Letters for March 27, 2008

Issue with our air: It’s visible
Re: “The growing danger of wood burning” (Newslines, by Luke Anderson, CN&R, March 20):

I have always valued clean air and noticed that only after a good north wind is it possible to look up the valley and see Mount Shasta. The serious problem we have also is brought home by gaining some elevation (even driving up the Skyway) and noticing the smoggy-looking air you have to drive back into, almost all year long.

My husband has serious lung disease now, and I am hoping that we do not have to leave. We hope to live our senior years here, and to be able to bike and walk without putting ourselves at risk for further lung issues.

We must take care of our precious ground water and air for the future quality of life.

Carol Passovoy

Ordinance just one tree in forest
Re: “Who’s looking out for the trees?” (Newslines, by Evan Tuchinsky, CN&R, March 20):

What is being lost in this issue [of changing Paradise’s tree ordinance] are the significant number of planning process reforms that my administration has initiated and Town Councils have approved during my 11-plus years as town manager. These substantive reforms serve as documented proof of our continuing effort to strengthen the town’s transparency and oversight of proposed projects, and to ensure smarter, quality development in our community.

The fair, honest and factually accurate answer to your [headline’s] rhetorical question is that my administration and planning staff are the ones who initiated the two previous, pragmatic, reasonably successful efforts to strengthen the tree ordinance. So the question that should really be asked is why would my staff propose changes to the ordinance that we, in fact, are largely responsible for having helped to improve?

Could it be we’ve come to the sad, but realistic, conclusion that some of what we helped to create doesn’t work? That the system of checks and balances is broken? That the Planning Commission is literally hamstrung from being able to effectively perform its important oversight role because it is precluded from being able to look at the totality of a land-use review proposal?

Could it be that my staff and I see our proposed changes as one additional step in a continuum of actions taken to improve the planning, review and oversight process in our town—a process that will better serve the public interest and, yes, actually result in fewer trees being felled? Darn right we do!

Chuck Rough

City’s code needs toughening, too
Paradise’s problems defending its Tree Committee has an echo in Chico. Here, planners and our new urban forester have trouble because of defects in our Tree Ordinance and inadequate funding for their work of protecting trees in our urban forest and Bidwell Park.

Defending our City of Trees from development and our forests from degradation is vital. Trees improve our health, shade the city beautifully, reduce carbon dioxide, increase oxygen, and provide habitat. Heat builds up in our city, so we need more trees, not to cut down the ones we have.

This week, on East Third Street, near the Women’s Center, 10 big trees were removed, and the lot was illegally graded. This lot was not protected by our weak Tree Ordinance. This is bad but not as bad as the tactic of clearing a site in anticipation of a planning application so development is more profitable and free of city controls.

This developer, to his credit, has left some trees, but it is just tragic that he can unilaterally cut down trees and alter this site. It is one of the many reasons we involved with TreeAction are working to strengthen the Chico Tree Ordinance. To help keep Chico a cooler, healthier and more beautiful City of Trees, go to www.treeaction.org.

Alan Gair

Sad ouster …
Re: “Generation gap” (Newslines, by Jaime O’Neill, CN&R, March 20):

I was saddened to read of the ousting of Butte County Democratic Central Committee Chairwoman Doris Smith.

Four years ago, Plumas County reorganized its Democratic Central Committee after a 10-year lapse, and I fondly remember Doris driving up to one of our meetings to support us in our new endeavor. One year ago, I attended “The Diamond Jubilee” in recognition of her 75 years of “integrity, commitment and hard work for the California Democratic Party.”

It seems to me that, with a little bit of cooperation, help and patience, Doris could have been allowed to serve out the rest of the 2008 term for which she was elected.

Lori Simpson
Plumas County Democratic Central Committee

… bad ouster
The point of contention is not one of age but an attempt by a group of Ridge Democrats to steer resources away from the Oroville Area Democratic Club and the Oroville Democratic Headquarters. Doris Smith has been the driving force behind these two institutions.

