Why Chico thrives

Last week the Chico City Council embroiled itself in what appeared on the surface to be a nonsensical witch-hunt of city commissioners who’d angered some in the community with offense words they’d uttered in their capacity as public servants. Indeed, for many, the fact that such a meeting was held in the first place was offensive.

It’s easy to dismiss the whole thing as a tempest in a teapot, a politically motivated rumble during an election year, a childish temper tantrum played out in a public venue. But it was also a sign of how much people in this town, regardless of political persuasion, care about its future. Both sides can be misguided, inappropriate, obnoxious and rude, but each operates from a position in which they truly believe what they want is best for the city.

The motivations, unless guided by financial gain, are pure. Some want growth, which they say is essential to the health of the city. If we don’t have jobs, the young folks will move away and the city’s vibrancy will wither. Sales tax pays the way for local government, they argue, meaning two Wal-Mart Supercenters are better than the one that we still don’t have.

On the other hand, slow-growth advocates argue, unbridled growth will surely erode what makes Chico attractive in the first place. These people see intrinsic value in the open spaces others see as wasted space.

Then there is the ongoing philosophical argument over the proper use of park land. Should all areas of Bidwell Park be open to access and the attendant recreation or should some of it be viewed as a preserve for the protection of the flora and fauna that reside there? It all depends on who you ask. And in Chico there is no shortage of people willing to supply answers to such questions.

And there is absolutely nothing wrong with this situation. It’s healthy.

The day nobody shows up in the City Council chambers to fight for a cause, no matter how ill-conceived, insignificant or offensive, all is lost. Until then, we welcome these chamber battles and applaud those who wage them, no matter which side they are on.