CHICO — Housing will be the hot topic Tuesday in and outside of Chico City Council Chambers as organizers of the Valley’s Edge referendum plan a protest before councilors hold two public hearings related to housing.
The group calling itself Stop Valley’s Edge – Vote No! announced it will stage a “living cartoon” at 5 p.m., starting in City Plaza and continuing across Main Street in front of council chambers. The time corresponds with when councilors convene for closed session for an hour ahead of open session, for which an update of the city’s housing element highlights the agenda.
Stop Valley’s Edge – Vote No! plans to deploy puppets in what it calls “a dramatic presentation of the case against Valley’s Edge.” The referendum proponents assert the Valley’s Edge Specific Plan, which the council approved but goes to voters in the 2024 primary, would cause “increased traffic, fire risk and negative economic impacts” along with “water depletion, unneeded high-end housing (and) the loss of open space and of plant and animal habitat.”
Rob Berry, a local attorney who supports the plan, said the referendum passing would give the Valley’s Edge property owners “the option of abandoning their specific plan, foregoing annexation by the city of Chico and applying for a subdivision map with the county, which entitles them to create 15-acre ranchettes and sell them off to those who can afford them.
“Battles over the false narratives of these referendums are why Chico can’t seem to have nice things,” he added. “Winning will be worse than losing.”
Valley’s Edge responded to the protest announcement with a statement saying, “The housing problem in the city of Chico affects real people and real families. Real solutions must be found if we are going to keep Chico the special community it is.”
The council will receive public input before deciding whether to adopt two plans related to housing. The first covers funding from the federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and Home Investment Partnerships (HOME) programs. The second — and potentially more controversial — involves the pending update to the housing element, which the city must conduct every eight years.
City planning staff submitted a draft to the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) last September, but the state pushed it back. After three revisions, each of which received public comment, HCD determined the current version “complies with the statutory requirements of state housing element law and can now be adopted by the City Council,” according to the staff report from city Housing Manager Marie Demers and Community Development Director Brendan Vieg.
The document up for approval is accessible via chicohousingelement.com.
City Manager Mark Sorensen scheduled no items of regular business Tuesday. The consent agenda includes ratification of two nuisance abatement changes authorized at the previous meeting, involving derelict buildings and stray shopping carts, and a six-month report from the Downtown Chico Business Association.
The closed session agenda identifies a performance evaluation of City Attorney Vince Ewing and conferences with counsel (presumably Ewing) regarding four pending lawsuits — by Measure H opponents, Chico Scrap Metal, former Public Works Director for Engineering Leigh Ann Sutton and the family of Tyler Rushing — and one anticipated litigation.
The Chico City Council regularly meets at 6 p.m. on the first and third Tuesday of the month at 421 Main St. Closed session starts at 5 p.m. Meetings are free and open to the public.