Proposed Elk Grove Restaurant Incentive,Soccer Stadium Plans Criticized

May 4, 2013 | During an open discussion at Wednesday night's Cosumnes Republican Assembly (CRA), the recently proposed Old Tow...

May 4, 2013 |

During an open discussion at Wednesday night's Cosumnes Republican Assembly (CRA), the recently proposed Old Town Elk Grove restaurant incentive was criticized by meeting participants.

Following a presentation by potential Congressional candidate Elizabeth Emken, an open conversation touched on the incentive being sought by Working Class Heroes LLC (WCH) of West Sacramento. WCH is seeking a total incentive package of $175,000 from the The City of Elk Grove's economic development fund to help open a restaurant in the building that formerly housed the Elk Grove Brewery. 

Meeting participant and local business owner David Woodel noted this week he and several small business owners met with Elk Grove Mayor Gary Davis. As part of Davis' advisory group, Woodel said he and the other business owners at the meeting expressed concern to Davis about his support of the proposed incentive.

"Everyone of the businesses that were advisers to Gary spoke against it." Woodel said. "Every one of his advisers told him to back away from the way that he was presenting it."

"He just wanted at the last [city council] meeting, just wanted to sign a check and give it," Woodel added. "It was all pre-set." 

Davis declined the opportunity to comment for this story.

During the April 24 council meeting Davis had signaled his support of the proposal but the council decided to come back with another proposal that could offer WCH a forgivable loan. Although the council and WCH said it hoped to address this proposal quickly, the matter is not on next week's city council agenda.

Meeting participant Barbara Sloan, who spoke against the proposed incentive at the April 24 city council meeting, noted that there was uniform opposition during the public comment portion on the matter.  

"I think going into that meeting, everyone of those council members were for giving that $175,000 to that one restaurant," Sloan said. "Four people got up and spoke against it and they tabled that discussion to next time."  

"The $175,000, to me, is they are just out of control," Woodel added. "It just sort of bugs me that this is happening and I thought the CRA ought to have an opinion on it." 

Responding to Woodel was CRA President William Tolson who added other city proposals should also be scrutinized.  

"I think we ought to probably have an opinion on the $150 million on the soccer field too," Tolson said. This was in reference to a city proposal to build a multi-field soccer facility and custom-built soccer stadium in hope of attracting an Major League Soccer team to Elk Grove.  

"I think what we ought to tell those folks is that we are going to referendum the thing," Tolson said, noting that this was his personal position.

Although the group did not take any position on either matter, secretary Carl Brickley encouraged members to have items they want the CRA to establish a position on placed on the monthly agenda.

Tolson also noted two of the city council members, Vice Mayor Steve Detrick and Pat Hume, are members of the CRA.

"Two council member are members of this body," Tolson said. "We might want them to hear from us."

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Sarah Johnson said...

It might have been helpful if any of you folks had researched this issue before you jumped on this bandwagon. The incentive program for opening a business in Old Town has been on the books for a number of years. The WCH group did a good job of due diligence, saw the opportunity, and applied for the grant. In my opinion, that makes them smart and gives the issue a whole new complexion.

Lynn said...

Sarah I agree with you that the WCH group did do their job. I have had issues with the business incentive program and have previously shared my opinions and suggestions. What bothered me most in this situation; the WCH did do their part and for doing so were in my mind not treated fairly at the Council meeting by our council. Staff followed the policy of council. This to me did nothing to create a business friendly community! Actually I think more problems have been created. The WCH group as operating under both the Old Town incentive program and the general incentive program that was approved not to far back that gave the 3.4 million for 1500 jobs.

Capt. Benjamin L. Willard said...

Ms. Johsnon, I have no doubt this Old Town incentive program is on the books given your debt of knowledge on the SPA and all its provisions.

Having said that, the city council did not to the best of my knowledge convey this information during their deliberations nor, from my reading, did city staff specify the exact source of the funding in their report made available to the public. If this is not the case, I gladly stand corrected.

As Mr. Cooper is so fond of saying, "garbage in, garbage out". This may indeed be the case here.

Sarah Johnson said...

I did not mean to imply anything other than that the incentive had been available for some time. In my mind, this creates a very different scenario than has been mentioned. The whole situation was handled badly. All the facts should have been presented during the discussion at the Council meeting and this point was not mentioned. That left the door open for the "haters" to start bashing the council. Personally, I am on the fence about the incentive issue. I believe that everyone should be treated the same, and since incentives have been given previously, it is very difficult to then deny them, especially in the case of a new business applying for it because they discovered it was offered under the Economic Development department.
And to David Woodel: Is this your idea of "helping" Old Town that you discussed with me recently?

Lynn said...


Yes, historically and recently incentives have been given. One council member said to me they would give incentives until the monies are gone and it most certainly looks like the monies are beginning to dry up if 200,000 is being budgeted from some where. Yes, I do disagree with many of the council's decisions and in doing so I usually attempt to offer another solution. A couple of our council members have been on council and involved since we became a city, whereas many of the staff are new to the city, and may not of had the historical information readily available, and with this said any of the council could of shared the history of the incentive program. Sarah, I did speak to the incentive program as being subjective and not addressing some issues that were brought out in consultant's reports; like building businesses within the community; which brought me back to the 2,000 home based businesses that have been poised for expansion. The business incentive program offered was not available unless you have a minimum number of employees already and confirm you would be able to employee so many. Many, many very large companies have begun with 2-3 employees. So for me the incentive program did not support one of our consultant reports suggesting we grow the business here. Yes, I do blast the council;but I believe I approach in a respectful manner and again offer suggestions. I am limited to 3 minutes....and often their body language and attention to their cell phones gives me the impression I am not being heard.

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