Easy on the Greenline

Growth is causing the city of Chico to burst at its seams. And one of those seams is the city’s venerable Greenline.

Last month the City Council sanctioned the first serious consideration of crossing this demarcation designed 20 years ago to protect the fertile agricultural land on Chico’s west side. City staff have studied three areas for possible future residential growth. All three sit on the ag side of the Greenline; two of them are the most logical areas for growth in the near future.

Those behind the Greenline knew this day would come, and its chief proponent, Butte County Supervisor Jane Dolan, has reportedly said in the past that the decision of how and where to redraw the line for expansion is up to the city, not the county.

Opposition has already spoken out, warning the council that adjusting the line threatens to remove us further from the sources of the food we eat, make it more expensive, diminish the variety of locally grown produce and put an end to certain rural life styles. This may be true, but reality dictates that the line be adjusted to allow for enough land to increase the city’s housing stock and keep home ownership within the grasp of the average citizen.

But with the tinkering of the Greenline comes the very sober responsibility of making sure the adjustments are neither capricious nor temporary. As much as possible, the new Greenline boundaries should conform to natural borders between urban and ag uses, such as Mud Creek in northwest Chico. And, once reset, the line should not be changed again for 20 years, with a 10-year review.

The farmlands to our west are too important for any less of a consideration. And we owe it to those who had the vision to create the line in the first place.