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The Orion

Chico City Council considers proposals for housing, downtown access

Senior Planner Mike Sawley giving presentation to Chico City Council on General Plan 2030 and Municipal Code. Photo credit: Angelina Mendez

Chico City Council’s Tuesday meeting remembered Camp Fire victims and discussed Chico’s General Plan for 2030.

Mayor Randall Stone opened the meeting with an official declaration of November being Youth Homelessness Month, adding that on Friday morning, 85 seconds of silence will be held in light of the one-year Camp Fire anniversary.

Although there were many discussion points on the night’s regular agenda, a majority of the meeting discussed the Community Development Director and Planning Commission recommendation.

This recommendation called for acknowledgement of the amendments to height limits and density in high transit corridors, as well as the proposed joint powers agreements to form the community choice aggregation plan for Butte Choice Energy Authority and the estimated changes to parking rates.

The first public hearing held was on the amendments for the municipal code and the 2030 General Plan.

“The proposed amendments would bifurcate the density and structural height allowances on COS sites such that projects would be permitted a base-allowed density and height limit, and a bonus allowance for density up 70 units per acre and structural height up to 65 feet, subject to specific findings,” senior planner Mike Sawley said, on the provided agenda to the public from the city council.

Council members Sean Morgan, Kasey Reynolds, and Ann Schwab were excused from the discussion due to a conflict of interest with the topic.

Sawley presented an argument that the recommendation would be beneficial to the city council’s goals of bringing in more population and having affordable housing.

There were five public speakers during the public hearing: Supervisor of Butte County Tami Ritter, Jim Stevens, Bill Marsh, Ruth Sarnoff, and Garrett G.

Ritter and the rest of the public speakers shared the belief that the amendment wouldn’t benefit the infill and would drive developers to seek out smaller-density projects.

“We can’t be doing things the way that we’ve done them,” Ritter said. “We are no longer looking at 10-year plans, we are looking at five-year plans. We have to start thinking differently about how we plan for density. We would love to see density bonuses.”

The meeting proceeded after the council made no motion, or voted to advance, which causes the General Plan to remain intact. Mayor Stone explained throughout the discussion the polices and regulations behind council member refusals.

After Erik Gustafson, director of Public Works, presented the Community Choice Aggregation in conjunction with Butte County, the council voted 5-2 to approve the request.

Towards the end of the meeting, recommendations of analysts that released recent studies on the parking areas in downtown were heard by the council.

The City Council accepted the Downtown Access Action Plan, which provides multiple recommendations for Downtown parking management and parking improvements. The plan includes near-term implementation of “Tiered Rate Structure,” “Employee Parking,” “Enforcement Hours,” “Wayfinding” and “Outdoor Cafes,” according to director of Public Works Brendan Ottoboni.

The next City Council meeting will be held on Nov. 14 at 6 p.m. in the council chambers at the City Council Chambers.

Angelina Mendez can be contacted at [email protected] or @theorion_angie on Twitter.

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