Open Letter to The Mayor, Elk Grove City Council

Like many residents of Elk Grove, I believe our city is lacking cultural amenities.  While I understand the council's fo...

Like many residents of Elk Grove, I believe our city is lacking cultural amenities. 

While I understand the council's focus on athletic facilities, as an aging baby boomer who raised five children in Elk Grove and is quickly approaching empty nest status, the need for athletic facilities for young children has come and gone for many of us in this cohort, and there are a lot of us here. This is not to say youth facilities should be ignored, but there are other stakeholders that should be given a seat at the table as we discuss our city's development.

I was reminded of our city's dearth of meaningful cultural activities after receiving an Email from Lodi's Hutchins  Street Square facilities. In the coming weeks the facility will host a play, a childrens choir concert, various cooking classes, a ballet and yes, a taco truck cook off contest. Here is a brief history of the facility and the center's mission statement. 

As an Elk Grove resident, in the last year I have purposefully traveled on two occasions to Lodi's Hutchins Street Square Facilities and spend money there that I would have gladly spend in our city if such facilities existed to hold cultural activities

Along with its growing reputation as a premier wine tourist area, Lodi's cultural amenities are helping it become a true destination city. Even San Francisco media have recognized how Lodi has evolved into a tourist destination.   

Having no such cultural facilities in Elk Grove pushes many baby-boomer-empty-nester types with their disposable income and a taste for cultural undertakings to leave Elk Grove for either Sacramento, Folsom (Three Stages) or in this case, Lodi, for cultural events that we gladly pay premium prices to attend. Keep in mind these cultural activities are not confined to just weekends either.

Furthermore, if Elk Grove possessed such amenities, it would put our city on the radar when it comes to recruiting high-end employers considering a relocation. Right now I dare to say that we would lose any future battles to land major employers, short of a multi-million dollar incentive, based in part on our reputation as a cultural desert.   

So as you formulate plans on the amenities Elk Grove will develop and nurture in the next 10 to 20 years, I urge you to consider the creation of a vibrant arts and cultural community. Take a look at what Lodi has done and how they are becoming a true destination.

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Adam Bricker said...

Couldn't agree with you more Dan. Lodi's downtown makes our little stage stop with hair salons a pitiful comparison too. Wineries wouldn't work here because the Building Industry Association runs the show. And why don't the City Council members begin by talking to the people. Who gave them the mandate that we wanted a pro soccer stadium in the first place????

Lynn said...

Lodi...looked at developing and making what they had better...not bigger. Elk Grove leaders somehow believe bigger is we have the empty mega strip mall on steroids! Instead of looking at what our area had to offer the region our leaders believe they need to bring something the natural resources and ideas of local citizens have been ignored. Our rural community has had to fight many battles to keep their vision; and even have a wonderful idea to promote...however the leaders are too slow to catch on. We have the Stone Lakes National Wildlife one else in the region has about promoting a natural resource that could bring tourism and opportunity; our environmentalists are having to fight to protect it because of the city wanting to grow another 8,000 acres. Then we have the Consumnes Nature Preserve...natural outdoor opportunities...but this wouldn't cost taxpayers enough to promote this natural resource...instead lets spend money on soccer stadiums,an empty lot with no plan(or maybe there is a just has a "little transparency" and that door isn't open enough for us to see what that will become). Not really supporting a commitment to the rural areas and not really promoting natural resources; vernal pools, wetlands, open spaces. REALLY PROMOTING; more concrete and SPRAWL. MR. REZONE is always welcome to Elk Grove and needs no wayfinding sign!

Sarah Johnson said...

Spot on, Dan! I can't help mentioning that the start of Lodi's renaissance was their passenger rail stop and transit hub. Something the City of Elk Grove has consistently ignored all these years in spite of being reminded by myself and others. What is it going to take to get your attention on this issue??????

Capt. Benjamin L. Willard said...

