Slow and steady wins the race

It was business as usual at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, with the supes moving slowly but steadily toward some of their long-term goals, including creating a new general plan and updating standards for curbs, sewers and roads.

In accepting a draft report on “improvement standards,” the board took a step toward creating a complete set of codes used to design county-provided amenities, such as curbs, gutters and street signs.

And, though it was just a tentative step, the board seemed heartened by County Counsel Bruce Alpert’s update on plans to “provide a framework” for future general plan discussions.

Alpert told the board he had hired two consultants, attorney William Abbott and planning consultant Lawrence Mintier, to help map out what he called “phase I” of the general plan update. He also stressed the importance of getting the plan updated as soon as possible.

“We want people to know that when they come to Butte County to develop, that they can do so under a legal general plan,” he said. “We’re going to make the plan a document where there is no question of its legality.”

Another item on the board’s agenda, brought by Paradise Supervisor Kim Yamaguchi, was a discussion of the possible new federal designation of the Feather Falls National Scenic Area. Having been alerted to the possible change by Congressman Wally Herger, Yamaguchi said he wanted the board to discuss the possible implications of Sen. Barbara Boxer’s proposal to designate Feather Falls as a federal wilderness area. The new distinction would provide additional protections for the land, which is located inside the Plumas National Forest.

Yamaguchi said he was concerned that the move could take away from “local control of our resources.”

“Is this going to be another revenue drain on this area? What about water issues?” he asked.

Jessica Rios, a local spokeswoman for the environmental group Friends of the River, gave a short presentation to the board in an attempt to address those issues. Rios said the new designation would actually help the local economy by bringing in more tourists to see the falls and would protect water quality by ensuring that no development took place within the 9,000-acre boundary proposed for the area around the falls.

“In the last decade, California lost 97 acres of wilderness a day,” she said. “Just because the area is pristine now doesn’t mean it will always be that way.”

The board, acting on Chief Administrative Officer Paul McIntosh’s suggestion, directed staff to seek more information about the proposal from Senator Boxer.

The one surprise at the meeting was a pleasant one for Chico Supervisor Mary Anne Houx, who received recognition for her 10 years of service to the county. Board Chairman Curt Josiassen read a county proclamation in her honor and presented Houx with a gift.

Houx thanked the board, saying, "I have endured."