Today I will get on my 1956 Raleigh Superbe roadster and trundle through the muck of Bidwell Park in 38 degrees to attend a city of Chico Finance Committee meeting. I’m just guessing on the temperature, that’s what it was on my patio yesterday at 8 am.
I’ll tell you why I do it – I hate surprises. Discussions are had at these morning meetings – by the time an issue gets to the full council meeting – sometimes years later – it’s been decided, and there’s a very small window for running any type of referendum. Council meetings are little more than rubber stamp sessions. Every now and then a councilor takes a stand – usually because he/she knows an unpopular motion is going to pass, and they can make a show for the peanut gallery.
I’m giving up a morning’s work for this, and I always go back and forth on attending these meetings. I know my husband would like me to quit and pay more attention to our private affairs, but he’s intelligent enough to know – these people make decisions that land like monkey wrenches in our personal lives and business. Decisions they’ve made over the last five to ten years have taken Chico down quite a notch – you just had to be here to watch the bums roll in, the streets crack up, our premier park – one of the largest city parks in the continental United States – turn into a rambling bum camp full of invasive non-native species and rot. Meanwhile the cost of housing has tripled. Ten years ago we talked about Economic Development – now whole meetings are devoted to worsening crime, financial deficit, and giving of raises to city management. I know – that last one doesn’t make sense, does it?
Today they will put the stick to local developers, telling them they need to pay drastically higher fees – or, start building higher densities. Real developers – people who build homes – know the buyers want a bigger house with a yard. But $taff tells us these high density subdivisions will bring lower impacts (and out of the other side of their mouth, they remind council more housing brings more property taxes…)
So I get on my old ‘cycle and head Downtown – for what? To be a witness? Surely nothing I do will make any change. Or will it? Never know until you try.