2015 Year in Review - Part II

December 30, 2015 |

We hope Grover isn't dispatched to exit ramps in
Elk Grove to panhandle for the city's various unfunded
projects. Remember, there's always GoFundMe!  
Most curious addition to Elk Grove's marketing arsenal award - In the past we have seen the City introduce the "Proud Heritage Bright Future" slogan, and take to social media with the #InElkGrove hashtag for Twitter. The city also tried branding Elk Grove as a tourist destination with its Picture Yourself in Elk Grove website. The most recent and curious addition is the mascot, known as Grover. Although we have never been formally introduced to Grover at a City Council meeting, he/she is an elk, we think. Let's just hope it is a salaried city employee running around town and not some hourly employee racking up overtime pay.

Needs to watch his wording award - Darren Suen was appointed, not elected, to the Elk Grove City Council in December 2014. Nonetheless, Suen has characterized his 2016 campaign as a reelection, not the more accurate election. Not to worry, though, if anyone complains to the FPPC for deceptive advertising, that toothless tiger of an enforcement agency will give him a pass just like they did to Elk Grove City Councilman Steve Detrick.

It's Grow Time!
Gives It's Grow Time a whole new meaning award - Even though It's Grow Time was yet another piece in the city's muddled economic development marketing puzzle, it is an interesting choice of words given the number of pot houses busted every year in Elk Grove. As for this year's It's Grow Time award, it goes to the alleged operators that operated four grow houses busted by Elk Grove Police's Street Crime Unit. Gives a whole new meaning to It's Grow Time, doesn't it.

Elk Grove coffee retailer of the year award - Hands down, this award has to go to the new Dutch Bros. drive-thru kiosk on East Stockton Boulevard and Elk Grove Boulevard. Anytime a seller of a somewhat commoditized product like coffee drinks can snarl traffic with people willing to endure lengthy waits in running cars is on to something.

Mentor of the year award - Although they may not have known it, past and present colleagues of Elk Grove City Councilman Steve Detrick has been recipients of his mentorship these last seven years. Without the mentorship, there is no telling what shape the city might be in today. 

At least the signs for the proposed
Civic Center Aquatics complex
have been installed. 
Stalled project of the year award - Although the city has so many stalled projects in the pipeline, this award goes to the proposed aquatics center. First, unlike other projects floating around town, pun intended, this one has an actual funding source of about $14 million. Unfortunately, the Elk Grove City Council is not content to build within its budget, it seems to think by making the complex a world-class facility - with a world class budget - including an Olympic-sized pool and 10-meter diving platform, it can attract Olympics trials to the city. Meanwhile, the Southgate Recreation and Parks District is opening an aquatics facility just one mile north of the city being build on a budget of around, you guessed it, $14 million.

Makes the Elk Grove City Council look like bumbling idiots award  - The Southgate Recreation and Parks District earns this award by simply performing their mission competently. They demonstrated how to plan properly and build an aquatics center within budget and free of lawsuits. Let's not forget the Elk Grove City Council was not ever made even aware of Southgate's plans.  

David Copperfield Elk Grove City Councilman of the year award - Talk about an 180-degree change in mugging for the spotlight and Elk Grove Mayor Gary Davis comes to mind. Throughout 2014, the Mayor was everywhere. He was on local TV news pimping his coffee operations supposedly funded from the sale of his Starbucks holdings, on KCRA's Sunday morning program with the happy talk about construction restarting on the Elk Grove Promenade, and KVIE's Studio Sacramento just to name a few. In 2015, Hiz Honor has pulled a David Copperfield and has disappeared. Last year the Mayor won this award for disappearing during the bally-hoed stadium scouting visit of Major League Soccer in September 2014. Very strange.      

Someday, maybe, these signs will
be installed to help direct tourist to 
scenic sites in Elk Grove like the 
Elk Grove Auto Mall. 
Where's Waldo award - This goes to the long-discussed wayfinding signs projects for Elk Grove. It seems like the city has been talking about these vital cogs to the city's tourism push for years, but they are, to our knowledge, missing in action even though we were told they were being installed. We guess the throngs of tourist flooding Elk Grove to find the Elk Grove Auto Mall and other hotspots will need to rely on GPS. 

They showed some restraint finally award - This award goes to the Elk Grove Mayor, City Councilmen and city executive staff for showing restraint upon learning Apple is expanding its operation here. In days of old, the Mayor, any of the council members or city staff would have mugging for TV cameras claiming to be the midwife for any economic development success. Perhaps the city knew better given Apple's well-documented secrecy and they probably don't know exactly what goes on in those buildings today, much less than a year from now.  

