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What Garth Brooks Reminded Me About Redding

Garth Brooks once sang, “You know a dream is like a river, ever-changing as it flows“, and I think many of the lyrics of “The River” apply to the two high-profile proposed riverside developments in Redding, as each has taken a turn over the past week.

Redding Civic Auditorium Rodeo Grounds Aerial view
Aerial view of the Redding Civic Auditorium and Redding Rodeo grounds. Photo: City of Redding

Last Tuesday was a big one, beginning in the morning at the Shasta County Board of Supervisors meeting, during which a majority of the board voted to reverse its opposition of the Redding Rancheria’s planned relocation and expansion of its resort & casino to the property in Redding’s southern gateway, just south of the Hilton Garden Inn. Here is a link to the recap of that decision from REDDING.COM. Though our organization has not taken an official position on this project, it is my opinion that if it is true that the ultimate decision is made by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Secretary of the US Department of the Interior, who happens to be a Native American for the first time in our nation’s history, then shouldn’t our local elected officials at the County and the City of Redding do what they can to get to the negotiating table to carve out a revenue-sharing plan and discuss other items on the wish list to the benefit of local taxpayers?

The other project along the Sacramento River is the unsolicited proposal submitted by world-renowned architectural design firm Populous (who is represented by Redding-native Michael Lockwood), the McConnell Foundation, and K2 Development Companies to redevelop the 45 acres where the Civic Auditorium and Redding Rodeo Grounds currently reside. Dubbed the “Northern Riverfront”, the property is not, in reality, river frontage. See local journalist, Jon Lewis’ account of the Redding City Council Meeting on anewscafe.com. Following a few hours of public comment, council members ultimately decided not to declare the property surplus, which was one of the options discussed. Instead, they voted 4-1 to create/update a riverfront specific plan, which would include the property in question.

I asked Redding City Manager Barry Tippin to help illustrate the difference between a specific plan and a master plan, since at one point in the process the McConnell Foundation offered to lead a community-driven master planning process targeting the property they wished to purchase. According to Tippin, a specific plan is a document that establishes a regulatory framework for future development. What the council decided was to update the Redding Riverfront Specific Plan, which will include public and private land on the west side of the Sacramento River from the Cypress Bridge to the area around the Redding Civic Auditorium. The City of Redding website states that “the purpose of the Redding Riverfront Specific Plan is to reintroduce the City to the river by creating a long-term vision for 500 acres of public and private land and water along the Sacramento River; establish goals, objectives and policies that guide public and private development and conservation within the study area; and identifying a range of implementation strategies and techniques to transform the vision for the Riverfront into a reality”.

The other planning tool, a master plan, is a nonbinding, non regulatory document that defines what a developer wants to do with a particular project area. Tippin believes that a master planning component will be a part of the specific planning process with regard to the publicly-owned property in and around the Redding Civic Auditorium.

Though the Redding Riverfront Specific Plan revision will take an estimated two years, that is not necessarily a timeline setback with regard to the land deal discussed last week. This has been presented as a very long process, a decade or more to complete. Having the City lead a specific plan update may lead to greater public trust, momentum, and certainty according to Redding City Manager. I happen to agree with him.

Is the project dead? I would say it is far from it. Even if the unsolicited proposal, which has since been withdrawn, has simply served as a catalyst to a reawakened discussion about what could become of one of Redding’s more treasured riverfront crescents, it would be a step in the right direction.

Back to Garth and The River, “So don’t you sit upon the shoreline and say you’re satisfied,
choose to chance the rapids and dare to dance the tide”.

Jake Mangas
Redding Chamber of Commerce

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