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Week of Jan. 27th-Fire turns Chico, California, into a boomtown, but at what cost?

January 27, 2019

The tent city in the Walmart parking lot is gone. Most of the emergency shelters around town have closed. Target finally has been able to refill shelves fast enough to keep up with spiraling demand. A kind of normalcy has fallen on Chico.

But the Sacramento Valley city that became the No. 1 refuge for survivors of November’s Camp Fire is still adapting to a new normal of traffic jams, overflowing hotels, crowded restaurants and a housing crunch so extreme Chico recently was named the hottest real estate market in America.


This college town is in the midst of boom times, but nobody is gloating about it, at least not very loudly. What you hear most from residents is talk about excess traffic, skyrocketing home prices and worries about if, and when, a new equilibrium will be found.

“To be unsettled and to not have that solid foundation is hard for people,” said Chico City Manager Mark Orme. “Generally speaking, there is worry about, ‘When are things going to get back to normal?’ And the answer is, it’s not going to be days or weeks or months. It’s going to be years.”  Read more.  

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