Truth laid bare award - Gil Moore is without a doubt recipient of this new award. As much as we like using Gil Moore and his good friend City Council Member Steve Detrick as punching bags, we should be thankful for both of these men. Seriously. Moore and Detrick laid out bare for all to see how things get done in this city. Take a city council member skiing, enjoy some top-shelf vino, and, of course, lets not forget the ten-of-thousands-of-dollars of campaign contributions. It's all good! 

Most honest words you'll ever hear from two politicians of the year award - Elk Grove Mayor Gary Davis and Elk Grove City Councilman Steve Ly earned this award following the Mayor's State of the City address last March. With a still hot microphone, Mayor Davis concluded his speech and said, "that was one of the most boring ones I've done." Without missing a beat, his sidekick Ly agreed and said, "I was wondering when it was going to end!"

A day late and a dollar short award - Whether you agree with the City of Elk Grove's pursuit of soccer fields and soccer stadium or not, there is no denying this - Elk Grove lost out once again to another city. While Elk Grove foolishly pursued a Major League Soccer franchise, our neighbors in South Placer County have started development on a 12-field soccer facility in Roseville. By the time Elk Grove ever gets around to their facility, the Roseville complex will be up and running and attracting all the tournaments Elk Grove has talked about for years now. Of course, the whole proposed project area outside of current city limits could be nothing more than a Trojan Horse designed to open the area up to more housing development once the soccer project collapses from lack of financing. Not to worry, though, any number of developers will be happy to step in and take the city's 99-acres of their hands and return the city a tidy little profit. 

Strangest tweet of the year from an Elk Grove elected official - For the second year in a row, Mayor Gary Davis has earned this award. Readers will recall in 2014 Davis took to Twitter and called Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson a ball hog for trying to attract a Major League Soccer team. This year Mayor Davis took to Twitter to call out hedge fund managers imploring them to get the Elk Grove Promenade/Outlet Collection at Elk Grove built. We doubt hedge fund managers like Bill Ackman could care less what Mayor Davis, much less people in Elk Grove think.

The Elk Grove City Council has punted on road 
maintenance to the tune of $8 million a year. 
Punt of the year award - tie, on Elk Grove City Council's punting away on road maintenance and bus transit. First there is the on-going punt regarding road maintenance in Elk Grove. Instead of spending the $8 million a year to properly maintain roads, the Councilmen are hoping for, a.) a possible countywide sales tax increase to fund maintenance needs, or b.) a possible sales tax increase in Elk Grove. The City Council is also punting on whether or not to cut eTran express routes to Downtown Sacramento in hopes of feeding commuters to Sacramento Regional Transit's Light Rail Blue Line. Sooner or later, the five councilmen will need to fish or cut bait, so to speak, on both matters.

Former Elk Grove Assistant City Manager Becky Craig
Ran out of pencils to sharpen award - Early in the year Elk Grove Assistant City Manager Becky Craig inexplicably resigned her $200,000+/year job for a position paying about two-thirds less. Maybe Craig, who was often asked by council members to "sharpen the pencils" to make their pie-in-the-sky projects "pencil out," finally ran out of pencils.

Its getting hard to keep all these anniversary dates straight - Let's see, last July, Elk Grove celebrated the eight anniversary of the construction coming to a halt on the Elk Grove Promenade. In April 2014 the Promenade was rebranded as Outlet Collection at Elk Grove. In April of 2015 we celebrated the first anniversary of the still-uncompleted Outlet Collection. So this April we will celebrate the second anniversary of rebranding and this coming summer the ninth anniversary of the constructions halting. Maybe, just maybe sometime in the next decade we will celebrate the actual opening of the Promenade, Outlet Collection or whatever its name will be at the time.

See you in 2016 . . . 

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Anonymous said...

For the life of me, I can't remember any place where I have lived that found it necessary to have a mascot. What's next, a cheerleading squad at council meetings?

Proud to be led said...

I think this is a skewed narrative for the year 2015. Our leaders deserve respect because they ran for office and won the battle of public opinion at the polls. Other than the readers of EGN, I think everyone in Elk Grove is pretty happy with how our town is shaping up. The empty seats at the City Council chambers are a vote of confidence, not apathy. We welcome more restaurants, shopping opportunities, signs to lead the way, and this is a foodies paradise! And by the way for all you tree hugging no-growth activists out there, Grover is living proof that urban sprawl doesn't necessarily threaten wildlife.

Anonymous said...

How depressing to be reminded of all the projects our city has brought to us in the past couple of years and not a shovel of dirt has been moved to date. Looks like we're batting ZERO! Well, I will give them one kudos...we now have a Mascot to represent us at the LAFCO meeting which will most likely show us in a better light in our endeavors for expanding our city limits for more roof tops... or is it commercial? Can never keep up with our ever changing ideas or plans.



