It's an image community leaders, like Down Town Chico Business Association President Alan Tochlerman are working to fight. "There is a perception that our down town is not as clean as it used to be, and that many people feel unsafe." And that perception is having a drastic impact on the bottom line for local employers. "Businesses are absorbing the cost of securing, and cleaning their business every day, and they're also potentially losing revenue," according to Chico Chamber of Commerce President Katie Simmons. "So, they're getting double hit."
One of those business owners that have seen a decrease in customers first hand is Jen Kaplan, the owner of "A Bit Unruly" on Third Street in Down Town Chico. "Almost every day we hear somebody say that they used to shop down town a lot, but they don't want to come down here anymore."
Kaplan told Action News that owners, and workers have to deal with rowdy transients on a regular basis, and on one occasion, she even had to lock a customer, and her child inside of her store to keep her safe from a man who was screaming and threatening her employees. "They don't feel safe. They don't want their kids exposed to it, they don't want to be harassed, they don't want to leave the store with shopping bags, and get ripped off."
Not all business owners think this is a legitimate problem. Mike Peavy, the owner of Cycle Sport in Chico told Action News it all comes down to how customers view the area. "It only affects business if people think that down town is not as safe a place as it used to be, and it doesn't really change much in the day time here, but the perception has changed."
Whether or not it's just perception, or reality, it's on issue that most in the community would like to change.