(Editor’s note: This is a Shasta College student essay, submitted for extra class credit as a letter to the editor.)
Redding, CA comes across as a mellow, quiet type of town, however this is quickly changing. Redding is quickly growing and industries are narrowing in on this weakness. A few years ago, Redding was known for it’s quiet and slow paced lifestyle, however our community has become a competition for ‘big city’ stores and high fashion clothing. Redding needs to maintain its small town reputation, and a new shopping mall, which will take over a large rural portion of our town, should not be permitted.
Because our community is growing so quickly, our farm lands are growing scarce. For many of the residents of Churn Creek Bottom, this is a major issue. Building a mall in that vicinity would increase traffic and decrease farm land. Tom Reents, a Churn Creek Bottom resident and farmer states, “We have very little farmland in Shasta County. That farmland is very special. It was formed by years and years of floods before Shasta Dam. That’s how all that soil got there…..I grow just about everything; watermelons, squash, peaches and walnuts. I take very good care of the land and plow it in every fall. You can go to the 99-cent store and you can find produce from China, and we can grow it here” (anewscafe.com). The people of Churn Creek Bottom are very passionate about their land and furthermore have become accustomed to quieter living conditions which they are fighting to preserve.
Many of the people who reside on Churn Creek bottom, as well as their friends and family, gathered to petition the proposal of a new mall in their area. This act was effective because they gathered “enough valid signatures to force a ballot measure on the controversial development.”(redding.com). Because of the residents’ determination and the large number of signatures on their petition, Shasta County council had no choice but to reconsider their approval of the Churn Creek Bottom mall. ”Opponents of the shopping center began circulating that petition for an initiative forcing the zoning change in April. They turned in that petition to the county clerk Aug. 1, the same day as the referendum petition was submitted” (redding.com). Churn Creek Bottom is a tight knit community and they have displayed a compelling passion to protect their land, which in turn worked out in their favor.
While these citizens are hard at work protecting what they feel is rightfully theirs, others would argue that our community would benefit from the revenue it would generate. This argument does not take into consideration how this act would affect its local residents. Brian Hawkins, who is affiliated with Boise, Idaho-based Hawkins, who proposed the mall in the first place, states “The project’s environmental impact report acknowledges that it would have “significant and unavoidable” impacts on traffic in the area. But Huffaker said the company plans to pay more than $7 million of impact fees and make road improvements to mitigate some of those issues” (redding.com). This cost is not included, but in addition to the 135 million the project will already cost. Hawkins’ statement alone is a prime example of the impact the Churn Creek mall will have on its residents, not only will their farm land be reduced, but there will be additional roads made in order to accommodate the anticipated heavy traffic. The residents concerns of losing what they have worked so hard to maintain are being pushed aside by these big companies’ preoccupation with their overwhelming desire for more.
Redding, CA has been known for its quiet life-style; however, due to many young adults remaining here after high school, versus moving away, it is quickly morphing into the California cliché of a fast-paced life-style. If our citizens continue to fight for what they feel is a desirable environment, we can avoid assimilating into a ‘big city’ way of life. A third mall in such a small town would defeat our community’s entire purpose of maintaining its little town appearance; therefore we need to continue to protest this new change. Our community has displayed a compelling passion to preserve this image and if we continue to do so, we will benefit.
Christina Lopez is a Nursing student at Shasta Community College. Moved to Redding in 2006 from Los Angeles and enjoys Redding’s quiet lifestyle.