You all should know that I'm to blame for the non-starter at the Lent Ranch Mall, the Promenade, the Outlet.
Whatever it's called, I'm to blame.

I was secretary to the Sacramento County Community Planning Advisory Council back in 1999-2000, when the mall came before CPAC, the county Planning Commission, and the County Board of Supervisors.
I, along with another member, voted against the project.
The county BOS essentially deferred their vote, seeing that the city was incorporating, and the CPAC was disbanded.

I can only think, and fear, that this initial bit of negative Karma I exerted fifteen years ago has dogged this project through its adolescence.
I apologize to the people of Elk Grove for the terrible momentum I initiated, thus jinxing this mall.

As full disclosure, I must also report that I voted against the incorporation of Elk Grove.
Paradoxically, I hereby announce my candidacy for mayor.

I am running a campaign called "Nobody Promises Nothing."
Voters of Elk Grove, I beseech you: you can really do no wrong in voting for a "nobody" like me.
After all, I'm promising "nothing."
From this perspective, everything is looking up.

Michael Monasky

It's Grow Time said...

Michael, you got my vote! The money handlers at Region Builders and BIA might have to cough up a few extra bucks to quell this uprising, but I know you will do us little people proud!

Spoons and Forks said...

You got my vote Michael!

Bubba said...

In the words of Rocky Balboa,"Go for it!"

Warren Buffett said...

Good luck Monasky! Running for a Council seat in this city is like strolling along a carnival sideshow with a girl on your arm who urges you to play the ring toss. You know the game is rigged against you, but if you back out, how will she respect you! Don't buy too many ticket stubs, because the incumbents don't even have to pay their own filing fees from out of their pockets. Hopefully a crowd will gather to watch and cheer for the underdog! You might not win a stuffed teddy bear, but at least you'll get more than 3 minutes!

Anonymous said...

The likelihood of Mr. Monasky winning the mayoral race is lower than the likelihood that Gil Moore's projects would ever be denied... However, the candidate forums would be entertaining (if watching a train wreck is considered entertaining to you). Given there are no other candidates on the horizon, a "mano y mano" debate between Davis and Monasky would seem likely.

Minimally Mediocre Mayor meets Meddling Madcap Monasky... There may be a victor but nobody wins and, really, nobody cares. (Or doooo they?)

Bubba said...

Anon 11:47

You're so wrong referring to a debate between these two as a train wreck. It would be so welcomed to have an opinionated informed citizen debate the mayor when the mayor has no 3 minute buzzer to muzzle those whom he disagrees with.

Should be very interesting debates. Monasky has my vote just by entering the fray.

Steve L said...

As usual, great job Dan of putting the last 12 months of the city's mishaps in review. Some pretty funny (and sadly accurate) descriptions of the past 12 months.

Hopefully, someday, we'll get a GOOD project completed.
Thanks for making me laugh.

Anonymous said...

Our city leaders like to put on a show & boy, do we have a doozy to show for last year. Thousands, maybe even millions of taxpayers dollars gone. Luckily I still have money for a fill-up at the ARCO to get to work next week, grab a cheap bottle of wine on the way home & just hope and pray that three on the dias get their heads on straight and stop this run-away train.

I agree, a good laugh is deserving since the record is so unbelievable.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of the cities mascot which I will assume is an elk. I think we got that wrong, it should be a hamburger. Elk Groves greatest contribution to the world...specifically the BigMac. We could call him/her the "Big Kahuna Burger". Maybe even produce a “Burger Map” of the city to help tourists find the tastiest burgers around town.

Will also give the city the kudos for finishing that one project and not have a mascot running around town with just some antlers on.

Connie said...

Here’s what I have observed over the last year: There has been agenda after agenda item at Elk Grove City Council meetings, including a special two-hour meeting, all geared towards the developers. The Council seems to be fast tracking the SEPA – don’t any of them recall what happened when the original Council fast tracked East Franklin? How long will those new residents have to wait for their schools and parks?

Developer projects are approved quite quickly, and though I don’t fault them, what I do fault is that nothing has been done to benefit the residents of Elk Grove. Oh yes, there have been workshops, but has there been one agenda item signed, sealed and delivered on a project that directly benefits the residents of Elk Grove? Not one. Not last year, and not the year before; only overrated, oversold, and overpaid feasibility studies.

Oh, but hey, we got signs you say? Elk Grove residents don’t need signs to find their way around their own city. If people can’t find the Elk Grove Auto mall by the reader board, then they shouldn’t be driving. And I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t need a sign to find a McDonald’s here in Elk Grove.

