If ‘no’ wins on Election Day, then nobody wins – Chico Enterprise-Record

Chico has been my home since 1979, when the population was 28,000. Today we’re 100,000 souls. That’s a natural growth rate just above 1% per year, between one and two families every day.

Doesn’t matter where we’re from, or how long we’ve lived here. Doesn’t even matter how we feel about growth. We are all contributors to Chico’s incremental growth and demand for housing. Handling that growth responsibly means new development must be appropriately located, conscientiously planned, and responsive to both nature and the needs of Chico’s residents.

Valley’s Edge is the most comprehensive commitment to long term planning, conservation, recreation, jobs, and housing … in Chico’s history. Its fate, and the opportunities and benefits it will or won’t create for Chico’s current and future residents, rests with Chico’s voters. Yes or no.

Please understand what “no”  looks like.

If “no” wins, Valley’s Edge is overturned. Chico’s keystone growth area, relied upon since 2010 to help provide housing and create other public benefits for current and future generations, reverts to private property, gated and fenced off. No public access, and zero benefit to current and future residents of Chico.

If “no” wins, conservation and stewardship for an estimated 5,500 trees gets stripped away, gone. Gone too is the 420-acre regional park, the largest gift of public parkland since Annie’s gift of Bidwell Park.

If “no” wins, gone are ball fields and facilities in the 36-acre Community Park, four neighborhood parks, tot-lots, Chico’s largest community garden, and Chico Unified School District’s 14-acre elementary school site.

Chico’s largest network of bike and hiking trails, disappeared. Commercial space in the village core creating over 1,200 new jobs, canceled. If “no” wins, nobody wins.

Critics say it’s too big. But cities, agencies, and professional planners all understand the benefits of large-scale master planning; orderly and cohesive neighborhoods, connected trail systems, walkability, parks, and open space. To say large scale planning is bad, is to think piecemeal development is better. We all know that’s not true. Comprehensive planning doesn’t mean growth happens faster, just better. Better for the environment, for ourselves and our children.

If “yes” wins, Valley’s Edge, recipient of the American Planning Association’s 2023 award for Best Comprehensive Plan, will serve us all by upholding climate-smart, sensible, and sustainable planning, in one of the best towns on the planet. If “yes” wins, Chico wins. With a wide-ranging mix of densities, lifestyles and levels of affordability, Valley’s Edge helps predictability of supply leading to greater affordability across Chico’s housing market, and homes for every budget.

About half the housing serves local demand for single family housing; think traditional neighborhoods, bedrooms and backyards. About 40% serves smaller and lower cost lifestyles, cottages, townhomes, condos and apartments. The remaining 10% responds to Chico’s demand for large lot custom home building. The pace of homebuilding is expected to be gradual, when and as new housing is needed many decades into the future.

Factual and unbiased information is vital to making smart choices. We’re all concerned the extent to which the NO on P campaign relies on abject falsehood and misinformation, debunked time and time again. The fact is Valley’s Edge exceeds every reasonable expectation, and every local standard, acknowledged repeatedly by independent experts and analysts, city planners, current and former fire chiefs, economists, environmental professionals, and local school and park districts.

The only thing worse than failing to thoughtfully plan for Chico’s predictable growth is convincing folks that we don’t need to plan at all. That’s precisely what NO on P wants us to believe; If we stop planning, good things will happen. That my friends, is the road to unplanned urban sprawl, the regrettable lesson of communities who failed to plan, and communities whose planning achievements were obstructed.

Valley’s Edge is the culmination of 14 years spent listening to the dreams, fears, and inspirations of local residents, crafted into a homegrown plan for current and future generations.

Please support hometown Chico. Vote YES on P.

Bill Brouhard is the planning manager for Valley’s Edge.

 

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