Community Group Hears Complaints, Concerns Over Elk Grove's Handling of Planned Expansion - Part I

The local community group known as Elk Grove Grasp held a meeting at the Elk Grove Library last night to discuss and explain The City of...

The local community group known as Elk Grove Grasp held a meeting at the Elk Grove Library last night to discuss and explain The City of Elk Grove's long sought plan to expand the city limits by over 12 square miles. While many of the four dozen-plus were aware of the city's desire, there was a general consensus that city bureaucrats and elected officials have been evasive on detailing the exact plan for the land should it ultimately be annexed. (Continued in forthcoming Part II.)

The featured speaker at the meeting was Dr. Alex Kelter, MD, who discussed the city's application for expansion, the so-called sphere of influence (SOI) application currently working its way though the Sacramento Local Agency Formation commission (LAFco). Kelter, who is the immediate past president of the Environmental Council of Sacramento wrote an opinion piece criticizing suburban sprawl, offered criticism of the proposed expansion based on several grounds.

Kelter started his presentation by observing that most kids do not walk school nowadays versus most of the participants in attendance acknowledging by an informal showing of hands they walked to school as children. "That is symptom of something," he said.

Noting the fastest growing American demographic is families without children and this will represent the largest home buying group in the next 20 to 30 years, Kelter said the old model of suburban sprawl will not be applicable.   

"They want more compact, walk-able bike-able urban environments," he said. "It is not important to provide for them what we wanted, what is important is to provide what they want."

Kelter said there needs to be more diversity in the housing market. He added this is an opportunity to invest our tax dollars in existing communities and not by expanding geographically.

He also touched on recent talk in Elk Grove about the so-called housing to jobs imbalance and said major employers more and more are locating jobs where their employees want to live. Kelter went on to say that city's should use existing areas to fulfill this need.

"The employers of the future want to locate a place where there are employees want to live" he said. Kelter said the more appropriate measure when comparing houses to job is to look if the housing is appropriate for the jobs, or the "jobs to housing fit" as he referred to it.

"Numerical balance [between jobs and homes] by itself doesn't tell you much if the people who have the jobs can't afford to live they are just going to commute like everyone else does and the achievement of numerical balance really doesn't get you there," he said. "And yet that's being discussed as a very important reason to expand the footprint of the community."

"I am suggesting that is kind of bogus," Kelter added.

The Elk Grove City Council and Mayor Gary Davis in particular have advocated the proposed  expansion as a means of correcting the city's current jobs to housing imbalance. Responding to those comments Davis said Kelter doesn't have all the facts. 

"Our economic development strategy is specifically targeted to attract jobs, by sector and income level, for current residents," Davis said. "The whole point is to provide our current residents the opportunity to work close to home." 

A retired public health official, Kelter said he became involved in planning issues because of public health concerns. 

"I got to this because it is becoming increasingly clear that the ultimate in public health starts with a safe, vibrant, economically prosperous community," he said. 

Below find three maps produced by UC Davis showing various measurements of jobs to housing in Sacramento County. Click image to enlarge.

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Festival City said...

Seems to me that the majority of residents who are currently government workers, are not going to quit their careers to work at a new job in Elk Grove. The current EG economic development strategy to lure state offices to EG cannot be sustained since the last one cost us $3.3 million in subsidies--and just how many more state offices are going to abandon their current facilities. Twelve square miles worth of state offices?!!

The Mayor is not being honest with us. The developers will influence the zoning of the SOI to meet their immediate market needs, or at least their campaign contributions are betting on that.

Anonymous said...

What a great informative meeting this was and I certainly learned a lot from the community speakers who have lived here much longer than I have. It amazes me that so few even know what the SOI is and that more have not held the city accountable for not holding community meetings to keep us informed. This can only make something more "suspect" in the eyes of the people and you have every right to be so!

Yellow Submarine said...

A shot has been fired across the bow and the boat is taking on water!

Anonymous said...

The meeting was very informative. Our city council members would benefit greatly by talking with the guest speaker, Dr. Alex Kelter. His insight on public health and on how development, traffic, neighborhoods interact with each other would open some eyes and ears. Our city really has some explaining to do regarding this SOI application. I hope we get some answers that pass the smell test. Good Job Lynn

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