What About Elk Grove? Are We Fighting a Losing Battle?

By Sarah Johnson I was in a meeting recently with a group of friends and the question was asked, “Is Elk Grove worth saving?” The questi...

By Sarah Johnson

I was in a meeting recently with a group of friends and the question was asked, “Is Elk Grove worth saving?” The question got everyone's attention, and there were different responses. One immediately said it was. Others were not sure.

It makes me so sad to say that I am reaching the conclusion that Elk Grove may not be worth the effort to try and save it from the “beast” that is devouring it. Today's headlines reported optimistically that things are beginning to look up for the economy somewhat. The first thing that crossed my mind was sadness because this means that the “beast” is awakening from its hibernation and will again unleash its never-ending appetite by devouring more of the land that surrounds us and that some of us hold so dear.

The “beast” has unlimited resources, at least as far as us lowly citizens ability to do battle with it. The recent so called victory of getting the flood plain removed from the SOI application seems to have lulled some into thinking they won something. Sadly, they did not. The election in November could change that in a heartbeat.

If Pat Hume gets re-elected, if Gary Davis does not get re-elected, and depending on who gets elected to replace Jim Cooper if he wins Sheriff, will change the dynamic altogether.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the time, the moment when we meet our fate head-on. No longer can we turn away from the reality of what Elk Grove has become. The City of Elk Grove has failed us in so many ways and these failures have added up to a lot of negatives. We are perceived in the region and beyond as a joke, as an example of what not to do. The City Councilmembers can deny it all they want, it does not change the facts.

Look around at many others cities in our region. They seem to have taken advantage of the down time in the economy to up their game. West Sacramento, Rancho Cordova, Folsom have all made impressive strides to reinvent themselves, especially their old town areas, as destinations in order to attract visitors and new businesses. In those cities there is an air of optimism. In Elk Grove there is an air of waiting for the other shoe to drop, so to speak.

The jobs have not materialized and may not for a long time because Elk Grove is located out of the “flow”. We have a long way to go to get back to where Elk Grove used to be, before incorporation. I'm not saying incorporation was bad, but it was driven by forces we did not understand at the time. Since cityhood, staff and council both have adopted postures that were unfriendly, confrontational, and downright nasty. The mantra was, “we are special, we are Elk Grove, we don't have to cooperate with anyone, businesses will come here and if one doesn't there will be another one in line who will”. Well, we can all see how well that worked out!

There must be a change of attitude at every level. They say the words, “transparency, accountability”, but the actions usually do not match that.

Change is needed and it can't come soon enough for me. I just hope it is change for the better, not a backward step. We got rid of two bad apples, but we need to replace at least one more to have a majority of council members who are truly working in our best interests. It all depends on the November election. It all depends on whether or not Elk Grove is worth saving!

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Elk Grove Politics said...


Elk Grove is worth saving. A lot of people bought homes here wanting to live the American Dream. Our leaders got greedy, seeing only rooftops, too many rooftops, and were wooed by developers to line their own pockets.

Now that people have seen their property values decrease considerably in value, and though it is a bitter pill to swallow, people are stuck, all we hear from the leaders who made those decisions are excuses.

If we don't make changes, turn things around, and save Elk Grove, we could become a modern day ghost town. How many foreclosures and bankruptcies will affect those who still can pay their mortgages?

You write we need to make one more change. You are right. All the rooftops got a "yes" vote from Pat Hume including Vintara Park and Bell South, a project that desecrated Laguna Creek. Citizens fought those two projects the likes the city has never seen and our leaders did not listen. And the citizens were right.

Can you imagine what would have happened if citizens didn't sue our own city and won, stopping Vintara Park. If we hadn't, that mess would have started and then stalled just like Laguna Ridge.

The floodplain was a "gem," Laguna Ridge a "jewel." The mall was a "diamond in the rough." Too bad leaders like Hume forgot to tell us they are traded in their developer contributions and left us with cubic zirconia.

Yes we wanted change, but Hume wasn't the change we had in mind!

In closing, you are 150% right here and to tell you the truth, reading this about our city makes me incredibly sad because there were many of us, you included, who tried to get the council to listen but were "turned" away.

In November, we need to "turn" one out!

Insania said...

More rooftops are coming, as soon as this economic slowdown is behind us.

It is interesting that we didn't think much about how our own rooftop impacted the residents before us, but we decry all those after us. Sprawl is always a one-way mirror. We never look to that new strip mall on our corner or that new 248-unit development just to our immediate south as a benefit. It's always followed by "Groan...just what we need, more development! More traffic!"

Elk Grove demands new growth to survive; it cannot support itself on the property taxes on existing housal units alone. You could see this as a "beast," but I see it more broadly -- it's everywhere else, too. There is not a single new area in which to live in the Sacramento region that doesn't follow this same pattern.

Elk Grove, in my opinion, is far too entrenched in car dependency that yes, it will never be saved from itself. We no longer have the choice to build a city that isn't so dependent on non-local merchants, non-local jobs, or on 2.2 vehicles per housal unit. If we somehow jettisoned the model of the past twenty years and moved forward with a non-energy intensive pattern, we'd perhaps get that number down to 1.9 per unit...

How likely would that be? How likely will we see those 50,000 $51,000 jobs? How likely will we see light rail installed before 2035? What gives you any reason to believe that we won't just continue adding to our exisiting sea of leapfrogged residential development/strip mall/residential development/strip mall/gated-residential development/strip mall?

The SOI?

Capt. Benjamin L. Willard said...

All great points for sure.

But just remember, election day is a long way off and much can happen in local politics. Watch your backs!

Josie said...

"Politics is not a bad profession. If you succeed there are many rewards, if you disgrace yourself you can always write a book." ~ Ronald Regan

SacramentoCrash said...

Watch them keep building. It will be a ghetto to ghetto expansion (South Sac to Stockton).

Unknown said...

Sarah, this is by far one of the best comments I have ever seen about Elk Grove. Becoming a city was supposed to allow it to control its own destiny. Sadly, all the city council has done is run it into the ground. One of the biggest problems is many of these new "transplants" dont understand what Elk Grove used to be and don't care what it becomes due to sheer apathy. I have no idea how the people on the city council members have remained on there so long. I don't live there anymore but everytime I return, things continue to decline. No one has the vision or the political savvy to turn it around and enable Elk Grove to compete with Folsom, Roseville, Natomas, and Rancho Cordova. If only there were more out there like you, the city may be able to save itself.

Malleus Codex said...

There is one solution, and only one solution...VOTE THEM OUT AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. Pat Hume MUST NOT BE RE-ELECTED ! ! !

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