City council denies appeal against Simplicity Village

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A closer look at the tiny house. Photo credit: Mary Vogel

A special meeting was held Tuesday by the City Council in the Council Chambers to discuss the appeal to a prior decision on a housing facility for the homeless.

The appeal was placed on a Planning Commission decision to uphold and make the east side of Notre Dame Boulevard and south of Morrow Lane a space for a temporary emergency facility for the homeless.

33 tiny homes were approved to be built on June 14 by an Official Director Interpretation. The tiny homes would provide a central kitchen/dining area as well as a place to sleep for those without shelter.

On June 24, an appeal was filed, and on August 1, the Planning Commission denied the appeal by a 6-0-1 vote and upheld the OPDI classification of Simplicity Village as a temporary Emergency Facility.

Finally on August 12, the Planning Commission’s decision was appealed to the City Council.

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A closer look at the tiny house. Photo credit: Mary Vogel

“We made a shelter crisis declaration,” said Mayor Randall Stone. “We are not able to house regular residents, those that precariously house, we are not able to house Camp Fire residents. We have a less than one percent vacancy rate and have for years. Since the city doesn’t own the land or build and run apartment complexes, that’s up to the private sector.”

46 people came and spoke at the open hearing, unanimously in favor of denying the appeal and moving forward with Simplicity Village to help the homeless problem in Chico.

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Council members listening to the proposed resolution to the housing crisis. Photo credit: Mary Vogel

“This is not a popularity contest,” said appellant Rob Berry. “This is a legal question as to whether or not the Planning Department of this city exceeds its authorized administrative discretion. Or whether it can reach so far in its interpretation of the law such that the laws no longer apply because the end results are so desirable.”

The City Council went to a vote and rejected the appeal on Simplicity Village 5-1. Kasey Reynolds was the lone supporter of the appeal, with Sean Morgan was absent from the meeting.

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Mayor Randall Stone listens to the speaker's as they share their grievances Photo credit: Mary Vogel

“Property owners can move forward with the development,” said Stone.

“There is a potential that there would be a legal appeal filed in the courts. Given the nature of these types of things, I’m sure that will occur, but whether that will be adjoined is the larger question. I just cannot see, under a federal disaster declaration with a shelter crisis, that by any objective measurable standard, that a court would enjoin such a project of 33 units.”

Ricardo Tovar can be reached at [email protected] or @rtovarg13 on Twitter.