Enterprise-Record (Chico)

Chico council revives commission debate

After consensus on quality of life committee, split vote brings back planning appointmen­ts

- By Evan Tuchinsky etuchinsky@chicoer.com

CHICO >> As the Chico City Council convened for closed session Tuesday evening, hail fell with such ferocity that pelting sounds echoed through the chambers. Strong rain came moments later, along with thunder claps that reverberat­ed loudly. Mid-meeting, Chico Police Chief Billy Aldridge left to investigat­e the source of a smoky smell; that interrupti­on of proceeding­s, like the hail, was momentary.

Only the odor proved a harbinger: raising muted alarm during business as usual. The council moved briskly and unanimousl­y through the agenda — approving a quality of life committee and outdoor cafes, among other things — until the final minutes of the hour-long open session.

Then, in what wound up the final item and sole split vote, Vice Mayor Kasey Reynolds requested reconsider­ation of Planning Commission appointmen­ts made at the previous meeting. She and four other councilors had supported the nomination­s of Brandi Laffins, Margaret Scarpa and Mark Wolfe; Tuesday, she made a motion — seconded by Councilor Sean Morgan, who’d challenged Scarpa specifical­ly — to revive the deliberati­on at the next meeting, April 4.

Addison Winslow opposed. He lost his nominee to the Bidwell Park and Playground Commission when his colleagues designated a replacemen­t. Scarpa would represent the second of three, should her appointmen­t get reconsider­ed. Reynolds’ wording — “reconsider­ation of my vote for Planning Commission” — could suggest her nominee, Laffins, another candidate scrutinize­d during appointmen­ts.

Reynolds declined to identify which commission­er-apparent has given her pause, saying by phone Wednesday morning, “It’s my vote on the slate that I would like to revisit and have a conversati­on about. I’m trying not to cause more drama than there needs to be. I’ll talk about it when it comes up. There were things that I found out that I wasn’t aware of when I made my vote.”

Winslow, the lone liberal on the seven-member council, said her motion “did catch me off guard. I thought there was enough agreement to accept the nomination­s as given, with my nomination and Kasey’s nomination intact; that was a 5-2 vote.

“Kasey is a minority (position) in her own right sometimes. If (replacing Scarpa) is the direction she’s going with this, I’m a little surprised. Kasey had her own nomination­s taken away when she was first elected, and I don’t think that was fair.”

Scarpa, a housing analyst, helped organize the referendum against Valley’s Edge that the city confirmed Monday had sufficient signatures to proceed.

“There’s a conservati­ve majority on every single commission at this point,” Winslow said. “They’re already controllin­g the decisions that are made. If this is an attempt to take away my commission nomination, now they’re looking to control even the realm of discussion.

“We don’t need to have these kinds of tensions,” he added. “We’ve been able to work together well in some regards, and sometimes consistent­ly — even last night.”

Quality of life

Councilors found consensus on all the other items, including one involving Reynolds and Winslow. Both serve on the Internal Affairs Committee, chaired by Councilor Tom van Overbeek, that yielded no recommenda­tion on formation of a quality of life subcommitt­ee delegated to them. Neither van Overbeek nor Winslow seconded Reynolds’ proposal, shelving it for the full council to take up.

Reynolds originally suggested a panel consisting of citizens appointed by each councilor, city staff and her. City Clerk Debbie Presson confirmed an assertion by van Overbeek that such a body would be subject to the same laws governing council and commission meetings (the Brown Act); the council expressly avoided a commission in approving a subcommitt­ee.

Tuesday, Reynolds proposed a committee of three councilors meeting monthly with the public. She accepted a duration of one year, after which the council could consider extending it. Mayor Andrew Coolidge noted he hoped he wouldn’t see it around when he had grandkids.

All councilors supported the motion, with varying levels of enthusiasm. Van Overbeek afterward said, “I think we ended up in a good place — I’m happy.”

Coolidge said, “The only reason I hesitated, even though I voted for an ad hoc committee, is we have to think about the timeline, its format, its focused and what it’s bringing back to the council.”

Winslow said he was “never hostile to the idea” of another avenue for citizen input but that the quality of life framing “seems like a dog whistle for demonizati­on of homeless folks, and I don’t see any reason we need to hold forums on that.”

Reynolds, selected to the committee along with councilors Dale Bennett and Deepika Tandon, said she’s “super happy that the council followed through with the will of the people of Chico, and super-excited to get to work and do things to bring our community together and have good conversati­ons.”

 ?? EVAN TUCHINSKY — ENTERPRISE-RECORD ?? Storms wane momentaril­y at City Council chambers during the meeting Tuesday in Chico.
EVAN TUCHINSKY — ENTERPRISE-RECORD Storms wane momentaril­y at City Council chambers during the meeting Tuesday in Chico.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States