Mr. Gougherty I do appreciate you sentiments regarding Lodi. I suspect John Fogerty wouldn't mind being stuck in Lodi these days with a fine bottle of their homegrown Zin, not that he was in fact ever stuck in Lodi.

While I do appreciate the fact that there is an absence of cultural activities and venues in Elk Grove, I don't see our city leaders doing anything to remedy this. They are stuck on the soccer stadium, diving platforms and all the flash.

Let me explain my reasoning.

This is the problem - and excuse me if I generalize here - but people who tend to patronize the arts tend to be more cerebral in their approach to matters. That is why they tend to be attracted to cultural activities. Although my children and grandkids would argue this, even though I am a veteran, there are people like me who are veterans, have cultural inclinations and are open minded. Think of Marine veterans such as actor Mike Farrell or syndicated columnist Mark Shields.

Having said that, lets think of each of our current council member, save Mr. Trigg.

They all are bullies.

Remember the accusations regarding
Mr. Cooper intimidating fellow council members? In the last year he lambasted Nikki Carpenter who dared offer a critical view of the city handling of deteriorating neighborhoods.

How about the meeting before last where Mr. Detrick metaphorically pushed around Mayor Davis on the dais?

Not that Mr. Davis is an angel either. Did anyone watch how the Mayor tried to put words in the mouth of Marie Mertz at this week's council meeting? Truly despicable how he treated a long time business owner who has been so civic-minded well before Davis ever showed his face around Elk Grove. So much for being an open minded Liberal!

And who can forget Mr. Hume raging against Mike Monasky or Bob Felts?

The point of this is not to attack our council member per se, these after all happened and are documented for all to see, rather it illustrates that these men are going to push around any person or any idea that runs contrary to their ideas, or more specifically, their financial backers.

So while I agree Elk Grove is in need of culture, don't expect these gentlemen to agree to anything that is not a soccer field, softball field, water ski lake, diving platform or in the interest of their contributors.

Hey, I guess being stuck in Lodi ain't so bad after all!

Persecuted in EG said...

All the above are valid comments.

Our city council, at least the majority of them, read this blog. I just can't understand their thinking. The citizens that haven't been run off by council or staff, the ones that attend the meetings and speak their minds are heard by deaf ears, it seems every time they speak. That is why attendance at the meetings has continued to decrease.

Why attend and share your ideas or speak of your concerns?

Each council member has his own agenda he is promoting (excluding Mr. Trigg), to the detriment of the city and its citizens.

The council meetings have become a power struggle amongst the council members for all to see and it has become embarrassing to say the least. They should all be ashamed of their actions on the dais.

This has been brought to their attention, but their selfish acts persist.

Anonymous said...

This just reminded me of an Adult Community of perhaps 1000+ residents located in our fair city with disposable income and nothing but time on their hands. So I made a call to them to see what they have going for their entertainment, shopping, etc. I found they have a Theatre Group, a Hole in the Wall Dining Group, a Photography Group and several other catered events monthly and more. When asked where they go for their entertainment & shopping, the answer was not Elk Grove. It just isn't available. Now I realize this is not the majority of our population, but it does seem to be a part that is being ignored for some reason. When asked if they shopped or dined in Old Town I was told some do go to Happy Garden & the Brickhouse, but didn't know much about anything else located there. Oh yes, they do go to Lodi. Found that town due to visiting the DMV and doing a little research on what else to do while there, like lunch and stroll the shops....which means SPEND!

AARP member Stuck in Elk Grove Again said...

I can already hear the arguments from council members should, which it won't, the topic of cultural amenities ever comes before them.

Cooper - Lodi has been around for a hundred years already, they had a big start on us.

Davis - We have the Stauss Festival, monthly food truck events, a multi cultural fair, but we will laser focus on resolving the housing to cultural events imbalance and that is why we need to annex more land.

Hume - I guarantee you that if we build more houses, more culturally amenities will follow.

