Elk Grove Sphere of Influence Summit Highlights Different Approaches to Development

With a large audience in attendance, a panel of ten people discussed the City of Elk Grove’s application to expand its sphere of influence (...

With a large audience in attendance, a panel of ten people discussed the City of Elk Grove’s application to expand its sphere of influence (SOI) last night at the Elk Grove Unified School district’s Trigg Building.

The two-hour summit consisted of ten panelists representing various stakeholders including environmental, real estate developers and city and county governments, took questions from the audience and engaged in a spirited discussion of the merits, or lack thereof depending on their position, on expanding the boundaries of Elk Grove.

Hume: self-admitted ‘lighting rod’

The summit began with each of the panelist giving a two minute opening statement. The second speaker was Elk Grove Mayor Pat Hume who noted that he would be “playing the role of a lightening rod.”

Hume has been a strong advocate of expanding the city’s SOI and has been criticized by several interests for his position. “It is an opportunity for true long-term planning,” he said.

After each of the panelists gave their opening statements, the audience was given the opportunity to question them. Although several anti-SOI questions were directed at Hume, some of the questions came more in the form of comments seeking to bolster Hume’s position.

Wayne Gallup of Wilton asked Hume if the city would consider passing along the cost of the SOI to the small group of property owners who would benefit the most. Hume said that he thought the cost would be be built back into the cost of planning that area. Elk Grove city planner Don Hazen added that the idea is being explored.

On the opposite side of Hume was Rob Burness, who was representing the Environmental Council of Sacramento (ECOS). Burness, a retired Sacramento County planner who was involved in much of the planning of South Sacramento County, said Elk Grove should reassess its application.

Burness said any SOI expansion should consider regional growth needs and those need do not currently exist. "We recommend that Elk Grove put aside its growth plans and work on some of the un-met regional needs," he said.

For much of the session panelists were asked questions but were limited to a 30 second response time which not only seemingly frustrated the audience, but the responding panelist. Throughout much of the session moderator Dannette Garcia emphasized they had the room for two hours and there were many questions.

One question posed by Elk Grove resident Tom Russell, does Elk Grove needs to grow to sustain itself, just how much growth is needed, was answered by panelist and city council member Gary Davis. Davis said if there is growth, it should be sustainable and only if it increases the ratio of jobs per houses measurement.

"We have to change the way we grow. It's nuts," Davis said. Davis noted the problem is not unique to Elk Grove and the SOI process should go forward only if it helps grow the number of jobs per household, which he said would lead to sustainability.

As the panel closed conversation, Burness said he would like to the see the city pause its current growth and help solve some of the larger regional issues such as water supplies.

Burness pointed out that when Elk Grove was incorporated nine years ago, it promised its residents better land planning policies that it had received from Sacramento County. [You have to ask tourslef]"Have you been getting anything better in the last ten years, or whether you have been just getting business as usual," Burness said. "Why is it likely expanding the SOI is going to result in anything different that you have already gotten."

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Anonymous said...

This "Summit" had "too" problems;

Too little time
Too many panelists
Too much moderator
Too much salesmanship

However, it did exactly what it was intended to do, provide a public forum for the proponents and a cheap education for the City of Elk Grove planning staff on the issues associated with the SOI with as little embarrassment as possible courtesy of the Wilton Action Group. You can bet that every single question card handed in last night (most unread that evening) was studied in detail today in the aftermath in hopes of being properly prepared for the LAFCo hearings.

It was a crafty strategy, limit the format to two hours (but don't tell anyone), burn off a big chunk of time on either end of the time period with a slow start and opening and closing statements from eleven panelists, burn lots of time in the middle with the long and repeated explanations by the moderator of how there were lots of questions and very little time, fill in the rest of the time with some fumbling around with the microphone and you have pretty much run out the clock on two hours and escape into the night untouched with your completed question cards in hand.

Even if you don't agree you have to admire the skill in the game....

Ruth said...

