The Avenues need city’s attention

Historic but long-ignored neighborhood is in dire need of help

The author, a Chico resident, is a retired family practice and psychiatric nurse practitioner.

I’m tired of the giant entities Enloe Medical Center and Chico State doing land grabs at the expense of older neighborhoods with the support of the City Council.

These two institutions have bought up local residential properties at a time when we have a desperate shortage of affordable housing. Another university parking lot on Warner Street is not in line with sustainability practices. It will destroy housing stock, take out trees and increase traffic flow on West First and Sacramento avenues.

These types of expansionist practices have helped destroy the Avenues neighborhoods—turning the houses into short-term rentals with slumlords who do minimal repairs and violate code and building standards that the city rarely cites. We have one of the highest concentrations of car accidents on West First Avenue and it is unfair and potentially deadly to expect residents and students to bear the brunt of more traffic volumes in this area without mitigations.

The city has long ignored the problems in this area—withholding funding for positive changes to revitalize and maintain the quality of life in the neighborhoods surrounding the college, high school, hospital and downtown. The city needs to protect the homeowners left on Warner by controlling dust, noise and pollution, and increasing greenscape.

Here are some suggestions for ways to improve the area: 1) Lower and enforce traffic speeds; 2) install sidewalk bulb-outs and crosswalks at all cross streets on West First and Sacramento avenues for pedestrian safety; 3) build bicycle lanes on both thoroughfares to promote safe bicycling over driving; 4) put in metered parking in the same region, with fewer parking spaces to improve driver visibility, including when pulling out from the cross streets; 5) install residential parking designation on the cross streets to encourage students, professors and staff to actually park in the new lot, instead of in the neighborhood.

Annie Bidwell helped envision these older neighborhoods. It’s long overdue for the city to step up to the plate and be of assistance, not a menace, to their well-being.