Empty here, the Redding City Council Chamber was packed on Tuesday night.
I haven’t been to a Redding City Council meeting in years, but I decided to reverse that trend on Tuesday night. It seemed like there were plenty of interesting and important items on the agenda.
I was right!
What follows is some news from Tuesday night’s meeting, mixed with some personal observations.
Because blogging is the new journalism, I trust that this mix of facts and comments will be monitored by keen readers who will correct any inaccuracies and add needed information. We’ll all edge closer to the truth together.
One of the biggest actions of the evening was the approval of Mountain Lakes property (former KMS plant) as the preferred option for Redding’s new police station. The approval authorizes city staff to negotiate purchase of the facility and develop a plan to retrofit the building.
The motion passed 3-2, with council members Missy McArthur, Patrick Jones and Rick Bosetti voting for buying the 22-year-old building, and Dick Dickerson and Mary Stegall voting against it.
It’s a former shampoo (and cosmetics, I believe) plant located in north Redding near Caterpillar Road (west of the I-5-Highway 273 interchange).
Stegall and Dickerson seemed to favor the option of waiting and keeping the door open to building a new police station near City Hall. Stegall raised the point that because the city may not have the money to retrofit the building for at least three to five years, why rush into purchasing the building at this time.
Redding Police Chief Pete Hansen seemed to favor the retrofit option. For one thing, it met the council’s request for a less expensive alternative — the projected $21 million retrofit price was some $8 million less than other options for a new facility adjacent to City Hall. Hansen and other supporters seemed to like the size of the KMS plant – it’s nearly 113,000 square feet (not all of which would be immediately retrofitted).
I was thinking, “It’s so far north and away from downtown. Why not build the new Redding police station in Lakehead or Ashland, Ore.?” (Here’s where observations start kicking in, in case you were confused.)
But Hansen addressed the point by saying response times to crimes would be no different, because officers are out on patrol patterns. Residents might have to drive a little further north for counter service. For the record, Hansen said he considers a brand new police station as still the best option, but considering the council’s request to cut costs, the big shampoo plant of Mountain Lakes Boulevard was looking good.
Perhaps the new slogan will be, “We’re gonna wash that crime right out of your hair.”
By the way, UJB Investments/RHS NorCal Investments, the current building owners, are in bankruptcy, Assistant City Engineer Chuck Aukland told the council.
The retrofit option would have some big natural light corridors built into the new headquarters. I’m not being flip here, I think that’s a fabulous idea. Redding police have been cooped up in that little box on California Street forever. Give ‘em some natural light. Give ‘em some space. Let ‘em breathe a little bit. (Gosh, I hope that pays off in karma points with the police.)
Man, some 650 homeowners east of the Olney Creek levee in south Redding sure seem to be getting a raw deal. The city council agreed. The homeowners face much higher flood insurance premiums next year, because the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is showing the area to be in a new 100-year flood plain.
Homeowners are facing increases of $800 to $1,600 a year in flood insurance premiums because of the FEMA recognition. The double whammy is their homes will also take a hit in value because of recognition. The triple whammy is, hey, this is a recession and who can afford to pay $1,600 more a year for insurance – especially if the levee remains inadequate?
That’s something Stegall brought up. Why lump higher insurance premiums on homeowners, while at the same time not fix the levee problem? (And then there was a big round of applause.)
There was a lot of missing information on this topic. How much would it cost to fix the levee?
And, here’s a kicker, who really owns the levee? Redding city attorney Rick Duvernay was kind of stammering that maybe the city really doesn’t own it. (You see if you own the thing, you might have to fix it. I don’t own it! It sure ain’t mine!)
The levee was build around 1980 when a new subdivision was put in place in the area.
The council agreed to get answers and fix the problem.
I couldn’t stop thinking about that Led Zeppelin song, “When the Levee Breaks.”
“Mean old levee taught me to weep and moan
Got what it takes to make a Mountain Man leave his home.”
Moving onto the medical marijuana items…
The council voted 5-0 to extend a ban on new marijuana collectives until June, and voted 4-1 to impose permit fees on collectives.
Collectives will be charged $710 for a new permit and $624 to renew each year. The fees are supposed to cover the costs of conducting criminal background checks and inspections on the business, according to Chief Hansen.
The council also voted in favor of a variety of regulations on collectives, including allowing the police chief to access the records of collectives (to make sure the businesses are run legally); requiring doctors to specify amounts for patients; limiting patients to belonging to no more than one collective in Shasta County; and limiting sales to only dried bud.
All in all, it was a bad night in Marijuanaville. The green rush just slammed into brick wall in Redding.
These regulations will hammer the collectives. It should only be a matter of time before lawsuits are flying against the city. This was something medical marijuana supporters alluded to on Tuesday night. They contended that the council regulations were in deep conflict with SB420 and the state Attorney General.
Just on a side note, there were some dudes really reeking inside the chambers. I was thinking, “Dude, did you just climb out of King Kong’s bong?” I’m not sure you’re helping the cause, bro.
OK, I’m ready. Weigh in!