Dear Arnold: We are so pleased to welcome you the North State. We can’t tell you how much of a delight it is to have such a physically fit governor for a change. There’s just one thing. Remember that special recall election we had to throw together—the one that got you in office? Well, you see, that cost our little ol’ county up here about $482,000, and since you took away the car tax money, we’re kind of running short. Please see the attached invoice. Cash is always nice, but if you could just cut us a check, that would be great too.
The Butte County Board of Supervisors
[Our suggested draft of a letter the supes decided, at their last meeting, to write to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.]
prevailing-wage study on hold: The Chico City Council on Tuesday denied a request from economic-development guru Bob Linscheid for $10,000 to continue a study on how to lower the prevailing wage for construction workers in Butte County. State law now requires that, on any project receiving government funding, workers must be paid the prevailing wage. Local contractors complain that some of those trade wages—17 out of 75—are based on what workers make in high-cost-of-living areas such as San Francisco. Paying local workers at that rate makes public-assisted projects prohibitive, they argue.
Linscheid’s Butte Economic Partnership conducted a survey to determine how much local trades workers are paid as a basis to establish what the going rates should be. At Linscheid’s request, city staff sent a letter to the state Department of Industrial Relations to determine how that agency establishes prevailing wages. The DIR has not responded.
Dave Palmerlee, field rep for the local carpenters’ union, said that, if developers don’t want to pay prevailing wage, they shouldn’t ask for public assistance.
Palmerlee later pointed out that Linscheid was charging $85 an hour for his consulting and that he’d hired a San Francisco law firm rather than a local firm to help crunch the numbers.
housing element beats deadline: With a conspicuous lack of enthusiasm from some members, the Chico City Council adopted a new housing element for the city’s General Plan this week, beating a state deadline by about two weeks. The state requires that every five years cities update their housing elements, which are blueprints of how they will house their citizens. One point of the element is to establish a plan to provide housing for low-income and—in Chico’s case—median-income people. But last month the council voted 4-3 not to include in the housing element so-called inclusionary-zone requirements for large housing projects that would mandate that 10 percent of a project be set aside for low-income units.
So, with the deadline looming, Councilmember Coleen Jarvis, who supported inclusionary zones, moved “with the understanding it will never be able to meet the goals” to adopt a new housing element. But she included in her motion a directive for staff to study acquiring more land for housing within the city’s sphere of influence and look at increasing minimum per-acre unit densities and rezoning land from medium- to high-density zoning.