Uncertain day in the neighborhood

A resident of Chico’s The Avenues neighborhood and a Durham educator

It’s 2002. Can you say “growing"? Can you say “changing"? Is there anyone who doesn’t already feel the difference in the greater Chico area? There are 12 targeted growth areas, and whether you reside in one of them or not, it’s a good time to pay attention, stay current on the plans for Chico’s growth, and be proactive.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines “neighborhood” as “a district or an area with distinctive characteristics; the people who live near one another or in a particular district or area; and the surrounding area.” Given that definition, it appears that we are all neighbors within the greater Chico urban area.

If you have a strong opinion about growth in your neighborhood, it’s time to educate yourself on the current zoning and land uses. It’s time to attend some Butte County and Chico Planning Commission and City Council meetings to hear what growth and changes could be coming soon to your neighborhood. It’s time to rally neighbors and write letters to the county and city departments, governing bodies and the newspapers. It’s time to meet with county supervisors, city and county department personnel, city councilmembers, neighbors, the media and people who can share their experiences. It is possible to access information from the Internet, and, as difficult an experience as it might be, it’s time to speak at the meetings and let your voice be heard!

Growth and change are inevitable. Now is not the time to be complacent about what Chico will be like in the future. At a November Planning Commission meeting about the rezone/prezone proposal for The Avenues neighborhood, 14 people living in the 290 affected properties came to listen, ask questions or speak. At the City Council meetings on the same issue two months later, there was an equal or smaller number. I hope many more watched the meetings on Channel 11.

Neighbors, if you appreciate the character of Chico—the people, its history, the land and trees, the vibrant downtown, businesses and the university, the architecture, its neighborhoods—then speak up! There is no guarantee that the greater-Chico-area neighborhoods of the future will look like or feel like the Chico of today.

As a child, I was powerless to do anything about the last apricot and cherry orchards and the small vegetable farms in the Bay Area that were turned into subdivisions of houses, apartment complexes, shopping malls and expressways. As an adult, a resident of the one property I own, a taxpayer, a registered voter and a person who enjoys the character of past and present-day Chico, I became proactive about preserving my immediate neighborhood. Protecting my immediate Chico neighborhood was worth all the time and effort my neighbors and I spent. I wasn’t going to sit back and just let future growth change the neighborhood.

The discussions and studies being done on the targeted growth areas have just begun. If you feel strongly about development within or around your neighborhood, your quality of life, the character of Chico or the changes that will come with the future growth of the greater Chico area neighborhood, now is the time to act!