Letters for June 2, 2005
Greening Chico’s southwest
I recently spent the afternoon with Barber Yard project developer Jeff Greening, a man with a vision. He is sincerely interested in the betterment of our southwest community. While traffic management seems to be our consistent concern as neighbors, as well as the toxic side of things at Barber Yard, the reinvestment and redevelopment and revitalization of this neighborhood might pass us by if we are too disenfranchised. We must put aside the reality of any development of Barber Yard for this time and focus on redevelopment funds for southwest Chico if we want to see improvement here.
Jeff Greening is a man who is very aware of “nature’s way.” He is a photographer, among many other things, who loved hanging out in the apiary at Barber Yard, where the light danced through the high windows. Due to vandalism and arson, that building no longer stands. There’s been much rumor around Jeff, and many have purported to know much about this very private man. Personally, I am inspired by his focus and creativity.
I think many are expecting this to be the end of our quaint little ‘hood if changes are made. Unfortunately, I saw the ending of “quaint” little Chico a long time ago, while I was in high school, as many friends were upgrading to the “estates” in newly built sprawl.
Haven’t we liberal thinkers always wanted infill as opposed to sprawl? Then, when it comes close to home, we say, “Not in my neighborhood!” I don’t know about you, but as a visionary, artist, businesswoman and professional I feel very strongly about being a part of the creation of a revitalized southwest Chico, through merging and allowing this vision to inspire others.
There are eight commandments in the California Environmental Quality Act that relate to our historical resources, the wagon ruts and the rock wall on Humboldt Road. Four of them relate to the historical resources and four to the resources’ immediate surroundings. “Thou shalt not destroy, demolish, relocate or alter the immediate surroundings of the resource.” The commandments go on to say it’s OK to make any of those changes except if the change impaireth the historical significance of the resource (the wagon ruts).
The Oak Valley EIR committed a mortal sin when it broke the eighth commandment, “Thou shalt not alter the immediate surroundings of the wagon ruts if that alteration impaireth the historical significance of the resource.” When a commandment is broken, the EIR must confess and atone for the sin by mitigating the change. Without atonement, the resource is condemned and cannot attain eternal happiness in the National Register of Historical Resources.
Instead of confessing, the EIR strikes its breast and self-righteously declares that it does not break the first commandment ("Thou shalt not pave over the wagon ruts") while falsely declaring that roadways covered with vehicles is no sin and has no effect whatsoever on the wagon ruts.
That was the point I was trying to make when I came before the City Council the evening of May 17. While I stumbled badly, the illustration was there to make the point for me. All the changes shown in the picture will come to pass, while at the same time the still visible wagon ruts will have been stripped of their historical significance. Constructing roadways crawling with vehicles next to the wagon ruts is akin to constructing a theme park next to the Gettysburg battleground.
Now that you’ve been shown the way, is it too late to repent?
Anthony Watts’ letter ["Simian confusion"] of May 26 interprets the News & Review cartoon printed May 19 (crucified ape saying “Better learn to make tools") as a direct affront to Christianity. Watts then compares this to Newsweek offending Muslims by printing false stories alleging desecration of the Koran by U.S. personnel.
The cartoon actually has an environmental message, referring to man’s hunting and reducing the habitat of apes to the point of their eventual extinction. We’re crucifying them and they had better learn to adapt soon.
Watts may wish to know that Newsweek has been vindicated, as the Pentagon has reported identifying at least five instances of, as they put it, “mishandling” of the Koran by U.S. personnel at Guantanamo Bay.
It’s interesting that Watts is offended by a cartoon, yet turns a blind eye to the carnage occurring in the real world. Wouldn’t Christian ethics lead Watts to protest the atrocities committed at the Abu Ghraib prison after we took over? Why hasn’t Watts written to protest the executing of wounded Muslim soldiers in an Iraqi mosque? Does he feel the Muslim world wasn’t offended by that incident? Does Watts approve of Bush’s false stories used to start a war in Iraq that has led to thousands of U.S. casualties?
It appears that Watts has compromised accepted Christian morality to accommodate his extreme right-wing political agenda.
Received via email
With a new multi-level parking facility proposed for the downtown environs, it may be a fine opportunity to resume discussion on another city-owned lot in the vicinity—Lost Park, on the south side of Big Chico Creek, off East First Street.
In the nearly 30 years I’ve lived in and frequented downtown Chico, I have often puzzled over this particular case of urban land use. A lovely stretch of riparian parkview property in busy urban Chico, it’s a bazillion-dollar piece of finite real estate, one currently enjoyed exclusively by the 121 parked vehicles that spend their days there. The front-row, creekside views are even fewer, held by another 54 lucky autos.
Lost Park, and this stretch in particular, has the potential to become one of downtown’s scenic attractions, a natural addition to Bidwell Park, with possibilities for a creekside walkway, tables for lunching, and continuation of a bike path which could eventually connect Lower Park to Bidwell Mansion (and the university/CHS campuses). To suggest that the city uncover and return this portion of Lost Park to parkland without consideration to the lost parking spaces would be negligent; however, these spaces might be easily recovered in the parking facility proposed one block away at Second, Third, Flume, and Wall Streets. If, as reports suggest, the number of spaces planned in the new facility ranges from 675 to 718, then planning for an addition of 175 seems feasible, even if it requires an extra floor, a larger bond, or, yes, more of us on bikes and on foot.
The move from parking lot to parkland is something most folks can appreciate. As in most cases, timing is critical: The construction of a new downtown garage is crucial to incorporating the Lost Park spaces. Our thoughtful and creative planning now may be determined as having been a wise move sooner than we think.
Editor’s note: For more on plans for this land, please see the cover story in this issue, “The changing face of downtown”.