New nuisance code on the ballot

City Council approves "Quality of Life" act for voters in November

With little resistance and one final revision, Chico’s so-called Quality of Life Act is heading to the November ballot.

The Chico City Council, at a special meeting Thursday evening (Aug. 4), approved a measure to let voters decide whether to add city-owned spaces to public nuisance codes. The ordinance would give the city 20 business days after a resident files a complaint to resolve the issue or explain why it isn’t required to do so.

Vice Mayor Kasey Reynolds proposed additional language, approved by her colleagues, that would allow a two-thirds supermajority of the council to modify the ordinance “to further the purpose of the act,” such as revising the 20-day timeline.

That addressed a concern raised by Councilman Dale Bennett, both at the special meeting and Tuesday’s regular meeting when the council instructed City Attorney Vince Ewing to incorporate other suggestions from Reynolds into a measure already redrafted from the broader proposal she’d initially brought forward, titled Chico’s Quality of Life Act.

The amendment—and the expectation from new City Manager Mark Sorensen that employees could handle complaints within “normal city operations”—swayed Mayor Andrew Coolidge, who joined the 5-0 vote approving the ballot measure with Reynolds’ addendum. (Alex Brown and Sean Morgan were absent.)

Only two members of the public spoke on the measure: Patrick Newman against, Rob Berry in favor. Newman told council members they already had approved a quality of life measure for November, a 1 percent sales tax increase that would improve city services and infrastructure, and that putting the ordinance on the ballot versus adopting it by council vote reduced flexibility to adjust it. There’s “no upside” to this route, he continued, “other than it gives you some strategic advantage in the electoral process.”

The council faced a deadline of Aug. 9 to approve a measure in order for the Butte County Board of Supervisors, which meets that day, to ratify its inclusion on the consolidated election ballot.

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