Doni’s 2019 Redding Wish List

Welcome to 2019. If you’ve read this far, it means that you and I survived 2018; no small feat for many here in the north state considering the death and destruction wreaked by the Carr and Camp fires.

July 26, 2018, the Carr Fire by day in Doni’s neighborhood.

Many ANC readers and contributors alike lost homes, pets and security to these monster fires. Tens of thousands of others were in the same position I faced; fleeing under ordered evacuation, saying goodbye to our homes as if we’d never see them again; returning to intact homes with gratitude mixed with survivors’ guilt.

 

Congratulations. We’re here, and we have a new chance for another crack at a new year, older, wiser and stronger than before.

I’ve made a north-state wish list in no particular order, but it mainly involves Redding. Like many wishes, they may not be possible or practical. But they’re on my wish list just the same. Feel free to chime in with your wishes in the comments section.

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Downtown

Downtown, a place I’ve lamented over for decades, looks like it just may pull out of its death spiral and become a place of pride, not embarrassment. With any luck, I just may live long enough to see downtown Redding live up to its full potential.

Even so, I have a few wishes. First, I wish for a gathering place in the downtown’s center, a real promenade. I wish for a huge pine tree to be planted in the center so we have a living, growing Christmas tree. I won’t bore you (much) with my childhood recollections (again) of a cut Christmas tree that was stuck in a manhole each holiday season; a magnet for annual DUI impacts. While the sentiment of having the tree in the city center was a good one; the placement, not so much.

Still on downtown, I have two huge wishes for Redding’s two grand historic hotels: the former Hotel Redding on Market and Sacramento (kitty corner from the Cascade), and the Lorenz Hotel on California and Yuba Streets. First, I wish for the Lorenz that its building would embrace the old Downtown Specific Plan vision of a mixed use place: The upper floors could be renovated apartments — for not just low-income seniors, but a variety of renters. The ground floor would be as it is now, retail, offices and restaurants.

For the former Hotel Redding, a place I championed during my newspaper column days to save and restore, my wish is that it would become a restored, fully functional hotel again, a place of pride, a hotel that would cater to the Cascade Theatre’s performers and audiences. Imagine how convenient it would be for Cascade Theatre entertainers to walk across the street and sleep at the hotel, rather than heading for Hilltop Drive. Imagine out-of-town guests who traveled to Redding to catch a show at the Cascade, who could stay in the historic hotel. Imagine even local people making a night of it; eating at a downtown restaurant, catching a show at the Cascade, and then spending a night in the restored Hotel Redding.

Homeless

Speaking of downtown Redding …

All the grand, creative, multi-million-dollar improvements to our city core will be in vain if something isn’t done about the homeless problem.

Redding is looking less and less appealing as a place to stay put. Have you noticed the exodus of people who are so fed up with Redding that they’re leaving; saying their mass farewells on Facebook as they head to places like Oregon, Idaho and Montana?

But I digress. Back to my wish. I wish for a clean, safe, compassionate place for the homeless people to sleep and have shelter. I’ve changed my mind over the years about the right locations for homeless housing, but my current choice is the county property on Breslauer Way. Homelessness is a county problem, not just a Redding problem. Our leaders may not be able to solve every problem that caused homelessness, but it should do the humane thing and give those who live on the streets a place to sleep while society figures out how to fix what caused homelessness in the first place.

Let there be light

One of the reasons that Redding is not a pedestrian-bike friendly city — especially at night — is it’s so darned dark. I live in west Redding, about an easy 15 – 20 minute walk to downtown to visit restaurants at night. But would I? No, partly because of the presence of so many sketchy people (see “homeless” above), but mostly because it’s literally too dark to see. More light posts would bring more light to dark streets, which would encourage citizens to walk more in the evenings, and it would also illuminate and discourage the bad guys.

Remove photo-enforced red-light cameras

Raise your hand if you or someone you love has received a red-light ticket in the city of Redding. Raise your hand if you’ve had a visitor whose welcome to the city is a red-light ticket. Raise your hand if you’d like the red-light cameras to leave Redding. My hand is raised for all three.

