James Houle: Ukiah City Council Always Looking For Ways To Waste Our Tax Money


Redwood Valley

We are in a serious and long lasting recession. City and County services to our underfunded school system, to impoverished families, and to the mentally deficient has been cut back severely. Yet our City Council members want to spend $2 million to reduce the traffic lanes on downtown State Street and plant a few  trees so we will have a nice comfy country look.

As if this wasn’t strange enough, at their last meeting they were talking about buying more sidewalk cafes for our local upscale restaurants, similar to what they already did for Patrona, our most expensive eatery. They are most generous to potential Big Boxes, and still want to give $6 million in taxes revenues (from the defunct RDA Program) to provide a wonderful private driveway for CostCo and Wal-Mart customers. This last giveaway has effectively been blocked by Governor Brown as merely another piece of corporate welfare. If  CostCo wants to steal business away from our existing stores, then let them build their own entrance ramp.

I think we can stop this two lane State Street scheme very quickly and the cafe al fresco notion as well. All we have to do is keep tuned in, attend their City Council meetings, and ask embarrassing questions. The City Council has little stomach for controversy.


Well, I disagree, and I usually agree with Jim. He’s a smart guy. Here’s what I say about State St:
1. Infrastructure projects can help the local economy, similarly to the way the works projects of the 30’s did.
2. Reducing traffic to one lane with no reduction in time is possible with correctly timed lights or no lights, only stop signs, something being done now in Holland, Ireland and elsewhere; after all the project is for 6 or 8 blocks, right? If there were a ‘slow’ down it would be no more than seconds and therefore insignificant. A second reason regarding traffic is that surprisingly State St. traffic has already been reduced quite a lot by the new Orchard St. Bridge.
3. The shops in the downtown core will prosper a lot more with more pedestrian traffic, and that’s a goal that has been around for Ukiah a long time. Mulligan Books will certainly be more accessible.
4. I live nearby and the din of the trucks on State St. is remarkable for a small town. More trees and shrubbery on State will help this obnoxious urban noise.
I do agree that the side streets will need protection from cars diverting there. Many if not most are residential streets.
So, in sum, I am for the project, and I am interested in seeing the details when they become available. I also believe collective thoughts can make any project better. I say the more BTUs (brain thermal units) the better.

Raising money would be a good first step. I suggest putting a “disposal fee” on each piece of branded, as in corporate logo, piece of garbage collected billable to the national office. Got to start staunching the flow of money out to the megacorps. Imagine Robin Hood fees.


The idea of improving State Street, its traffic patterns, its parking and its beautify is about 20 years too late. That’s when our City Council decided to abandon State Street and promote the Airport Blvd. shopping mall on behalf of0 Wal-Mart and all that has followed. Now we have blocks of abandoned store-fronts and vacant lots in the middle of town and the City Council wants to create parallel parking, new tree plantings and the like along a narrower but somehow faster moving main drag! Watch out you pedestrians!

If that is the aim of the City Council, why are they still hell-bent on subsidizing the CostCo access driveway for $6.2 million and thereby channeling even more activity away from State Street? I am afraid that our latest set of Planners and C0ouncil members are as confused and contradictory as their predecessors back in the dot-com euphoria of the early 1990s when we were all hysterical over growth that ‘would never end’.

Sorry Pinky.

Jim, This plan has been in the works a long time. How can it be “too late”. Nothing about enhancing the pedestrian experience is too late. Try reading this—http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traffic_calming