Costco Incentive, RV Ordinance Offer a Study in Contrast of How The Elk Grove City Council Functions

April 14, 2017 |  

At the Wednesday, April 14, 2017, Elk Grove City Council meeting there were two agenda items that offered a classic study in contrasts. Those items, both controversial, were the sales tax kickback for Pappas Investments' Costco project and the recreational vehicle ordinance discussion.

The sales tax kickback hearing was fairly straight forward. Pappas Investments, a major developer in Elk Grove and financial contributor to four of the five current Elk Grove City Council members sought, and was awarded, a sales tax kickback that could be worth up to $14 million.

Even though there was widespread criticism of Elk Grove's latest case of corporate welfare, the City Council would not hear any of that. The scheme is good for the people of Elk Grove, they rationalized notwithstanding the fuzzy financial numbers supplied by Pappas Investments, and that was that.

Not surprisingly, Mayor Steve Ly and Vice Mayor Pat Hume seemed especially peeved and even offended when it was cleverly suggested by Elk Grove resident Amar Shergill they return any donations they received from Pappas Investments should they pass the sales tax kickback. How dare their integrity be questioned.

Touchy, Touchy!  

During deliberations, Hume denigrated Shergill's comments, and worse, Ly enlisted City Attorney Jonathan Hobbs, wrapped himself in the flag and then cowardly hid behind a Citizen's United defense that taking the Pappas cash is a matter of free speech.

Give me cash or give me death!

As we know, the sales kickback was approved by a 4-0 vote, and it was business as usual - socialized risk for Elk Grove taxpayers and privatized profits for Pappas Investments. 

With regards to the possible changes to the residential recreational vehicle storage ordinance, the City Council was more receptive to comments from the public. Could it be the number of emails they received from constituents voicing displeasure with possible changes that influenced them against any loosening of the ordinance?


The actual reason, and of course the Council Members will swear on their favorite contributors grave this is not the case, is there were no moneyed interests in play. You can take it to the bank had one of their contributors with the sway of someone like Pappas Investments had some economic interests in the matter, they would have taken their marching orders from their contributors.

Put another way, when there is something of interest in the community that does not interfere with the needs and wants of their contributors, they might listen and act in the interests of constituents, not their benefactors. 

The next time you bring this up with a Council Member who says this is not the case, ask them of specific instances where they have voted against an item brought forward or supported by one of their major contributors. You are guaranteed to get a dear-in-the-headlights response.

And one last word of advice to the operators of RV storage facilities in and around Elk Grove - you better get your checkbooks out and cough up some cash if you want to ensure the Elk Grove City Council does not re-explore residential RV storage and potentially kill your business. 



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D.J. Blutarsky said...

The developers give the Council members much more than cash--they give them the opportunity to sit up in one of those coveted leather chairs and stroke their egos and make them feel like bona fide powerbrokers.

Make no mistake about it, unless you support the pro-development agenda, you might as well go pound sand at the Ghost Mall, because you ain't sliding your butt into one of those black leather chairs anytime soon. Now a reality check is in order here. You were put onto the chair because you were a willing tool--a farm implement that has been bought to cultivate and till the open dirt so the developers can make their money in rooftops and strip centers.

The big story here is not how Joe Blow developer calls in his favor chips for taxpayer money, but the confidence they had before they even bought the land in the first place. You can't tell me that the developers did not have the winks and nods needed before they entered into contracts to purchase all that land outside the current city limits and along the famous Connector! Incentive money is just icing on the cake in the 9th inning.

The whole push for the city to incorporate was so the old Elk Grovian landowners could cash in their winning lottery tickets and sell out to the developers. The County had an urban limit line that would have prevented these old landowners from moving beyond their cattle grazing, hay production, and dairy farms.

At some point, the little people, the taxpayers and residents, are going to question whether they are better off under the city rule. Each year, they will notice that their bank needs to up their mortgage impound account because their supplemental tax bills keep going up. Having Costco here, a casino, and an Outlet Center won't change that fact.

While the developers cash in their winning hands and laugh all the way home to Granite Bay each day, the hard working residents hoping to eke out a little equity out of their homes will wonder if they've been sold a bill of goods.

I'm not sure about you, but the value of my home is based on supply and demand. We have abundant raw land, over 8,000 acres, and new homes are always more appealing than old homes-especially since the same tax assessments will be assessed on both. But there is hope--people may choose to live in Elk Grove because we have a Costco now!

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