Letters for July 27, 2006

Plaza view: ‘I hate it’
Re: “City plaza: Not what it used to be …” (Newslines, CN&R, July 20):

I bike past the plaza every day to and from work, and over the past year my reaction has evolved from excitement to confusion to horror. Since Ann Schwab and Dennis Beardsley are not withholding their judgment on the plaza, I see no reason to heed their request that I continue to withhold mine. I hate it, and I will tell you why.

One morning a while back, I circled the block and studied the pictures on the fence. What I noticed was that the artist’s renditions were all cool in tone, as if every day were 68 degrees. However, if you think when the plaza might really be needed, like a Friday night concert with all that concrete radiating the heat energy it has been collecting all day, the image is infernally harsher.

The other thing I noticed was that the renditions were not drawn from eye level but from elevations of 15 or 20 feet, and I think I know why. It is the only way to see the grass. At eye level, all you see is a maze of concrete walls, and this is what I really object to in the design. The theme of this new plaza is dominance—dominance of nature, dominance by hard features, dominance by money, dominance over community taste, and now dominance by rhetoric.

Lastly, I take personal exception to the statement that the elevated planters are meant to protect the grass from bicyclists like me. No, not bicyclists, but graffitists and vandals will act out the notion that this plaza is anti-Chico. The good news is that I am sure that with about $200,000 and volunteers, we can redo the plaza in a much more community-friendly way. I’ll donate the first jackhammer.

Tom Steele

CNF debate continues
Re: “CNF choice” (Letters, CN&R, July 20):

The economic argument for bringing animal flesh ("meat") into Chico Natural Foods is a weak one. CNF needs to work with its strong points—member-owned, organic produce, vegetarian and healthy lifestyles—rather than attempt to compete directly with stores such as Trader Joe’s.

The store has already begun to slowly see a turnaround of its financial health with minimal promotion to current members. Imagine if CNF had a working up-to-date Web site, a regular newsletter (like it used to), and a marketing plan to increase membership beyond the current 1,700?

Beyond the economic issue should be a mission of promoting products that are environmentally sound, nutritious, organically grown and cruelty-free. I’ve supported CNF for two decades, and I call for conscientious omnivores to support a humane vote of no meat and work to help build CNF’s membership.

Daniel Donnelly

Artistic expression
Re: “New role for plow” (Guest Comment, CN&R, July 20):

Dearest Richard [Ek], your limiting definition of what art “is” drives our community into a perpetual state of artistic adolescence.

The “plow” on Park may not be as predictably beautiful as your brother’s 1980 state-fair-award-winning pastel … but the plow, she does have some beauty! Yes sir, it rests in the simple notion that you do have to stop and consider, and contemplate, and perhaps think abstractly.

And many “reasonable people” may just have to argue that abstract thinking allows the mind to expand and (shall I say?) evolve. Just a little break from the average state of passive consumption; one can get back to that just as soon as they get home.

The “general public” of Chico sees too many pretty pictures of reality through artistic means and modes. A little conceptual deviance is what we need the most—nothing against COBA and its hosts.

So, my points? 1) Trying to define magic is fruitless. 2) Misuse of artistic jargon in attempts to validate your personal preference is silly, but irresistibly adorable.

With unfiltered love lacking esoteric symbolism, yours truly …

Christine Fulton

A broken promise?
In the name of the general plan, we’ve heard lip service paid to preserving the neighborhood way of life by using compatible development. Now, on Cactus Avenue, we see the destruction of an established SR-1 neighborhood by an incompatible R-1 infill.

The city’s intention of squeezing as many people into the smallest square footage is in direct conflict with an established neighborhood built with SR-1 zoning allowances (Goal 5, 10-18 of general plan).

Jerry Olio

Liberty? It’s overrated
All this talk about civil liberties lately. Geez, what a bunch of whiners. I mean, we are at “war,” aren’t we? I live a good clean life, so what do I have to worry about? It’s gonna be the other guy/gal who gets put in a detention camp for a year or two or three without any formal charge or access to representation. And if they are truly patriotic, they surely won’t mind the inconvenience.

We really need to stand behind our elected president, ahem, I mean president, during these troubled times. In fact, I don’t think we do enough to help our president with those terrorists. I propose we volunteer to go further. And since some of you won’t do it voluntarily, I suppose the government will have to stand in and make it law. I propose that Christianity become the state religion. That way, anyone who is not Christian will be easily identified as a terrorist. And, I propose that we all wear state-issued uniforms. Again, to help identify terrorists.

Doesn’t all this sound like a good plan, comrade?

Jeff Straub

Planning omission
The Chico Planning Commission is a powerful force in the future of our city and its living conditions. The Planning Commission approves, or recommends approval or rejection of, physical environment changes to the City Council, which normally acts on the commission’s recommendation.

When contractors or property owners want to build or modify a structure, street or housing project, they must go before the commission to obtain sanction. The Planning Commission staff prepares a report to advise the commission on whether the project meets our existing standards, or if the existing standards must be modified to accept this project. What this means is that the staff is even more powerful than the commission, as the commission normally accepts the staff’s position.

I am a retired engineer and homeowner in Chico. I have attended some of the Planning Commission’s public hearings and am disturbed by a number of issues.

First, not many residents show up at these meetings; we need to be watching the fox in the henhouse. Second, in my opinion, the staff leans over too often to allow contractors and owners to bypass existing design standards. Third, the commission needs to be better prepared—they ofteappear ignorant of the standards and ramifications of the project. Fourth, the commission should listen more to the public comments in the meetings and take them into account.

We have a great little city, but it is changing fast on us, and in many cases not in a positive way. Public input into the change process is one of the ways we can safeguard our living environment.

James A. Sexton

Rolling along
Listening to the Rolling Stones’ Dirty Work brought back memories of other Julys spent in Chico since 1962. It has been a long trip since the Stones released that album, and I often wonder how Chico has made it since 1990. Downtown is still charming and handsome. If the city square has any good music after it’s completed, we’ll have lots of live music, too. Two cheers for democracy and three cheers for the Stones.

David Lorenz