As Third Anniversary of Elk Grove's SEPA Approaches, Super Majority Rezone Myth To Be Displayed

June 28, 2017 |   Three years ago on July 9, the Elk Grove City Council approved plans for the City's 1,200-acre Southeast Poli...



June 28, 2017 |  

Three years ago on July 9, the Elk Grove City Council approved plans for the City's 1,200-acre Southeast Policy Area, or more commonly known as SEPA.

The special policy area, touted as a jobs-centered development, was to be a remedy for Elk Grove's well-documented jobs to homes imbalance.  According to the City, "SEPA is an employment-oriented development [their emphasis]—that is to say, it is a community that supports and encourages the development of employment uses." 

To that end, former and then Elk Grove Mayor Gary Davis continually hyped that SEPA would bring 25,000 jobs to the City (see video below). Not surprisingly, not one employment facility has been built, much less any jobs created since adoption as the third-anniversary approaches.

One other important, but not widely discussed part of the SEPA are requirements that any rezone or change to the plan would require a supermajority vote of four of the five city council members. This was enacted in part to counter criticism of the Elk Grove City Council propensity to make changes to approved plans or the general plan to satisfy the desires of real estate developers, who are the largest source of campaign donations for the council members.

Putting aside the broken promises of Davis and the apparent lack of progress in recruiting real employers with real jobs to the SEPA, right around the time of the third anniversary, the Elk Grove Planning Commission will hear - you guessed it - a rezone request. 

Regardless of any action taken by the hard-working and well meaning planning commissioners, the matter will proceed to the Elk Grove City Council who will either reverse, modify or follow the recommendations of the Planning Commission. The question thus becomes this - will the proponents of the requested rezone "muster" the supermajority of City Council for their rezone.

As was analyzed in this 2015 story, in the period between January 2014 and July 2015, the city council had 103 individual votes on public hearing and regular agenda items. 

The results were as follows:
  • The vast majority by 5-0 votes
  • 10 votes were 4-1
  • 102 votes were made a super majority of the council
  • One 3-2 vote
  • One item defeated by a 2-3 vote  
  
click to enlarge image

The one 2-3 vote, an action by Council Member Pat Hume to kill the pursuit of a professional soccer stadium to be built with the cooperation of former California Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, ultimately died upon Davis' exit from elected office last year, and under the weight of its hubris.

If history is any guide, and it is, it is a safe bet the super majority threshold, if not a unanimous decision in favor of the rezoning will be achieved when this item works its way to the Elk Grove City Council. Oh sure, the City Council will posture and rationalized the rezone as a minor matter, but it is nonetheless one in what undoubtedly will be a long line of deviations from the plan and making a mockery of the supermajority.

The supermajority and SEPA is nothing but a myth.

So for all the bluster about sticking to the plan in SEPA and ensuring it will be a jobs-oriented area, development is barely starting and the rezones are already rolling in. Yes, it's business as usual in The Grove.  








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2 comments

D.J. Blutarsky said...

SEPA is as flexible as Gumby trying to pass a sobriety test after taking in too many of Elk Grove's hyped up brew pubs! Whatever the market can sell at any given moment is what will be built.Period. Staff's job is to shuffle the correct paperwork to get it done. Statistical analysis isn't necessary, because once it works it way to an agenda, well, the rest is just a formality.

Are my 3 minutes up yet?

Steve Barnett said...

I agree about past changes in zoning within Elk Grove (especially rezoning of industrial and office use to commercial or residential). However, the modifications being requested in this proposal are very minor.

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