A funny thing happened on the way to the voting booth this year; Redding voters elected the most progressive city council in memory. While already pretty stunning when you consider the conservative tilt of our community, this took place within the context of an almost overwhelming conservative landslide nationally. There are many possible reasons for this, but ultimately the “why” doesn’t really matter. What does matter is what happens next.
There is no question that Redding is once again at a crossroads. Love him or not, Mike Warren as Redding’s city manager brought a high level of energy to this community in the mid-nineties that has mostly been lost since the financial crash of 2008. There are clear, if only anecdotal signs, that at long last Redding is shaking off its collective depression of the past seven years.
People are building new custom homes. There is interest again in community-funded projects. When talking to people I know, there is a glimmer of hope long absent now mixed in with the fierce anger that has long permeated our community soul. But will this translate into positive change for Redding in 2015?
Much will depend on the new Redding City Council.
Local government typically doesn’t lead the charge – that only happens through the passion and commitment of the community itself. But following is just fine, and would be a welcome change from the “just say no” mentality of some council members over the past few years.
All you have to do is to look at some of the changes that could happen as early as next year. A new four-star hotel for Turtle Bay, an old community theater relocated to downtown, an updated plan for Redding’s downtown, and maybe even a homeless transitional housing solution are just a few of the community projects we are working to see realized. Add a more bike and pedestrian friendly environment as well as a bigger emphasis on “green” design by local government to my personal wishlist, and we could be embarking on an exciting new chapter for Redding.
Will support of these changes cost Redding taxpayers? Actually, in most cases the answer is a resounding no. In fact, it can be argued these can only help our local economy. But it will take more than those who support positive change to keep speaking out. We need to know that our new council supports these efforts, if only with their words of encouragement. If they do so, the message for 2015 will be loud and clear:
As a community, we have at long last emerged from the land of “Hell, no.”
James Theimer is the principal architect and founder of the Redding-based firm Trilogy Architecture.