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City of Sacramento 2040 Plan Update Review Draft

The City of Sacramento has posted its draft General Plan Update 2040. It is full of nicey-nice statements about sustainability, livability, equity and so on. Fine, that's their business. But it also calls out Arden Arcade as a "Special Study Area". Hey, waitasec, that's us. What business is it of the city of Sacramento to be musing about what's best for our community? The answer, of course, is money. Sacramento covets the sales tax and property tax revenues generated in our lowly unincorporated community.

As noted in our series of community meeetings in 2019 (pre-covid), the City of Sacramento has absolutely NO interest in upgrading your neighborhood or upgrading your quality of life. That's their track record. They gobbled up the City of North Sacramento and let the place go to rot. They let Del Paso Regional Park and its iconic Renfree Field go down the tubes and then used it as a tool to locate a poorly-managed homeless facility on Auburn Blvd. such that our neighborhoods would take the impact as far away from Sacramento City voters as possible. They annexed a triangle of land at Marconi/Howe/Business 80 as a favor to a now-defunct card room - providing us with a land use mess and unpleasant traffic conditions on Marconi from Howe to the freeway. They annexed land north of Arden for the now-declining Arden Fair mall, then walled off and forgot about the Swanston Estates residents - until a developer got them to OK a massive apartment complex west of the mall that's so hard to get in and out of that El Camino got a new traffic signal just a stone's throw from the freeway - with the end result being more traffic problems there. (But, hey, you can look at the used cars and motor homes crammed onto what used to be gas stations, right?). They say they want to take away our only hospital (Kaiser) so they can have it for themselves in the flood-prone railyards.  They want the state to build them a large homeless village at Cal Expo, but they won't say how it will be managed. And down on Fair Oaks, the city of Sacramento gated its open space across from "The UV" such that the homeless encampments there went deeper into our community. Bottom line: the City of Sacramento optimizes for itself, not for you or for our community. Their nicey-nice statements don't apply here.

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Today, Arden Arcade is not in the Sphere of Influence. Tomorrow? Watch out!

Our Newsroom Elves' Mamas always remind us that it's better to say something good if you can. Well, here goes: it seems Arden Arcade is not in the City of Sacramento's adopted Sphere of Influence. That's the necessary precursor to an annexation. Everyone we know here HATES it, regardless of whether they want Arden Arcade to be a city or to continue to have the Board of Supervisors be our municipal government. So its a good thing the City's web site says Arden Arcade is not in its Sphere. But you never know, that might change next week. For the moment, though, we're not officially in that danger zone. There, we said something good.

Now let's consider the "Special Study Area". Why is it even in the draft plan document? Page 11-SSA-1 says there are , "five Special Study Areas that are adjacent to existing city limits and are of interest to the City of Sacramento." Of interest? Yeah, like we described in the 2nd paragraph above. Of course, that's not how the Plan tells it.  Each of the areas, it says, bears on "the planning of the City of Sacramento, through the efficient provision of services, future growth, open space preservation, and other concerns." Hmm...we already pointed out the city isn't interested in providing services (they cost money), our community is fully built out, and we don't have any extra open space to preserve (besides, Del Paso Park isn't exactly a role-model for open space preservation). So the "other concern" must be what matters for the Arden Arcade Special Study area. And what might the "other concern" be? Go re-read the first paragraph. Money, money, money.

The Plan's text about the Arden Arcade Study Area is on page 11-SSA-3 of the draft. It has picture of Howe Park, which has been owned and operated by the Fulton-El Camino Recreation and Park District since 1956. The text incorrectly states that 88,500 people live in unincorporated Arden Arcade. We think the population here is much bigger because the 2020 census data glossed over most of our recent immigrants and left out our unhoused residents. However, the demography unit at the California Department of Finance says our current population is 94,659 (roughly like the City of San Marcos in San Diego County), and that's the number that was used for the recent congressional and state office redistricting process. The 88,500 figure is a 7% error (about as much as the entire City of Gustine in Merced county). It is a significant error.

Then the draft Plan text says somethings that are correct (ooh! another chance to be nice!). Specifically,:

  • "Arden Arcade Study Area is one of the most intensely developed areas of unincorporated Sacramento County. The area has an active residential and business community, and most of the area consists of suburban residential neighborhoods and suburban commercial corridors." {yes, at 5953 people/sq mile, Arden Arcade has a population density 11% higher than the City of Sacramento}
  • "...most services are provided by Sacramento County or special service districts, such as for fire protection, water service, sewer service, and parks." {special districts, not special service districts, which are units of local government}
  • "A ballot measure (Measure D) to incorporate the Arden Arcade Special Study Area into the City of Arden Arcade was defeated in 2010" {yes, read more here}
  • "Any annexation by the City of Sacramento would first require including the Arden Arcade Special Study Area into Sacramento’s Sphere of Influence, a move strongly opposed by many residents, which is not being considered by the City at this time." {emphasis is ours}
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Why are we a "Special Study Area"? 

Unfortunately, parts of the Plan text are also misleading. There is a discussion of the City of Sacramento's water supply services that makes it sound like the city is the 900-pound water supply gorilla, despite having only a minor role in providing drinking water at the retail level to some residences in our community. While it is true the city has a different role as a wholesaler to the Sacramento Suburban Water District, the city's share of the regional surface and groundwater resources is not Sac Suburban's only source. Water supply in our region is a complicated, interlaced-partnership-based situation. We suggest contacting the Sacramento Suburban Water District for more information, because the district is Arden Arcade's real 900-pound water supply gorilla and they actually have their act together. The plan also states, "residents have repeatedly re-emphasized a desire to remain unincorporated." That is not at all what our series of community meetings in 2019 disclosed, nor is it consistent with what we constantly hear from our readers. While it is true that our community remains unincorporated, our sense is that the public would like that changed. We think our community remais unincorporated because the state has made it nearly impossible for new cities to be formed. Further, Supervisor Rich Desmond says incorporation is better than relying on the County for municipal services. The City of Sacramento's sense of our community's attitudes might be stuck in the past, but this is 2023. Our electorate has changed since 2010.  A whole lot of people who live here now didn't live here in 2010 or were not old enough to vote then. We think most people here want local control and don't want to be pushed around by the City of Sacramento.

Well, there you have it, our quickie review of the City of Sacramento's new and improved General Plan draft document. We hear it will be on the agenda of the Sacramento City Council this Tuesday (Item 17) and for a few meetings after that. Be prepared to show up and testify or, at the very least, to send them an email with your thoughts. This Tuesday's meeting is about Items 1 through 2 (f) - that's big picture stuff. Other parts of the plan will go before the City Council on August 22nd. Perhaps they need to hear a chorus of "keep your hands off Arden Arcade". What do you think?


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