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Affordable housing vs squeaky wheel developers

There is a story in the Business Journal (Ben van der Meer, "Tower Development proposes rezone in Carmichael to commercial rather than residential", Sacramento Business Journal, 03/20/2024) about a proposal to change the zoning of a 3.59 acre lot at 4600 Auburn Blvd. from residential to commercial. The Tower Development Company, owned by Mr. Daniel Benvenuti, wants that favor from the County in order to build leasable space for retail, services and contractors, as well as spaces for incubator businesses. In other words, they want to throw up a commercial building and try to lease it. Does that make sense in a time of diminished residental supply and an overabundance of commercial property? Of course not. But if the County's past land use mistakes are any guide, you should not be surprised to see yet another low-end commercial building get County approval.

So what? Why does this matter? Let's start with sympathy for the Auburn Blvd. businesses and residences. They NEVER feel the love. The Metro Chamber has passed them by. They are in an unincorporated area that's a little more invisible and uncared for than the rest of the County's vast urbanized, unincorporated UnCity. Are they part of Arden Arcade, or Carmichael, Foothill Farms or North Highlands? Whatever. We here at the Advocates for Arden Arcade consider them to be fellow sufferers. We think the businesses there deserve some respect, along with their nearby residents. Does another quickie commercial spec building complex do that? Nope.

Next, let's consider the housing problem. Sacramento County is desperate for more housing. The lack of new housing in recent years has driven rents and purchase prices sky high. No surprise there. Complicating the problem, the cost of construction and materials has risen so high, so fast that the only market rate housing is deemed viable by homebuilders. And these days, market rate housing  is priced well above "affordable" and "low income" housing. That problem is made worse within the developed parts of our region, unless mid-rise and high-rise units are built. Wouldn't it be wonderful if a low-cost, infill housing opportunity arose? Like say, for example, an apartment complex or a trailer park? One that was along a well-traveled corridor with bus service and easy freeway access, close to stores, employment sites, existing parks and schools?

Guess what? That lot on Auburn Blvd. used to be the Sierra Vista Mobile Home Park, a 27-unit trailer park, within walking distance (about 1/2 mile) of American River College. Auburn Blvd. is an obvious well-traveled corridor with bus service and easy freeway access. The parcel is close to stores, employment sites, existing parks and schools. Sounds like a pretty good place for low-cost housing, doesn't it? Ah, but you can try to make more money and make it  faster in commercial real estate, can't you? Oh, and lookee, the Business Journal article says the proposal includes access to another 1.2 acres (at 4880/4888 Pasadena Ave.) where a self-storage facility is in the works - and we all know how communities are, you know, "enhanced" by self-storage places. Any guess who has owned those 1.2 acres since 2006? That's right, the same guy, Mr. Benvenuti, who bought the adjacent 3.59 acres 18 years ago and now claims its commercial rezoning would make for better utilization of a major commercial corridor site.

Who do we thank for the patchwork of messed up land use and the shortage of affordable housing in our unincorporated community? The County, not Tower Development. Tower Development is just playing along with the County's longstanding indifference to the care and feeding of the unincorporated nowhere-land we call home. The County approved each of the commercial properties on Auburn Blvd. as well as the nearby residential properties - laden with non-connected cul-de-sacs as they are. And it is the County that will probably add to that mess by approving Tower Development's rezone request that will wind up providing access to the storage facility. It is the County that will thus turn its back to the community and prioritize more unneeded, quick-buck commercial development while agonizing over the lack of affordable housing in our neck of the woods. We will get another 4.79 acres of unneeded commercial space instead of 4.79 acres of needed housing. Are you OK with that? If not, here's how to contact Supervisor Desmond:,  (916) 874-5471.

An aerial view of an urban area with roads, buildings, parking lots, and labeled businesses.
With housing in short supply and an overabundance of commercial property, why would the County let a developer put commercial buildings on land intended for residences? {haha...we all know why}


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