Redding should join the ranks of the many, many other civilized cities and dump the photo-enforced red light cameras. I say this not just because I have received a red-light ticket, but because I think they’re a bad idea. The time I was nailed by a red-light ticket I was heading east on Cypress in the right lane getting ready to turn right. The light was green, green, green, and I was behind a car that was just turning the corner right onto Hilltop when the light turned yellow for maybe three seconds. The car in front of mine slowed … the yellow changed to red just as I was turning. Snap! It got me.

Since then, I will slam on my break at a yellow light, and gun it through green intersections to avoid the yellow light, sometimes nearly hitting the car in front of me, and have had a few close calls with someone almost rear-ending me as a slam on my brakes to avoid a yellow. I know I’m not the only one who’s responded in this way. I know this presents its own kind of danger.

Recent analysis by Case Western Reserve University confirms my suspicions.

“There is no reason to believe that there is a reduction in overall accidents thanks to red-light cameras,” Gallagher said. “Our analysis does not support the case that the cameras improve public safety, which is one of the main justifications used by public officials and law enforcement.”

What’s more, some studies suggest that red-light enforced intersections are more deadly to pedestrians and bicyclists.

Redding, do us all a favor and dump the red-light cameras for good.

Money, money, who’s got the money?

Ever since the Carr Fire, and then the Camp Fire, we’ve heard one glowing story after another about all the money that’s been so generously donated from near and far to help the fire survivors; people who’ve lost their homes and businesses. A long list that includes citizens, companies, schools, philanthropists, celebrities, professional athletes and many others have opened their hearts and wallets as a way to soothe and help those most afflicted by those fires.

Millions and millions of dollars, and counting.

Here’s my wish: that every last dime donated to help the Carr and Camp fire survivors will find its way to those people. The cynic in me has doubts that this will happen. I hope I am wrong, and that the people who are most in need will receive the help as it was intended. Every dime.

That’s my list so far for 2019. I am crossing my fingers in hopes some of my wishes come true.

How about you? What are your wishes?
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Doni Chamberlain
Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as anewscafe.com in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke of the Czech Republic. Chamberlain is an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, California.
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37 Responses

  1. Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

    Homelessness is a nation wide program. In many areas churches are stepping up to help. Many cities are passing taxes, the taxpayers are willing, to fund homeless shelters. The problem is Nimbyism steps in as those favorable to pay taxes don’t want the shelters in their neighborhood. Likewise churches face opposition to where the shelters will be. The other problem is that a large segment of the homeless don’t want to live with the rules at shelters.
    There are no red light cameras in Cheyenne. Instead Wyoming state law requires all school buses to have cameras to record violators driving past school buses stopped, flashing lights, to load or unload students. Colorado cities are looking to ban red light cameras as well as speed cameras, lawsuits are working their way through the courts.
    And here in Arizona, home to most of those camera companies, a real backlash is happening, Right here in El Mirage, where I live, a city council candidate ran on a promise to ban speed cameras, we’ll see if it happens. Two weeks ago the state courts found El Mirage had a speed camera set up as a speed trap, 45 dropped to 30 with no warning. Now El Mirage has to refund the ticket money collected over the last two years.
    As far as the other stuff that will require what Redding has as it’s own vision is political. Doni, you may need to run for city council.

    • There is a backlash against the photo-enforced red lights, as cities realize their mistake. I hope Redding comes to its senses with regard to the lights (gosh, and so many things) soon.

      I would never run for any political office. I don’t have the stomach for it, and can do more good here, holding the flashlight.

      Thanks for sharing what’s happening in your part of the country, as always.

    • Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

      Those red light cameras must be sold to cities as cash cows. That would explain why the City of Redding would be reluctant to throw them overboard, given the local citizenry’s allergic reaction to other means of increasing revenues.

