Tree tags

Despite the fact that the City Council has directed city staff to prepare an environmental-impact report that will give equal consideration to any number of options for the proposed parking garage, Muni Lot No. 1 at Second and Wall streets continues to look like the favored site. In recent weeks, trees there have been nailed with round silver metal tags for identification purposes. Urban Forester Chris Boza called the markers inventory tags, “so that when somebody talks about a tree they can say, ‘It’s oak, it’s No. 3, No. 2 or No. 5.’ It lets you know which tree is which.” Pressed further, Boza said, “They’re being tagged because of the study being done in association with the parking structure.” (When it’s time for them to go, the trees will get an orange X spray-painted on their trunks.) Muni Lot No. 1 is where the city and the folks who run the Downtown Chico Business Association want the new garage to go. One former elected city official told me there are two things driving the structure toward the Second and Wall site. First, the DCBA people don’t much care for the Saturday Farmers’ Market. The farmers don’t pay the mandatory DCBA membership fees or sales tax, for that matter, so why should the DCBA care about those farmers? Second, the structure will never be built on the lot that serves the Chico Municipal Building, the option that Vice-Mayor Maureen Kirk has suggested. It won’t be built there, according to my source, because city staff doesn’t want to be inconvenienced for the year or so it will take to build a structure. Neither would I. But here’s the deal. I’ve worked at this office on the corner of Second and Flume streets for the past 10 years. I can park for free if I’m willing to walk two blocks. Still, I think there is probably no stopping a massive parking garage covering an entire city block from being built on the spot where the Farmers’ Market has conducted business for the last dozen years. It’s the definition, in some folks’ minds, of progress; the urbanization of Chico as explored in this week’s cover story. It’s just like the board game Monopoly. Those with the greatest holdings win—except in this version, there’s no free parking.

Fran Farley, who has a letter in this week’s paper, is not going into that good night gently in his fight to save the old Humboldt Wagon Road. On June 7 the approval of the Oak Valley housing project is on the City Council’s consent agenda. Farley does not think the project makes enough concessions toward preserving the historic road. Matters on the consent agenda are normally passed en masse with other items deemed “non-controversial.” Look for the matter to be pulled by a councilmember for further discussion at the June 7 meeting. It is important to have people like Farley out there to help slow down this town’s eventual total pave-over.

The last two Saturdays have found me and a couple of buddies at the fledgling Chico Air Museum at the Chico Municipal Airport. There are five vintage planes parked there now, including a Russian paratrooper transport biplane that allows access to the cockpit and all its toggle switches and levers and other controls. The silver plane, built circa 1939, is a beauty with its red star and hammer and sickle insignias on the sides. This weekend, the museum will host the Collings Foundation’s Wings of Freedom Tour, which will bring in a WW II vintage B-17 Flying Fortress and a B-24 Liberator. The planes will be there on Sunday, June 5, through Tuesday, June 7. Check it out and support the museum, if you can.

The Enterprise-Record has taken a page from our publication and started its own best-of awards. They call theirs the Golden Oak Awards, and in a handsome insert in their daily paper this week they announced the winners. Best Veterinarian went to the “Erickson Veterinary Hospitol” (sic), followed by the “Forest Animal Hospitol” (sic) and the “Mangrove Veterinary Hospitol” (sic). “Best Desert” (sic) went, surprisingly, not to the Mojave or the Gobi but rather Shubert’s Ice Cream & Candy. Best Law Firm: Tracy Tully-Davis, whose offices, according to the accompanying photo, are located in the 5th Street Steakhouse building. Finally, the Enterprise-Record won Best Media Source. Man, who saw that coming? Runners-up were KNVN and KHSL. Hey, aren’t they the same? I guess we came in fourth. This year we will include in our categories a Best Best-of Award.