Letters for November 13, 2008
Tossing around the disc-golf issue
Editor’s note: At Tuesday’s meeting (Nov. 18, 6:30 p.m.), the Chico City Council will consider adopting the Bidwell Park Master Management Plan, which among other things has provisions for Frisbee golf. Here’s a sampling of what readers wrote in regarding this issue.
I hope that you will step up and help us save the Upper Bidwell Park disc-golf courses. The Park Commission voted in favor of keeping the courses that the disc-golf community will improve and maintain. Hundreds of people spoke in favor of the courses and were the voices of reason that night.
Reality: A disc-golf course is low impact and can be completed and maintained with little cost and volunteer work just like the thousands that are in parks around the world. Ever hear of a little place in San Francisco known as Golden Gate Park? It has a disc-golf course that was funded and installed and is maintained by volunteers.
Help us bring inexpensive recreation to Chico in a way that will show the world that we are all about community spirit, and a “can do” attitude that creates an ecologically sound venue and trailhead that can be enjoyed and used by all.
With no fewer that 16 mitigation measures to offset the many different environmental impacts of developing a course in a fragile blue-oak woodland, the [master management plan] EIR offers no protection to the blue-oak branch tips themselves. The arborist’s report states, “I know of no means of reducing the loss of foliage or branch tips from flying discs.” This will eventually weaken the trees and cause many to die. The report documents the number of trees damaged, and [the number] that will be damaged with more development.
It will be an unfortunate day for trees if the City Council votes for a recreational project for our “City of Trees” that will begin to damage 104 blue oaks and that would support a sport at a site that is already damaging 341 blue oaks.
I urge the City Council to vote for the restoration alternative [in the EIR]. Our families and youth can hopefully spare the trees and pursue responsible recreation in appropriate environments.
The California Environmental Quality Act’s environmental-review process was created to ensure that shifting political biases, propaganda campaigns and territorial personalities don’t interfere with the science and fairness of good planning and decision making. After several years and hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on studies, consultants, master management planning and an EIR, the results remain clearly positive for disc golf in Bidwell Park.
Every step along the way was approved and funded by the Park Commission and City Council. The Citizens Advisory Committee, the press and the public at large have been overwhelmingly in support after several well-attended open public meetings. Many compromises have been made that go above and beyond reason to accommodate every imaginable concern.
Nov. 18, our City Council meets to decide on final approval of this long process and the hard work done on it. I encourage them to support the recommendations of city staff, the Citizens Advisory Committee and the Park Commission, and vote to approve Option A of the EIR.
Our youth need more safe, healthful, low-cost activities that expose them to nature. Our next generations need better examples of education, recreation and restoration working together in sustainable coexistence. Disc golf in Bidwell Park is part of the solution.
Anyone who agrees should attend this meeting.
This coming Tuesday, a sadly divided community will witness the Chico City Council consider the adoption of the Dennis Beardsley-crafted management plan for Bidwell Park.
Gone are the sincere and evident efforts to respect the Bidwells’ intentions that are the hallmark of the 1990 plan. Say hello to an “anything goes, Bidwell Park is just any old park, a blank slate ready for the machinations of our imaginations” type of attitude.
The public-hearing notice for Tuesday’s meeting requires a bit of interpretation to be understood. “Addresses important planning issues” really means: Handily ignores current planning documents, despite detailed public comments urging the retention of current, wiser, conservation policies. “Clarifies allowable uses” really means: Creates a vague and open-ended definition of allowable uses in direct contradiction to the finite list found in the general plan.
Last—I’ll clarify this because no local media have done any investigative or objective reporting on the matter—the only way the EIR was able to claim that impacts to the environment at the 37-acre disc-golf project are “reduced to less than significant” is by claiming the city has found a legal loophole that allows them to restart the clock, putting the “baseline conditions” at the site at five years ago, rather than base the decision on impacts generated after 1999, when the Park Commission irresponsibly allowed development by disc golfers.
Disc golf is nothing more than a symptom of a much larger problem.
Not just semantics
Re: “Lots of smoky, hot air” (Editorial, CN&R, Nov. 6):
The “Check Before You Light” program for woodstoves and fireplaces differs from the previous program by more than just the name change.
First, the air quality advisory forecast will be released the day before—rather than the day of—the expected poor air quality. This will provide more time to get the message out to the public. Second, air-district inspectors will be patrolling in the Chico urban area on advisory days, identifying neighborhoods where residential wood burning is occurring. Third, the district will be mailing information on the program to these neighborhoods as part of a focused public outreach effort.
The majority attending public workshops requested that the voluntary program be continued with more public education and earlier notifications. The program will be voluntary this season, and the district will evaluate the success next year.
Editor’s note: Mr. Wagoner is air pollution control officer for the Butte County Air Quality Management District.
Bad public relations
Re: “Propaganda police” (In My Eyes, by Evan Tuchinsky, CN&R, Nov. 6):
I heartily concur with your column. Obviously that video put out by the CPOA [Chico Police Officers Association] was intended to convince the voters not to vote for the progressive slate, and rather to vote for the conservative slate.
