oberservation of present day rural county
|On my way to a community meeting in the city of Colusa tonight the thought crossed my mind that the agricultural people in the county pull and toss a lot of weight around.
I have to consider this fact in that it is an element that effects, however in the background, my work as a city administrator in the one of two cities in Colusa County. And I was thinking that it is a fact with which I have to consider and am looking to enjoin in my municipal goals and improvements.
This weight is doubly weighted , triply? , for the following facts: this county produces the most tonnage of rice in the nation - and there is a lot of money behind and in front of the rice, the ag people are in the background of civic affairs in that they don't like government, they tend - strongly- to vote republican and are conservative (there is a sign on the freeway, today, questioning the citizen status of the US President), and they have no real interest in how municipalities work, those are city folk, they live in the rural areas with little to none civic ameneties, and, additionally, the urban areas are where their working huddle masses live packed in citified homes.
The presentation tonight was by the City and the State somewhat in a project called "complete streets". It is essentially a State program to keep the city folk pacified while the state department of transporation keeps up its main goal of pushing traffic through-put. State Route 20, one of the myriad east west routes in the state cuts throught downtown Colusa, in the heart of the city's business district - the street is called Market Street, mind you. The State's preference I'm sure is to bypass this burgh with a brand new highway circumventing the town and not have to deal with this. But that takes 100's of millions of dollars and lots of time and future votes, that they do no have. For now they run right smack through downtown Colusa. This program, Complete Streets, has been used elsewhere to keep the locals happy with amenities to help with beautify the streets, help pedestrians and businesses. It may slow traffic down a bit, but keeps the locals and their politicians at bay and doesn't cost but a fraction of a freeway bypass.
And with traffic being main focus of complete streets, of recent the State has had to up the speed limit to 35 mph from 30 on Market Street for various legal reasons, and of course the locals are livid with such a move. Thus the State brings in the Complete Streets program to show them that the State is committed to a better and healthier city with such improvements and with a byproduct of potentially slowing down traffic. ..... and quiet the locals.
So the city manager and city engineer are making the presentation of the great benefits that this program will bring; pretty medians, safer movements for pedestrians, bike lanes, trees. The crowd, of about 30 - 40 people - citizens and business locals - start questioning the whole program to the point that they don't see the purpose. They are still bitter about Caltrans having recently raising speed limits so that whip get snapped a few times. Other comments center on, what problem is there?, placing the improvments will hamper the movement of farm equipment - the combines won't be able to manage Market Street, people have crossed Market for years and there hasn't been a problem, the medians will cut off the fire department from making turns in an emergency, and the new trees will block sign visibility, and other such protests.
At a subsequent point in meeting, the State's consulting urban planner makes mention the the complete streets program has been very well received and is successful in other communties like in Escondido, Oakland, Berkeley, and Fresno.
To which a local countered strongly and loudly, "How much rice do they farm in Fresno?"
Who needs television?
On my way back from a community meeting in the city of Colusa tonight the thought crossed my mind that the agricultural people in the county pull and toss a lot of weight around.