A pair of city-owned parking lots across from the former police station will remain city-owned at least for another year, a divided Redding City Council decided on Tuesday.
The 3-1 vote, with Mayor Brent Weaver (who owns property a block away) abstaining and Councilwoman Francie Sullivan dissenting, was the latest chapter in a developing drama over the shape and future of the northern end of California Street.
The successful motion by Councilwoman Julie Winter temporarily halts plans by the Redding Area Bus Authority (RABA) to acquire the two lots and use them to address future parking needs for when RABA’s Downtown Transit Center expands. Those plans also include the demolition of the Bell Rooms building, a small two-story brick structure with a colorful history that RABA already owns. That demolition could occur this spring.
Winter described RABA’s plans as premature and said the two lots have a lot of potential, especially with interest in California Street starting to heat up. At the least, she said, both parties should wait until the Downtown Specific Plan is completed.
A second motion by Winter to request that the RABA board delay by 12 months the demolition of the Bell Rooms building failed on a 2-2 vote. Councilwoman Kristen Schreder sided with Winter while Sullivan and Councilman Adam McElvain voted no.
Sullivan said RABA’s expansion has been planned for several years and that the grant funding RABA would use to buy the two lots—some $340,000—would be a welcome addition to the city’s general fund. In addition, the two lots would create more parking in the downtown area, she said.
Schreder countered that yes, RABA is a separate entity, but the lots in question are in downtown Redding and it’s only natural that the council have a say in their future.
Meanwhile, the council is continuing to negotiate with Equity Streams, a Redding firm that has offered $650,000 for the former police station on California Street. The company has plans to rename it The Station and develop co-sharing spaces and a small restaurant or brewery where the patrol cars used to park.
In addition, a community group called This Place Matters—Redding has been gaining membership and momentum with the goal of preserving the 108-year-old Bell Rooms building and transforming it into the centerpiece of a cultural district.
In other action Tuesday, the council:
Problem Hotel Progress Report
–Received a favorable update from Police Chief Rob Paoletti on the police department’s ongoing analysis of calls for service from Redding’s most problematic hotels. Thanks to stepped-up code enforcement work and the Neighborhood Police Unit, there has been a marked reduction in calls from eight of the nine hotels originally listed in the fall of 2015.
The closures of the Redding Inn, Hilltop Lodge and the Americana Lodge helped lower overall call totals but Paoletti singled out management at several others, including the Motel 6 properties on Hilltop and Twin View drives, for their spirited cooperation.
Even the Capri Motel, which went from 127 calls in 2015 to 146 last year, has shown a more proactive approach, Paoletti said. “They’re working really hard. Most of the time, it’s management calling us.”
Flood Damage Update
–Heard an update from Public Works Director Brian Crane on the work to repair and reopen the flood-damaged Keswick Dam Road. Crane said the project, which includes replacing 80 feet of culvert, should be completed in two to four weeks at a cost of about $250,000.
As the Sacramento River flows return to normal, more damage to the Sacramento River Trail system is being discovered and Crane estimated those damages at $300,000. Redding has already initiated talks with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for reimbursement, Crane said.
Bethel Church Rents Airport Parking Lot
–With a 4-0 vote, the council OK’d a consent calendar item to rent five acres of vacant land at the Redding Municipal Airport to Bethel Church for temporary parking between March 27 and April 12. The church will pay the city $1,250 for the 17-day rental.
Councilwoman Julie Winter, an elder at Bethel Church, abstained from the vote.
The property has been used for temporary parking in the past for the Redding Air Show and President Trump’s campaign stop in Redding. The overflow parking will be used by hundreds of Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry students who will be flying in and out of Redding on their missions, Winter said when asked after the meeting.
Carl’s Tire Property Sold
–Voted 5-0 to approve the sale of the vacant lot at Placer and Pine streets to Hwa Mei Keller for $300,000. The lot had been home to Carl’s Automotive & Tires for years until it was acquired by the former Redding Redevelopment Agency and then sold to Riverfront Playhouse for construction of a new theater.
When Riverfront’s plans stalled and the community theater announced plans to relocate to California Street, the property reverted back to the city’s successor to the redevelopment agency. Hwa Mei Keller plans a mixed-use two-story development with retail on the first floor and residential upstairs.
Punt, Pass & Kick Champ Honored
–Presented a certificate of recognition to Thea Shoffner for her third-place finish in the 2017 NFL Punt, Pass and Kick National Championship. Thea, 11, competed in late January at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Fla., and won her award in the 10-11 age group.
Mayor Weaver presented the certificate to Thea, who was accompanied by her parents, Scott and Bridgit Shoffner.