It seems to me that since the CPOA made no endorsements, the members should sanction their union’s leadership for doing something without the membership’s approval, and that they should elect new officers when their next election comes up.
I am really glad that the video was ineffective, since the only candidate on the conservative slate who was elected was incumbent Larry Wahl, and he came in fourth place and he didn’t even do very well at that.
Help for TBI veterans
Re: “The high costs of hurt brains” (Newslines, by Laura Hauser, CN&R, Nov. 6):
Thank you for your story about traumatic brain injury. As the number of people with TBI increase due to war-related injuries in the Middle East, it becomes even more vital that service agencies and those with TBI are aware of every resource available to assist them.
One very important such resource is Disability Rights California (formerly Protection & Advocacy, Inc.), an independent, not-for-profit organization whose regional office is in Sacramento. DRC provides free services and advocacy for a variety of legal problems related to all forms of disability, including targeted services for those with TBI.
For more information, see www.pai-ca.org or call (800) 776-5746.
Veggies taste better
Re: “Goodbye tri-tip, hello turnips” (GreenWays, by Melissa Daugherty, CN&R, Nov. 6):
Kudos to Melissa Daugherty’s venture into the world of vegetarianism! I have taken the vegan challenge, and been going strong for more than six years. I’m not the only vegan in town, and hopefully not the only one chiming in to say thank you for writing a fair and well-balanced report.
Also pleased to hear that your fiancé, Matt, is willing to help and even join in the challenge. Having a partner to help you learn your way through all the challenges (particularly the interactions with omnivores) makes things that much easier.
I would like to invite both Melissa and Matt (and any other curious folk out there) to the next Vegan Meetup. There are some great vegans in town, with great food, recipes, and insight to share. You can find out more by visiting http://www.meetup.com/chico-vegan/.
To Nena James, who commented in the Streetalk section that a vegetarian diet “doesn’t seem like an exciting lifestyle,” I highly recommend you look at your own weekly menu and tell us all how exciting that is. And finally, for Tanya Harter, CUSD Nutrition Services interim director, who commented that “[being a vegan is] not that healthy for you,” I recommend you read The China Study by T. Colin Campbell and get back to me on that.
Education’s true purpose
Re: “Cuts ‘self-defeating’ ” (Letters, by Michael P. Marchetti, CN&R, Nov. 6):
Professor Michael P. Marchetti bemoans the cuts in the state’s higher-education system. Having had the privilege of serving the system for more than three decades as a chemistry professor, it is very disappointing to me when academics in the sciences use primarily economic reasoning to protest cuts, evidenced by the following quote from the letter: “Public higher education helps solve financial crises because it prepares people for better-paying jobs in stronger job sectors. During economic downturns, we know more people return to college for retraining for jobs that revitalize the economy.”
Herein lies the malaise in our higher-education system, not only in California but also in the entire nation.
Universities should not exist to carry out the agenda of politicians, howsoever the pressures of today demand preparing the young mind just to be part of the economic wellbeing of this nation. The primary goal of higher-educational institutions is to inculcate scholarly pursuit in the subject matter at hand. The classroom instructor has the responsibility to achieve that.
I earned my Ph.D. and did post-doc at Caltech not just to get a job and be a cog in the wheel of the U.S. economy, but rather to have the lifelong yearning to be a scholar. All the resources put at my disposal were otherwise a total waste of both private and taxpayers’ sweat.
Brahama D. Sharma
Show of diversity
Re: “Coercion” (From The Edge, by Anthony Peyton Porter, CN&R, Nov. 6):
I’m very glad you voted for Barack Obama. The CN&R often seems quite centrist to me—though very progressive compared to the main Oroville paper. However, the CNR’s existence strikes me as being a major achievement considering that it thrives in the ultra-conservative culture that encroaches upon Chico on all sides.
Perhaps some parallel to the CN&R’s viability can be made with Barack’s campaign and presidency?
I think race often is an Achilles’ heel for progressives, who may hold high ideals about diversity in theory that fall a little short in the real world. In Chico, there is definitely a population of those 20-year-olds touted in mainstream news reports as being a new generation that thinks nothing of having a black president. Ten miles out, it’s another story.
In my opinion, most of Butte County lives in a civil-rights time warp. Even educated white people out here are not so used to having an integrated life—and now all of a sudden their president is black. So I hope that minorities (who seem to me to keep their lives very low key and below the radar out here) will step up and let themselves be more visible, and more outspoken.
This need not be some kind of throw back to earlier, more incendiary times. We need to come out of the woodwork, perhaps go to places we don’t usually “invade”—talk to people we usually avoid—in short, help our area get more used to diversity.
Re: “Local woman fights for her dog” (Newslines, by Meredith J. Cooper, CN&R, Oct. 30): The narrative on Roofy’s case may have led some readers to infer that the dog’s surgery took place at Magalia Pet Hospital. As we now note in the online version of the story, North Valley Emergency Medical Clinic performed the operation. We apologize for any confusion.