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Elk Grove succeeds because it became a city

The Bee had a multi-page article today about how the City of Elk Grove has transformed itself into a vibrant, sought-after area. With lengthy praise it describes the zeal and hard work that the fledgling city - now 21 year old - plugged away at to achieve its current desirability.

"For a long time Elk Grove has been a bedroom community. But this is what helps change that. These things change Elk Grove from a place where you sleep to a place where you live."
David Vallerga, Elk Grove businessman, quoted in the Sacramento Bee article, "Elk Grove's Legacy Moment", published November 28, 2021.
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March 9 ceremonial groundbreaking for Sky River Casino in Elk Grove {Image credit: Comstock's Magazine}

What did the Bee not tell its readers? That the city's success has come after years and years of neglect by Sacramento County when the County was responsible for municipal services. The County pretty much gave away the store to developers who built cookie-cutter housing in what used to be fields and floodplains. In doing so, the County failed to fix the local road network of typically narrow roads that served the agricultural and open space uses. An example of that kind of land use abuse was the establishment of Laguna West in the sticks well south of the City of Sacramento. The land had not been built on due to being low-lying pasture lands prone to flooding. Enter well-connected Phil Angelides, whose River West development company promoted the idea of Laguna West as an eco-friendly new urbanism project. Angelides sold the project to his former boss (Angelo Tsakapolous) in 1992 and went on to become California's State Treasurer and, later, a candidate for Governor. Visit Laguna West today and you will see it turned out to be just more auto-oriented suburban sprawl. By the time Elk Grove became a city in 2000, the territory it included had become a massive bedroom community. The County's lack of vision and abundant permissiveness had merely fulfilled the wishes of the developers. It was up to the new city to make something better out of it, to develop and execute its own vision.

And that's what cities do. By establishing their own general plans and investing in what the citizens want, they are able to bootstrap themselves up into success stories like Elk Grove. Or Citrus Heights. Or Rancho Cordova. Arden Arcade could do that, too -- if it was a city. That's someting that will not happen unless or local citizens and businesses demand it. What do YOU want, dear reader? Do you want the County to continue to bumble along or do you want local control?

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