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

When Elk Grove Grasp held their Tuesday night meeting at the Elk Grove Library to discuss the City of Elk Grove's proposed expansion, ...

When Elk Grove Grasp held their Tuesday night meeting at the Elk Grove Library to discuss the City of Elk Grove's proposed expansion, it became clear that many of the four dozen in attendance believe that Elk Grove Council Members, the city's professional staff and city planning contractor Pacific Municipal Services (PMC) have not been forthright on what it intends to do with the 12 squares miles it seeks to annex.

After hearing a presentation from Dr. Alex Kelter MD, the meeting was opened up to a lively session of comments and questions and answers regarding the city annexation plans, also known as the sphere of influence application (SOI). While most of those in attendance were aware of the city's proposed expansion, most expressed frustration that the city is not detailing what the land will be used for should it be annexed.
A design study of a proposed subdivision called "Cosumnes Racho" was circulated in Dec., 2004. This proposed subdivision would have been located in portions of the Cosumnes River floodplain. Click to enlarge.

Tracing the history of the city's SOI application, Elk Grove resident Bill Myers claimed Sheldon Community Association members found out about the SOI accidentally about 10 or 11 years ago when two developers presented maps showing proposed developments outside of Sacramento County's Urban Service Boundary that could not be developed as they were still under county authority and unavailable for development. Consequently the two developers, which Myer did not identify, said they would approach the city about annexing the property.

"They were making applications with the City of Elk Grove to be brought inside the city so they could build their project," he said. "They actually showed us the maps. It was all housing."

Myers went to say that at that meeting they noticed the map had the logo of PMC, the city's contracted land planner. "We thought it was rather strange that Phil Carter's people (the owner of PMC) were out talking to us at that time about, trying to get us to support the development plan."

Myers said SCA made several inquiries to then Elk Grove City Manager John Danielson, the Elk Grove City Council and LAFCo but have not received any formal response.

Myers also said about one year SCA met with Mayor Gary Davis and Council Member Pat Hume to reinforce their position that the process of the SOI needs to come before the public and specifically what the 12 square miles would be used for.

"They are not going to talk because it is 100 percent developer driven, period," Myers concluded. 

Elk Grove resident and recent City Council appointee candidate Jeff Owen asked if there were any positives or popular support of the SOI.

"The easy answer is just flat out no," Sean Wirth, Conservation Chair of Mother Lode Chapter of the Sierra Club said. "The original way they brought this up in terms of the jobs housing imbalance was very clever is because they acknowledged with the passage of AB 32, subsequently SB 375and the requirement to reduce the open miles traveled would require a strategy to keep transportation local. That where the jobs-housing balance came up."

Wirth went on to note that SACOG growth projections show that there is no need to expand for another 20 to 30 years and the city faces many daunting environmental challenges. Among the biggest Wirth said is if the city succeeds in annexing the area, it would have to provide an equal amount of habitat land in mitigation in Sacramento County.

"The environmental community, statewide and nationally is watching what is going on," he noted. "The issues and implications are huge, they are beyond Elk Grove."

One person speaking in favor of the city's proposed expansion was Joe Daehling who said he supports the city's efforts. Daehling also noted the land could go into agriculture production.

"I think we should do some long-range planning," he said. "I don't think we should stand in the way of planning."

Meeting facilitator Lynn Wheat said she agreed with Daehling on the benefit of long range planning, but pointed out that the city has made 25 rezones to the city's 2003 general plan. 

"What is the SOI if there is no planning, I thought that what the SOI was all about," Daehilng said after Wheat criticized the city's pattern of deviating from the general plan and not sticking to the city's long term plan.  

"When we ask our city leaders what it is going to be about out there, they haven't indicated, we can't get a response from them," Wheat said 

Suzzane Pecci said a review of old copies of the Elk Grove Citizen of incorporation efforts prior to 2000, reveal pictures of the people pushing for cityhood were the landowners near the urban service boundary.  

"It was always about the ability to develop that land," Pecci said of all the incorporation efforts. "And to have a friendly face at the podium when these landowners and developers went up there to plead their case for development."

Also attending the meeting was Elk Grove assistant city manger Rebbeca Craig who took notes on the proceedings. Craig declined to comment when asked to respond to the criticisms leveled against the city and noted that she could not comment as she nor anyone from the city was invited to speak. 

Sharon Lynes noted that LAFCo conducted several outreach meetings in Folsom as they went through their 10-year SOI process, but has done little in Elk Grove. "They have not come down here yet, and that is not right and that is not fair," she said.

"Anything the city council starts, they do not ever stop because it is political," Lynes noted. 

Check back for a recording of the question and answer session.

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Run Slient Run Deep said...

Ensign Parker: Captain, sir, we just took a shot across the bow and now they're heading straight toward us on a collision course!

Capt. Blinkey: Just ignore them sailor, our boat is fast and slick, we can outrun anything.

Ensign Parker: But sir, our engine is sputtering and leaking oil. Look at the slimy slick we're leaving on the water behind us. Now the Greenpeace boat is coming after us too!

Capt. Blinkey: Sailor, we're not surrendering. We have our orders from the mother ship, the USS Beeeyeay to keep steaming ahead. Thar's gold in them rooftops boy and we're not stopping until we reach Fantasy Island.

Ensign Parker: Sir! They just launched a torpedo, bearing 12 degrees. Should we launch the soccer ball decoys?

Capt. Blinkey: Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!

Sarah Johnson said...

How much more does anyone need to hear? The fact is that this expansion beyond the Urban Services Boundary is what has driven everything from incorporation to the present day. We were lied to and we were used. I was personally involved in it from day one and I can say with no hesitation that we have been had! Stand up and fight back against this affront to our intelligence and our sensibilities.
Breaching the USB must NOT happen. Pushing development close to the Cosumnes River is just foolish. I think the early plans that were shown even before cityhood are very telling about the ultimate goal of the developers. They would build it and then they would move on to the next "victim" and we would be left holding this "bag".

Connie Conley said...

Sarah, I am with you. In 2008 and 2009, we put on two SOI Summit meetings with then Mayor Pat Hume as the facilitator for the first one. The second one, three members of the city council, Gary Davis, Pat Hume and Steve Detrick were all on the panel. Not one word was said about the information Bill Myers mentions.

So it begs the question: Have we all been duped here?

Rhonda said...

This has all been facilitated by PMC and the landowners out there past the USB, wanting and waiting to cash in on all the new land for RD-30 rooftops.

Council knows this but refuses to fess up.

Great article and great forum on the SOI! - Bill Myers and the environmentalist were incredibly informative.

I'm betting Becky Craig had a lot of info to pass back along to staff after that one.

Steve L said...

I have to agree w/ Rhonda.

The genesis of the evil that is our local gov't lies with PMC. At some point we have to stand our our own feet and represent ourselves, not be represented by PMC. PMC promotes what is good for them, not what is best for our city.

It's time to sever ties w/ PMC. This is the ONLY way anything will change.

We need to take control of our city. PMC will find another rube city to make a fortune off of. (Excuse the dangling participal).

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