If you oppose the proposed Valley’s Edge development, you have until Feb. 11 to add your signature in support of the Save Our Hometown referendum.
On Jan. 3, the Chico City Council approved the 1,448-acre project by certifying an Environmental Impact Report and passing a specific plan plus a host of resolutions and ordinances related to the development. On Jan. 6, the Smart Growth Advocates and Valley’s Edge Resistance groups announced the signature drive. If 10 percent of Chico’s registered voters (which comes to roughly 5,800, though organizers are shooting for 8,000) add their names, the development will be blocked until its fate is decided in a special election.
Some of the chief criticisms of Valley’s Edge—which would add up to 2,777 new residences to the lower foothills on the east side of Chico—are the lack of sufficient affordable housing (just nine acres slated for medium-to-high-density residential); wildfire risk and evacuation concerns (this area was at the edge of Camp Fire); and environmental impacts due to the destruction of habitats, additional stress on the water supply and an estimated 23,000 additional automobile trips per day.
Frankly, our biggest issue is with the thread of inevitability running through the comments of those on the Planning Commission and City Council who voted in favor of the project. “I think it’s as good as it can possibly get” was the response of Councilman Sean Morgan, who also made a point during the meeting to question the fact that Councilman Addison Winslow was asking questions. During a public hearing! As the people in position to make decisions on the matter, they certainly could have enforced the standards set forth in the General Plan more rigorously, particularly those pertaining to greenhouse gases from cars (one of two items—the other being disruption of the foothill viewshed—that the EIR judged to be unmitigable in the project’s current form).
There is a specific action put forth in Chico’s General Plan that would potentially help reduce the reliance on cars to and from Valley’s Edge: When planning or retrofitting roadways, consult with BCAG regarding the inclusion of transit stops. Councilman Winslow proposed this as an amendment to the motion on Valley’s Edge, but his motion died due to lack of a second.
It’s plainly stated in The Charter of the City of Chico that legislative power is vested in the people through the initiative and the referendum. If our elected leaders won’t enforce the city’s plan, then it’s up to the citizens to do so.
Find more information on the Valley’s Edge project at chicovalleysedge.com, and on the referendum effort at smartgrowthchico.org and valleysedgeresistance.org. Registered Chico voters can sign the referendum petition at the Butte Environmental Council office, 313 Walnut Ave., noon-6 p.m., and at The Bookstore (118 Main St.).