What Are The Implications Now That Elk Grove's SOI Has Been Rejected?

November 7, 2013 | With last night's denial of Elk Grove's sphere of influence application by the Sacramento Local Agency F...

November 7, 2013 |

With last night's denial of Elk Grove's sphere of influence application by the Sacramento Local Agency Formation Commission, there are undoubtedly implications. Let's map out some possible implications of this decision and offer some suggestions.

Elk Grove Promenade

The unfinished mall will probably continue to languish and the possibility of it ever becoming a standard shopping center are deflating with each passing day. An approved SOI would have given the current mall owner a selling point to possible tenants or another developer.

Without the promise of thousands more homes and coupled with the ongoing development of Sacramento's Delta Shores, the Promenade is less viable in our view.

Who's head will roll?

Make no mistake, this defeat was a major blow for the City of Elk Grove and someone will need to be offered up as a sacrificial lamb. Will it be a member of the city's executive team or perhaps one of the city's outside contractors?

Council members will have to answer to a whole cadre of campaign benefactors who placed huge bets on the SOI. Will the council members or mayor fall on the sword or offer up a scapegoat?  

Does Elk Grove really need to contact for planning services?

Now that the SOI has been defeated and much of the Southeast Policy Area (SEPA) as we learned last night has been planned, does the city need to continue to contract with Pacific Municipal Consultants? It has been suggested that PMC, who has been a major political contributor, is inherently looking out for its own bottom line and not the interests of taxpayers.

At a minimum, the city council should form a sub-committee and examine independently of city staff the possibility of discontinuing contracted planning services.  

SEPA as an acid test

Now that the city's main argument that the SOI was needed to bring employers has been debunked, will the city shift gears and devote the entire Southeast Policy area to attracting employers or just punt and build it out as a residential area?

This will be a major indicator of exactly how the city will behave and could influence how and if the city pursues another SOI. If the city develops the area as a commerce area largely free of residential development and economic development director Randy Starbuck succeeds in attracting quality employers with new jobs, not simply pulling them from the region, this will be a feather in their cap.

On the other hand, if they pursue more residential development, it will further hurt their credibility as many commentators have noted on our previous post and kill any further hopes of annexation.

Campaign Financing

Since the start in 2000, Elk Grove's campaign finance history has been marked by the influence of developers' money funding candidates friendly to their agenda.

Now that the 8,000-acres is off the table and the last undeveloped parcels for the most part planned, do the Bill Niemi's of the world need to make campaign donations? Should this funding dry up, will campaigns become more competitive?

Soccer stadium dead?

Without the prospect of thousands more homes and residents, would it make sense for the Major League Soccer (MLS) to locate a team in Elk Grove?

A majority of MLS teams operating in cities larger than Sacramento have consistently operated at a loss. Locating a team in a bedroom community of a second-tier metropolitan area does not seem like a formula for success.

Win, lose or draw in Elk Grove politics

As with any decisions of this magnitude, there are political implications. In our estimation the losers in this situation are Council Member Pat Hume and Mayor Gary Davis.  

Hume, who has close to 13-years of almost uninterrupted service to the city as a planning commissioner and council member, staked a major portion of his time and energy shepherding the SOI. Hume has unabashedly been steadfast in his assertion that annexation and construction of residential units was needed to attract employers. Now that the SOI has been killed and unlikely to be resurrected in the near term, Hume may decide to call it quits or he can redirect his efforts and expertise.

The biggest loser is Davis who as Elk Grove's first directly elected mayor was unable to muster regional support from the Sacramento LAFCo for the SOI and was further stymied in his triangulation to push the 4,000-acre alternative recommended by LAFCo's executive staff. Aside from being persona non-grata with the Democratic Party of Sacramento County for his employment with the California Charter School Association, should Davis seek reelection one year from now, he is left with no accomplishments to point to, seemingly poor relations with his fellow council members that is increasingly isolating him, possibly a diminished war chest and nothing but cliches and pie-in-the-sky schemes that the public is quickly tiring of.

