Council Approves Salt Creek Plan

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Amid a packed Redding City Council meeting where the city staff reiterated its opposition to six luxury outpads proposed on a 440-lot Salt Creek Heights subdivision in west Redding, the council voted 3-1 to approve the full plan as proposed by developer Sierra Pacific Industries.

With council member Missy McArthur abstaining from the vote, council members Dick Dickerson, Rick Bosetti and Patrick Jones voted in favor of full approval of the Redding Planning Commission’s recommendation for the subdivision plan. Council member Mary Stegall was alone in her opposition to the plan, drawing a round of applause after describing how the measure sets a dangerous precedent for intrusions into the city’s greenway policy and also changes the appearance of the scenic canyon for the benefit of six homes.

McArthur sat out the vote because she’s part of a partnership that owns property just east of the proposed subdivision.

The outpads have drawn controversy because they branch away from the main portion of the proposed development into the greenway and much closer to Salt Creek. There are also concerns related to fire protection for the outpads.

The public comment on the agenda item opened with a presentation by SPI Land Development Manager Gary Blanc, and by Mike Dormer of the contracted engineering firm Sharrah Dunlap Sawyer. Nine public speakers then followed by voicing their opposition to the proposed outpads.

Stegall, who praised the majority of SPI’s development plans, said the controversial outpad lots, once built, will take away from the experience of hiking or biking in Salt Creek Canyon.

Once the luxury lots are built, hikers walking along Salt Creek will “look up and in some places see scraped ground and beautiful homes. Those six (homeowners) will have beautiful views and will love where they live, and they will win because they have the most toys.”

Everyone else would lose out on the pristine experience of Salt Creek, which will be visually and physically impacted by the six outpad lots, Stegall said.

Prior to voting for the approval of the subdivision, council member Dickerson said, he wouldn’t support the project if he felt it would negatively impact Salt Creek.

“There are mitigations in place to insure that this project does not have a negative impact on Salt Creek,” Dickerson said.

Redding resident Todd Slaughter addressed the council to say that bending the rules on greenway intrusions sets a bad precedent for the future of preserving greenways and open spaces.

“Does bending these rules benefit the community as a whole? That’s the issue you need to judge,” Slaughter said.

Prior to the vote, council member Stegall mentioned that Redding’s natural beauty, which includes open spaces and greenways, is a common refrain from residents about why they love living in the area. Disallowing home development along certain portions of the Sacramento River has allowed thousands of others to enjoy access to the river, Stegall added.

Redding resident David Ledger said he worried that opening one side of Salt Creek Canyon to development could soon bring on development on the other side of the canyon, thus further impacting the greenway.

During their expanded statement period, Sierra Pacific’s Blanc said his company has reached a tentative agreement with the Bureau of Land Management to establish a Salt Creek corridor trail easement that would help protect the canyon area. Walking trail improvements would be a part of that agreement.

Council member Bosetti praised the developer for a subdivision plan that was much lower in home density than what could have been approved on the site. The Salt Creek Heights plan also calls for a large park and other pockets of open space.

Related to a question about the importance of the six outpad lots by council member Dickerson, Sierra Pacific’s Blanc acknowledged that the featured lots are of key importance to the development.

“Clearly they are the signature to this project,” he said. “Retaining these outpads is essential to this project.”

City employees’ retirement

In a busy evening for the council that stretched well past midnight, the council also voted 3-2 to approve a initiative to ask voters to help establish an opening bargaining position with labor unions to negotiate what portion city workers should pay into their California Public Employees’ Retirement System.

Council member Dickerson argued that the measure would be a waste of time and money. The council could decide on an opening bargaining position tonight without spending in excess of $50,000 to put a pair of measures on the November ballot.

“It’s just ludicrous to do this,” Dickerson said. “Nothing in this ballot measure will expedite the process. It just doesn’t do anything.”

Stegall also voted against the initiative, but Bosetti, Patrick Jones and Missy McArthur formed a majority on the vote. The three said the measures were needed to control costs of an unfunded $85 million liability for retiree health insurance.

Jones said we’re all living in “tough, unfortunate, unprecedented times” that require action to control costs.

Turtle Bay’s hotel plan

The evening also included a 4-1 approval to allow for a change to Turtle Bay Exploration Park’s lease, which would allow the museum to pursue its plans to build a 125-room hotel on its property.

Turtle Bay Board member Arch Pugh told the council that the hotel is a critical step toward securing a self-sustaining venture, especially in light of the city cutting its annual contribution to the park.

“We’re developing ways to become self-sufficient,” he said. “That land is viable to our future.”

Pugh added that the park is having to cut 10 positions and health benefits of others to stay financially intact.

Also on Tuesday night:

• The council voted unanimously to certify the Bikeway Action Plan allowing for safe bike corridors throughout the city.

• Voted 4-1 to favor a privatized service agreement between Shasta Cascade Wonderland Association and Redding Tourism Marketing Group.

• Voted to amend a lease agreement with the Shasta Regional Soccer Association.

• Voted to endorse a veterans museum to be built at the Redding Airport. Plans are underway for a 16-acre, $20 million museum that would be funded by non-profit veterans organizations.

jim-dyar-125Jim Dyar is a news, arts and entertainment journalist for A News Cafe and the former arts and entertainment editor for the Record Searchlight’s D.A.T.E. section. Jim is also a songwriter and leader of the Jim Dyar Band. He lives in Redding. E-mail him at jimd.anewscafe@gmail.com.

