Letter to the Editor:
Dear Redding City Council Members,
I am writing to you to voice my concern and disagreement with the proposed changes to the zoning of North Market Street. Zoning was changed for this essential corridor because the City Council recognized its importance as a leading tourist gateway into our city, leading to the Sundial Bridge, Arboretum, Turtle Bay, Caldwell Park, The Plunge and our incredible trails system as well as a main entrance to the revitalized downtown. The City has since invested millions of dollars in landscaping and decorative lighting. It was clear when the zoning was put into place that car dealerships were not optimal in this corridor. It is even clearer today. The foundation has been laid. We need to preserve the Miracle Mile Corridor so it can blossom with an appropriate and profitable mix of businesses consistent with its planned use, including encouraging travel into and growth of our great revitalized downtown area.
Denham’s bought this property knowing that they couldn’t expand or open a car lot and thought either there were other business opportunities there; or they purchased it on a gamble that they could change a relatively new zoning restriction, which was developed after much thought and effort.
Purchasing the property is their gamble; it is not our community’s responsibility to bail them out of their business investment. Obviously there are many other business uses for this property which do fit in with the current zoning. Downtown Redding is about 95% occupied as a result of the huge public investment and strong business and cultural organizations which have created an opportunity for new and old businesses to locate there. Miracle Mile is poised to reach a similar synergy and become a vibrant business district. This corridor is the most natural direction for Downtown’s success to spread. Miracle Mile will undoubtedly recapture its historical prominence within this decade.
Meanwhile, you are being enticed into allowing a new car dealership because of our poor economy and because the current building is somewhat of an eyesore and you want it to look better.
A longstanding community-minded business such as Denham’s should not need prodding to remedy an eyesore, they should want to be a good community partner and, failing that, eyesores are what code enforcement exists to remedy.
I urge you to not change the zoning. I’d like to suggest a win-win: Let Denham’s upgrade the property for a car lot but only give them a use permit for 10 years. They sign off on a sunset clause. That gives them time to develop their new dealership and helps jumpstart their business and the local economy. Meanwhile, as this gateway further improves, the value of their property increases and when they relocate after ten years, they can easily turn a profit. Many businesses pay for upgrades on leased property with only a ten-year lease. And in this case, the upgrades are presumably generic enough — we’re not talking expensive communication centers, labs, sewer connections and high-speed trunk lines — that they add value for future sale or lease. The upgrade money will not be wasted. You can also insist on extra landscaping where only small views of cars are visible from the street.
This is a flexible solution that doesn’t erode the current public investment in this beautiful corridor and doesn’t shadow what will undoubtedly become the main tourism approach to our parks, trail system, museum, convention center and downtown boutique business district. It is supremely shortsighted to allow Denham’s new dealership, it too will be grandfathered in and it will be a decision you and our community will regret in ten years.
Those are my concerns and solutions for the community, now I’d like to address a 30-year blight on my neighborhood which is just happens to be across the street from my own house. Thirty years ago, Denham’s got a use permit for a lot deep within our residential street in Lake Redding, across Caldwell Park, to use it as a parking lot. Many in the neighborhood do not understand why a parking lot is permitted on the street in the first place, and now with enlarging the Denham footprint, are very concerned with its continued use. The parking lot is inconsistent within an area of single-family homes in a residential neighborhood. It is out of place entirely.
I know that their use permit mandated conditions. They have done nothing for 30 years. It is dirt and gravel and a blank hole where my view is the back side of their dealership and, during the day, 20 or more employee cars. Throughout the years a few employees consistently, and customers at times, park along our street. The City has let this go on for 30 years. Denham’s has not been a good neighbor. Regardless of your decision about preserving the Miracle Mile corridor, I ask you to rescind. I believe they have forfeited their permit and the lot should be returned to residential. Our street and entire neighborhood has the most complete canopy of trees in all of Redding. People call it the tree street. Huge sycamores and other trees line Loma Street and it is completely residential with mostly single-family homes, except for this one lot. The Denham lot is a large exception. Denham’s has lost the right to retain this blight in our neighborhood.
Now is the time to protect the public investment in the Miracle Mile corridor and also restore my neighborhood.
Leslie A. Bryan