Letters for June 9, 2005
Addendum: The 555 Main building mentioned in our cover story last week, “The changing face of downtown,” has other owners in addition to the one mentioned, the architectural firm Nichols, Melburg & Rossetto. Business consultant Bob Linscheid, whose office is on the second floor, is also a partner in the building, as are Jerry Roster and Butch Meester, of Roster Meester CPAs, whose office is also on the second floor.
If you have any doubts about the proposed parking structure at Second and Wall streets, please read the outstanding article by Robert Speer in the June 2 issue [“The Changing Face of Downtown,” cover story]. His article clearly demonstrates a realistic vision of downtown Chico and why the city should construct the parking structure without delay. This will give real confidence to those who are proposing new development in downtown Chico.
Any suggestion to build the parking structure on the Municipal Building parking area is shortsighted, since the city will need to build additional office space to accommodate inevitable growth. On the other hand, it is an outstanding location for the Farmers’ Market.
The suggestion that city staff would object to the inconvenience if the parking structure [“Tree tags,” Inside view, June 2] were to be built on the Municipal Building parking area is just silly—remember, they coped with no parking while the new building was under construction.
Structure or sprawl
Last week’s timely cover story exposes the real push behind the proposed parking structure—downtown developers and infill.
If you oppose the parking structure, you have to be willing to accept responsibility for sprawl, the alternative. On the other hand, if you support the parking structure, you have to accept subsidizing the rich developers.
Opponents of the parking structure should give up the weak argument of the loss of Saturday Farmers’ Market—there are plenty of places it could move to. And they should give up the pipe dream that Americans are not going to drive their cars. We might have to pay 10 times as much (and complain 100 times as much) for alternative energy and/or “liberate” another oil producing country, but a lot of people (not necessarily us) will be making sacrifices to insure our freedom/slavery to our personal transportation units.
Instead of these smokescreens, we should debate the real issue—whether we should subsidize developers or make them pay their fair share of the structure (all of it).
I think it’s a crying shame we didn’t build the Fourth and Salem structure bigger, maybe “Mexican style,” where they leave exposed rebar up through the roof for future expansion. If we build another one I would favor level upon level, our own Tower of Babel tilting skyward like a Dr. Seuss illustration. But I suppose Bob Linscheid would have something to say about sullying his penthouse view.
Nothing in common
Both proponents of high-density infill development and opponents who decry the soullessness of what we’ve seen labeled as such should take a look at the Forest Avenue co-operative housing village off Forest and Eighth [Valley Oak Village]. It’s a high(-ish)-density development with attractive architecture, mixed-size dwellings, spacious shared exterior space for playing, gardening and relaxing and a true sense of neighborly community.
Unlike such dispiriting cookie-cutter shoehorn developments as those sad townhouses on First Avenue east of [Highway] 99, the co-op housing feels like a place to have a life and know your neighbor. Instead of postage-stamp individual yards and fences, the co-op housing’s common areas, where individuals can create their own gardens, fountains, and quiet nooks, paradoxically offer much more sense of privacy and pride.
When developers plunk an acre of little-used grass in the midst of houses and call it a commons, it serves no function but to collect fertilizer, water and dog-doo and to make us cynical about the idea of shared space; if that’s a commons, give me my own postage stamp. The co-op housing is evidence that high density can be done right.
Stop bicycle bloodshed
On the morning of May 25, I was on my bicycle making a routine turn at an obscure intersection along the Avenues. As I turned left onto the road, a gentleman in a red pickup turned right onto the same road. Instantly, without expecting it, we were nearly side by side. His window was down and our eyes met (me to his left), at which point the man surprised me with a spontaneous, genuine and courteous “Good morning” before continuing down the road. For that split second we couldn’t have been more than five feet away from each other, but it was far from an at-risk moment.
The unexpected juxtaposition proved disarming and at the same time set off a cavalcade of perceptions and emotions. It all had something to do with the often overlooked tension that exists between bicyclists and drivers. There have been too many occasions when I was either on a bike and nearly blown off the road by a careless driver or in a car suffering a near-fatal collision due to the act of a reckless bicyclist. And of course there’s my ongoing issue with bicyclists riding at night without lights.
In the midst of the current controversy about whether we need more parking space for more cars or fewer cars and more biking, maybe the best thing we can do is acknowledge the differences, the dangers and the need to have more respect for each other regardless of lifestyle, mode of transportation or point of view. And let’s make an effort to identify courtesy and road safety as an ongoing community issue.
Here’s a heartfelt acknowledgement to that man in the red pickup. I really appreciated that gesture this morning. Interestingly enough, it was the beginning of an extraordinary day.
School for King
I would prefer the Chapman Elementary School to be named after Martin Luther King Jr. than a park or a street. I believe the message of Dr. King’s life would be better served this way.