The controversy is one of process. The bylaws of the Butte County Democratic Central Committee require the votes of two-thirds of all members to remove an officer, with a majority of the members required for a quorum. With 24 members, that means 16 votes to remove and 13 members in attendance for a quorum.

Knowing they didn’t have that much support, Smith’s opponents tried a roundabout wrinkle: a two-meeting process (Feb. 13 in Paradise and March 12 in Chico). The problem the instigators had was the February meeting had only 12 members present (none of whom were from Oroville). This was not immediately clear to the February attendees, including myself.

I informed the committee in response to the March agenda that a quorum did not exist and that, therefore, the February meeting was informational only. This was the “technicality” that I raised.

Michael Worley

Notion is naïve, kids
Re: “An end to violence” (Campus, by Monica Unhold, CN&R, March 20):

What an original idea. I’m sure it will work. Maybe if all law enforcement officers get a black T-shirt and lay down for three minutes, all gun crime will stop. What color shirts do we get for all the meth [offenders] in Chico?

By the way, the shooter at Virginia Tech was able to get the gun because of a loophole that the feds left open.

Jon Dimberg

Bottle your own
Re: “Wet blanket?” (Letters, by Michael M. Peters, CN&R, March 13):

Why don’t you go drop $30 on a Brita filter and pick up a Klean Kanteen or other reusable water bottle? That way you could drink all the purified water you want and not blatantly damage the environment. You’d also be saving yourself money on all the bottled water you wouldn’t be buying.

Chantel Young

Reader’s diagnosis
Re: Appearances” (From The Edge, by Anthony Peyton Porter, CN&R, March 13):

As I read your column, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for you, Mr. Porter. You might be in need of some “major therapy” concerning your self-image and self-esteem.

You really need to get out and see for yourself that this world has indeed changed since 1979. It’s a lot more accepting than you think. If you scare puppies, it is not because of the way you look, but maybe because of the negative vibe you put forth about your appearance.

A little self confidence goes a long way—it may even help you with your “spotty success with women.” I’m not sure why you seem so depressed or saddened by your appearance, but a good shrink just might be able to help you out.

Sheena Dhillon

Kumbaya not enough
Re: “Neighborliness” (Letters, by Brian Vickery, CN&R, March 13):

I live in Dry Creek Canyon, and I am concerned about a variety of environmental issues associated with the New Era Mine, particularly its impact on the aquifer that supplies our domestic water. The mine is excavating at the precise elevation of the springs that flow from the western canyon wall.

I appreciate Mr. Vickery’s comment that “talking things over, quietly” is the best way to get along. Unfortunately, the principals of the mining company seem unwilling to address our most serious questions.

The operators have the intention of running a state-of-the-art operation. However, they seem unwilling to comply with county requirements that would only assist them in operating an environmentally responsible mine. Adequate oversight, strict adherence to the law and thorough environmental studies would help us to live with a gold mine in this quiet canyon.

Our concerns cannot be worked out at a neighborhood potluck. Legal noncompliance issues go beyond sheer neighborliness. The nature of land is such that the effects of land use cross property lines. Land-use decisions must reflect this broad understanding of landscape.

Elicia Whittlesey
Dry Creek Canyon

Call in the cavalry!
Chico Unified School District sold us a bond (Measure A) on the pretense that we would get a badly needed third high school. Despite protest from the public, the school board continues to issue and spend the money however it pleases.

I don’t know if this is illegal, so I wrote to the Grand Jury to ask for an investigation. I got the standard form response, saying they will consider investigating this action. I think they would be a lot more likely to carry out an investigation if they had more requests from the public.

Complaint forms are available at www.buttecounty.net (click on Grand Jury) or at the county library.

Juanita Sumner

Re: “The growing danger of wood burning” (Newslines, by Luke Anderson, CN&R, March 20): The age of Chico teen Shannon Haller was misstated—she’s 14. This has been corrected online.