As Elk Grove pushes west and south, what happens to quality of life in the north end or your neighborhood?

This building at 8471 Elk Grove-Florin Road was a Chili's and Sizzler restaurant but
will have been vacant for three years this December. | 



Over the last couple of years, especially in light of recent announcements, Elk Grove is experiencing another growth spurt. 

September's big announcement was the possible relocation of the Sacramento Zoo to Elk Grove's long-planned employment center, the Southeast Planning Area. Earlier this summer, construction started near the SEPA on the Wilton Rancheria's Sky River casino. Undoubtedly these two attractions would draw large audiences visiting Elk Grove via personal vehicles.

Additionally, on Sunday, October 10, the Sacramento Bee reported, Homebuilder Taylor Morrison nets hundreds of Elk Grove lots in $45 million land deal.  While Taylor Morrison was mum on details, the story said the development would facilitate up to 3,600 single-family housing units and help ease the housing shortage.

It did not note what type of housing would be developed, but it is not hard to predict it will not be for affordable housing units that could be purchased by moderate to lower-income families. Elk Grove is addressing its so-called RHiNA affordable housing allocation by building apartments.  

Besides, given Taylor Morrison has contributed tens of thousands of dollars to Elk Grove City Council members, the five of whom understand who butters their bread and are unlikely to prevent them from building anything but the most expensive and profitable housing units. In other words, moderate and lower-income families will be relegated to apartment living and not given a chance to move up the economic ladder through purchasing relatively modestly housing units which are a significant factor in creating inter-generational wealth.      

Better get working on that Whitlock Parkway-Highway 99 interchange post haste lest Elk Grove suffers a coronary-traffic infarction from clogged arteries. 

But we digress.


While Elk Grove pushes west and south, what about other older parts of the city? While city leaders focus on the bright and shiny like a child playing with a new toy, what happens in older neighborhoods?

If you want an example, just look on Elk Grove's north end at the Calvine and Elk Grove-Florin roads intersection. 

On the east side of northbound Elk Grove-Florin sits an empty restaurant space that opened as a Chili's that did not last long, succumbing to the Great Recession. A few years later, the building was a Sizzler restaurant, but like the Chili's, it too failed and is vacated. 

Across the street, at the Petrovich Development Kohls shopping center that opened over 15 years ago, there is at least still one space, suite 160, that has never been occupied much less built out. The shopping center parking lot also is a gathering spot for several unfortunate people without shelter.  

One positive for the shopping center is there are several vacant pads awaiting structures. Obviously the changes in local retailing, not to mention the entire shopping universe, these pads are unlikely to be built out which is positive as they probably would go unoccupied for decades.  

While these are only a couple of examples, they demonstrate how the west and south push of Elk Grove is seemingly being done at the expense of other older retail areas. We have all seen this play out -  as space empties, criminal activity increases, and quality of life suffers.

Is it no coincidence that residents along the north end's nearby Sheldon Road between Highway 99 and Waterman Road regularly report that the road segment is akin to a drag strip with drivers operating cars and motorcycles at speeds well above posted limits?  Even though there have been numerous complaints filed, Elk Grove Police seem unable to get a handle on this quality of life issue, much to the chagrin of residents.

Could law enforcement efforts be focused on the more glamorous parts of Elk Grove? Have not we all cities ignore lower-income areas at the expense of more glamourous neighborhoods?  

Is this now happening in Elk Grove City Councilmember Kevin Spease's lower-income District 3 north end? What say you Mr. Spease? 

So while Elk Grove Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen and her four city council members will engage in a self-indulgent circle jerk for these new expensive homes to be built by their benefactor and a possible zoo, you have to ask them, what are they doing for the quality of life in your neighborhood?   


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2 comments

JD said...

I highly recommend an organization called Strong Towns. They talk about something called the "growth Ponzi scheme" that highlights the modern day experiment we started conducting during the post-war era; that is car dependent suburban sprawl. The suburbs have been around for thousands of years (ancient Rome even had "suburbs") but they were always walkable, and in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, bikeable also. Then, as these folks demonstrate, we literally flattened our cities to "pave" the way for the automobile (pun intended). Charles Marohn's books on the subject are worth a read, as is Melissa & Chris Bruntlett's book "Curbing Traffic."

There are also some videos on the same subject from the YouTube channel "Not Just Bikes." He's a Canadian who immigrated to Amsterdam and he did a 6 part series on Strong Towns but he has quite a few other useful videos including: "Suburbs that don't suck," "Why I hate Houston," and "Quiet Cities." Because he lives in the Netherlands, he actually is able to compare North American cities and suburbs to the Dutch cities and suburbs (yes, contrary to popular opinion, they do have them) which provide a great visual contrast. I really liked "Quiet Cities" because I find Elk Grove really, really, REALLY noisy! And the (car dependent) suburbs were supposed to be quiet! What a colossal lie THAT was!

JD said...

My apologies if my comment posted twice. I expected the window to close once I posted my comment but thought it had failed.

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