In Blow To Crucial Habitat, Developers Application to Annex 2 Square Miles Into Elk Grove Approved by LAFCO

Home builder consultants Brian Cooley (left) and Jim Gilllum appearing
before Sacramento LAFCO on behalf of developers seeking to annex 2 square
miles of land into Elk Grove. |
February 8, 2018 |  

Plans by private real estate developers to expand Elk Grove city limits by about two square miles scored a major administrative victory last before the Sacramento Local Agency Formation Committee. 

In a 4-3 vote, the Sacramento LAFCO approved the environmental impact report of the so-called sphere of influence application from developers who are seeking to have their land annexed into Elk Grove for residential real estate development. The application and approval of the report submitted by Reynolds & Brown, Kamilos Development, and Feletto Development is an essential step toward annexation of the parcel (see map below, click to enlarge "application area") which is south of Kammerer Road and west of Highway 99 into the city limits.

Although the commission approved the matter, it was not before it heard almost three hours of testimony regarding the application. Most of the comments were opposed to the expansion of Elk Grove based on environmental concerns, elimination of farmland, and the need to contain urban sprawl and its harmful effects.

As part of the testimony, the LAFCO commission allotted the Environmental Council of Sacramento (ECOS) a block of time so several of its members could address a host of concerns. Those concerns ranged from the loss of habitat for the Swainson Hawk and Sand Hill Crane to increased air pollution.

ECOS board member Rob Burness noted the land lies outside the urban services boundary that was established several years ago by Sacramento County to act as a guide for growth. Burness, who is a retired planner for Sacramento County said he was involved in that process.

"It was intended as a long-term boundary for growth," he said.  

Noting flaws in the environmental impact was attorney Don Mooney. As a practitioner with over 25 years of experience in the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), Mooney pointed out that there were 22 overriding considerations in the report.

"When you have a project that requires you to do a statement of overriding considerations for 22 impacts, that would give me pause," Mooney said. "That says there is something here that is not working with that environmental document."

Several opponents to the application claimed the development will encroach on crucial habitat for Swainson Hawks and Sand Hill Cranes. Others said approval of the developers plans will encourage continued urban sprawl and the negative health effects associated with it. 

Speaking on behalf of the expansion was Elk Grove resident Tom Waltman who stated the city needs the additional land for housing.

"The city of Elk Grove needs more housing, regardless of what anybody says," Waltman said.

Leading off deliberation, Commissioner Gay Jones noted the mission of LAFCO's is to provide a mechanism for orderly and smart growth of communities. Jones said based on the staff's recommendation that the EIR be adopted, she said they were failing in their mission to contain urban sprawl.

"I have not seen much difference between this application and 2013," Jones said. "All the issues still exist."

That 2013 application, which was sponsored by the City of Elk Grove sought to expand city limits by 8,000-acres. After LAFCO indicated they would not approve that application based on a wide variety of environmental and urban sprawl issues, the city withdrew it from consideration.

Jones also expressed concern that the process was being driven by private developers and not the city. "This is supposed to be a government, an agency type of decision," she said.

Joining Jones in voting against the request was Commissioner Jack Harrison, who is the public representative, and Angelique Ashby. Both commissioners expressed skepticism that the city immediately needed the land for expansion.

"To take that action now would be untimely," Ashby said.   

Voting in favor were Elk Grove City Councilman and LAFCO Chair Pat Hume, and commissioners Susan Peters, Bruce Greenwood and Sue Frost. In their support of the application, the commissioners cited the need for Elk Grove to have local control of planning, the parcel's proximity to the long-awaited Southeast Connector road, and that it would be an economic driver for the community.

"This is a unique opportunity because of its location," Frost said noting it will front the proposed Southeast Connector road.

After the meeting Elk Grove Vice Mayor Darren Suen said with the approval of the EIR, the developers will now start the planning process of the acreage with the city. Once the city and the developer complete their process, which is expected to last at least two years, the annexation request will return to the Sacramento LAFCO for final approval.

Click to enlarge. 






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2 comments

D.J. Blutarsky said...

Hooray!

Sweeping aside all that chatter about high paying jobs, upscale retail and all--we're gonna get us some more homes! Thousands of new stucco boxes all lined neatly in rows, packed on teeny tiny lots, big 3-car garages, and plenty of tax assessments and HOA dues to go around!

Who is going to be buying all these thousands of new homes you may ask? Well, The Grove is positioning itself to be the last desperate refuge for displaced Bay Area workers of course.

Picture all the Bay Area workers priced out of such glamorous cities such as Tracy, Lathrop, Patterson, and Stockton. That's right, The Grove will bottom-feed Bay Area workers priced out of Stockton! How's this possible you may ask?

The ACE commuter train has allowed displaced Bay Area workers to live the American dream and buy a home in these valley towns. Once we vote for a sales tax increase in November, The Grove can have its very own train station too!

So after years of systematic campaign contributions by the home- builders and purchases of cheap grazing land on the outskirts of town, us taxpayers can help subsidize a market for the new homes!

So be sure to vote yes on the sales tax so we not only have "essential services" and "potholes filled", but we can also help stimulate the housing market for the home builders

The council members may never realize they've been 'played', but maybe give them a street named after them and all will be good in The Grove!


An Elk Grove Voter said...

Elk Grove City Council member Darren Suen and Brian "Mr. $10K" Cooley speaking at LAFCo on behalf of the SOI. What a surprise that Suen is there speaking on behalf of developers. Shocking!

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