      My favorite related experience? Sitting at a downtown intersection, waiting for traffic to pass so that I could turn right on a red light. The traffic passes, I start the turn, and FLASH! I actually circled back around the block to make sure I hadn’t missed a “no turn on red” sign. Nope, just a hyperactive camera. I didn’t have to pay the fine, but that hardened my opinion considerably.

  2. Avatar Michael Karas says:

    I don’t know what the answer is…(as far as I can tell nobody else does either)…I enjoy living in Redding and will continue to. Here’s to the restoration of Hotel Redding and the demise of Red Light Cameras.

    By the bye, we have the Best salmon and trout fishing in the world! Please do not advertise this!

  3. Avatar Richard Christoph says:

    Doni states: “…my current choice is the county property on Breslauer Way.”

    Royal Burnett (quoted by Doni 3-16-18) makes a compelling case for the Breslauer location:

    BY ROYAL BURNETT- 8/8/2017: “Why must we try to re invent the wheel ? Tiny houses will only provide shelter for a chosen few families while the numbers of the homeless are legion. Tiny houses and structured communities might have a place in the long term plan, but we need solutions now. The homeless sleeping on the lawn of our Civic Center and bathing in the bathroom of our County library is a disgrace…Shame on the City Fathers and County Supervisors for not recognizing the problem and providing a solution.
    I propose that Shasta County and Redding City open a combination shelter and soup kitchen using the same model as Calfire uses when they set up fire camp at Anderson Fairgounds. Feed two meals a day. A simple breakfast ( scrambled eggs,toast and hot cereal ) from 7 to 9 in the morning and a soup or stew type meal for supper served from 5 to 7 PM. The ideal location for this camp would be on the existing County property on Breslaur Way, next to the Welfare Offices and the Old County Hospital.
    The City and County would have to build sheds similar to those used at the fairgrounds…nothing fancy, just a place to get out of the weather. Simple restrooms could tie into the City sewer system which should be adequate since it handled the Hospital in past years.
    Police protection should be provided cooperatively between the City PD and Sheriff using one sworn officer with non sworn officers as staff.
    The Hope Van could set up and provide health and mental health services.
    Calfire or the National Guard could be called on to provide a Mobile Field Kitchen . Would it be possible to have a Sugar Pine Conservation Camp Crew staffing the kitchen ? Would the County jail be able to provide any of the cleaning and maintenance ? Could we utilize the California Conservation Corps in any way ? Would the various Church and Mission groups be interested in participating ?”

  4. Avatar Susan Tavalero says:

    As a survivor of the Boles Fire in Weed in 2014, I can assure you that all the money that was sent to the Shasta Regional Foundation will be used for the recovery of Redding 100%. We also benefitted from donations to SRF and they do not use the donated dollars to run their foundation. They used it to help rebuild in many, many ways.

  5. Avatar Matthew Grigsby says:

    To piggy-back on your comment of more illumination downtown, I’d like for those lights to be the shielded and properly aimed ones that don’t cause light pollution in the sky above. Wouldn’t it be great to look towards the city at night and NOT see that orange glow of all the old street lamps?

    I’m with you on the homeless problem too. I don’t understand why the post office downtown is the homeless downtown as well, when I see people sleeping any time of the day on the sidewalk or in the doorways. It makes me nervous to walk by and it’s a terrible eye sore.

    • Yes! That’s a great idea. If Redding can’t get its act together to look nice by day, then at least it can shoot for being attractive by night. It would be awesome if Redding could be an official Dark Sky Community. https://www.darksky.org/our-work/conservation/idsp/communities/

      And the post office. Sigh. It’s funny you should mention it because I had two whole paragraphs I’d written about the post office that I deleted, mainly because I was getting off track.

      But yeah, I know you work downtown, so you see it. And I have a p.o. box downtown, and it’s getting increasingly scary to walk the gauntlet of street people, some of who are fighting with each other. The worst part is if I need to go to post office lobby after hours to retrieve mail. The number of street people, many of whom have pit bulls, increases drastically then. Yes, I carry pepper spray in my hand, with my thumb on the trigger, and yes, I’m on high alert, inside and outside the post office.

