What Could Be
Our community has seen better days. For whatever reason, it has remained unincorporated to this day. And that has given the County bountiful opportunities to not pay attention to Arden Arcade, aided and abetted by a citzenry that has, for the most part, remained silent. Whether the silence has stemmed from complacence, lack of attention, or other factors is immaterial. It remains that no one really challenged the County to perform to a higher level for decades until the citizen-driven attempt at incorporation in 2010. By then, the status quo had become so ingrained in the community's sense of itself that it was no surprise the ballot measure failed. Still, the County's response to the warning shot was to roll on as if it never happened. The decline of our local infrastructure continued apace. Our housing developments and Air Force-oriented apartments, largely of post-WWII vintage, had dwindled in desirability while "fresh and new" housing was promoted at the urban fringe. The San Juan Unified School District respnded to demographic changes by closing several schools at our end of the District. Encina High School, originally the alma mater of solidly-middle-class kids, lost its sheen as it hosted students of lesser economic means. As brick-and-mortar retail began to crumble under the weight of online shopping, our once ubiquitous middle-class shopping malls became havens for discount stores. Our banks became check cashing stores. Our restaurant choices morphed into fast food and fast-casual options. The cycle of struggling retail begetting lower-end retail had been confounded by the closure of both McClelland and Mather AFBs and the corresponding decline of quality in local apartments. Except for a few enclaves of upper class homes, Arden Arcade had become a loser community. Absent a mayor and a City Council of our own to focus on local priorities, the plight of our community remained squarely in the County's lap. Rather than rise to the occasion by fixing our infrastructure shortcomings and helping small businesses create a sustainable local economy, the County chose to stand by and wait for private developers and retail chains to breathe new life into the area. We have seen how that turned out.
It doesn't have to be that way. Other communities have found ways to adapt. Their local economies, with better understandings of 21st century techonolgies and clarity as to the importance of "people places", are aimed at sustainability. Arden Arcade is blessed with a central location, neighborhoods that retain the loyalties of their residents, and a relative abundance of commercial activity and potential. Ours is largely a 1 and 2-story community of segregated land uses. We have yet to explore and exploit mixed use (residential plus commercial) developments. Our houses and offices have not risen above the tree canopy to take full advantage of fall color, or the stunning vistas of Mt. Diablo and the Sierra Nevada range, or the beauty of our sunrises and sunsets. The American River remains a lightly-used resource for property values. Four specific communities in our region - West Sacramento, Citrus Heights, Elk Grove and Rancho Cordova - have witnessed local renaissances by virtue of fairly recent incorporations. West Sacramento, once famous for motels with mirrors on the ceiling, has transpormed itself since it became a city in 1987. Ten years later Citrus Heights incorporated after overcoming massive resistance by Sacramento County. Elk Grove followed 3 years after Citrus Heights. Rancho Cordova is the most recently-formed city in Sacramento County, having achieved cityhood in 2003. Since then, four other cities have been formed in California, all on the bleeding-edge of growth in Southern California. This section of our web site is focused on the successes of other places and how lessons learned there might be of service to us in Arden Arcade.