Six years ago, when there was a budget for such things and Redding had a new Planning Commissioner, I was sent to a League of California Cities Annual Meeting in Monterey. Besides learning something about provisions of the California Environmental Quality Act, successful traffic calming measures and meeting various officials from all over the state, I was exposed to a powerful concept which is nascent in Redding and needs further support and development.
The City of Monterey has 29 defined and well-organized neighborhoods. These are like the well-known sections of San Francisco: Western Addition, Cow Hollow, Union, Hunter’s Point, Pacific Heights, Richmond, Sunset, Sea Cliff, etc., except they have a real political structure, formal boundary, purpose, and function actively on a regular basis. They are a real part of local government. Nothing happens in or near their territory without consideration, deliberation and decision. Troubles are avoided because they are found, mentioned, cured before they happen. People are empowered because their collective voice is heard and response happens.
Redding has Bill Ulch and Elin Klaseen at Parkview. The transformation across the street from City Hall in the last 10 years is truly remarkable and largely came as a result of Parkview Neighborhood Association organization, concern and ceaseless pressure. This wonderful improvement certainly did not come by accident or coincidence. It was achieved because the neighborhood was weary of a high crime rate, tired of a butchered and abandoned River corridor, sick of poorly kept homes and afraid of speeding cars.
Blossom Hill has Gail Rich and Diana Peacock. They and their neighbors amended the General Plan, taking away an arterial route north which they believed was not needed. They are possessed by the rightful notion that Churn Creek is much more than a conduit for water from Shasta Lake City to the Sacramento River.
Garden Tract is firing engines with Monique Gaido and Jim Kennedy. They have lobbied City Hall for safer streets. Garden Tract planted several hundred now-blooming daffodils to help calm traffic, beautify streets and give their already properly named and labeled neighborhood an even better identity.
Sunset Terrace is organized around a Neighborhood Watch by Susan Dodd and Maureen Lindy.
Magnolia is lucky to have the Eichwalds.
There are certainly others of these with activist leaders and there need to be many more.
These groups need to have a more formal structure like Parkview. They should have a stronger influence which comes from vision and purpose as well as success. And they must be expanded to cover the entire 56-square-mile footprint of the city. It takes time, effort and willingness. The Internet makes this possible where the mimeograph and the telephone did not in today’s hurried existence. The work builds better communities by improving communication, establishing benchmarks, keeping officials aware of needs and involving residents in the process of good government. The reader must believe that in this ever more cynical time, city staff, elected and appointed officials welcome this kind of organization and the ideas and collective wisdom that result. The city is made stronger because its neighborhoods are secure and moving toward constant improvement.
If Monterey can do this, so can Redding. And we need it now more than ever as the wheels of local government lack so much power just at the time when needs are so great. It is up to the people to seize the volunteer, “can do” spirit which once made things happen even when there was no government. Please consider joining existing organizations and forming one if your area does not have anything today. The time is right, the benefits are great, the imperative is huge.
Randall R. Smith, Member
City of Redding Planning Commission
Randy Smith is a retired physician, member of the City of Redding Planning Commission, and Rotary Club of Redding Stream Team.