(Editor’s note: This is a Shasta College student essay, submitted for extra class credit as a letter to the editor.)
On August 1st 2011, Shasta county supervisors voted to approve the building of a strip mall in the lower Churn Creek bottom area near Interstate 5 and Knighton Rd. Under the proposed plan, a developer out of Idaho would be allowed to build a large strip mall on nutrient-rich farming land. The project would cost an estimated $135 million and create near 1,647 jobs, and span across an area of 92 acres. But the Churn Creek Bottom Homeowners and Friends group was given the opportunity to veto the project with a minimum of 6,544 signatures. According to a news article by Alayna Shulman, one volunteer and homeowner, Michele Schroeder claims that the project’s leader, Brian Huffaker, is “forcing this project down our throats,” and “taking advantage of our vulnerability” (Shulman updated 1). According to William Parr, journalist for the Record Searchlight, The Homeowners group collected over 11,000 signatures and with the signatures submitted, the elections office has 30 days to determine if enough signatures are valid (Parr 1). The Shasta County supervisors shouldn’t allow a developer from Idaho to build a strip-mall on the world-class farming lands of the Churn Creek bottom because it would not benefit the greater good of our community.
The first reason is that it economically doesn’t make sense to build a new complex rather than have these stores occupy the vacant lots all across the city. Moving these businesses into vacant business lots would also stimulate our local economy. According to Rod Evans, lead speaker for the Homeowners of Churn Creek, “This project, if built, will actually have a destabilizing effect on our overall local economy,” (Shulman 1 UPDATED). By this he means, our more local and small private businesses will be affected by the sales of those larger name stores being put into the strip mall. Also, the Churn Creek bottom area has ideal conditions and soil for high quality crops. Christine Schwartz, a 30 year resident of the Churn Creek Bottom area had this to say about the proposed plan, “”It’s perfect soil. Why cover it all up with pavement?”(Schulman 1). And she’s right, what is the point in spending all this money when we can easily avoid spending and get the same product in new business? According to Mark Van Noy of Redding, our population can’t support a new mall and he claims that, “In Shasta County, we have a declining population, 15 percent unemployment, empty business spaces everywhere, a factory outlet center that is barely making it and a bleak future for the foreseeable future. Common sense says another mall is a bad decision” (Van Noy 1). How can our local government be jumping all over this idea to try and create jobs and stimulate the economy when then plan will do more harm to the economy than it will help?
The second reason is the lack of job opportunities. This means we would be bringing in labor to take the 1,647 jobs that open up, leaving no opportunity for local workers to gain employment. According to Bob Nelson, who is in favor of the mall, “a large number of good retail jobs will be added”, but the majority of those will come at the expense of other retailers — i.e., rob Peter to pay Paul (Van Noy 1). This means that these jobs that would be “created” would come at the expense of other local businesses. Creating temporary jobs for non-residents in an unstable economy doesn’t make sense when we have the opportunity to create more jobs for the residents of Redding.
Shasta County supervisors are making a mistake if they decide to build this strip mall because there are more negatives for the building than there are positives. Every reason they have to build the mall is not reasonably justified. Our supervisors need to represent our community and make decisions that are for our greater good, ones that create jobs and promote steady local business. The building of this strip mall would put our economy a step back when we are trying to move forward.
Parr, William. “William Parr: Shopping center will hollow out our city”. http://www.redding.com/news/2011/aug/28/william-parr-shopping-center-will-hollow-out-our/. 28 Aug 2011. Web. 19 October 2011.
Schulman, Alayna. “Retail center plan advances; residents see wasting of Churn Creek Bottom farmland” http://www.redding.com/news/2011/jun/07/retail-center-plan-advances/. 7 June 2011. Web. 19 October 2011.
Schulman, Alayna. ‘UPDATED: Supervisors approve Churn Creek Bottom shopping center”. http://www.redding.com/news/2011/aug/01/92-acre-retail-center-under-siege/. 1 August 2011. Web. 18 October 2011
Van Noy, Mark. ‘Marv Van Voy: Population can’t support new mall”. http://www.redding.com/news/2011/sep/07/marv-van-voy-population-cant-support-new-mall/. 7 September 2011. Web. 23 October 2011.
Brett Freitas is a freshmen at Shasta college majoring in kinesiology. He is planning on transferring to Chico State University in 2013.