The Business Journal published an article (behind a paywall, sorry...) this week about an innovative development proposal in the City of Sacramento that combines medical offices with 9 mid-rise (5 story) market rate apartments. The apartments would be small 1-bedroom units with a shared rooftop space (overhead canopy, bar, fire pit and spa). The site is on the corner of Scripps Drive and University Avenue, across the street from the Buckhorn Grill at the University Village shopping center. That location is a mere block away from unincorporated Arden Arcade, which begs the question of why we don't see these kinds of proposals in our unincorporated territory.
Well, we all know the answer to that, don't we? The County, lacking vision for our community as it does, isn't capable of innovation. Our declining, shabby strip malls and 1-story office buildings can't possibly be considered for mixed use, especially given the County's stubborn insistence on "entitlements" for old-style commercial property. Take, for example, the 6-acre site on Howe Avenue where an old, empty office building complex became a homeless encampment and the buildings were torn down. The County is hoping a new developer will build back the same-old, same-old. Good luck with that, right?
The Scripps Drive project is only a proposal; it might not happen. We're not suggesting more apartments as a panacea for our community, which is already overloaded with apartments and rental property. Nor are we enthralled with the idea of small, high-rent (AKA "market rate") units. Home ownership is key to building community. Like the rest of California - and much of the nation - our community has a severe shortage of affordable housing. Still, we are intrigued to see an innovative, mixed-use proposal like this and we applaud the notion of diversifying the housing choices. It should get our friends at the County re-thinking their current laissez-faire approach that has conferred on us the land use mess we live with now.
Keep this project in mind the next time you hear someone say our community has no future because there isn't room to grow. The truth is that our largely 1 and 2-story urban land uses have enormous potential for growing upwards. Midtown Sacramento has seen as mid-rise boom of late. There is no reason why our community can't do likewise, because there are some places here where it would make sense to intensify the land use pattern. Of course, that would require either 1) the County shakes off its 40-year old doldrums, or 2) the County gets out of the way and lets Arden Arcade shape its own future. We are pessimistic that the County could ever think outside the box - and, to be fair, the County has a zillion other things on its plate. Choice #2, though, could happen if local people want it. what are your thoughts?