I woke up this morning angry. When did Redding become “The Land of Hell, No”? When did the Turtle Bay/Sundial Bridge Hotel become a common rallying cry for Tea Partiers and unions, as unlikely a couple as you will ever find.
In case there is anyone who hasn’t been paying attention, here’s a quick summary of recent events:
- Angry people complain that the City of Redding shouldn’t provide any financial aid to Turtle Bay – even though this is common throughout the United States – and ultimately the city council votes to discontinue that funding, with the explanation that they would support any attempt by TB to become self-sufficient. In response, Turtle Bay approaches the City with the idea of creating a hotel on the property leased from the city and financed with private funds.
- Angry people complain that this is not an appropriate place for a hotel, and certainly not without a study being done to review possible traffic congestion. In response, Turtle Bay points out that not only has a hotel been anticipated in the same location by an City of Redding Masterplan, but three separate studies have found this to be an economically feasible location, with another study showing minimal traffic impact.
- Angry people then shift their argument to saying that this would represent unfair competition with other hotels. In response, other hotels tell the Redding City Council they would welcome a 4 star hotel to Redding – it will help their businesses.
- Unions join in to say that although they welcome the hotel, it should be a prevailing wage job even though it is privately funded, because it is on public land. In a press conference, these same Unions later suggest that the property be purchased so that prevailing wage is no longer an issue. In response, the McConnell Foundation offers to buy the property.
- Angry people against the hotel say that the land should be fairly evaluated. In response, three independent appraisals are conducted, with The McConnell Foundation offering to pay significantly more than the highest appraisal. Redding’s elected city council accepts the offer.
- Angry people and unions against the hotel are still not satisfied, and forming a group called REVOLT, decide to gather signatures to put this on the ballot as a referendum, potentially delaying this project another year.
So, to recap, The Tea Party – who stands for less government interference in things such as prevailing wage – decides to team up with unions fighting for prevailing wage. Each time Turtle Bay has responded in a positive way to the current argument being made by these angry people and unions, the argument simply changes. I don’t think these people even remember their original arguments at this point, just that they are angry.
So I woke up angry myself this morning. I took my golden retriever on a walk down to Turtle bay and walked the trail loop around the museum. As I looked at the early morning light shimmering on the river – and just having returned from a trip to an incredibly congested New Jersey – I fell in love all over again with my choice to move here almost thirty years ago. I recalled watching during summers past while buses of excited school children literally jumped in anticipation of their visit to Turtle Bay.
I don’t believe the angry people fighting this hotel are evil, just wrong – thinking. And I believe that this is a community that will ultimately see that. After all, I’m an optimist.
I still believe that Redding can become the Land of Hell, Yes!
In the interests of full disclosure, Trilogy Architecture is responsible for the hotel design.
James Theimer is the principal architect and founder of the Redding-based firm Trilogy Architecture.