Will the Elk Grove City Council Uphold or Overturn '99 Cent' Decision? RECALL's Role

February 16, 2015 | At their most recent meeting, the Elk Grove Planning Commission denied a request to rezone about three-and-a-hal...

February 16, 2015 |

At their most recent meeting, the Elk Grove Planning Commission denied a request to rezone about three-and-a-half acres on Elk Grove-Florin Road, just south of Calvine Road.

The request came on behalf of Commerce, Calif. based-99 Cent Only Store who hopes to locate and build a stand-alone facility on the parcel that is currently zoned for office use. The planning commission unanimously rejected the request by a 4 - 0 vote.

In their rejection, planning commissioners cited concerns about security and the abundance of existing retail space in the city.  Even though the proposal was rejected, the applicant can pursue the rezone with the Elk Grove City Council.

Should the applicant appeal the decision, how will the city council approach this proposed rezoned? Will they take a common sense approach like the planning commission, or will overriding considerations, such a campaign contributions, be more important.

While developers are visible contributors to Elk Grove City Council members, on the other side of the development equation is another important component, construction and labor interests. All together they make up what we call RECALL special interests group - Real Estate, Construction and Local Labor. 

Consider some of the following contributions received during 2014 by Elk Grove City Council Members:

Elk Grove City Council Member Steve Ly

  • $2,500 - Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 447 
  • $1,500 - Local Laborers 185
  • $1,400 - Local Union 34, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
  • $1,000 - Willdan Engineering
  • $750 - Northern California Carpenters Regional Council
  • $600 - Local Union 34, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
  • $500 - Operating Engineers Local Union 3
  • $300 - Schetter Electric
  • $250 - Collins Electrical

Mayor Gary Davis

  • $1,000 - Local Laborers 185
  • $1,000 - Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 447
  • $1,000 - Schetter Electric
  • $500 - Local Union 34, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
  • $250 - Operating Engineers Local Union 3

Council Member Steve Detrick

  • $5,000 - Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 447
  • $2,500 - Willdan Engineering
  • $250 - Frank Schetter, Electrical Contractor
  • $250 - Operating Engineers Local Union 4

Between the council members listed about, they took in roughly $20,550 from construction interests in 2014. This doesn't count the tens-of-thousands of dollars that construction and labor interests have poured into Elk Grove elections in our city's short history.

So what do the labor and construction interest get out of this? Simply put, dirt has to be moved at the site so operations engineers will get work for their membership. Once construction starts, laborers, carpenters, plumbers and pipefitters unions all have the potential to get work for their membership. On the business side, contractors such as Schetter Electric or Collins Electrical have the chance to bid on the work. 

Granted, this is a small project, but as the planning commission has pointed out, there is still an abundance of empty retail and commercial space in the city. Conversely, there have been no major commercial projects in the city in recent years and work, even on a small project like this 20,000 square foot facility, is still work.

So if this project works its way to the City Council, look for them to approve the project using some sort of economic development justifications. Undoubtedly, it will create some short term construction jobs, generate some fees for the city and bring in a few dozen minimum wage jobs, but really, wouldn't it be better for our neighborhoods if the City Council listens to the common sense approach of their planning commission, fill empty space before inventory is added, rather than succumb to the pressures applied by RECALL?    


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SteveB6509 said...

I bet the unions won't push for it because 99 Cent Stores have been fighting unionization. If they were unionized, then the unions would try and push this forward.

I agree that the PC did the right thing.

Anonymous said...

We can’t let politics trump good policy!

Warren Buffet said...

I suspect very little private construction work is done by unions in this town. The unions rely on project labor agreements, where they threaten to challenge a project unless the developer agrees to a specified "ransom" payment to the unions.

So then you may ask, why do the unions continue to fund councilmembers? Because as long as they keep their pro-development votes coming, then the unions get their payoffs. In this case, I don't think the unions care if an office building gets built or a retail building gets built. But of course, if there is no market for an isolated office building and nothing gets built--then the unions lose.

As Dirty Harry once said, "are you feeling lucky?"

Anonymous said...

The Elk Grove City Council won’t overturn this one. Recently they have granted every controversial appeal and it would look bad if they slapped down the planning commission once again. Now if it were Gil Moore, or his sign guy that he brought in, it would be another story. Appeal granted!

And speaking of appeals that will come back and bite us big time, there is another monument sign approval before the planning commission at their next meeting. It won’t be long before we have these signs at every freeway exit.

If this is what the council thinks adds to the beatification of Elk Grove, then “Houston, we have a problem!”

Anonymous said...

Often times unions give money to the politicians, regardless of the issues , so they have access when needed.

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