Letters for July 25, 2002

House rules
Recent letters from persons with financial interest and articles quoting supposedly knowledgeable individuals about the high cost of housing in Chico prompt me to offer my two cents’ worth.

Absent from the discussion is the fact that over the past several years the conservative majority on the Chico City Council has done everything in its power to marginalize and deconstruct a reasonable and forward-thinking General Plan to the financial benefit of development and real estate interests.

There’s more money to be made building and selling 2,000-square-foot single-family ticky-tacky homes on cul-de-sacs than there is to be made creating affordable smaller homes in livable but denser neighborhoods. It’s the market, stupid, and since the prevailing philosophy of sprawl on the council is opposed to working against free-market principles, the real estate and development interests are rolling in the dough.

Even if you let ’em clear-cut the foothills, pave the meadowfoam and subdivide the orchards from Forest Ranch to the Sacramento River, they’d build the same obscene houses, and those houses would still be too expensive for young families and working people to afford.

At some point leaders have to work for the benefit of the people, not just the real estate market. It’s way past time for a change in philosophy on the City Council.

Dan Carter

What’s no-growth?
In a recent letter to the editor, Juanita Sumner, who has vigorously spoken for the preservation of farmland and open space, was referred to as a “hateful no-growther.” Even without the hysterical adjective “hateful,” “no-growth” nonetheless stands alone these days as a pejorative term, connoting at best a fanatical resistance to progress and at worst a willful disregard for housing needs and the ambitions of economic enterprise.

But if “no-growth” refers to Juanita’s preference for such living (growing?) things as farmland, wildlife habitat and parks rather than subdivisions, malls and other commercial development, characterizing this preference as “no-growth” is nonsense. “Development” is equally dubious in its popular sense implying “growth.” While farmlands and oak savannahs are certainly “growing” in any real sense of the word, malls and subdivisions are certainly not.

The fact is that “undeveloped” land is already fully developed in terms of its innate capacity to be exactly what it is. If you view such a parcel as somehow lacking in development, you may convince yourself of the need to exchange its condition for something else, feeling that the exchange somehow constitutes growth.

I think Juanita, rather than being dismissed and even despised as a “no-growther,” could just as well be held up to scrutiny as a “pro-growther” who favors almost anything capable of photosynthesis and the conversion of carbon dioxide to oxygen.

“Growth,” “no-growth,” “developed, “undeveloped": Obscured by these lazy and divisive terms, the real issues of land use often go unspoken.

Lin Jensen

Market watch
I have one word for Juanita Sumner’s letter [“There goes the neighborhood,” July 11]: Laughable. I didn’t object to Aspen Glen because Chico needed affordable homes, nor did Realtors profit from that subdivision. If Sumner had bothered with research, she’d have found that Tony Symmes doesn’t hire Realtors. He sells his own homes. She goes on to assert that Realtors set home prices.

Economics 101: Supply and demand dictates this, not developers or Realtors. No new subdivisions equals no supply; no supply equals 20 buyers vying for an existing house when one comes for sale. That creates a bidding war. It’s not rocket science. Short of placing barbed wire around the city, people will move here. Get over it!

In response to Sumner’s questions about the Esplanade House, Greg Webb estimates the new facility will cost $5 million to build. He had opportunities to purchase existing apartment complexes, one for as little as $1.8 million. Even after adding another million for creating “site control” and relocating existing tenants, he could have saved $2 million! (I’m sure the Clothes to Work program could have used a little of that, hmmm?) I’m not against people getting help. I’m against waste. That’s the problem with bleeding-heart liberals: all emotion, no common sense.

Sumner calls me “mean and hateful"? No problem. I’ll accept those adjectives any day over “irrational, uninformed and just plain stupid.”

Karen Duncan

Irrelevant journalism
You have seriously disappointed me with your article on Mr. Meghdadi [“Rush to Judgment?” July 11.] The title, a phrase made famous by Johnny Cochrane in defense of O.J. Simpson, raises some suspicions of biased reporting. Other parts of the article confirm those suspicions.

["Meghdadi was] singled out and publicly persecuted as a developer gone mad after cutting down more than 100 trees on his property.” Why shouldn’t he be singled out? It is his project, and the people working for him cut down “110 of 179 oak trees, many of them hundreds of years old.” He has not been “persecuted” in any reasonable meaning of the word.

“Meghdadi was turned into a whipping boy for all developer sins by an unlikely coalition of locals. From the tree hugger to the Chico State University professor, the SUV-driving soccer mom to those who also make their living in the building trade…”

Are you implying that those who respect the environment, drive SUVs, are involved in the building trade or teach at a university are not entitled to criticize one who irreparably damages the environment? As a matter of fact, the near universal condemnation of his action is strong evidence of its anti-social character.

Whether Mr. Meghdadi was born in Iran, worked as a ditch digger, worked for Fleetwood, ran a restaurant with several doctors, has a wife and two grown daughters or is a partner of a doctor from Enloe, who naturally defends him, is all irrelevant. Also irrelevant is the fact that the city file has eight feet of documents going back 12 years and the fact that he is “depressed and gained 15 or 16 pounds.” Poor baby.

In fact, Meghdadi did rape the environment, and the more that action is condemned and punished, the better.

Victor M. Corbett

ARC of thanks
I would like to recognize CSU, Chico and Associated Students for the “Diversion Excursion” program, which at the end of the school year helped to divert thousands of pounds of recyclable and reusable items away from our landfill and put them to good use in our community.

Items such as food, clothing, and furniture were hauled into waiting vehicles by volunteers, helping various community organizations in their efforts to continue the valuable, practical and worthwhile work of filling specific needs in our community.

Special thanks to Barbara Kopicki and Luisa Garza for their efforts on behalf of our community and our Earth.

Sally Mendez
Resource Developer

Surrender of freedom
A poll says 70 percent of Americans are willing to give up some freedoms to help in the war on terrorism. To my way of thinking, thousands of corpses must be turning over in the cemeteries of our war dead. Losing two buildings and having another damaged shouldn’t cause such a willingness to surrender freedoms that were fought for by so many.

We have lost our fighting spirit. We let the government run over us with operations such as “Enduring Freedom.” They search an 81-year old female and treat her like a terrorist at the airport. I predict this will go on and accelerate, taking more control of American society away from the sophisticated and discriminating and giving it to the regressive controlling elements of society. This is the battle for the “Homeland.”

Randall Foreman