Chico City Council considers reopening meetings to the public

During Tuesday's Chico city council meeting, city leaders discussed a variety of topics, including extending free parking in downtown and the controversial needle distribution program.

Posted: Jul 8, 2020 6:52 PM
Updated: Jul 8, 2020 7:00 PM

CHICO, Calif.- During Tuesday's Chico city council meeting, city leaders discussed a variety of topics, including the parking fee waiver in downtown Chico and the controversial needle distribution program.

Mayor Ann Schwab also says the city council may soon open meetings up to the public again. One of the first topics on the agenda would be the needle distribution program.

Mayor Scwab says it could happen as early as the next city council meeting which is scheduled for August 4th.

During Tuesday night's meeting council member Sean Morgan made a motion for the city attorney to show what options they have to shut down the needle distribution program.

Schwab says they also want to see options for regulating the program.

"We're ready to go, all we needed to do was find a time that the public could come back into our spaces and it looks like we're going to be able to do that,"Scwab said.

She says they are looking into possibly hosting the next city council meeting at Grace Community Church to allow for social distancing.

However, they would still need to finalize that contract before it's official.

Schwab says as of right now they are moving in that direction but says things could change before August 4th.

The church would be able to fit around 80 people and everyone would be asked to wear masks and practice social distancing. 

The city council also decided to extend free parking in Downtown Chico to encourage people to stop by and support local businesses. 

The city made parking free back in march to help essential businesses and restaurants were offering take-out.
There had been some discussion about possibly bringing back the parking fees recently but on Tuesday night the council decided not to do that yet.

Chico city officials say parking fees bring in about a million dollars a year and the money goes to the parking fund and improvements.

Mayor Schwab says they are asking people to only park in the spots for the posted time limit. She says the free parking will continue for as long as the council feels it will help the community. 

The city of Chico is also taking action when it comes to moving encampments that are set up along waterways.

Schwab says city staff will be stopping by those areas to make sure people are following the rule. 

The city started allowing people to camp in city parks in March after Governor Gavin Newsom mandated the stay-at-home order.

The city says it made the decision to allow the homeless population to shelter in place and protect them from the coronavirus.

Schwab says over next week they will be going out and talking to people who have been sheltering in place at these locations and help them find alternate locations.

She says it will be a process because there are a lot of people camping along the waterways but they want to be able to open them up to the public as soon as possible.

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