Detrick - I want to thank staff, you did a super job on this report.

Trigg - Well I have been meeting with staff and . . .

While we can suggest that our city pursue more cultural amenities at the floundering civic center, it seems Mayor Davis has his heart set on a soccer stadium and diving platform. Another opportunity lost.

And Sarah is also right in pointing out the transit center in Lodi is another key to their burgeoning tourism trade.

Anonymous said...

GREAT article. I think you hit the nail on the head. Elk Grove lacks any outside the box thinking. Lodi is such a cute town; great places to eat; wine to drink; no traffic to speak of; "charming" comes to mind. We really should look to nearby cities who have found their niche to see how EG might proceed. Instead, we get swimming holes and diving boards. Dan is so right when he says empty nesters are the up and coming group. What will Elk Grove provide for them? Where is their "swimming hole?" This story will no doubt result in some community workshop (hahahahah).
And if our council folks read this column, please do a self check...we are talking about YOU.

Anonymous AARP member Stuck in Elk Grove Again said...

To the above poster, I hope you are right that the council members read this blog. Lets not forget that we aging baby boomers have money to spend, time to participate and WE VOTE!

They ignore this group at their own peril.

Anonymous said...

Relax Dan, with Elk Grove's manifest destiny real estate development Lodi will soon be inside the Elk Grove city limits...

Anonymous said...

Elk Grove is a regional joke.

A $100 million dollar soccer stadium

Ugly low income housing projects.


Chain restaurants.

A $175,000 gift to some restaurant from West Sac.

Elk Grove's Motto:

Best city that developer money can buy.

By the developers, for the developers.

Elk Grove will become the Stockton of the future at this rate.

Anonymous said...

Lodi is a really neat town by the way.

I would rather be stuck in Lodi than stuck in Elk Grove if Lodi were closer to the jobs in Sac and Rancho Cordova.

Anonymous said...

My buddy, who relocated back to his New England home in the late 90's, used to sing,"Oh lord, stuck in Elk Grove, again". Haha.

Anyhow, My wife and I lunched in downtown Lodi a few weeks ago and it is a great town. Lodi has a distinct advantage in that its a grid downtown and has the wine industry. They also didn't overdo the growth during the boom. They've done a fine job with what they had to work with.

Far as EG, one can argue that the city has built upon its former strenghts....athletics. We were a proud town straight out of "Friday Night Lights", one in which "culture" was always a foreign if not confusing idea. I suppose we're just doing what we've always done, what is expected of this region. But holy year round sports....get your kid a foreign language course or a trip to a museum.

It's daughter is involved in kid's musical theatre and there are no private theatre here in EG, only costly district ones. The owner of the company (Musical Mayhem, if I may throw a plug) is trying to fund a private theatre and has actually met with Davis and some of the council meetings if there's any common ground for the city to help. Don't know the results.

I just think that if you have the means to live elsewhere and want cultural experiences, you do, and the next generation of Grovers (I'm 3rd generation and not a young guy anymore) will continue it course as a lower end working class community that has no real expectation for "culture", as survival will be number one for them and their families.

I got no answers....nobody is going to listen anyhow accept you fine people. Sometimes you just vote with your feet, which I'm sure my family will do eventually.

Lynn said...

Unfortunately, people do seem to vote with their feet. I believe if there had not been the significant downturn in housing prices a few more would have, or would be voting with their feet. To the above poster; isn't sad that after 3 generations you will depart from the place so many in your family have called home? To feel that is the only choice or control we have is voting with our feet. Does this speak to the democracy at the local level? I am not giving up in what I believe; the good friends, neighbors and individuals in our city deserve quality of life, fiscal responsibility and having a voice. I will continue to encourage residents to attend council meetings, stay current on the local issues and remember; it seems that those who are voted in move up the realm of politics so if we don't find them serving us well at the local level what will make it better at the state or federal level? What legacy are we leaving for the future generations?

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