CHICO, Calif. - As Butte County struggles to address housing shortages after the Camp Fire, Chico Mayor Randall Stone is opposing legislation from Assemblyman James Gallagher to address that shortage. And the Assemblyman is responding.
On Monday, Gallagher introduced Assembly Bill 430, aimed at streamlining the environmental review process for some housing in Butte County. The goal is to expediting housing projects. Assemblyman Gallagher recently met with building industry stakeholders to review various solutions.
Also on Monday, Chico Mayor Randall Stone submitted a letter to the State Assembly, opposing the bill in its current form. Mayor Stone said the Chico City Council has not yet reviewed the bill's language, which he says will impact land use in the city of Chico. Mayor Stone said the council has not yet taken a position, saying Assembly Bill 430 is an overreach, that could impact smart, yet efficient growth.
Lat Monday evening, Assemblyman Gallagher's office fired back in a press release.
"You would think given the severity of this situation the Mayor wouldn't be playing games like this," Gallagher said. "The first time my office reached out to him to discuss this housing solution, Stone took to Facebook to criticize it rather than responding to my office. Now today, we get blindsided with a last-minute opposition letter that we hear about through a third party. My message to Mayor Stone and the City of Chico is simple: If you don't want to be included in this solution to expedite housing, we'll take you out of the bill. The ball is in your court."
Assemblyman Gallagher said a broad coalition of individuals attended the hearing to express support of the measure, including representatives from Butte County, the City of Oroville, the City of Biggs, the Rural County Representatives of California, the California Chamber of Commerce, the California Building Industry Association, Sierra North Valley Association of Realtors, the Chico Chamber of Commerce, the Chico Builders Association, the Valley Contractors Exchange and the Chico-based Sustainability Management Association. Many small business owners, property owners, and Camp Fire survivors were also in attendance to express their support, including Paradise Town Councilmember Melissa Schuster, and former Paradise Mayor Scott Lotter.
"This is an emergency situation, and our region's economy is at serious risk," said Interim Oroville City Administrator Tom Lando. "The ridge provided housing for many of the region's employees due to its low cost. Housing prices have soared due to a lack of supply. It will take an innovative approach to solve this issue and I believe this bill is a critical piece of the recovery."
Assemblyman Gallagher said he is working with a group of stakeholder to develop amendments to the legislation. He said a new version of the bill voted in the Natural Resources Committee on April 22.