Wilton Group Seeks To Halt Elk Grove's SOI

Below is an open letter to the people of Elk Grove from the Wilton Action Group . Dear Elk Grove resident and friend, You are receiving this...

Below is an open letter to the people of Elk Grove from the Wilton Action Group.

Dear Elk Grove resident and friend,

You are receiving this letter because this is an important moment for Elk Grove’s future and the significance of what is about to happen is not being reported in the press. The local newspaper, the Elk Grove Citizen appears to be muting public opposition to the actions of certain members of the Elk Grove City Council and the Sacramento Bee has closed its Elk Grove bureau. As a result the only way to pass information that is important to you and your neighbors as Elk Grove residents is through an e-mail campaign and this is the reason you are receiving this letter. In this letter you are being asked to do two things, first read the letter and consider the implications to you and your family as Elk Grove residents, and second pass this letter along to everyone you know in Elk Grove who has a serious interest in Elk Grove’s future.

As a resident of Elk Grove you are probably aware that Elk Grove has been beset since incorporation with extremely rapid development and growth that has caused all manner of problems for the residents of Elk Grove. Whether you are a new resident of Elk Grove or you have lived here for decades you have suffered from everything from transportation snarls to law enforcement problems, all as result of a growth rate that has exceeded the ability of the populace and city government to absorb the changes. This high-speed growth is by design and is not an accident. At one point in time Elk Grove was the fastest growing city in the nation. Depending on the circumstances city officials and the local press will either embrace this fact or attempt to deny it but in any case this high-speed growth has led to hasty choices with disastrous consequences. One only needs to take a short drive around Elk Grove to find neighborhoods beset with plummeting property values and foreclosure to the spectacular failure of the Elk Grove mall which resulted from the financial collapse of the developer chosen by the Elk Grove City Council. Given the circumstances surrounding the stalled Laguna Ridge and Promenade Mall projects this is no time for a wise steward to attempt to spark off yet another growth/development spiral.

Yet, that is exactly what Mayor Pat Hume is attempting to achieve. As a founding Planning Commissioner of Elk Grove who was appointed by then city council member Rick Soares and subsequently succeeded Soares to the city council Pat Hume is as pro-growth as they come. While all cities need some degree of growth to maintain a vibrant community hyper-growth creates its own problems and this issue is what has caused three members of the Elk Grove City Council to be turned out of office in the last two elections and the termination of employment and public disgrace of the original city manager of Elk Grove, John Danielson.

Unfortunately, a simple turnover of personalities involved has not righted Elk Grove’s ship of state, government initiatives once begun have a life of their own. Mayor Hume has picked up the flag for the SOI initiatives originally generated by his predecessors (request Sacramento Bee article from Loretta Kalb “Elk Grove looks South,” Sacramento Bee, 6-4-2006, page N1) and is now attempting to drive forward with gusto in spite of evident ambivalence on the part of the newer members of the city council and strenuous public opposition on the part of those who are in the know enough to realize what is going on.

Which brings us to the point of this letter. In 2006 then Mayor Rick Soares and then City Council Member Mike Leary directed Elk Grove staff to begin the process of annexation of lands outside of Elk Grove’s existing boundaries. The purpose for this effort is to provide the raw materials (land) necessary to spark yet another episode of rapid, unchecked growth. To achieve this goal the City of Elk Grove must convince the Sacramento Local Agency Formation Commission (SacLAFCo) to accept their proposed Sphere Of Influence (SOI) application. This is a government process that places control of the area within the limits of the SOI into the hands of the city government of Elk Grove. Once SOI is achieved it is a relatively simple process for Elk Grove to annex the territory within the SOI and begin the hyper development cycle all over again.

Tragically, much of the proposed SOI real estate is prime agricultural land and extremely sensitive wildlife habitat which includes the northern portion of the 100-year flood plain of the Cosumnes River and Deer Creek. The Cosumnes River is the last undammed river on the western slope of the Sierra and is a migration hub for species that depend on this habitat. The Cosumnes is an important stop on the western flyway for migrating birds but also the destination and origination point for other species that migrate in all directions to and from the Cosumnes River. Currently the Cosumnes is a relatively sparsely populated rural landscape, which minimizes human impact. Left to its own devices the City of Elk Grove will likely follow its habit and encourage high impact development within the flood plain. Federal requirements would force the city to “mitigate” those impacts, which would likely require developers to raise their projects out of the flood plain with the importation of fill. This type of development will shrink the flood plain of the Cosumnes River, increase the flood impact in times of flooding, and drive those consequences onto the residents of Wilton, a rural community to the south east of Elk Grove. The Cosumnes is a wild river that is very susceptible to extreme flooding from a weather event called the “Pineapple Express” as was demonstrated in the flooding that occurred in 1997. Global climate change could increase the frequency and intensity of this effect. In addition to flood impacts increased development would also likely worsen the state of an already critical ground water resource currently in decline at the rate of approximately one foot per year.

It is for all these reasons that residents of Wilton have joined together to form the “Wilton Action Group” or “WAG” to wag our fingers at the city government of Elk Grove and inform its citizens in an effort to stop this forced march to feckless urbanization. If you agree that growth needs to be tempered in Elk Grove you as a resident can have a large impact at this moment in time. First, check out www.wiltonactiongroup.org. This web site contains a wealth of information about Elk Grove’s drive toward expanded SOI and the grass roots effort to control it. Second, attend the public meetings being held in the hearing process and express your disapproval of the current SOI in an e-mail directly to Pat Hume. Third, send an e-mail to SacLAFCo Clerk Diane Thorpe and express your views on the subject, be sure to ask that your letter be forwarded to each of the commissioners for their review. Fourth, check in to www.elkgrovenews.net for unfiltered news of what is happening in Elk Grove. And finally, remember that elected officials are elected. Mayor Pat Hume is up for re-election in November of 2010. If you disapprove of his actions in office remember at the ballot box and be sure your friends and neighbors are aware so they too can vote accordingly. With your help as an involved Elk Grove resident we can shape a better and brighter future for Elk Grove and the communities that surround it.

If you are interested in learning more about how you can get involved in helping to bring Elk Grove under control contact Bill Kutzer at kutzerb@frontiernet.net or 687-7542.


The Wilton Action Group

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charon said...

Is anyone noticing lack of news coverage in the Citizen and the Bee regarding the SOI and anything critical of the Elk Grove City Council? Prior to the "summit" meeting on March 18, reporters were turning over rocks and reporting what they found. The next day a Citizen reporter, Bobby Wilson, was let go for "economic" reasons. The Bee also closed its Elk Grove office. Since then, not a peep. The watchdogs appear to be chained up. Does the Elk Grove political machine and their backers really have that much power, or is it all "economic" coincidence?

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