Showdown at the Cosumnes River Floodplain; Stakes High in SOI Confrontation

For the last several weeks, the City of Elk Grove’s Sphere of Influence (SOI) application has evolved from a simple disagreement over whe...

For the last several weeks, the City of Elk Grove’s Sphere of Influence (SOI) application has evolved from a simple disagreement over whether or not the floodplain of the Cosumnes River should be included in the SOI application to a political battle for dominance on the Elk Grove City Council and possible implication in the race for Sacramento County Sheriff.

What’s at stake? Aside from the future of the floodplain and the communities of Franklin and Wilton, it boils down to two things for politicians - votes and money.

From our view the fight for dominance on the city council has pitted Gary Davis against Pat Hume with Jim Cooper playing the role of the swing person. Here is how we got to this point.

Hume has been a long time proponent of the SOI and has actively sought the SOI presumably so that this area can be eventually annexed into Elk Grove city limits and be open for development. Backing Hume in this matter has been several, but not all, of the property owners in the SOI application area who saw the riches bestowed on the Lent family when they sold out to General Growth Properties.

Another set of Hume’s political patrons, residential real estate developers, would love nothing more than to get their hands on these tracts.

For Hume, the conflict is obvious. If he fails to include the floodplain in the SOI he could be viewed weak and ineffectually by his landowners and real estate developer patrons. Given the weak state of real estate developers, the limited funds they have could become even more restrictive.

Hume’s stature on the city council will have been severely diminished as he has bet most of his political capital on the SOI. Going into an election year, what can Hume claim to have individually accomplished?

The nightmare scenario for Hume could find his patrons holding back all money and give it to someone who can push their agenda forward. Even if they don’t hold back, the money that Hume had at his disposal in 2006 has all but evaporated with the crash of the real estate market.

No money, no votes. It’s that simple for Hume. He is in a very tough spot.

Davis on the other hand has played his hand far more deftly on several different fronts.

First, like any skilled politician, Davis has recognized the world around him has changed substantially from the time he was elected. In 2006 there was money awash from developers and the job picture was satisfactory.

When the discussion of the SOI sprung back to life over the last few months, Davis has reframed the message. With many laid-off and furloughed people in the area, Davis said the city should be singularly focused on the creation of jobs and not devote resources to the SOI.

As Davis said the city should focus on “Jobs, jobs, jobs.”

Not only does Davis’ message tell voters he is concerned about improving the economy, it could be interpreted as an indictment of Hume. It could be interpreted that Hume’s only concern is for the wealthy legacy land owners who feel that by birth-right they are more entitled than other recent arrivals in Elk Grove and the formerly-wealthy real estate developers who financed his 2006 campaign.

Davis has also recognized the passion this issue has aroused in many quarters and has sought to harness that energy as a build up to his campaign. Indeed, in an e-mail send by Davis today he is urging participation in this Wednesday’s pre city council meeting urging the removal of the floodplain from the SOI.

The e-mail also said;
“Elk Grove should be laser focused on its core function of keeping the community safe and growing good, local, jobs. Not, expanding into flood land - which is not only a bad idea, but it would be a waste of time and resources.”

Conversely, Hume has been virtually silent on the matter. He has turned down repeated invitations by EGN to editorialize his position.

A defeat on this matter will be a big, but not insurmountable, setback to Hume’s reelection effort. Should Hume switch his vote and recognize the unpopularity of including the floodplain in the SOI, he will have taken a way a campaign issue that could be used against him.

As for Cooper, it is widely thought that he will be the swing vote with Steve Detrick siding with Davis and Mayor Scherman on Hume’s side. The significance of this vote is surely not lost on Cooper as he runs for Sacramento County Sheriff.

With several hundred people in attendance and all the attention the rally should generate from Sacramento media, Cooper is undoubtedly cognizant of the implications.

Votes do matter.

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Sarah Johnson said...

There is all kinds of political capital being "spent". Problem is that what the people want is not even in the picture! SHAMEFUL!

NO SOI expansion! Protect the river and environs. If we leave things as they are, we do no harm. Once they get a foot in the door, we have lost a true gem. We will have lost our future and our children's and grandchildren's future, too!

Removing the floodplain sounds like a good idea at first, but look closer and you will see that it splits the territory between Sac County and the City of Elk Grove. Not a good plan on so many levels!

Leave things as they are for now. Later on, this has to be put to a vote of the people!

Unknown said...

A review of prior Elk Grove City Council meetings will reveal that Council member Hume and former Council member Michael Leary were both proponents of the SOI expansion application. Also, a careful review of Mr. Hume's 2006 460 forms will further reveal Mr. Hume's receipt of campaign contributions from the landowners requesting the SOI application, including the inclusion of the floodplain. Mr. Hume appears to have only 14 consituents that he is concerned about. He forgot to add a few zeros to bring it up to the 140,000; just one reason this SOI application should be put forward to the citizens of Elk Grove for a vote. Hume would never allow this to go to a vote because he knows he would lose. His refusal to respond to the editor of this website is telling.

Mr. Leary was riding high in 2006 with his talk about Elk Grove's sphere of influence and look where he is now. Mr. Hume would be well-reminded that history always has a way of repeating itself.

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