Police, Parks and (non) Rate Hikes Highlight Redding City Council’s Night of Good News

A Tuesday night Redding City Council meeting that started in a somber mood—Mayor Brent Weaver requested a moment of silence in support of Houston-area residents reeling from Hurricane Harvey—proved to be packed with positive developments.

Cory McCandliss, the Redding Civic Auditorium general manager and spokesman for the Redding Public Safety Campaign, got the good vibes started by “introducing” Redding to the audience. His effort elicited a brief but enthusiastic standing ovation.

Cory McCandliss updates council on the Redding Public Safety Campaign. Photos by Jon Lewis.

McCandliss then updated the council on the public safety campaign’s efforts to raise $1.25 million to fund Redding’s Neighborhood Police Unit for two years. Launched in June with an initial $500,000 donation from Bethel Church, McCandliss said the campaign has raised an additional $221,000. McCandliss then presented City Manager Barry Tippin with a check for that amount.

With the campaign at the halfway mark, McCandliss announced a new initiative, The 707 Alliance, to inspire more donations. “If 707 individuals, families or businesses each donate $1,000 to the Redding Public Safety Campaign, the NPU will be fully funded through May 2019,” McCandliss said.

Advance Redding, the nonprofit organization operating the Civic Auditorium, agreed to spearhead the campaign when it became clear that budget constraints would require the disbanding of the NPU. McCandliss said the donations will allow the NPU to continue focusing on proactive crime-fighting and he pointed out some recent successes, including a multi-location heroin bust that netted seven pounds and a sting operation that targeted alleged prostitution at some massage parlors.

Persons interested in donating can visit www.reddingpublicsafety.com, any Cornerstone Community Bank branch or the Civic Auditorium box office.

Rate hike called off

Mark Haddad, the assistant director and CFO for Redding Electric Utility, added to the positive mood by announcing that a reorganization of the ratepayer-owned utility and some debt-refinancing has allowed it to cancel a 1.5-percent rate hike planned for 2018.

REU’s Mark Haddad said a planned rate hike will be postponed.

In fact, he said, with the reduction of a federal environmental surcharge and a state solar surcharge, Redding’s electricity customers will be paying less in 2018 than they did in 2014. “And that’s a good thing for every citizen in Redding,” Haddad said.

Redding energy customers pay less than PG&E counterparts, according to city.

Although wholesale rate changes are not in the works, Haddad reminded the council that the utility’s weather-related fluctuations in its revenue do not match up with its fixed costs. Increases to the basic network access charges will need to be considered in the future. Additionally, he added that the legal, legislative, and regulatory environment in California can be difficult to predict.

Magnolia Park

A grass-roots campaign by west Redding residents to save the 70-year-old Magnolia Park achieved its ultimate goal when the council voted 5-0 to purchase the 2-acre park from the Shasta County Office of Education.

Neighbors were quick to react last fall when SCOE notified the city it was terminating a longstanding joint-use agreement for the park and instead replace it with a medical therapy unit to provide specialized services for disabled students.

Influenced by the groundswell of support for the park, Office of Education staff and trustees were able to find another home for the therapy unit, clearing the path for the negotiations that culminated on Tuesday.

Kim Niemer, director of community services, said a price of $175,000 was agreed upon. The city will use $88,248 it received through a Housing Related Parks Program grant from the state, with the remainder to be paid with park in-lieu fees paid by developers. The in-lieu fees are restricted to purchasing parks, Niemer noted.

In keeping with the night’s theme, Niemer said Magnolia Park’s multi-purpose sports court will get a nice facelift courtesy of a $40,000 National Recreation and Park Association grant. Titled “Meet me at the Park,” the grant was awarded in collaboration with the Walt Disney Company for the purpose of providing communities with increased access to play spaces in local parks.

More cop stuff

Interim Police Chief Peter Hansen got in on the good news as well with a 5-0 vote of approval for his department to accept a federal Department of Justice grant of $46,235 that will be used to purchase a pair of portable security pole cameras and five dual-band handheld radios.

Interim Police Chief Peter Hansen

Hansen said the cameras can be used to record potential criminal activity at special events and in high-crime areas. The dual-band radios will allow officers to communicate with other law enforcement agencies in mutual aid situations.

The portable security pole cameras will allow RPD to move the cameras as needed to record potential criminal activities at special events and high crime areas. The dual-band radios will complete the transition from single-band to allow officers to communicate with other law enforcement agencies for mutual aid situations

Hansen also got approval to launch a program called “Taking Back our Community” that is being promoted by the California Police Chiefs Association. The program is a campaign to educate citizens about AB 109 and Propositions 47 and 57 that have combined to make “fundamental alterations to the fabric of California’s criminal justice system.”

Information about the new laws, including how they are combining to hinder law enforcement’s ability to incarcerate criminals, will be posted on the police department’s web site: www.cityofredding.org/departments/police-department

Hansen said the program will include a section that suggests ways citizens can write state legislators and the governor to demand action.

Jon Lewis
Jon Lewis is a freelance writer living in Redding. He has more than 30 years experience writing for newspapers and magazines. Contact him at jonpaullewis@gmail.com.
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