Oroville Mercury-Register

Chico City Council creates quality of life panel

Outdoor cafes also get unanimous approval

- By Evan Tuchinsky etuchinsky@chicoer.com

Contrastin­g volatile conditions outside, the Chico City Council eased through Tuesday night’s meeting with a series of unanimous votes, including the establishm­ent of a councilor committee on quality of life issues and a framework for permanent parklets downtown.

Hail and thunder punctuated the closed session period, perhaps contributi­ng to sparse public participat­ion. Of the dozen citizens in attendance, four addressed the council — three on the quality of life item.

In the summer, while approving the initiative on public nuisances that became Measure L, the council delegated a panel on quality of life to the Internal Affairs Committee. That three-councilor group met March 6 but produced no proposal for their colleagues to consider.

Three speakers advocated for the additional forum. “I fail to see the redundancy” between comments at council meetings and a dedicated panel, Michele Cooper said; Nichole Nava added, “At its face, I don’t see the harm in hearing from the community.” Rob Berry spoke to skeptical councilors: “No one is requiring you to participat­e — (just) don’t stand in the way.”

Berry and Vice Mayor Kasey Reynolds, who’d pushed for the subcommitt­ee at Internal Affairs, linked the creation of a panel to voters’ support of Measure L, which passed with 60% approval. Internal Affairs Chair Tom van Overbeek said neither the measure nor the council’s resolution on it mentioned a board, committee or commission — but one could have merit nonetheles­s.

Ultimately, councilors agreed to a committee with a one-year duration consisting of three councilors: Reynolds, Dale Bennett and Deepika Tandon. The committee will hold monthly meetings; Reynolds suggested the group would lay out topics to discuss.

Other items

Temporary parklets, set up during the peak of the pandemic, went away when the city’s emergency declaratio­n ended Dec. 1. Councilors directed city staff to come up with a permanent solution; Tuesday, they assessed

amendments to city code. Deputy City Manager Jennifer Macarthy presented proposed changes, including a permitting process, for what the city is now calling outdoor cafes.

Each al fresco dining space could take up to three diagonal parking spaces and extend eight feet from

the curb. Unlike with the parklets, an eatery need not serve alcoholic beverages. On a motion by Reynolds, councilors approved the plan 7-0.

Councilors additional­ly approved a labor agreement covering workers at the Water Pollution Control Plant (i.e., wastewater treatment) through June 2025; reallocate­d $4.5 million in surplus funds from the 202122 budget; and authorized establishi­ng a maintenanc­e district for Magnolia Gardens, a subdivisio­n on East Avenue between Ceanothus and Mariposa avenues. All the votes were unanimous.

The consent agenda contained a three-year contract for the city to fund the Downtown Chico Business Associatio­n, which the council also approved unanimousl­y (albeit 6-0; Reynolds, a downtown business owner, abstained).

The only split vote came on the last item of business, a request from Reynolds for reconsider­ation of Planning Commission nomination­s ratified at the last meeting. Councilor Addison Winslow, who had his planning commission­er reprieved but his his park commission­er replaced, voted against setting a future redelibera­tion; his was the only dissent.

All councilors had agreed to discuss how to allocate sales tax funds from Measure H before staff formulates the 2023-24 budget.

 ?? EVAN TUCHINSKY — ENTERPRISE-RECORD ?? Amid wet weather, attendance is sparse at the City Council meeting Tuesday in Chico.
EVAN TUCHINSKY — ENTERPRISE-RECORD Amid wet weather, attendance is sparse at the City Council meeting Tuesday in Chico.

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