As for Council Member Jim Cooper and Vice Mayor Steve Detrick, the defeat of the SOI would seem to be a draw. Neither of these men ever completely hitched themselves to the SOI and aside from possibly less campaign funding, neither will gain or lose substantially from the defeat of the SOI. Besides, Cooper may be on his way to the California assembly one year from now.

Perhaps the biggest winner in this situation will be Elk Grove Planning Commissioner and city council candidate Nancy Chaires. With the SOI dissipated for now, Chaires, who has no announced opponents to date, will not have to handle what has become a sort of political hot potato. 

A chance for Elk Grove to refocus

After last night's vote, two individuals on opposite sides of the SOI issue, Hume and Lynn Wheat, who in large part led a group of Elk Grove residents in opposition to the plan, exchanged pleasantries, had a civil exchange and essentially agreed to disagree on the matter.

Now that the SOI issue has been resolved, perhaps this is the time for all parties to refocus their efforts. For instance, in the past Hume has advocated the benefits of establishing more trails in the city and this is likely an issue people who have opposed the SOI may well support. 

Or how about the father who sometime ago asked the city to consider installing a sidewalk on a short patch of Elk Grove-Florin Road between East Camden Drive and the Save-Mart store. As of today, the sidewalk has not been installed and to the best of our knowledge, there is nothing in the works for this.

Sure, some of these are small things, but we believe that this juncture provides all of Elk Grove an opportunity to refocus its effort on realistic day-to-day matters that will make life better for the residents. 

That, after all, is what a municipal government's focus should be.

Post a Comment Default Comments


Anonymous said...

Now will Lynn Wheat please stop posting her gloom and doom posts on EGO?

Jill said...

Yes, Mr. Hume is intelligent, but is he willing to swallow his pride and reach across the aisle, as it were, and work on something small yet more significant? Time will tell.

Anonymous said...

Now with this distraction gone and the council up in the air:
•Davis seems on the outs and weaker by the day
•Cooper is wanting to move up but hopefully doesn't get elected so just goes away
•Trigg.... well not much will change when he's gone
•Hume: hopefully he can get recommitted to the cities needs and not his own or ride off into the sunset
•Detrick, well his head will continue to grow bigger, no idea what he's trying to accomplish on the council except using it to promote his realtor wife and party planning son - oh and the benefits package

This is a great time for fresh blood, new ideas, and council members who aren't about donors and leap frogging into hire office.

You mention Nancy Chaires she just seems like a step backwards, she's cut from the same mold as Gary, Jim, Steve, and Pat. It's early but I don't think she's the right choice, but at this time the only one.

Anonymous said...

I can't imagine the developers will take this sitting down after all the money they donated. It will be interesting to see if anyone on staff is canned or resigns to "spend more time with their family"!

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness the stupid SOI is dead! Now if we could only get a new group of city council members....maybe they can work on improving our city and not personal agendas!

Anonymous said...

The SOI was truly a distraction to the city. They lost their way promoting this expansion at the cost of local issues and citizens. Gratefully, it is dead without an appeal process available to them. The city's only recourse is to sue the Lafco board for "failing to carry out the Lafco mission". Well, clearly Lafco did hold true to their mission. So, the city must move on; re-dedicate itself to existing residents. Perhaps that little piece of sidewalk will finally come to pass. Or maybe they will finally do something about boats and trailers and non-running vehicles that clog our neighborhoods. Let's "laser focus" on quality of life issues. Let's make Elk Grove better...and be thankful we do not have to become 8,000 acres larger. Thanks to those who stood up and made a difference.

Anonymous said...

As a newcomer to Elk Grove I look forward to new visionary leadership emerging. In-house planning would
help this poorly planned city begin to develop heart and
character which will attract more business and folks who want to live here. Step up visionaries, create something your grandkids will be proud of.

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