Chico should annex districts for sake of sewers, services

Illustration by Liz Coffee
Illustration by Liz Coffee

After much protest from concerned residents, Chico City Council has halted their efforts to absorb county islands Chapmantown and Mulberry back into the city proper.

Most students will likely have never heard the names Chapmantown and Mulberry since coming to Chico for college, and that’s just how those neighborhoods want it.

Citizens of these autonomous county islands value their independence from the city of Chico, with such perks as:

  • No animal possession prohibitions
  • The right to burn trash

However, living in a county island also has it’s downsides:

  • No fire coverage and protection
  • No trash pickup
  • No functioning sewage system

Chico City Council recently pushed to annex the neighborhoods back into the city proper and revamp an old septic tank system that is believed to be a hazard to surrounding farmland.

However, these plans were halted after residents raised a stink over the involuntary breach of their independence.

Although these residents have valid concerns about their autonomous lifestyles, annexation is necessary for the benefit of local residents and the county as a whole.

Chapmantown and Mulberry residents live without services that most cities deem vital to a healthy lifestyle. Waste management, fire protection and a police presence are all crucial parts to a functioning city and are all noticeably missing from the two neighborhoods.

The fact that these two neighborhoods have higher poverty and crime rates than the rest of Chico just proves that they would be better off with a little more regulation.

Many Chapmantown and Mulberry residents will argue that they’ve thrived without these services in the past and have no use for them now, but they can’t ignore the county’s environmental concerns. If Chapmantown and Mulberry’s ancient septic tank systems are contaminating local farmland with human waste, then a new sewage system must be installed.

Yes, it’s unfortunate that a low-income neighborhood will be stuck with higher local taxes and fees to pay, but Butte County’s health and farmland has a much higher pricetag.

If the city is willing work with residents to ensure their health and safety, then Chapmantown and Mulberry should reciprocate by joining Chico.

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