Letters for November 20, 2003

Dump not buried
The Humboldt Burn Dump is not a done deal. The state blusters, threatens and turns down the community advisory committee’s proposal as “not produced by qualified experts,” but they are wrong and have a weak and spurious argument. They cannot fine us without a hearing, testimony and a decision, which could be appealed.

The Advisory Committee, staffed by experts and convened by the City Council, had its findings ignored, its members insulted by a biased bevy of developers, state agencies and experts who have millions to gain. Experience tells us not to trust them.

Councilmembers and citizens deserve time and impartial technical and scientific help to develop their solution.

They support the capping of the dump and the cleanup of the slough in a simple and inexpensive manner. Its opponents exaggerate the cost of the committee’s plan without any evidence.

Taxpayers pay for the cleanup, and if it goes wrong people in California Park, Hank Marsh School, Husa Ranch and nearby offices suffer from lead-contaminated dust and eventually additional traffic, runoff and flooding. Who will compensate those innocent people when they sue?

The state is self-serving. They have ignored the possibility of solutions permitted under their own regulations.

The government’s Integrated Waste Management Board’s LEA Advisory No. 56 (it outlines permitted cleanup procedures) allows us to adopt Scenario 3, which calls for the waste to be capped in place with 2 feet of earth, drained, monitored and fenced off with a deed restriction placed on end use of the land.

We should not bend the knee to the state’s bullying.

Alan G. Gair

Right to bare penises
A penis registry, and only one or two complaints from offended males were fielded? [“Wang dang doodle,” Downstroke, Nov. 13]. “A lighthearted and fun way to educate people about sexual assault"? One can only imagine how lighthearted and fun Ms. Hahn would think a registry was if some part of the female anatomy were to be registered. NOW and every other woman’s advocate group would be in an uproar!

If we angry old men had a group like the NOW, there probably would be an uproar, but the closest organization we have is the NRA Maybe we could start a national movement in Chico with the first chapter of the NPA? The first requirement for membership would be an unregistered penis.

Tom Dowd

The Green option
Highway 99 is too crowded, and some people in our state believe the answer is to spend $23 million to widen the road. Currently Highway 99 can handle 5,000 vehicles an hour at peak times. Such figures beg the question: How much traffic in Chico is too much?

While Republicans and Democrats are mute on the traffic issue, Greens have clear goals. The Green Party of California platform states that “massive subsidies to the auto and fossil-fuel industries, as well as unworkable approaches by urban planners, maintain the auto’s dominance of our cityscapes. The practice of upgrading streets to relieve traffic congestion just generates new traffic because access is now easier. People then take jobs farther from their homes or purchase homes farther from their jobs.”

To counteract these trends and reduce auto use, the Green Party platform advocates the following strategies:

*Place a moratorium on highway widening (like Hwy 99) and use the money for mass transit and facilities for pedestrians and bicyclists ($23 million could buy a lot of buses).

*Develop affordable and accessible mass transit systems—they should be more economical and convenient to use than private vehicles.

*Encourage employer subsidies of transit commuter tickets for employees, funded by government congestion-management grants.

Throwing money at the problem won’t solve it. We must start by supporting smart political strategies if we truly wish to reduce congestion on Highway 99.

Got traffic? Vote Green.

Mark Stemen

Poor planning
Under “Newslines” we have Robert Speer’s editorialized account of the Northwest Planning Charrette held by the city Nov. 8 [“Public ponders huge Chico growth area,” Nov. 13].

It is Speer’s opinion that the area is ‘developable"; that is not a fact. He goes on to describe the attendants as ‘ordinary folks.” Could we have a definition for ‘ordinary"?

I was at the same meeting. Of the ‘35 or so” attendants, at least six were from city staff and another six or eight were from the consulting firm. I recognized at least five developers.

This small group is hardly representative of our community of 60,000-plus. The event should have been noticed to the entire town by mail, as is the procedure for planning discussions. It is not the intention of city staff to include the citizenry; rather it wants to shut us out.

When a developer brought a badly planned subdivision to my neighborhood, my neighbors were able to take the case to our elected officials. We had to demand that the meeting be rescheduled because we were not properly noticed, but in the end we got real democracy.

Now they want to replace noticed public hearings with these “all-day participatory workshops.” It is important to note here that during the course of the workshop the citizen is assigned by lot to a particular group, which deals with only one aspect of the planning area. Only one 15-minute question/ comment period is allowed, and elected officials are not required to attend.

Planning Director Kim Seidler also noted that the ideal would be a 10-day approval period for permits. Who would benefit from the shortening of the permits process? Certainly not the community.

Juanita Sumner

Sad folks
Your article outlining arts in Chico [“State of the Arts,” cover story, Nov. 6] was sadly lacking by not including the Butte Folk Music Society. We have been an integral part of the Chico scene for over two decades now. Our organization has brought many performers to Chico to entertain, amuse and enlighten area listeners.

The BFMS has produced from five to 15 concerts a year for nearly three decades now and should be included in any line-up of organizations working to enhance the arts climate in the North Valley. We have a Web site that includes a calendar of events of interest to music lovers in and around the Butte County area at: www.bfms.freeservers.com.

Many of our members are involved in performing music, producing radio shows featuring acoustic, traditional and bluegrass music and being involved in festivals presenting music. We also encourage everyone to join in making music, and we hold acoustic jam sessions at the Bean Scene on the first Saturday of each month from 2 to 5 p.m.

Laurel Paulson-Pierce
Boardmember, BFMS