General Plan 5 Year Review: “It’s Deja Vu All Over Agan”

There’s an important item on the March 21st Chico City Council agenda: Item # 3.2, The General Plan 5 Year Review. The General Plan (GP) is probably the most important document the City has on file.

The GP determines how and where Chico will grow, what it’ll look like as it grows and who’ll benefit from future commercial and residential development. Will we continue with our current plan of a “compact urban form” which calls for more “in-fill” and smaller to medium sized affordable housing developments? Or will developers go for bigger, expensive, outlying housing developments on large lots that contribute to urban sprawl and whose landscaping requires additional water to maintain.

These are issues that affect the homeless population, families wanting to buy a new house, and overall environmental protections, consequences that the Republican, conservative majority (Morgan, Fillmer, Sorensen and Coolidge) on the City Council don’t seem to give a hoot about.

At the City Council meeting on Tuesday, March 21st, anyone can comment on what they want for our GP and a sub-committee of the Chico Chamber of Commerce’s “Legislative Action Committee” has certainly done that. The sub-committee members are all men who work in the real estate or development business, except for Tom Lando, who is a former City Manager of Chico.  Among other changes to our GP, the sub-committee wants to convert the Architectural Review and Historic Preservation Board (ARHP) to an “Appeals” board only.  Consequently, the only way the public could oppose a project that might affect them or their neighborhood would be to go through the expensive appeals process that requires a fee of $200.00.  Neither the Planning Commission nor the city staff recommend this change to the ARHP.

The Chamber’s sub-committee also wants to make it easier for developers to get around the 50% Shade In 15 Years requirement for planting trees on parking lots. This is not good because we need more trees and more shade on big-box commercial parking lots, not fewer trees.

Here’s a list of the Chico Chamber of Commerce’s Legislative Action sub-committee members who want to make these changes to our GP. Some of the names may be familiar to you from past environmental and development issues: as Yogi Berra would say, “It’s déjà vu all over again.”

Bill Brouhard, Guillion, Brouhard Commercial Real Estate [of Otterson Drive fame]

Pat Conroy, Conroy Construction, Inc.

Matt Gallaway, RGA Architecture and Engineering

Chris Giampaoli, Epick Homes

Tom Lando, Chair, Legislative Action Committee [and former Chico City Manager]

Jake Morley, Guillion, Inc.

Jim Stevens, Principal, NorthStar [Engineering]

In a recent survey of local businesses by Golden Valley Bank, 74% of those surveyed said that Trump would help the economy. You can bet the guys on the Chamber’s sub-committee were among the 74%.

Please attend the Tuesday, March 21st City Council meeting and speak up for what you want for our General Plan. Here’s the link to the Chico General Plan 5 Year Review so you can read it and decide for yourself:

Click to access AnnualReportGP_2012_Final.pdf

Link to Attachment K, the Chamber of Commerce’s list of proposed changes to our General Plan:,-178,123

Link to the Golden Valley Bank survey:

Homeless person sleeping at a bus stop in Chico.

In-fill project in Chico.

New development across from “Bidwell Ranch,” zoned Open Space for now.

Nice new sidewalk and smooth street, new development off 11th Ave.

Crumbling infrastructure in the “Streets” neighborhood of Chico.

Uneven, weird sidewalk in “Avenues” neighborhood, Chico

Old Diamond Match property waiting to be developed.  But it’s polluted so probably won’t happen for a while.

Dying parking lot trees on existing WalMart parking lot.

Old Blockbuster parking lot with no trees. Really hot in the summer.

Bike commuter during rush hour traffic on Mangrove Ave.

We need safer, smooth streets for biking commuters and pedestrians to get around Chico safely.

Unfortunately, what we have instead are big pot-holes in the Streets, Avenues and Barber neighborhoods.