      But I hate living like that. As an aside, the only reason I have a post office box is that in my neighborhood, mail is routinely stolen from mailboxes. So crime drives people to get post office boxes to keep their mail safe, but the post office feels unsafe for people. What a mess.

  6. Avatar Debbie Davis says:

    Ditto. Ditto. Ditto. You said it best Doni!

  7. Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

    We were in Redding for a few days and had Sunday brunch at Final Draft. We parked in the gawd-awful parking structure and wondered what in the world the architects were thinking when they designed that monstrosity. The height inside is stated to be 6′ 6″. I know several men who would have to duck to walk there. It can’t come down soon enough. I’d bring a sledgehammer and pitch in if it would help.

    All of the comments about having a safe place for the homeless on Breslauer seem doable. But only, of course, if it is used. To drive to downtown from our Redding place, we use Parkview Avenue. The numbers of homeless clustered on the Civic Center and library grounds is appalling. No way will I walk there. When Saturday Market is open, we do walk there and trek through the maze of lollers; however I wouldn’t walk alone.

    Between the county and city elected officials who seem unable to address the issues, coupled with the invasion of Bethel who appear to have a stranglehold, we, too, are thinking very seriously of leaving California. My sister in Washington State has an extra acre of property that is very appealing for a homesite. It’s rural and has an unobstructed view of the Straits of Juan de Fuca. Wildland fires there aren’t an every-year occurrence, either. Siiiiiigh.

    • Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

      Our exodus was just a return to Palo Cedro. I still feel a bit guilty about it, but I just got tired of Redding’s unwillingness to address its problems. The last straw for me was the failure of the public safety sales tax. People want the homelessness/petty crime situation mitigated at zero cost to themselves, and it’s just not realistic.

      But alas, realism is in short supply these days.

  8. Well, Beverly, your point – and Bruce’s, above – is spot on about a shelter only working for the street people who choose to use it. My humanitarian side says we need to provide food and shelter for the unfed and the unsheltered. But my practical side realizes that it would be a whole other issue to entice those people to use those facilities when they’d prefer to be in the middle of downtown, for a variety of reasons, some of which include so they have access to break into vehicles and homes to support addictions. I’m not saying that to besmirch all homeless, but ANC gets enough press releases about downtown crime to know that the crime/drug connection is thriving.

    What do we do? Get a big school bus and drive through Redding each night to round up the homeless like a church bus collecting Sunday schoolers? Shelter them, feed them and release them in the morning so they can return to the post office and parks and city hall lawns?

    And Beverly, I wouldn’t blame you and your husband one bit if you moved to Washington to your sister’s property. It sounds lovely. (Besides, no matter where you moved, you’d still be part of ANC, like Bruce and others who’ve moved away but are still part of our ANC family of readers.)

    The exodus from Redding is real, and I understand it completely.

  9. Avatar Candace C says:

    Homelessness coupled with drug addiction and mental illness is not exclusive to Redding. I don’t pretend to know the answers about how to solve the big picture of these social maladies. I think the Breslauer Way idea is a step in the right direction. Personally, I’m not nervous to walk by homeless people (at least not so far) as I think people generally leave you alone if you leave them alone. That being said, I wouldn’t walk alone at night anyway, mostly because being a woman is less safe than if I were a man, which majorly pisses me off. For me, personally, it’s not the homeless problem that would cause me to exit my hometown of Redding, it’s the Trump supporter mentality. On a happier note, I, like Doni, was born and raised here in Redding and I think the Christmas tree is a grand idea. Happy New Year everyone!

    • I’ve never been physically assaulted by a street person, but I’ve had verbal assaults, and seen aggression between some of the homeless that’s made me wary.

      And yeah, I’m also majorly pissed off that it doesn’t feel safe for a woman to walk alone at night. Heck, in some areas, I don’t feel safe walking alone in broad daylight. Case in point there’s an undeveloped area in my neighborhood on the far south dead-end part of Almond that is a pretty open space, perfect for a walk, but I’d only go with another person, preferably a guy, because I’ve encountered inhabited homeless encampments, broken bottles, trash and signs of activity that steer me away.

    • Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

      I have to laugh at Trump supporter issues. Down here in Sun City, Arizona Joe Arpaio could be elected to the city council. The only Arpaio Posse group left is in Sun City. they have their own web page. A lot of angry old white men from all over the country have retired to Sun City.

  10. Barbara Rice Barbara Rice says:

    We left Redding for Eureka last spring for a variety of reasons. On the few occasions I’ve come back to visit, right away I notice that many people seem angry, impatient, and competitive. Even just waiting in line at a gas station for a pump to become available, drivers get out of sorts easily. (Understandable when it’s 115 degrees.) So many ads in certain publications for botox and collagen, more prestigious subdivisions, high-end home interiors…

    Here in Humboldt, people seem more invested in their community, even if it’s just sticking a yard sign in front of their house supporting a local amendment. I’m not seeing a culture of “Younger! Prettier! More successful!” or “Bigger is better!” People seem genuinely happy and friendly. And local government tries to keep people informed and encourages active participation. Every month we are automatically emailed a newsletter from the City of Eureka. (Why can’t the City of Redding do this?)

    http://new.ci.eureka.ca.gov/civicax/filebank/blobdload.aspx?t=53227.94&BlobID=15431

    The Eureka/Arcata area doesn’t seem nearly as polarized and divided as Redding. Sure, there are problems like heroin and meth, a population of transients/addicts/mentally ill, unemployment, but compared to Redding’s similar issues it feels like paradise. Plus the local government acknowledges there ARE problems and works at addressing them proactively.

    Not everyone would like it here, but in nearly every way this is a better, happier place for us to live. I miss my friends and family but wouldn’t move back.

    • Barbara, I hear you. And I must say, as happy as I was for you two when you left Redding and found a new home on the coast, it was yet another nick in my heart to realize that so many of my friends have left Redding. Every time someone leaves, a little part of me says, “take me with you!”

      Many of the friends and acquaintances who’ve left were life-long Redding residents; some even from pioneer families, changing the course of their family’s geographical history forever.

      I’m happy you’re happy, but you’re missed here.

  11. Avatar Candace C says:

    Actually, to piggyback on my previous post, I’m not sure if Doni was born in Redding ( sorry Doni, my memory isn’t what it used to be) but I know she grew up here and we share the same “Redding Christmas tree” wish. Kindred souls and all that. Again, Happy New Year everyone. And Doni? You’re a kick-ass woman m’dear and I appreciate you.

    • Yes, Candace, we ARE kindred Redding spirits, and I’ve turned into one of those people who waxes nostalgic about the Redding of my childhood; old stores, bakeries, playgrounds, etc. It must be dreadfully boring to people who weren’t here then.

      Sometimes I feel as if I were born here, but actually, it was Honolulu (middle name is Leilani, translation: Heavenly Flower), and then to Vancouver, B.C., before landing in Redding at age 5. Aside from a 3-year stint in Stockton with Husband No. 1 for his education, I’ve been here ever since.

      And Candace, thank you for the kind words. I’ll take them! And I feel the same about you. 🙂

  12. R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

    I’d like to add rain to the wish list. Lots and lots of rain this winter. And snow. I’m looking forward to seeing the new downtown take shape, even though I’m gonna miss the parking garage, ugly as it is, which is a nice cool place to park in the summer. If the county could ever get its act together and double the jail bed space with a heavy mental health/drug addiction component, they might not have to continually re-release people who are a threat to the public, which would make the general homeless population a little more tolerable to the non-homeless.

  13. Avatar Candace C says:

    R.V.! SNOW in REDDING?! YIKES! Most of us have no idea how to drive in snow and it shows! Lol. ( It is pretty though. I’ll give you that. Exciting too because it’s so rare.)

  14. Avatar Candace C says:

    R.V.
    Oh, ok, got ya. Makes sense.

