As 2020 fades away, we felt like taking a last look in the rear-view mirror. Regular readers of our blog are aware that our Enlightened Masters (AKA the Downtown Sacramento Power Elite or DPSE, which includes the elected officials at County Hall) wants those of who live in Arden Arcade to never forget that our community would be in dismal straits if it weren't for the brilliance of our leaders at Sacramento County. So here's our final tribute to outgoing Supervisor Peters.
Examples of that condescending attitude of the DSPE are easy to find. Consider, for instance, an article on SACOG's website entitled "How to Revitalize an Inner-Ring Suburb". (As you may know from our Governance pages, SACOG is a governmental entity that gets a bunch of money from the state for highways and is blessed by the feds with power over the distribution of money for federal urban-area programs in our region.) The SACOG article essentially the says we should all be ever thankful to outgoing Supervisor Susan Peters for her keen vision and forthright leadership at spiffing up some of our key thoroughfares. Among its claims (and our take, in italics):
- Peters wanted to "target resources on one area to create a catalyst that will generate additional investment" Oh, sure, like her push to get Winco into Country Club Plaza and her zeal for the massive apartments on Butano. What catalysts they have been for economic development in and around El Camino and Watt!
- Peters saw Arden Way from Howe to Watt had "pretty good bones" that could "create a town center look and feel". Of course it does. There's the closed Burger King, the Hustler Hollywood porn store that resulted in the mattress store next door closing, and several "space available" strip malls. Not to mention the expansion of car and truck sales along Arden. Nothing says "town center" like getting your oil changed, right?
- Fulton Avenue's current beautiful status reflects Peters’ practical approach to revitalization. Really? OK, the landscaped median and removal of the power poles have made Fulton Avenue less ugly than it was before the businesses there formed a PBID to do what the County had failed to do for years. But, beautiful? No.
- Peters said there must a transparent and communicative process involving property owners, businesses, and residents. We agree. And, like the rest of you, we are still waiting for this to happen.
The article says Peters' keys to success have been (again, with our responses in italics):
- Be aware that it will take time. “You really have to listen and you can’t impose. You have to bring people along — and that takes time.” Well, the community HAS tried to engage the County but many people feel frustrated because Peters and the Board of Supervisors have NEVER listened.
- Travel out of your own community to seek inspiration. That's another way of saying that input and ideas from our community are worthless and should be ignored.
- If you don’t have an adopted plan, your vision won’t survive. A plan? Like the one adopted over 40 years ago and "updated" with an action plan amendment 14 years ago? Or the special Fulton Avenue plan from 2011 that expected car sales to decline? If the County had actually implemented the 1980 Community Plan, Arden Arcade could have evolved quite differently. The neighborhood empowerment theme of the 2006 amendment was utterly ignored. And car sales skyrocketed after the lean years of the 2008-2010 recession, to the point where car lots are bursting at the seams and they can't function with without blocking streets and left turn lanes. In truth, the County has a hollow plan and no vision.
- Stick to the plan and try to get some money into it every year to build momentum. Oh, so having pedestrians on Cottage "protected" by asphalt berms for 5 years was about momentum leading up to the 1950-style sidewalks? Hmm...
- Aesthetics are more important than people give them credit for. Pay attention to landscaping, painting, potholes. Beyond her earned nickname of "Pothole Peters" is the frustration we feel when she seems to support permitting liquor stores and anything else that flies in the face of neighborhood aesthetics.
Look, if you believe outgoing Supervisor Peters has done a swell job looking our for us, that's your prerogative. But the elves here in our newsroom can't take it anymore. They remind us that: 1) Arden Arcade is NOT a city, 2) #1 means Arden Arcade does not have local control, 3) the Board of Supervisors' "understanding" of Arden Arcade is distorted by the way they have chosen to listen to anyone except their constituents who live here, 4) Arden Arcade is what it is because the Supervisors and their DPSE friends can't walk 10 feet in our shoes, let alone a mile. We cannot have democracy and local control until Arden Arcade becomes a city. Remaining unincorporated means our future depends on the County, which so far has shown it cannot plan its way out of a paper bag, Our General Plan is just a bunch of outdated words on pieces of paper the Supervisors and company don't bother with. Our mess of a zoning ordinance has holes big enough to drive trucks through. And our community's long-term economic development "strategy", such as it is, waits for a developer or strip mall owner with a 3-week horizon to waltz into the County Planning Office with a get-rich-quick proposal. "Something is better than nothing," is the mantra. There is no imagination, no vision, no sense of duty towards us.
Though the SACOG article was posted in February 2020 - before the pandemic hit - it clearly exemplifies the cavalier attitude of the DPSE, a Club that includes our Board of Supervisors. That attitude has disrespected and held back our community. 2021 is when things are supposed to start "getting back to normal". Do you want "normal" to be exactly like things were before the pandemic? Do you want our municipal leaders to still treat our community like a colony to exploit? Or do you want a fresh start? A pathway up and out from the neglect we currently suffer?
If this article has inspired you, please don't just walk over to the window, open it up and yell, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not gonna take this anymore!" Instead, please share with us how you will help us get these problems fixed. We need your voice in the chorus. We need volunteers - preferably a lot of people who can each volunteer a little - to help spread the word and inspire public discussions. And we could use some donations as well, whether large or small. Bottom line: please get involved. If you don't, our community will continue to fester at the hands of people who don't really care about us.
Oh, one more thing. Thank you for your service, Supervisor Peters.