Concerns, Frustrations Voiced on Elk Grove's Proposed Expansion at LAFCo Workshop

In a meeting that was meant to convey information about the City of Elk Grove's plan to expand its boundaries by over 12 sq. miles en...

In a meeting that was meant to convey information about the City of Elk Grove's plan to expand its boundaries by over 12 sq. miles ended up revealing equal portions of concern, frustration and mistrust on how the process has proceeded by several participants in attendance.

The meeting, which was scheduled only after Elk Grove resident Lynn Wheat asked the Sacramento LAFCo, the independent agency that holds authority over whether the city can put the land in its sphere of influence for future annexation, drew over 50 people who were frequently rebuffed in their questioning of the LAFCo staff.

Conducting the bulk of the meeting was Don Lockhart, Sacramento LAFCo's assistant executive officer who emphasized the the sphere of influence application (SOI) is only the first step in the process that could lead to annexation. Lockhart noted that even though a sphere of influence application is approved, annexation is a separate process that could actually start many years in the future.

"The City Council for Elk Grove wants a comfort level of having this sphere boundaries so they can put their resources in for long term planning," Lockhar said. "I think it is important that it is understood that the land uses that you see out there . . . would not be changed as a result of this sphere of influence action."

One of the first people to comment asked why is the city is applying for the SOI without first trying to justify it to the residence of Elk Grove.

"If you have issues with the city council, by all means address them to the city council," Lockhart said in response.

Elk Grove resident Suzanne Pecci noted that the environmental impact reports says the SOI area will included residential developments and agricultural operations

"How are you going to put urban people and the expectation of a certain lifestyle into a toxic soup of dust, pollution, pesticides, farm noise," Pecci said. "I don't think you have appropriately addressed that."

Elk Grove resident Steve Lee asked the LAFCo staff what parameters were used as a baseline for the EIR.

Lee was told the information about the EIR was provided by Elk Grove city staff and in joint collaboration between LAGCo, their environmental consultants and the city developed the draft EIR. The draft EIR also looked at what Elk Grove has done over the last decade and incorporated a set of assumptions on how the SOI are would be ultimately developed based in part on historic patterns.

An answer to a follow-up question moments later that sought to clarify if Elk Grove's pattern of the last several years were part of the assumptions was seemingly contradicted. The audience was then told that historic patterns were not used in the development of the draft EIR. 

There were also several comments peppered throughout the meeting on what was the perceived lack of addressing other environmental issues such as air quality.  

At times the LAFCo staff also provided outdated information including one map in Lockhart's Power Point presentation that included the Cosumnes River floodplain. That portion of the application, which is east of Highway 99 and south of Grantline Road, was dropped by the Elk Grove City Council in 2010 after fierce opposition from Wilton residents.

Written comments on the draft EIR can be submitted through May 21. LAFCO's next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, May, 1, at 5:30 p.m.

An audio recording of the workshop will be posted later today. 

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