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Fact vs. Fiction

Learn more about why you should vote Yes on Measure P.

Fiction:

It’s way too big, the size of Gridley.

Fact:

It’s the size it’s supposed to be, big enough to do it right. Master planning promotes quality conservation and development. The alternative to master planning is piecemeal development. Piecemeal development leads to urban sprawl.

Comprehensive, long-term, and conscientious planning efforts are vital to environmental, economic and societal success in every community. Cities, counties, and professional planners understand the benefits of large-scale planning; orderly development, cohesive neighborhoods, connected trail systems, walkability, parks, and open space conservation.

Between 2007 and 2010, the City of Chico and Butte County overhauled their respective long term “General Plans” to serve as a coordinated blueprint for where and how growth and preservation should be accommodated.  It’s been over a decade since both the city and county blueprints for sustainable development designated 1,448 acres in southeast Chico a primary growth area.  It’s expected, and relied upon. 

Chico’s long-term vision as a healthy, sustainable, and thriving place hinges on the ability of designated Special Planning Areas (SPA’s) to serve and balance the needs of our growing community.  Valleys Edge is Chico’s keystone SPA. In fact, it’s larger than all other SPA’s combined.   

The community’s expectation for this land, expressed in Chico’s General Plan, is that the 1,448 acres not be piecemealed, but master planned and developed as connected and complete neighborhoods, with a mix of housing types, services, employment, and shopping opportunities, along with parks and open space.   That’s precisely what the City of Chico approved in the Valleys Edge Specific Plan, Chico’s first, and to date only, award-winning comprehensive plan. The planning scale of Valleys Edge brings unprecedented benefits to the entire Chico community.

Over half the area, roughly 750 acres providing a regional park, community park, neighborhood parks, open space, oak woodland preserves, recreation and education serving Chico’s current and future generations.

And within this open space framework, land to accommodate jobs, and land to help ease Chico’s housing crunch for decades to come.    

People love Chico, and our city will continue to grow.  Housing affordability requires planning and predictability.  The key is to ensure future growth is both responsible and thoughtful versus a piecemeal, lot by lot approach.

Comprehensive planning doesn’t mean growth happens any faster, just better.  Better for the environment, for people, and for the planet. Better for Chico. 

The argument that comprehensive master planning is bad, says that incremental piecemeal development is better.   And we all know that’s not true.  

SUPPORTING DOCUMENTATION:

Fiction:

It’s exclusively for wealthy out-of-towners

Fact:

Chico’s demand for housing is as diverse as the opinions of our residents The plan for Valleys Edge is homegrown, designed to serve the varied housing needs of people calling Chico home. 

With a wide-ranging mix of densities, lifestyles and levels of affordability, Valleys Edge helps ensure there’s a home for every budget.

Fact is only 1 in 10 homes in Valleys Edge would help serve Chico’s demand for upper end custom homes.  

If the NO vote wins, and Valley’s Edge is overturned, 600 acres of non-prime land uniquely capable of easing housing affordability for generations to come, in an area planned to do just that, is reverted to private property with zero benefit to the residents of Chico.  Chico loses. 

If the Yes vote wins, Valley’s Edge would serve the public interests in housing of all types, lifestyles and budgets, through well planned and orderly development. Chico wins.

The primary driver of housing cost is “density”, commonly stated in terms of homes (or dwelling units) per acre.  The broad mix of housing planned in Valleys Edge is described in the VESP Chapter 4 (Land Use).   The Land Use Plan illustrate where in the planning area various land uses and residential densities are anticipated. Within this framework, the VESP supports creative planning, including for example higher density pocket neighborhoods promoting greater affordability. Following is a summary of the baseline capacity for housing, excepting apartments which are also allowed within commercial areas.  

The primary driver of housing demand is population growth coupled with transitional events.   Nation-wide the average person moves 5 to 7 times in their lifetime.  Marriages, divorces, career changes, growing families, graduations and empty nester retirements all trigger a change in residence. Add to that new resident moving to Chico, offset in part by those moving out. Chico planned for this natural growth, just over 1% annually, which equates to just above a family per day.  And in November 2018, Chico absorbed 10 years of population growth in a single horrific event, triggering unprecedented competition for housing, which allot of people lost.  That’s Chico’s housing demand.

The more people competing for housing, the higher the cost of housing.  Those less able to compete get pushed to outlying towns, forced to commute.  Those with means are able to stay. It’s pretty simple and it’s pretty sad. Obstructing the supply of new housing increases competition for all housing.   The fastest way to push young families and those living paycheck to paycheck out of Chico, is to stop Valleys Edge.   And that’s pretty devastating to families and real people trying to call Chico home.

Fiction:

It’ll cut down between 1,700 and 2,000 mature oak trees

Fact:

Valley’s Edge codified the most significant and long-term commitment to tree preservation, protection, and tree planting in Chico’s history.

If Valleys Edge is upheld, over time as the plan area develops there will always be more trees on the land than exist today. 