 

 

 

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is a journalist who focuses on arts, entertainment, music and the outdoors. He is a songwriter and leader of the Jim Dyar Band. He lives in Redding and can be reached at jimd.anewscafe@gmail.com
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10 Responses

  1. Avatar Damon Miller says:

    Disgusting and entirely expected.

    Might as well just dissolve the Planning Department for all the good it does.

  2. Avatar Tom says:

    I wonder if kickbacks enter into their decision to approve the plan. Should a wildfire occur I would hoipe that the six homes in question would be allowed to burn.

  3. Avatar Kelli G says:

    What a shame.
    "The Salt Creek Heights plan also calls for a large park and other pockets of open space." pockets of open space… that is all that will be left of a beautiful valley. don't the council members understand the devastation that will occur just to get the construction equipment to the site? haven't they ever seen a development being put in? the whole area as it is is a "park", just leave it alone. seems ridiculous to spend millions of dollars to destroy a natural environment to build homes for 6 wealthy people, and then remake the natural environment. how about we just let those 6 potential residents walk the paths like the rest of us ordinary citizens must do?

  4. Avatar Mike Flanagan says:

    I agree Kelli. Isn't there something we could do. I know times are tough and people distracted but this is a horrible decision by the Council.

  5. Avatar TomS says:

    Imagine that: The Redding City Council letting developers have their way.

  6. Avatar Karen C says:

    I'm thinking those six lots already have been spoken for. It would be interesting to know who the interested parties are, don't you think?

  7. Avatar Sheila Barnes says:

    I'd also be very interested to know if and who have perhaps purchased these lots and what possible connections they might have to some city council or planning commission members. Who is really doing who a favor here?

  8. Avatar jana says:

    I totally agree with you kelli, the members of council don’t understand the devastation that will occur and will destroy the natural environment.

    Regards,
    Jana http://www.monitorusb.com

  9. Randall R. Smith Randall R. Smith says:

    As an unpaid volunteer member of the Redding Planning Commission and a thirty six year resident of Sunset Terrace, I am more than insulted by allegations a bribe caused any vote concerning Salt Creek Heights. Nothing since the extension of Hawley Road was wrongly removed from the General Plan by concerned citizens has there been the level of personal attacks and unsubstantiated claims from people who do not know me or necessarily a great deal about the issues.

    In our society, unlike the former Soviet Union or present day People's Republic of China, Americans enjoy private property rights which are subject to public input and regulation. While I consider myself to be a rather ardent environmentalist devoting over twenty unpaid hours each week to helping clean and enhance our area water corridors, I do not subscribe to the taking of personal property without compensation. Sierra Pacific Industries has brought a signature project to our community. Yes, it will involve change, a real improvement to a proven fire bomb area. No, the project will not degrade wonderful Salt Creek. The much debated outlying homes will be no more of a scenic or ecological blight than those already in place above the much used South Sacramento River Trail, near the North Sacramento River Trail at Lake Redding Estates, above Blue Gravel Creek Trail at Country Heights and many other places throughout Redding. There has been no abrogation of the General Plan, no encroachment into 20% slope areas, no dangerous precedent.

    Differing views coming before commissions and councils are an important part of our representative democracy. However, the recent rise in incivility and misinformation given as truth make me hope next May and the end of my public service after forty one years come quickly.

  10. Avatar David Ledger says:

    No, this isn’t like the Soviet Union, this is like the current capitalist Russia whereby money trumps all decisions. Only in Redding, the current City Council and Planning Commission are so groveling towards almost any real estate development that they will approve almost any development that comes before them. No money has to change hands, they work cheap.

    The unfortunate part of this is that real estate development fees in Redding do not fully cover the costs to the City. Real estate development is subsidized by the taxpayer through reduced services and costs hidden in utility bills. (Expansion of electric, water, sewer and storm drains that is never fully paid for by development fees.). In other words, real estate developers that don’t pay for all of the costs of development are essentially on the dole. Developers are wealthier than most Redding residents who are subsidizing their developments.

    Although real estate development fees are expensive, they are cheap compared to other areas, and it is past time we had a new City Council that will make real estate development pay is own way.

    In the case of the Salt Creek Heights subdivision there will be an even longer term subsidy by the taxpayer. The outlying lots on the steep slopes have very long driveways, several are over 500 feet. This means that over ½ mile of sewer and water lines for just six of these lots will have to be serviced and repaired by Redding utility workers, yet the rich people occupying these houses will have the same basic utility bill fees as a poor family in a two bedroom rundown home that is 50 feet from water and sewer mains.

    Ironically the same Redding firefighters who are having their pensions and salaries cut by the Redding City Council will have to risk their lives to defend these taxpayer subsidized luxury homes when the inevitable wildfire strikes.

    Randy Smith states that no lots and roads will be not be on slopes over 20%. This is the same line that the Sierra Pacific representatives and their cheerleaders on the Redding City Council are spewing. At the Planning Commission meeting an SPI representative stated (after the public hearing was closed to further public comment) that he had walked the area the day before and “eyeballing” it he determined the slopes were under 20%. SPI cheerleader Councilman Bosetti stated that he walked the area and the slopes were only 12 to 15%. One Councilman at the meeting stated that USGS topographical maps aren’t always accurate. These are the same topographical maps that are used for everything from LOGGING to REAL EASTATE development. Maybe tomorrow the area will be flat!

    This was a very bad decision by the Planning Commission and the City Council it pushes urban sprawl (and two new stoplights) out towards Shasta. It shows that when it comes to spending city tax dollars on the taxpayer for roads, parks, police and fire protection, they will almost always pick the real estate developer first..