Park work

A company called PC Exploration, Inc., out of Rocklin is drilling holes through the pavement and deep into the soil that lies beneath the city parking lot at Second and Wall streets. The company’s drilled a number of holes at different spots, covered them with barrels and tied plastic “No parking” signs over the parking meter heads in the spaces now occupied by the barrels. The city has hired the company to check the bearing capacity of the soil to determine the best way to build a parking structure there. At this point, about $100,000 has been dedicated to meeting with parking structure experts and paying to test the soil. If the plan unfolds, community meetings will be held in April, and the City Council will be asked to approve the structure go-ahead sometime in May. Then the city will conduct an environmental-impact report ($400,000). We’ll pay for the new multi-level parking lot through a bond that will be paid off through a doubling of the current parking meter fees—from 25 to 50 cents an hour—and perhaps the extension of the hours and days parking-meter use is enforced.

Will the proposal to build this parking structure meet the same resistance as the one built 10 years ago on Salem between Third and Fourth streets? Some of the parking-structure opponents from that fight—dubbed “non-producers” at the time by former Councilman Mark Francis—are still around but hold different roles. Scott Gruendl is now the city’s mayor; Richard Elsom has a job with the Downtown Chico Business Association, a group that most likely favors building the structure; and former Councilmen David Guzzetti and Mike McGinnis now work in the private sector. The councilman who cast the deciding vote back then, with a number caveats that were never carried out, was Jim Owens. He’s no longer in politics and teaches at Chico State. In fact, none of the current councilmembers were in office a decade ago. Tim Bousquet, one-time newsstand owner and independent newspaper publisher, is now reportedly in Nova Scotia following a brief stop in Arkansas. Look for the structure to dominate the headlines in coming months as some downtown business owners fight for its construction on the assumption that more parking spots will bring them more customers. Other business owners may argue, however, that the very construction of the new structure and the temporary elimination of the spaces currently provided by the existing lot could well put them out of business.

Last Sunday my son and I watched two crows in a dog fight with a larger bird that I can only guess was a hawk. The crows worked together in a magnificently coordinated air attack that eventually chased the hawk from the area. All three birds disappeared from our view, and few seconds later the crows flew back over, cackling their congratulations to one another. Later in the day I spotted a dead crow in the east-bound bike lane of East Avenue near Alamo Street. There was a group of children looking at the crow and a little girl started poking at the feathery corpse with a stick. That didn’t seem like such a good idea and I told her so. An hour or so later, I saw a second dead crow lying on the east-bound car lane of East Avenue, a couple of miles from where I spotted the first one. Very unusual. What killed these two crows? Were these the ones who’d chased the hawk and then made to pay for there aggression in the bird wars? Or were they, more likely, early season victims of the West Nile virus?

That was certainly an odd choice of photos the Enterprise-Record ran last Monday of golfer Phil Mickelson and, we guess, his caddy following the golfer’s next-to-last putt at the Ford Championship in Doral. Fla. He missed and the AP photographer caught them in a strangely erotic pose.

A word of advice: Never invite a chimpanzee to a birthday party.