Growth at Any Cost in Elk Grove?


By an Elk Grove Taxpayer | January 4, 2016 |

For the developer involved in Elk Grove's SEPA (Southeast Planning Area), Christmas came very early in 2015. In June the Elk Grove City Council pledged $5.5 million to finance the installation of the “backbone” infrastructure (streets, drainage facilities, etc.) for this 375-acre goldmine, thereby saving the developers from having to pay the costs or the City having to issue assessment bonds (Mello-Roos).

Don’t ask the City how long it will take before the taxpayers “loan” is paid off - they don’t know. The City will be reimbursed only as quickly as building permits are issued, one building permit at a time. While SEPA is expected to take 20 years to develop, the market will actually determine how long it will take before the City is paid back in full. Can you imagine the private sector tying up $5.5 million for an unknown period of time!

Christmas came early for the developers of SEPA, because if the City had followed the more traditional route and issued 30-year assessment bonds, the developers would have had to begin paying the City back in installments immediately (even while the land remained undeveloped for a time). With Santa Taxpayer stepping in with cash, the developers pay nothing and shift the loan repayment burden to the individual buyers as each home is sold.

The City has justified this arrangement on the grounds that SEPA will provide jobs and stimulate economic development. The only problem is a binder sitting on a bookshelf saying jobs will be created and the reality of meaningful job growth in the region are two different things. But no worries, Santa has the developers covered. SEPA introduced a new term: “Flex zoning” that essentially allows any land use, regardless of the stated land use given in the document. So while job creation makes for good soundbites, flex zoning assures the developers that their properties will not be held hostage waiting for those jobs to occur.

Looking back at the track record of the City, there sure are a lot more rooftops and retail coming our way!


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3 comments

Anonymous said...

City is starting to look like a dump.

Houses badly in need of paint jobs.

Look at all the garbage in the medians and along the curb.

More sprawl, more houses, more high density low income housing projects.

Anonymous said...

The problem I see with our city is their living in what I call "The Developers Bubble". Forming such a mind set can mean that bubble can burst in the cities face with any fundamental shift in the economy. I realize that most, not all, of our council have no expertise in finance. We have a structural deficit...expenditures are growing faster than revenues.

Are all the city projects critical? Most, if not all, have no discernable way to be funded. They seem to be so critical that the city has even set up Go Fund Me accounts. Actually I do get a good laugh out of those....that's getting pretty desperate I would say!

That being said, I do think when we get Costco up and running with the higher end shopping, as Mr. Doan calls it, we'll be rollin' knee deep in moola. Watch out KJ...we'll be on a roll!

Anonymous said...

In regards to the Southeast Policy Area. Pat Hume’s past declarations that residential rooftops would need to be built out before any commercial development could begin because residential developers would be paying for the area’s necessary infrastructure. Now that the city of Elk Grove is putting up the $5.5 million needed to put in streets and drainage does this mean commercial development can begin now?

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