Another day, another dollop of abuse.
That pretty much sums up life these days for the Redding City Council, whose members endured another fusillade of criticism during Tuesday’s meeting. And just like the June 6 meeting, the gripes centered on crime and just what, exactly, the council intends to do about it.
Chris Mesker said he built his dream home on five acres in Palo Cedro because he had always wanted to live near Redding. Now, though, “I’m embarrassed to bring friends to this city. The crime is rampant; it’s scary.”
He described himself and his wife as “ultimate consumers” but lamented that shopping in Redding has become too dangerous. “I had to buy a handgun and I’m not a big fan of that. Thank god for Amazon,” he said.
Also addressing the council during the public comment period was Patrick Carpenter, head of the Shasta County chapter of the Guardian Angels, who cited a variety of studies that indicate Redding residents are at significantly higher risk of being victimized compared with almost every other community in the country.
And yet police staffing is at 1980s-era levels despite the fact that Redding has doubled in size. “The community is outraged,” Carpenter said, before repeating an invitation to council members to join him on a walk around the city “to see what’s really going on.”
“You failed to act and that’s why we’re coming after you,” Michael Roberts said, referring to the fledgling recall effort aimed at council members Francie Sullivan and Kristen Schreder. Anje Walfoort, a frequent council critic, said the council simply isn’t tough on crime while Robyn Carpenter said it seems as if citizen’s concerns “fall on deaf ears.”
James Crockett was the lone speaker out of the 15 who offered support for the council, calling the attacks “misguided.” Crockett suggested the bulk of the public safety issues stem from Shasta County budget woes. “Why blame the council for the jail, which is full?” he asked.
Nonetheless, he said citizens are “hurting and afraid. They need leadership.”
“We do hear you,” Councilwoman Julie Winter said, adding that the council is interested in increasing communication with the community. She received consensus from her colleagues for a meeting in a different venue or setting where council members can respond. (Topics brought up during the public comment section are not listed on the agenda, which prohibits council members from discussing them.)
Mayor Brent Weaver said he has been working with new City Manager Barry Tippin on holding a town hall-style meeting. Weaver said he expects the first such meeting will be held in August and a date will be announced soon.
Commercial project OK’d
In other action Tuesday, the council voted 5-0 to OK Redding developer Marcus Partin’s plans for a mixed-use commercial complex on 6.4 acres on Hartnell Avenue just southeast of the Veterans Administration clinic.
The 80,500-square-foot project will consist of two buildings. Building A, at 28,500 square feet, will hold medical offices and a 5,000-square-foot restaurant; Building B, at 52,000 square feet, will house medical office space and a 22,000-square-foot fitness center.
The project, which received unanimous support from the Planning Commission, represents three years of meetings to produce plans that would complement the topography and existing uses, Partin said.
“It looks like a great project and it will be a real asset to the community,” Schreder said. “I’m thrilled,” Sullivan added. “I love that piece of property and I can’t wait to see it go up.”