If the NO vote wins, and Valley’s Edge is overturned, permanent open space protection for roughly 4,400 trees will be forever lost.  The entire regulatory framework guarding another 1,100 trees will disappear.  And plans to plant 7,000 new trees will be abandoned.

A foundational element of Valley’s Edge is the preservation and protection of Oak Woodlands. The 1,448 acre plan has been designed to first; avoid approximately 80 percent of the estimated 5,500 trees, and second: to preserve those trees by incorporating them into permanent, connected open space.  The remaining 20 percent of trees, ‘living environment trees’, exist in designated parks, common areas, neighborhoods and the built environment.   Conservation efforts for living environment trees extend beyond the City’s Tree Preservation Regulations (Chico Munil Code Section 16.66).  

 

On-site Heritage Oak Woodland to be designated

 

The Valley’s Edge Tree Preservation Program creates the legally enforceable framework for long term conservation, surveying, management, care and maintenance, replacement, and regeneration.  Prior to issuance of permits, builders and developers are required to prepare a Tree Protection Plan, including tree survey and identification, pre-construction and construction protocols, City inspections, mitigation, and City coordination.    HOA implementation also includes educational opportunities to educate residents with interpretive panels at key gathering spots, trail heads, and other focal points or open space areas.    

In accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), through the Environmental Impact Report (EIR), the City’s expert and objective consultants considered impacts to woodlands, and concluded, that with adopted mitigation the impact was less than significant.   And, in adopting the VESP, the City determined that the VESP’s tree preservation program is consistent with the applicable goals of the Chico General Plan.  

Over time, tree planting along with roads and buildings would add roughly additional new 7,000 trees.  At maturity, new trees will sequester roughly 420 metric tons of CO2 equivalent.   Based on the State of CA’s Greenhouse Gas Calculator, that’s comparable to carbon sequestered by 500 acres of US forest in one year; sequestering GHG emissions from 1 million vehicular miles; or CO2 sequestration from 475,000 pounds of burned coal. 

The Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies calculator allows you to convert emissions or energy data to the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from using that amount.   

 https://www.epa.gov/energy/greenhouse-gas-equivalencies-calculator



Additional Sources: City of Chico EIR Executive Summary Table ES-1; 

Valleys Edge Specific Plan Chapters 3 & 4; Appendix E

Fiction:

Parks will be behind a gated community for HOA, where the public will not have access…

Fact:

Again Not True.

Valleys Edge is designed as an outdoor recreationally oriented part of Chico that benefits our entire community.  Public access has been a core vision in Valleys Edge for over a decade.  

If the NO vote wins, and Valley’s Edge is overturned, all opportunities for public access, use and enjoyment will be lost.   All 1,448 acres will remain private property, no parks, no preserves, no public access.  Chico loses. 

If the Yes vote wins, Valley’s Edge contributes to Chico’s active outdoor lifestyle by designating over 700 acres open space for recreation and conservation. Chico wins.

As evident in both the General Plan and social fabric of the community, Chico’s residents place great value in parks, recreation, and outdoor experiences. Valley’s Edge promotes Chico’s active outdoor lifestyle by designating over 700 acres open space for recreation and conservation.

From a sustainability perspective, the open space land use designation protects Oak Woodlands, preserves sensitive habitat, safeguards natural drainages, facilitates wildlife movement, and establishes a permanent urban growth buffer. From a cultural perspective, open space protects resources such as pioneer era rock walls, the old Doe Mill Wagon Road, and other areas of cultural sensitivity. From a societal perspective, open space provides buffers to ameliorate visual impacts, while parks and trails offer a wealth of benefits from outdoor recreation and exercise, to areas for socializing and enhanced quality of life for people of all ages and abilities. From a child’s perspective, parks are where friends and memories are made.

Valleys Edge is designed as an outdoor recreationally oriented part of Chico that benefits our entire community.  Public access has been a core vision in Valleys Edge for over a decade.  Parks and open spaces are described in Chapter 3 of the VESP.  Public use is planned at a 36-acre CARD future community park, a 14-acre CUSD elementary school site, multiple CARD neighborhood parks, special use parks, and a massive 420-acre regional park.   VESP reference to the regional park being gifted to the City of Chico has been clarified to include a local district cable of public stewardship.    

Additional Sources: Valley’s Edge Specific Plan Chapter 3

Development Agreement between City and Master Developer  

Fiction:

There’s not enough groundwater to serve new development

Fact:

Expert and independent analysis demonstrates there is adequate groundwater, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t conserve. 

Valleys Edge includes a range of conservation measures on all development within the plan area, conservation that would not exist on infill and unplanned piecemeal development.

Pursuant to CEQA, potential impacts to groundwater supplies were studied during the City’s EIR process.

