Produced by Melissa Crowley
When many people
think "Redding" they think of the beautiful backdrop that
surrounds the city's 59 square miles, a setting many families choose
to call home. But city leaders believe natural beauty is not enough
to guarantee prosperity in the decades to come; what the 80,865 people
who call Redding home need most is a plan. And Jim
Hamilton, Redding's lead city planner, is proud of the city's 2020
general plan that's been adopted.
Balancing the environment
with growth and economic needs has been a work in progress. Hamilton
says community input is crucial. So is broadening the economic base.
The city has come a long way since it was founded in 1872 by the Sutter
Pacific Railroad, and has seen its share of money troubles.
But today the city
that once relied on Mother Nature now counts on tourism, the medical
field, and hospital industry -- as well as retail -- to fuel economic
engines. City leaders say continuing to diversify the economic base
is crucial, so the balancing act of nature versus need continues.
population is growing at less than 2%, which does allow for thoughtful
planning. The population is mostly white and middle-aged -- but not
everyone is prospering. Income levels tend to be lower than the state
average in some areas. Positives include affordable homes, perhaps driving
retirees to take advantage of one of the best values in the state, and
the available land to build.
But the city known
for its beauty has also gained a more unwelcome reputation in recent
years for crime and gang activity. Prevention efforts are underway.
Finding something positive for kids has helped. Slowly problems are
make up a large part of the population. Hamilton says the city's plan
tries to keep these community needs in mind.
Taking care of resources
also extends to rehabbing old landmarks, like the Cascade Theater. Hamilton
says steady city leadership and commitment to the general plan has made
these changes possible. But as with any sweeping change there is criticism.
Some longtime Redding residents say the plan's big picture leaves out
the city's little guys.
Betty Doty, a Redding
resident, compliments community projects like Kids Kingdom that offer
family fun for all incomes, but she's not pleased with plans for other
future landmarks. Especially a project currently under construction
that's not included in the general plan: the Rainbow Bridge. It's funded
by a private foundation -- not tax dollars -- but Doty says her objection
is lack of community input.
But project leaders
say the Rainbow Bridge is a key element of turning the city's image
around, and they hope the award-winning designer's creation will draw
visitors like the Golden Gate Bridge does in San Francisco. Hamilton
says a balancing act is always in the works and not everyone will always
be pleased, but community input will still always be valued. Community
input, in fact, shaped the general plan policy to save open space.
People here believe
growth does not have to end with sprawl. A new Macy's is open, and leaders
hope new shops will boost retail activity in Shasta County. Boosting
business is the goal behind improving Yuba Street and the old downtown
mall. While new investments and big name stores draw customers, some
local businesses say the so-called progress is a mixed blessing.
But Hamilton is
working hard to make sure the gains outweigh the losses. He believes
the general plan -- a work in progress -- will keep Redding's growth
gradual. The future history looks promising for this former railroad