Planning Commission leans outward

Slim majority seems to favor adding new growth areas to general plan

Can Chico grow in population without growing outward? That was the central question at the Aug. 21 meeting of the Chico Planning Commission, as it deliberated which of three land-use alternatives to recommend to the City Council.

A final decision was put off to the commission’s Sept. 11 meeting, but it was apparent from the discussion that four of the seven commissioners lean toward Alternative B, the more limited of the two outward-growth choices, while three lean toward Alternative C, which calls for handling growth predominantly via infill and redevelopment of existing areas, not by extending city boundaries.

Based on historic rates, a consultant has estimated Chico will grow by 40,000 people by 2030. Some commissioners argued changed circumstances, including high housing and fuel costs, will make the figure smaller.

Chairman Jon Luvaas, Mary Brownell and John Merz all seemed to favor Alternative C, which is supported by members of the environmental community, while Susan Minasian, Dave Kelley, Tom Hayes and Kathy Barrett viewed Alternative B as a compromise and more reflective of community sentiments. Members of the building industry favor either Alternative A or B.