Dear Readers - We think the County's unincorporated area deserves some respect and attention. Projects like the one described in this post are intended for the City of Sacramento's residents. Yet, as the City of Sacramento often does with its planning exercises, the project presents itself in a way that makes people outside the City of Sacramento think they matter, when they really don't. Though we suggest you DO NOT participate in the project's survey, we think you should know what the City of Sacramento is up to such that you can compare it to how the County approaches the same subject. In this case, the subject at hand - mobility - is one of regional importance. So, while it is good for the City of Sacramento to be looking out for the mobility of its citizenry, it is reasonable to be concerned that the project is being done in a vaccuum.
The City of Sacramento has started a new project, "Streets for People", the Sacramento Active Transportation Plan that is looking at "improving conditions for people walking, biking, and rolling (i.e., wheeled mobility devices used by people with disabilities, strollers, scooters, skateboards, etc.) throughout the City of Sacramento." The planning team is very clear that the project is being done for the entire city, yet with a focus on parts of the city with high need and historical disinvestment. And there is an interesting interactive map that lets people provide information about their important travel routes, methods and concerns. The project will continue through the end of 2024. Alright, good for them.
But maybe bad for us. Mobility is a regional issue. People move around all over the place and they are not required to stay within a particular jurisdiction. Isn't it a bit presumptuous of the City of Sacramento to decide what's best for the region? Isn't that why we have a multi-county transportation project funder (SACOG, the Sacramento Area Council of Governments). Isn't that why we have RT, the Sacramento REGIONAL Transit system? And isn't that why the County runs our airports? We're not saying it isn't good to try to improve mobility within the City of Sacramento; it's something the city SHOULD be doing. Likewise, though, every other city in our region should be seeking to improve mobility within their city, as should every county in the region. And the counties should be doing so at the municipal scale for the unincorporated communities they serve as well as at the areawide scale for their entire county. So, too, should RT and the other transit providers, along with CalTrans, which is responsible for the freeways and state highways.
What we don't get is why the City of Sacramento lets people outside their jurisdiction participate in the city's project by identifying this, that or the other place in the unincorporated UnCity - or even in other cities - as having problem sidewalks, unsafe bike routes, or inhospitable bus stops. Yet that has happened because 1) interest in survey participation spreads indiscriminately throughout social media and 2) the interactive map enables out-of-city participation. To put this in perspective, in 2023 the population counts (CA Dept of Finance data) are:
- Sacramento region - 2,215,000
- County of Sacramento - 1,572,453
- Sacramento County's unincorporated UnCity - 598,512
- City of Sacramento - 518,161
- All 6 other cities in Sacramento County - 455,780
In other words, the City of Sacramento has 13% less people than the UnCity, less than 1/4 of the region's population and less than 1/3 of Sacramento County's population. Hence, while it is fine for the City of Sacramento to be looking out for its own turf, the city has no business delving into other jurisdictions' local issues and the city should seek to understand its role in the regional scheme of things. As for us? We should be asking our Board of Supervisors what they are doing to comprehend the mobility needs of the citizens they serve in our neck of the woods. What are the Supervisors doing to fix our sidewalks, including filling in the sidewalk gaps? What are they doing to make biking safe and convenient here? Why do people in wheelchairs or pushing strollers in our community have to confront architectural barriers? And how exactly are the Supervisors ensuring that our areawide and regional mobility needs are being met, given that they are our only voice on RT and on SACOG?
End of rant. If you want to tell us to "get a life" or "get over it", please feel free to use the "contact us" button on our home page. We're happy to receive constructive comments as well.