  15. Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

    An addition/gripe to my previous post about Doni’s wish list for downtown: ‘Twould seem to me that the planned multi-use structure should yes, include apartments, but NOT low income units. Methinks a viable downtown would depend on people who can afford the hoped-for amenities that are planned for the area. The low income facility near Parkview was supposed to be well managed 24/7, but it’s already beginning to look seedy. Will that happen in downtown, too? I suppose the reason low-income units were chosen was that it was a requirement for funding.

  16. Frank Treadway Frank Treadway says:

    Downtown: The K2 development is building at warp speed, just hoping that the ground floor spaces will contain new and innovative entrepreneurs. Please, not one pizza parlor, not one attorney office, not one beauty/nail salon, but businesses that will bring new foot traffic downtown. Need shading effects, a parking tower, and security guards to keep vagrants from settling in.
    Homeless: Even more transients/vagrants/homeless {choose your term) will gather downtown as laws loosen prison release. Yes, Breslauer Ln. property is the logical answer to a controlled living site. I’ve asked the county to mow the acreage, as it currently is a major fire hazard with the dry grass, but no luck, seems a lot of buck passing. We have enough architects in town, not to mention existing small house designs, that could be asked to provide small home plans and the most feasible be chosen and built. Get the carpenters union involved, get SBA loans, the money is out there to make this happen.
    Let There Be Light: A no-brainer, the City owns its utility company ! Buy light poles from other cities who’ve upgraded, coat them like the ones on Cypress Ave, and more safety will abound. Use those small solar panels to run them, so that REU doesn’t have to up our bill every so often.
    Red Light Cameras: If the results of the study are on the mark, Mr. City Manager, Take Down Those Cameras. (unless of course it’s a money-maker for CoR)
    The Carr Fire Donations: I understand that a foundation, or a church, would find it difficult to hand out pure cash to those who’s homes have burned. But, there must be an equitable way to make sure individuals/families could, especially those without home insurance, or had a high deductible, receive a grant from those funds. Those millions are making lots of interest and that should be doled out. At some point I hope a chart is released to the public showing how those millions have been spent.
    My Wish: The CoR have a Clean Up the City Program, Spring & Fall. This would hopefully stop folks from leaving sofas/appliances and other products abandoned on City sidewalks. The City has a fleet of dump trucks that could pick these items up, with prisoners who are trusted, and re-cycle.

    • Avatar Vicki Gallagher says:

      I know everyone has dreams of the type of businesses they would like to see downtown, but I think it’s important we don’t slight the business–yes, salons, pizza parlors, and attorney’s offices–that have stuck it out downtown. Where would we be if those businesses had closed up shop too? Yes, I’m a retired owner of one of those businesses, and I’m happy to report my salon is going strong with its new owner.

  17. Adrienne Jacoby Adrienne Jacoby says:

    About driving in snow? If you don’t know how or if it makes you nervous STAY HOME!! REALLY!! for your sake and for the sake of other drivers/pedestrians.
    But if you MUST, remember S – L – O – W and steady wins the day. Never step on your breaks. if you must make a stop, tap them gingerly. There . . . . that’s my sermon of the day!!!

  18. Avatar Milo Johnson says:

    Yes, get rid of those red-light cameras. But no one has mentioned the most important reason, in my opinion. The dollar amount of the fines is excessive, and the majority of that money is sucked out and away from the local economy. The smaller portion that stays in the city is seen as “income” by local officials, but at what cost? Also, excessive fines for infractions that, while technically illegal, are not actually unsafe, like Doni’s right turn, lead people to distrust and resent local government. Then at election time these resentful citizens vote against tax increases that might improve the standard of living for all Redding residents. Send the red-light cameras back where they came from!

  19. Avatar Tracey says:

    I’d like to see the former Redding Inn demolished! Not only is it an eyesore, but it’s deteriorating daily. The “security” hired to patrol it doesn’t do much but walk around the building, and RPD shows up about once a month to rout the transients out. Surely something should be done about this – as well as the property where the old Rico’s Tacos was. Just an empty lot piling up with trash…..