Letters for May 17, 2001

A’s OK
Otterson Drive breached the public consciousness when the park commission voted to oppose it. I was one of the persons who asked that the issue be placed on the commission’s agenda. When the environmental-impact report arrived in the mail, what a pleasant surprise! The road plan was like something right out of the Community Design Element of the Chico General Plan.

Our General Plan is a visionary document that calls for compact urban form and creekside greenways integrated into our lives, homes, and businesses. Much of the General Plan was written by some of our more liberal citizens, who have a special gift for artistic and conceptual approaches to city planning. However, when it comes to actually implementing this vision, they tend to be challenged, particularly when it involves changes to their neighborhoods. I trust the moderate conservatives to build the vision.

I think proponents Jolene Francis, Steve Bertagna and Tod Kimmelshue can be trusted to see to it that the Otterson greenway becomes an attractive and usable addition to our public spaces.

I respectfully suggest a yes vote on Measure A.

Michael Jones

A’s a giveaway
I attended the League of Women Voters’ forum on Measure A—the Otterson Drive extension contention—on April 26. I would like to get to the bottom line of why this project got prioritized over the myriad other projects that need attention. Does this boil down to the ever-problematic campaign financing reciprocity in which the elected councilmembers now shuffle the priority list of where to spend the public’s monies?

How does Doug Guillon, owner of the Hegan Lane Business Park, rate that we spend $2.9 million for his landscaped driveway into his business complex? According to Jolene Francis, planning commissioner, this road would be a public access; but who is going to want to take a leisurely drive through a business complex? Randy Larsen’s point is well taken: If this is a “park” and the Bidwell Park and Playgrounds Commission voted 7-0 against this project’s funding, then isn’t it being revealed as the deception that it is?

I encourage a no vote on Measure A. I see an aspect of our local community that is greedy and perpetuates development for big business rather than one that truly cares to create and attract potential for equitable wages and excellent working conditions. The $2.9 million will be spent the way the people vote it to be spent.

Vote no on Measure A.

Diane Suzuki-Brobeck

The meadowfoam blues, again
As Bob Dylan once wrote, “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.” Anthony Watts’ recent meadowfoam commentary ["My life with meadowfoam,” Guest commentary, May 3], with its populist folksy-isms ("if these groups would just start working to find a solution") and divisive tone (environmentalists standing in the way of children and safe roads), is misleading and demeaning to the people working to protect the natural environment and an endangered species in Chico.

Mr. Watts claims that the problem with people’s lack of understanding the issue is in their inability to identify the correct endangered species. “What’s missing,” he claims, “is education on identification.” What Mr. Watts is missing is understanding the necessity for the human species to maintain a balanced relationship with the earth as a whole. Sadly, Mr. Watts’ initial search for information on Butte County’s meadowfoam lead him no closer to understanding the value and relationship of a native plant species to its ecosystem. Mr. Watts’ claim as a conservationist comes from helping plant trees 11 years ago. While being a positive gesture, I can hardly believe this cements his credentials as a true friend of the environment.

Do I believe Mr. Watts when he says he’d be the first to extend his hand to help bring groups together to find a solution? This from a man who says his comment about using Roundup was only made to illustrate how the issue is filled with emotions because obviously meadowfoam doesn’t grow in yards?

All I can say is, “The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind.”

Steve Klein

Auburn—no dam sense
Once again, the American River and those who love it are faced with the possibility of the Auburn Dam. Construction of this dam is a ridiculous idea and will not solve the energy crisis. The Auburn Dam would produce comparatively little power—only 60 MW on a dependable basis, according to estimates by the Sacramento Municipal Utility District. In return, this dam would cause significant damage to the environment and local economy.

The Auburn Dam and other large hydro dams can take as long as 10-15 years to construct and can require a decade or more of hydropower generation to make up for the energy used for construction. The Auburn Dam has a higher potential to fail in an earthquake—it would be built on several faults. Hydropower generation is at the mercy of the weather and climate changes.

Recreation is one of the mainstays of the American River, providing for local economies with outfitters who depend on the whitewater runs offered by the North and Middle Forks of the American River. Other dams have cost the taxpayers millions to fix their legacies of harming fish and other aquatic species. Federal and state taxpayers are currently spending $30 million to restore salmon and steelhead habitat on one California creek that has been degraded by an existing small hydro project.

It is vital that we carefully consider the negative impacts of building the Auburn Dam. When compared with the costs, benefits and demand side reduction of energy efficiency, conservation measures, and clean renewable power alternatives, this dam just doesn’t make sense.

Jessica Rios

A car-less Upper Park?
I have a very simple question for you. Can you name one positive addition cars make to Upper Bidwell Park? Recently I was walking in the park, on the dirt road, and was shocked and amazed to count 20 cars in a row, all speeding, all full of high schoolers or college kids, some skidding and throwing rocks with their tires. On another occasion I was almost run off the road on my bike by another speeding young person. Was he drunk or did he just not care about the 5 mph speed limit? Or both?

Where the hell are the rangers? I believe that closing the park permanently would further enhance our community by allowing the park to become serene, instead of a drunken, stoned, teenagers’ four-wheeler paradise. All of these people could certainly walk in, and God knows carrying a 12-pack in would deter even some of the hardcore drinkers. Limiting access could be a problem for older people or handicapped, so have the ranger station give them a special pass and open the gate for them. Who do we complain about this? Does anyone know?

S. Keeler

Turn off COPS
My son, while driving through Chico, was stopped and then harassed by an entire van full of what I would describe as a bunch of black-T-shirted assholes.

As a retired police officer myself, may I say I find this type of “police work” distasteful and dangerous. These boys are watching way too many COPS shows.

Please withhold my name. I was born in Chico and my son still lives there.

Name withheld
Red Bluff