Elk Grove's Future: Growing Better and Not Just Bigger

Op Ed by Elk Grove Coalition Advocating Proper Planning In looking back over the last ten years, what do you believe is best about Elk Gro...

Op Ed by Elk Grove Coalition Advocating Proper Planning

In looking back over the last ten years, what do you believe is best about Elk Grove? As drug stores seemed to spring up on every corner, and mega housing developments seemed to replace every tree, including our “heritage” oak on Bond, which was hundreds of years old, died because pavement was more important.

One must wonder if Elk Grove had well thought out long term plans for growth. We thought we did. It’s called the General Plan. After an enormous amount of resident input, the Elk Grove City Council adopted it. It was supposed to be “our bible” for growth. Unfortunately for all of us, the General Plan has been constantly amended and manipulated resulting in poor use of open areas. One area that has suffered particularly over the past several years is District 2.

District 2 includes the rural area of Elk Grove which borders our rural neighbors in Wilton. Elk Grove Coalition Advocating Proper Planning (EGCAPP) is taking a strong stance in preserving this “jewel.” Over the past few years, many residents have been embroiled in the fight whether or not to include the 100 year floodplain in city of Elk Grove’s Sphere of Influence (SOI) application. Proponents on the city council called the floodplain a “jewel,” but most importantly want it to be part of Elk Grove. Never mind that the city of Elk Grove doesn’t have an agricultural department and specialists to handle this jewel. But what the SOI proponents failed to understand is that Elk Grove has had a jewel even before the General Plan was adopted. It is what remains of our “rural area” and the supporters of the rural area have determinately tried preserving this special part of Elk Grove for generations to come, at times to the extent of filing law suits against our own city.

At the October 13 Elk Grove City Council meeting, three projects came before the council requesting funding from the $14 million earmarked for Elk Grove’s affordable housing projects. EGCAPP encouraged funding two of the proposed projects; the USA Properties and St. Anton Partners projects for different reasons. Our community desperately needs both projects. Each services two critical segments of our community in which we are sorely lacking, senior living and work force housing. Simply put, with amenities and all, these well-planned, well thought-out projects will offer all their residents an exemplary quality of life, not to mention enhance our city’s ability to bring new residents to Elk Grove who can live, work, play, shop and receive medical care within walking distance of their beautiful home. This is an example of growing better and excellent planning. But we have a long way to go in the “bigger is better” department.

Four years ago, several District 2 leaders, including EGCAPP’s activist members, approached Pat Hume asking him to move into District 2 and run for city council, thinking he would be the hope for the future in championing their cause and that the rural area does matter and should be protected. However, four years later, many of them who supported Hume are now very disappointed.

When EGCAPP joined District 4 Council member Gary Davis, standing strong with the Wilton Action Group and hundreds of District 2, 3 and 5 residents wanting to remove the floodplain from the SOI, Hume adamantly refused to support our efforts. The hard truth is the SOI does mean annexation. Otherwise why spend the millions in tax dollars just to have the “discussion” as Hume purports?

Yes, we need to grow better, but that growing better doesn’t mean just bigger. We must elect leaders who believe more housing means further exacerbating our traffic problems not to mention the negative effect more housing would have on existing residential property values. We need office and institutional-type developments which will generate more jobs, developments which studies prove generate the least amount of traffic while stimulating our local economy and most assuredly include further supporting our small business retail owners.

Our city’s location and population skill set make it one of the most desirable places to live and also make it ideal for businesses to relocate here. But in doing so, every square mile of Elk Grove should be considered a “jewel.”

Shouldn’t preserving the rural area in District 2 be important to the council member who represents that district? Sadly, we were wrong four years ago. We cannot afford to be wrong again. Otherwise our “jewel,” along with our city’s rural heritage, will most likely be paved over.

We must grow better. That is why we are joining Vice Mayor Steve Detrick, Council member Jim Cooper, the Elk Grove Police Officers Association and many other community leaders in endorsing George Murphey for Elk Grove City Council, District 2 and Gary Davis in District 4 for reelection.

Working together with George and Gary, we will get our city back on track!

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