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City council declares shelter crisis in Chico 

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Downtown Chico, Calif.

The Chico City Council Tuesday re-declared a shelter crisis in the city.

The council allowed the previous declaration to expire at the end of June. Tuesday’s declaration comes after a federal judge in July issued a preliminary injunction banning the city from enforcing its anti-camping ordinances against unhoused people.

Councilman Mike O’Brien said the city is at a crisis point.

“This injunction that hangs over our head right now, and its impacts, is a detriment to both the housed and the unhoused alike,” O’Brien said. “I view the shelter crisis declaration as strategically necessary as Councilmember Morgan stated as well to offer the most expedient resolution to the injunction.”

City attorneys said the declaration allows vacant or underutilized city properties to be designated as facilities for emergency sheltering. And it gives the city immunity from liability for some forms of negligence in providing emergency housing to unsheltered people.

Council keeps commission in Chico that focuses on climate change intact 

The council also reversed course on a plan to replace the Climate Action Commission with an ad hoc committee, which critics said would likely meet less frequently.

Executive director of the Butte Environmental Council, Caitlin Dalby told the council that climate change is a public health and safety issue.

“The commission is in charge of developing and implementing the city's Climate Action Plan because climate impacts in Chico are getting progressively worse, and include the deadly heat waves, prolonged droughts, extreme flooding, and mega fires,” Dalby said. “Please don't move forward with this process and keep our commission intact.”

Councilmember Sean Morgan moved to approve an ordinance replacing the climate commission with an ad hoc committee, but that motion failed without receiving support from another member.

A graduate of California State University, Chico, Andre Byik is an award-winning journalist who has reported in Northern California since 2012. He joined North State Public Radio in 2020, following roles at the Chico Enterprise-Record and Chico News & Review.