This coming Tuesday, August 22, the Board of Supervisors will consider a proposed resolution for the City of Sacramento to detach (AKA de-annex or "give up") the skinny slice of city property east of Watt Avenue where the long-neglected Del Paso Regional Park is. It is a timed item on the Supervisors agenda, intended to be taken up at 10:15a.m. As followers of this blog may know, this is an item that is strongly supported within the unincorporated area, given the many problems that have befallen them due to the City of Sacramento's neglect of the park lands and its mismanagement of the homeless shelter there. Anyone interested in the proposal can provide their input to the Supervisors via written comments/emails to the Clerk of the Board, oral comments by telephone during the meeting, or by public testimony.
The land in question is surrounded by intensely-developed unincorporated area residences and businesses. No residents of the City of Sacramento live there; the nearest city residents live 2 miles away. By now, the city's neglect of the park and its iconic Renfree Field and the problems associated with the homeless shelter are well known to the residents and businesses of the unincorporated surrounding area. There is even a recent lawsuit against the city for failing to abide by its own ordinance there. What is not quite as well-known is that the City of Sacramento hemorrhages money by hanging on to the facility.
Renfree Field was built in 1967 as a top-of-the-line baseball facility. Over the years it produced at least 3 major leaguers: Darrek Lee (El Camino HS, FLA Marlins), Steve Sax (James Marshall HS, LA Dodgers) and Nick Johnson (McClatchy HS, NY Yankees). It was last renovated in 2000. According to the City of Sacramento, it fell into disrepair and was closed over a dozen years ago:
The copper wiring in the electrical and irrigation systems has been stolen, so currently there is no operating well or pumps to irrigate the field, nor are there any operating lights. The current condition of the existing well is such that it does not produce potable water, and a new water line to connect to a water main in the adjacent street may be needed. The restroom facilities and concession stand building are old and antiquated. A fire at the facility in late September 2012 damaged the two-story building in which the press box and restrooms are located.Sacramento City Council meeting item, 11/13/2012 (http://savedelpasopark.org/documents/City%20Hall%20-%20Report%20-%202012-00905.pdf)
The city tried to get other parties to take over operations there, though without success. The city eventually received $3.25M of state park bond money in 2022 to renovate the facility again; the grant required a $.5M match from the city. The need for ongoing maintenance, though, has been a confounding factor. It is estimated that the city will need $250K each year for basic maintenance, a task made significantly more challenging by the constant damage and massive trash brought on by recent homeless occupants attracted by the Respite Center where the Science Museum was. Then factor in the growing costs of park rangers for law enforcement and the O&M expenses for the Arcade Creek natural area. Compare all those costs with the city's stated park maintenance backlog of $123M and it is pretty easy to see that the costs are massive while the likelihood of funding them is minimal. Adding to the financial drain, of course, are the costs of operating the homeless facility that is contributing to the park problems. Beyond that, too, are the city's costs of maintaining 1.5 miles of roadway at the park and mowing the acre or so of lawns in the picnic areas at the east end of the site. When you figure in the property tax revenues (about $57K/yr from the Receiving Home and the hospital), you can easily see that the costs to the city to operate and maintain the land there are high. You have to wonder how they can justify it, given that only non-city residents use the facilities - they are the ones who live in the vicinity.
Because the surrounding area is unincorporated, though, the people who live nearby have no say in how the park is used or maintained. They are the ones who have had to endure the city's lack of stewardship for the park and the unlawful behavior brought on by the homeless shelter. They have urged their own municipal government - the Board of Supervisors - to step in and seek detachment of the land from the City of Sacramento. What happens next depends on what the Supervisors do next week.