Specifically, Draft EIR Section 4.9 (Hydrology and Water Quality), the impacts of groundwater withdrawals needed to supply the Valleys Edge area were evaluated (see Impact 4.9-2 on pp. 4.9-30 through 4.9-32; Impact 4.9-6 on pp. 4.9-41 and 4.9- 42; and Impact 4.9-9 on pp. 4.9-44 through 4.9-46 of the Draft EIR). The availability of an adequate water supply is also evaluated in Impact 4.12-2 on page 4.12-20 and Impact 4.12-6 on page 4.12-22 of the Draft EIR.  

As part of that detailed analysis, consistent with Senate Bill (SB) 610- and SB 221, a water supply assessment (WSA) was required.  The WSA included in the Draft EIR (Appendix J) evaluated whether sufficient water supplies are available to meet all future demands within the Chico District service area, including demands associated with the proposed Project, during normal, single dry, and multiple dry hydrologic years. 

A 2nd WSA was completed to align with updated Urban Water Management Plan (UWMP), and Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) protocols.   Both original and updated WSA’s concluded that “sufficient water supply is available to Cal Water to meet all future demands” over the required planning horizon within Valleys Edge and the Chico District service area.

At a practical level however, drought conditions and water use restrictions suggest to many that Chico’s groundwater isn’t sufficient to handle existing residences much less new construction.   Expert and independent analysis demonstrates there is adequate groundwater, but it’s also true that communities should strive to reduce usage, regardless of droughts.  In other words, adequacy of groundwater doesn’t mean we shouldn’t conserve.  Both can be true.

VESP Chapter 2 (Goals, Policies, and Actions) includes a range of conservation measures including installation of drought tolerant landscaping, indoor water-efficient and outdoor water-wise fixtures, photo voltaic (PV) systems on all residential buildings, and other measures to exceed the CALGreen mandatory requirements.

GROUNDWATER RECHARGE

Because the project design would collect storm water runoff from largely impervious areas of the developed site and retain the water along existing streams the effect of development would be neutral or beneficial to groundwater recharge in the drainage areas. Construction of impervious surfaces could occur over some of the rock fractures in the area, however, the addition of irrigated landscapes over other rock fractures may introduce new water sources for isolated areas of shallow groundwater.

Fiction:

Some opponents claim that there will be 6,000-7,000 residents overnight.

Fact:

Valley’s Edge will take 30—40 years to build out fully.  When completed, there will be approximately 2,800 new homes.  Essentially, Valley’s Edge will be about the size of California Park – but with much more protected open space available to the public.

Sources: Valley’s Edge Specific Plan 1.3.1

Fiction:

Some opponents claim that wetlands will be affected and 1.5 acres lost.

Fact:

Of Valley Edge’s 1,450 acres, 1.5 acres of wetlands will be lost.  Over 700 acres at Valley’s Edge will be dedicated to Open Space, parks, and preservation and open to the public.

Source: Valley’s Edge Specific Plan 3-21

CEQA Summary of Impacts and Mitigation Measures

Fiction:

Some opponents claim that meadowfoam and vernal pools will be affected.

Fact:

Meadowfoam is entirely avoided in Valley’s Edge. There is no impact.

Sources: Valley’s Edge Specific Plan 3-21

CEQA Summary of Impacts and Mitigation 4.3-3

Fiction:

Some opponents claim that it will be harmful to Butte Creek, salmon, and beavers.

Fact:

There will be no negative impacts to Butte Creek, salmon, or beavers. 

Sources: Valley’s Edge Specific Plan 6.7

CEQA Summary of Impacts and Mitigation 4.3.4

Fiction:

The regional park property will be behind a gated community for HOA, where the public will not have access

Fact:

There is a 420-acre regional park that will be run by a local government agency, ensuring it is open to the public

Sources: Valley’s Edge Specific Plan 2.9

CEQA Summary of Impacts and Mitigation BIO 8

Consistent with Policy SUS-6.2, which directs implementation of the City’s Climate Action Plan (CAP), the VESP would help implement the CAP Measures by avoiding the use of natural gas in all new structures within the Plan area (CAP Measure E-2), installing photovoltaic arrays on all residential and HOA buildings per VESP Policies INFR-4.1, DES-2.2, and DES-2.10 (CAP Measure E-4), developing a multimodal circulation system that supports transit, bicycles, pedestrians, and neighborhood electric vehicles (CAP Measure T-1), improving electric vehicle infrastructure through VESP Actions C-1.5, C-1.7, and C-1.8, in addition to Title 24 building code requirements (CAP Measure T-2), constructing a park-and-ride lot and transit stops near the Village Core per VESP Policies C-1.9 and C-1.10 (CAP Measure T- 3), incorporating a Transportation Demand Management (TDM) plan per air quality EIR mitigation, which will support or expand upon other GHG-reducing efforts, establishing a mixed-use development in one of the City’s new growth areas to reduce VMT (CAP Measure T-5), and increasing carbon sequestration over time by installing street trees along all new roadways and implementing the Valley’s Edge Tree Preservation Program which requires replacement trees for each qualifying tree removed as a part of site development.

Therefore, the VESP includes a reasonable range and degree of GHG-reducing measures

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