Archive Opinion The Orion

Homeless exiled from Chico

January 1, 2007

Gone will be the days of panhandling and people scrounging for recyclables if Chico city officials have their way.

No, I’m not talking about Chico State students. The city has enough fun with Labor Day, Halloween and St. Patrick’s Day.

It’s the homeless who have to worry.

The city’s grand plan began in earnest in 2003 with the removal of City Plaza trees supposedly infected with Dutch elm disease.

While linking this to the removal of an entire population might sound like a conspiracy theory, Chico State sociology Professor George Seudonimo said it’s not uncommon.

“You can’t just send out the storm troopers from the get-go,” Seudonimo said. “This is one of those cases where tact helps.”

Recently, the city has put its plans into full-gear by converting the City Plaza from a homeless haven to Hobo Hell.

To build this vision, city officials have doled out an undisclosed amount of money – presumed to be in the “assloads” range – to world-renowned hobologist Jean Frauduleux.

In a phone interview last week, Frauduleux explained that the beauty of his design wasn’t in the hideous extravagance but in the subtle details and the materials used.

“Vagrants enjoy the grass and trees, but they fear hideous and expensive cement structures,” he said in a snooty French accent. “It is their natural enemy in the way that the gazelle fears the lion and the tubby feline Garfield fears Mondays.”

The recently installed band shell will act as a microwave dish to amplify the hobo-repellent powers of the plaza, Frauduleux said. Also included in his plan are backward-parking spaces to confuse the homeless further as they watch a car drive by and then suddenly reverse in their direction.

A similar plan has been swiftly enacted at First and Main streets to deflect the population out of downtown via Broadway.

When asked why the city has decided to go to such extreme lengths to take out the homeless population, an unnamed city official said it was quite simple.

“These are not your stove-pipe-hat-wearing, bindlestiff-lugging, lovable hobos from the 1920s,” she said.

In the eyes of one student, the domicile-impaired population has been a drain on the Chico economy.

With the homeless constantly scrounging for change, piggy banks in town are at historic lows, said John Billigesel, a 35-year-old economics major living in his parents’ basement.

“Pennies are becoming harder and harder to find nowadays,” Billigesel said after pausing his game of “World of Warcraft.”

“Chico’s luck is suffering a minus-two, and its defense has been weakened enough from the homeless that it’s only a matter of time before the city is annihilated by a Zerg rush.”

While Billigesel may not have a life, he shares the same point being made by both Chico and University police.

The homeless have become an unnecessary distraction from the slightly more important issue of terrorism, said Chico State fear-mongerer Henry Small.

While police shake down hobos and rifle through their backpacks, terrorists could be sneaking into Chico Municipal Airport to smuggle banned items onto airplanes, Small said.

“All it takes is one terrorist with a tube of cherry Chap Stick, and it’s all over,” he said. “They would finally be able to fly without fear of dry, cracked lips.”

The city has promised to be resolute in fighting this war downtown before it spreads to more-affluent neighborhoods. So far, the Plaza Project appears to be the best option.

One tabled proposal was to set off a nuclear device in downtown to eradicate the population and most of the buildings within a few miles of the blast. The idea was set aside when Mayor Scott Gruendl said the $500 fine was a little steep, even with the promise of the fireworks it would provide.