I’ve been away from Paradise for the last few months, living with my mother in Colorado, helping her as she recovers from back-to-back hospital stays and adjusts to being the head of house.
Here in Colorado Springs there’s an election on November 7. Politics are the same everywhere; it’s about controlling money. If an initiative to fund critical stormwater projects passes, the mayor says he will propose that more police and firefighters be hired.
Nothing gets past my mom. She remembers the last time, not so long ago, the city council asked the voters for money for stormwater drainage projects. From bait and switch to math tricks, the city staff and council managed to divert much of the new taxes to administration. It’s all legal, probably. Now they want more money for the same issue. The voters tire of the game, and the initiative may not pass this time.
The council has a history of enticing developers by relieving them of paying for the needed infrastructure. More development means more stormwater runoff, which damages homes and streets when the streams overflow. Even with all the growth in this fair city, the costs to the city outpace the growth. Development needs to pay for itself, and the city has to calculate and charge the full costs. Otherwise the taxpayers suffer higher taxes or eroding infrastructure and unchecked crime.
Paradise has its own money and development issues. Keeping up with recent Post columns online, I’ve read about how “shabby” Paradise and Magalia are, and how the retirees are “bored and irascible”. If this is half true, there’s room for improvement, as individuals and as communities.
Do we have the right stuff? Can we recognize and elevate a few individuals who will lead us to improving Paradise and Magalia?
We have a vision of heaven on earth in our name. We know we’re above Chico. Let’s count our blessings. We value our retirees. We have roughly 40,000 wonderful people living up here. We have lots of space to work, empty commercial properties of all sizes and value. We have educated people and schools where everyone can learn a trade. We have banks that can give business loans, community service organizations, churches big and small. You name it, we have it, and we are thankful.
We just have to keep working on our slice of heaven. It’s hard to be humble; yet, as good as we may be, perfection never lasts. We recreate our lives on the ridge every day, building on what we’ve been given.
As we slide from Halloween to Thanksgiving and the dark of winter, let’s focus on the right stuff. There’ll be another election, another chance for leaders to emerge. We can craft initiatives for decisions that will make our communities happier places to live.
The Right Stuff was printed in the Paradise Post on November 1, 2017.
Robin Huffman lived in Paradise, California from 1989 until she evacuated from the Camp Fire on Nov. 8, 2018.