A recent Sacramento Bee article (Randy Diamond, "Last Boston Market restaurant in Sacramento region struggles for survival", Sacramento Bee, June 12, 2023) told a sad tale about the last, lonely Boston Market restaurant in Sacramento County. Once on a roll with stores just about everywhere, the Boston Market company has fallen on hard times. Among the results have been the closures of its seven other Sacramento area restaurants except the one on Fair Oaks Blvd. across from Pavilions. And there the company has limited its menu to just one item - rotisserie chicken, its original claim to fame. You can't get a chicken sandwich there anymore, which is pretty much a signal of restaurant hospice hereabouts, given our community's explosive overabundance of fast food chicken sandwich places these days.
Oh, but fear not, there is already a solution in the works! The Business Journal says a Starbucks is poised to replace the Boston Market restaurant (Jake Abbott, "Starbucks Eyeing Fair Oaks Boulevard Site for Drive-Thru", Sacramento Business Journal, June 9-15, 2023). Oh joy, oh joy, another Starbucks. As if we don't have enough coffee places already. Oh, but this Starbucks is one with a drive-thru window, which is apparently crucial because cars idlying in line are a thing now and, anyway, who cares about climate change, sustainability, socializing with neighbors over coffee, or tipping underpaid restaurant workers? Most importantly, though, the County won't have to wait months or years (like, say, Saving Center on Watt, Mike's Market on Mission, old Macy's at Country Club Plaza, old Flaming Grill on El Camino, or the hole-in-the-ground+pile-of-dirt old gas station at Howe & El Camino) for someone to propose a solution for a vacant commercial property. "Something is better than nothing" is the County's long-standing economic development mantra. By clinging to an "entitlements" approach for our ubiquitous failed strip malls and commercial corridors, the County perpetuates our land use mess and props up short-term, marginal profit developments that primarily benefit out-of-area corporate investors. Lost in the shuffle are opportunities for small businesses run by local entrepreneurs, densified and diversified housing solutions to meet a crying need, and business solutions - like those subsidized by the city of Citrus Heights - that equate to sustainability and quality of life. Chicken restaurants come and go. Coffee places come and go. Out with the old fad, in with the new fad. What else should we expect from a municipal government that hasn't seen fit to replace our community's General Plan that was cast in stone 43 years ago?
We would love to hear your responses. But please try not to fall back on that old canard about "no place to grow". Close in, inner ring old burbs like ours have been repurposed successfully all over the U.S. They have grown with mixed use development and by going up, as opposed to sprawling into forests and farmlands. By doing so, they have provided infill housing, attracted Mom&Pop entrepreneurs and local start-ups, stimulated transit solutions and generally improved everyone's quality of life. Of course, there is a right way (best practices) to do that and a fake way (using PR fluff to pretend to care) to do it. Guess which way the County chose.
So our community's descent continues. Our 1 and 2-story, auto-oriented strip mall community has blown opportunity after opportunity to capture the inherent real estate value of our tree canopy, our creeks and the American River, our often-spectacular views of the Sierras, Mt. Diablo and sunrises/sunsets, and our handy proximity to so many places and things. Whose fault is that? The County, for sure, with strong assistance from the Downtown Sacramento Power Elite along with an underwhelming real estate industry. But, mostly, isn't it us? Aren't we the ones who have chosen to sit on our sofas and just gripe about how our once-great community isn't so great anymore? Those infill suburbs that reinvented themselves are cities, with civic leaders who seek the best for their communities. Where are our civic leaders? Are there any among us who are willing to step up and help achieve real local control here? Are there people here who want to build community and are willing to join with others of like mind?