Copied from a prev msg thread, but pertinent:
Well, another Clarification session gone awry.
What was obviously needed was a venue with no time limitations. If a good crowd of active participants was expected, even touted, how could anyone think they could get in all the anticipated questions, answers, Clarifications, responses - and also "Dialogue?" in two hours? And with maybe two responses, or more, to a question and three (or more) Clarifications, AND With mandatory opening and closing statements from the large panel? (Kind of over kill on the pro Elk Grove side.)
Wow... Some job. Answers cut to 30 seconds, please! Gee, I wonder who was responsible for that request to the moderator? It's hard to read a question, let alone formulate and present a cogent answer in 30 seconds, even for practiced speakers. That was a short circuit that cut the effectiveness of this meeting to the quick.
It should have been stated at the front we had to evacuate at 8:30, some of us would have jumped in and got those cards back in a hot flash, knowing if you were tardy you'd be out of luck.
So 1/2 the questions did not make the table. Oh well, eh?
We'll look for the master study, and a view of the MOU.

Eugene Rose said...

Wow......the circus arrived in Elk Grove with "Ring Master" Pat Hume strongly in control......was there any significance to the seating arrangement where Mr. Hume was seated next to a "developer/land owner"??? The panel of eleven
(11) was heavily waited (9) proponents of the SOI; (1) environmental interest; (1) county of Sacto representative who appeared guarded in his response; and (1) lone non aligned individual (professor from California State University at Sacto). It became obvious very early that the whole summit was rigged on behalf of the proponents!!!! When will the residents of Elk Grove "Wake Up" to who the Council is in fact representing????

Anonymous said...

Point(s) by Rose with mis-spelled word and math problems; however, the point is well taken. If a person who has trouble spelling and problems with simple math can detect the real issue of representation and is willing to put his name to it then what does that say about the rest of us?? I will still remain anonymous---no guts I suspect.....

Anonymous said...

I had a minor question that none of the panelists seemed able to answer. When do the affected persons get to vote (by secret ballot of course) on whether or not they want to a part of the City of Elk Grove? Seems like the only democratic thing to do.

Anonymous said...

Being fairly new to the community and having no idea what the SOI was we attended this meeting to be educated. And what an education it was! Can you believe that EG and Wilton citizens can't even vote on this. IMO it's a no-brainer..trash the whole thing or in the very least throw the flood plain section out. You just know there will be this little loop hole in there and they will fill that with dirt and build, build, build! Rooftops are all they want to see!

Anonymous said...

For those of us who have been tracking this SOI thing since Mike Leary first proposed it the lack of reaction on the part of Elk Grove resident property owners has been terribly disappointing. Most aren't even aware of the SOI initiative and those who are generally are ambivalent thinking it's a "Wilton problem". True enough, Wilton residents are up in arms over the SOI.

But Elk Grove residents should be up in arms as well. Elk Grove has suffered a 60% decline in property values as a result of over supply of single family homes. The City of Davis by comparison as a community that has controlled its growth has only suffered a 15% decline in property values.

If the SOI goes through it will spur more manic development and further increase the supply glut. Mayor Pat Hume has publicly expressed opposition to any form of growth management. Sophia Scherman chimed in her support for that position. But if you are a homeowner in Elk Grove you should be opposed to the SOI for selfish economic reasons if nothing else because your personal investment is at stake.

Unfortunately, as an Elk Grove resident you will not get to vote on the SOI. It is a process within government that takes place without the consent of the governed. There is still some time to make your voice heard at the LAFCo hearing but the process has been carefully orchestrated by the City of Elk Grove to keep resident property owners anesthetized while their home owner's equity is surgically removed. That procedure is now complete so if you have any hope of turning back the SOI you have to hope for LAFCo to exercise some restraint on the City of Elk Grove.

Neo said...

Sadly, I agree with the post just above this.

The figures mentioned at the SOI meeting regarding property values seem to match up to what I have tracked on Zillow the last four or so years.

When incorporation came nine years ago, I was quite hopeful. But now through a combination of the effects of the Great Recession, brought on by basic greed from Wall Street on down to mortgage brokers, real estate agents, etc, and poor land planning on part of our city fathers, I see a very bleak future for Elk Grove.

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