic can be kept moving while cars are turning left off East 20th southbound onto the MLK. The cost of the model: somewhere between $3,000 and $4,000, Senior Planner Bob Summerville later estimated.

The city didn’t try to get Costco to cough up more dough, however. The company will pay for a street light at its northern exit as well as widening on the MLK. The council did decide to ask Costco to add a piece of public art at the site—to make its big-box warehouse look spiffier, apparently.

Costco earlier had agreed to install bicycle racks, though it’s hard to imagine a Costco shopper on a bike. Where would all the stuff go?

Wal-Mart update
Those wishing to speak their minds about the draft environmental-impact report on the Wal-Mart Supercenter proposed for north Chico will have a little more time to do so, thanks to Butte County’s request to extend the public comment period.

According to a letter submitted to Chico’s Planning Department, the project is so large and complex that the Board of Supervisors can’t make its recommendations in the time allotted. Part of that is due to the annexation of county land—148 acres—into the city of Chico so that the site would fall on city property.

The county—and the public—will now have until March 21 to submit comments to the Planning Department on the document, which is available on the city’s Web site.

Aanestad awarded
State Sen. Sam Aanestad (pictured), R-Grass Valley, whose District 4 includes Butte County, has been selected as “Legislator of the Year” by a coalition of 30 rural California counties. The Regional Council of Rural Counties (RCRC) announced recently that it was awarding him its “Patti Mattingly Award” for “his important work on behalf of rural counties in the State Senate,” Sue Horne, a supervisor in Nevada County who chairs the RCRC, said in a press release.

The award was established in memory of a former Siskiyou County supervisor “who had tremendous courage, commitment, and ability to promote constructive solutions surrounding rural issues.”

Aanestad was cited specifically for helping secure funds for local streets and roads in Proposition 1B, boosting transportation funds to local governments (SB 1694) and providing flexibility with wastewater regulations for small communities (SB 1733).