Chico gaining increased regional attention, population impacts of Camp Fire

The city of Chico has been struggling with unprecedented growth a year after the Camp Fire wiped out the town of Paradise.

Posted: Nov 7, 2019 3:29 PM
Updated: Nov 7, 2019 5:11 PM

CHICO, Calif. - The city of Chico has been struggling with unprecedented growth a year after the Camp Fire wiped out the town of Paradise.

The Camp Fire destroyed roughly 19,000 buildings and killed 85 people. State officials say about 20,000 people moved to Chico after the fire.

People are struggling to find a place to live there.

City Manager Mark Orme says Chico also needs nearly half a billion dollars to improve infrastructure and hire enough police officers and firefighters to cover the surge in people.

He says Chico hasn't been eligible for most federal and state grants because no buildings burned in the city.

Other changes have been subtle. It takes longer to get a table at restaurants, and traffic is heavier.

That has also caused a massive housing shortage and in turn, construction is booming.

The planning commission continues to process subdivisions for single and multi-family units with a heavy emphasis on multi-families or apartments.

"The building data that's come in the applications that have come into our building department is that both single-family and multi-family we're going to have record-breaking years numbers since back in 2006 pre-recession," the community director said.

"Housing was horrible if you didn't get on the phones right away after the fire you're not going to get anything nothing was available,"  Jon Nunez evacuee said.

The community development director says they have filled almost 800 units since the Camp Fire and almost 1,000 units are approved and waiting to be built.

But there's a lack of workforce and availability for contractors. 

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