Wherefore art thou, Elk Grove? A reflective speculation on the next attempted land-grab by developers

By Michael Monasky | November 18, 2013 | The state-chartered Local Agency Formation Commission's (LAFCo) denial of the City of...

By Michael Monasky | November 18, 2013 |

The state-chartered Local Agency Formation Commission's (LAFCo) denial of the City of Elk Grove's application to expand its Sphere Of Influence (SOI) was much, much more than a win for environmentalists and a loss for land speculators and builders. 

Let me explain.

For one thing, the long-time family farmers/landowners were upset that their parcels would be split between urban and rural boundaries. They wanted relief from their agricultural burdens and that meant walking away from the entire parcel, not just a mitigated, reduced project that would leave them with a non-urbanized plot where farming would be rendered impossible. The high irony is that the state law that mandates LAFCo activities requires it to mitigate suburban sprawl and preserve the very farmland these landowners were trying to dispose.

Second, the opposition to the city's boundary expansion is widespread. According to an opinion poll conducted by Friends of the Swainson's Hawk in September 2012, only 25 percent of voters even knew about the plan to expand. When questioned whether it was a smart move by the city, less than 20 percent approved, and over 50 percent disapproved and the remaining 30 percent had no opinion.  

Third, the opposition to the city's boundary expansion is long-lived. The city has created its own realm of negativity and discredit on the South Sacramento Habitat Conservation Plan Committee. The County of Sacramento is the lead agency in the middle of a vast environmental impact study which allows public input through the end of November 2013.  Pacific Municipal Consultants, the same company that provides privatized planning services to the city of Elk Grove, is writing the county environmental review. PMC CEO Phil Carter was present at the SOI hearing in support of the city's LAFCo application.

According to the PMC website,“[t]he South Sacramento Habitat Conservation Plan (SSHCP) will provide a regional approach to balancing development against conservation and protection of habitat, open space, and agricultural lands in approximately 374,000-acres within south Sacramento County, including the cities of Elk Grove, Galt, and Rancho Cordova.” The SOI might be decided for now, but the intent of PMC is to balance “development against conservation and protection.” (My emphasis.) The door for development seems open to whoever gets their way with the SSHCP.
The County of Sacramento Board Of Supervisors (BOS) approved the Cordova Hills development just last January which opened a Pandora's box of lost transportation funds, violations of California green house gas statutes, and a slap in the face to the region's Blueprint transportation plan. 

Together, the BOS and PMC could draft an EIR, that justifies a petition to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, leading to approval of a streambed alteration agreement in the Consumnes watershed. Such a maneuver would make for an end-run around the LAFCo denial to expand the boundaries of the city of Elk Grove.

An agreement to change the streambed of the last, unfettered river in California (Cosumnes) would be a surprise victory for Region Builders, whose express purpose is to restrict environmental mitigation fees, limit pollution controls, and to have control over hiring the consultants who draft environmental reviews. 

There will be two scoping meetings for this review: Wednesday, November 20 - 6:30 to 8:30 pm
at the Galt Police Department, Anthony Pescetti Community Room, 455 Industrial Drive, Galt, CA  95632; and Thursday, November 21 - 2:00 to 4:00 pm, at the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, Large Conference Room #202, 1400 10th Street, Sacramento, CA 95814.
The Notice Of Intent published in the Federal Register is available here

The Notice Of Preparation filed by the Sacramento County Planning Department is available at this link

Last, but not least, here's Sacramento County's working draft of the habitatconservation plan.

 The land battles in Elk Grove continue.

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Destination City said...

The game is rigged. Thatch has the Federal agencies under control; Gray Man has the staff and electeds under control; and the Developers have everyone under control!

Anonymous said...

Elk Grove is already a sprawling mess.

This place will be like Los Angeles before you know it with all the developers paying off politicians.

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