Bill Mash always had a project going Chico loses an activist and story-teller who gave the unhoused a voice

photo by Karen Laslo
Mash at KZFR radio station where he produced programs.

by Natalie Hanson
posted Dec. 5

Eric Mash remembers how his father, Bill “Guillermo” Mash, always had projects underway. So when his father told the family that he had decided to move to Chico and write about homelessness, no one was surprised.

“He fell in love with Chico,” Eric said. “He just had this passion and fire within him to help others, and to always love and care about everybody. He did everything on a bicycle … helping the homeless, helping all the causes.”

Chico writer, radio personality and tireless advocate Bill Mash is being remembered by the Chico community as many friends and loved ones mourn his sudden death last week after a heart attack on Nov. 19. read more

Shootings at Teichert Ponds encampment alarm activists DA: Self defense "difficult thing" to overcome

photo by Natalie Hanson
A tent at the Teichert Ponds site.

by Natalie Hanson
posted Nov. 5

Shootings at Chico’s Teichert Ponds has some residents worried that unhoused people are facing increasing violence -– perhaps linked to rising levels of “dehumanizing” speech targeting them.

A shooting at the Ponds killed an unhoused man and left another seriously injured last year, and a shooting last month in the same preserve nearly killed another unhoused man. Both shootings involved people entering the Teichert Ponds encampment with the likely intent to “start a fight,” in District Attorney Mike Ramsey’s opinion. read more

Bidwell Park struggles with increased use, dry conditions Californians flock to public parks to escape lockdowns, connect with nature

photo by Leslie Layton
This photo was taken in Lower Park, that portion of the park west of Manzanita Avenue, but the total length of the park is about 11 miles.

by Natalie Hanson
posted Nov. 1

The city of Chico winds around one of the largest municipal parks in the country — Bidwell Park. Step off the sidewalk and enter the park, and the city seems to disappear. You’re under a tree canopy, on a street or trail lined with oaks, ferns and sycamores.

Park lovers -— who on most days see dog-walkers, cyclists, runners and skateboarders -– say they fear losing this precious place to climate change, wildfires, littering and human overuse and indifference. Residents and scientists say they want to see city leaders step up to protect the parks to prevent loss to wildfire and climate change -– particularly now that usage has increased. Bidwell, like many of California’s public parks, saw an increase in visitors during the COVID pandemic. read more

Survey designed to build support for sales tax measure produces good response Trust will be a problem for the City of Chico

photo by Leslie Layton
Deadline for returning the “Essential City Services” survey is April 22.

by Leslie Layton
posted April 21

A mailer from the City of Chico with a survey to be returned by April 22 is a piece in a three-phase campaign to win support for a city-wide 1 percent sales tax. The survey asks city residents to rank their spending priorities in order of importance.

Chico is one of about eight “full-service” cities in the state that don’t have a local sales tax; it receives a small portion of state sales tax revenue only. Full-service cities provide public safety and other services. read more

Friends on the Street, confined to a corner, keeps rolling In its 7th year, volunteers peeved but undeterred by fencing around City Plaza

photo by Leslie Layton
Susanne Malloy says the Friends on the Street weekly gatherings help her stay fed – but serve an even more important purpose as well.

by Leslie Layton
posted April 3

Chico’s Patrick Newman and a small cadre of volunteers continue to serve unhoused community members coffee and donuts every Sunday — seven years after the project began — gathering quietly on the southeast corner of the fenced-off City Plaza in downtown Chico.

Some five months after the City fenced off City Plaza to erect a wintertime ice rink, the fence remains even though the rink has been dismantled. Still, Friends on the Street serves coffee, donuts, sandwiches and cheese sticks to several dozen unhoused community members, gathering outside the chain link fence. Newman says Friends ran through $50,000 in cash donations in six years. read more

Settlement ends lawsuit against City of Chico Vice mayor makes 11th-hour bid to postpone settlement

photo by Karen Laslo
Evicted campers leave their site after a sweep.

by Leslie Layton / commentary
posted Jan. 15

A settlement agreement in the lawsuit related to the city’s treatment of unhoused people, signed Friday by a federal judge, could end the spectacle of chaotic mass evictions that stranded campers who had nowhere to go.

Early last year, a newly-installed City Council began a series of sweeps in parks, near waterways and on patches of grass on public land.

Journalists watched as workers came in atop tractors, rumbling through encampments where displaced people had pitched tents and had failed to move their few belongings to who knows where – until we weren’t allowed to watch. read more