Protestors gather before City Council meeting over new ordinance vote


On Tuesday night the Chico City Council proposed changes to the titles 9, 12, and 12r of the Chico municipal code. 

Citizens gathered that evening in protest of the recent shooting of Guy Steven Van Zandt and injury of one other, both targeted for being unhoused.

“Why is Chico so full of hatred for homeless people?” A protester and Chico resident, Bryce Goldstein asked the crowd gathered before council chambers. 

This proposal, which was in favor passed 4-3, altered language within the ordinance to better allow police to enforce the removal of unhoused individuals from public city property under the pretense  that there are spaces in shelters elsewhere in the city. This change in ordinance also defined the Chico airport as an adequate shelter location.

This decision was met with contentious reactions from the public.

“You remove the support for providing basic sanitation needs for the unhoused, then you callously work to prevent service providers from paying for basic sanitation needs,” Chico resident Angela Risdon said before the council. “Now you want to create the false sense of a new crisis to pass this ordinance.”

Patrick Newman, a citizen of Chico, criticized the council for the lack of mental health services available. He referenced the mass deinstitutionalization that happened in California during the 1960’s, and said it was the community’s responsibility to take up the slack and they failed to do so.

“Housing stabilizes lives,” Newman said.

Charles Withuhn presents the council with the photos of unhoused individuals in the community and their stories. Photo taken by Ava Norgrove Sep. 7

Jessica Giannola also expressed her anger with the council. 

“You ask us to remember that you’re human and that you have feelings too, so that when you go home at the end of the night, maybe you go with a little less guilt or a little less stress from our comments weighing on you,” she said. “An important fact here is that you have a home to go to at night. There are people that your decisions impact that do not have a home or safe place to sleep at night, and they remain in that situation today in large part because of your leadership and the things that you say and fail to say.” 

Others agreed with the council’s decision to change the ordinances and called for extreme action.

“We have professional transients coming here every day telling us that their friends told us to come here,” said Laurie Maloney, Chico resident. “They are here for the handouts and here to victimize our community.”

Local business owner Jesse Grigg addressed the council to discuss how the unhoused situation affected him. He said, “On a daily basis we deal with feces and urine on our doorstep, used needles, vandalism, car break-ins and harassment of our staff and patrons.” He told the council about the theft and vandalism he battled.

“ Nobody feels safe out there anymore,” Grigg said. 

Despite the  debate waging in the council chambers, the council itself was silent and did not comment on the  homelessness before voting to push through the changes to the ordinances. 

The changes to the ordinance will not go into effect until the current court case, Warren vs. City of Chico, is settled and the referendum is lifted by Senior Judge Morrison C. England Jr.

 Protest signs decrying the treatment of unhoused individuals in the community left outside Chico City Council chambers. Photo taken by Ava Norgrove on Sep. 7

Ava Norgrove can be reached at [email protected]