So what I hope is the Council’s New Year’s Resolution that they will finally put one shovel in some dirt somewhere in Elk Grove on one of the projects – that is after they assess what we can and cannot afford. Maybe it is time to abandon the aquatics center and use the 14 million dollars for other projects on the list: Senior Center, Veterans’ Hall, animal shelter, Waterman Road!

We have all heard of the three-legged stool theory. In Elk Grove, we have had two of them ad nauseam strategy and policy – but “strategy and policy is a like wheel barrow, if nobody push them, they go nowhere.” That third leg needs to kick in – delivery!

In closing, John Kotter summed up the last year the best, “Without an appropriate vision, you end up with nothing more than a list of confusing, incompatible and time-consuming projects that go in the wrong direction or nowhere at all.”

Anonymous said...

Well said Connie. I believe what our city has forgotten is "communication" with the people of this city. To be open and honest with the people who are most affected by their decisions. When open meetings are held total consideration should be given to how they can best reach the community with the timing and dates those meetings are held. Our leaders have totally lost sight of this concept. Bigger is not always better, we must live within our means.

That being said I will fully disclose that I'm not a Developer or someone who will gain financially from decisions made by the city, but just a taxpayer who wants to see our city grow, prosper and be a city where everyone matters.

Lynn said...

Connie and to the above at 09:21. I agree with both of you! Well written and well said.
340,000+ on the wayfinding sign program and still no signs. If our city can't seem to get what I believe is a small project done how can we ever expect the bigger projects to be completed?
The "parks" in our city are completed by way of the ponzie scheme since developers are no longer responsible for building the parks....city needs more homes to get the parks already planned finished. I asked the realtor for the homes off of Bilby when the park would be built...Her response; sometimes after the last home is built....It looks like that subdivision is about completed....I will now watch....will the small children in the neighborhood be young adults by the time the park is done?
Lets make Elk Grove Better not Bigger.....I have said that for quite some time. Many say I am against development and growth. That is absolutely wrong. What I oppose is poor planning and lack of vision around growth. Our updated general plan is nothing more but the "vehicle" for justification of consuming farmland outside of our current city boundaries. Don't believe me....the most important word in the document- "flexible" land use planning ....it is what the South East Policy Area is based on.... How does any of this benefit current residents or future residents? Is this really protecting our rural residential area from being further subdivided?
Yes, our current economic development director said it "we need more retail...it is the tax base the city runs on" Great let's build more retail so the city has more sales tax revenue to support the "consultant" industry and many more feasibility studies.
And let's not forget the need to raise our sales tax so the existing infrastructure can be repaired and maintained....
Some may see my post as very negative. Yet, I will ask- am I wrong about any of this? What could be a positive spin on all of this?

Anonymous said...

This city is what it is.... if you're cool with the suburban lifestyle of church, youth sports, and Applebee's, then you're probably happy and completely unaware of the bland, meaningless culture of this town. It's how the Gil Moore's of the world put up advertisement monuments that are 20% filled with Car Wash ads. No one cares, and EG, really, is a perfect microcosm of 21st century 'Murica.

If you do care, and you have the resources, you don't live here. Elk Grove has become the modern "move on up, and then move on out" suburbia that many places before was. I hear Fruitridge was the place to be 50 years ago. NO, its not South Sac and will never completely decay. It's more like Castro Valley, or somewhere in the San Bernadino valley. There is really nothing this city, its citizens, its officials can do to stop the inevitable slide.

My youngest kid has 8 years left til he graduates from HS. So I have less than a decade before I can leave. Simple as that!

Anonymous said...

You may be right Anon. 11:25. It seems that all the hugh and expensive ideas our city comes up with they never go anywhere. Will the travelers on the expensive expressway through EG really stop over or will it just be a faster route to the city?

When visiting different newer neighborhoods over the holidays we noticed that with cars parked on both sides of a residential street and two cars traveling down the road there wasn't room to pass each other and one had to wait for the other to pass. We're allowing builders to place as many homes as they can on a piece of property...no front yards, narrow streets and so close together you can hear your neighbors conversations. The mistake I believe our city is making is allowing developers to make the call...they don't get that they are "Developers", that's what they do... build and will still come with the city making the call as to what they want. I think the money just started rolling in to their cofers and being inexperienced as some were, took that too seriously and sold us out. Those builders don't live here...why would they care about what they leave behind? Just take their money and run.

I overheard a conversation while having dinner last week about a lawsuit just being filed against one of our local developers. From the conversation I picked up there was much blame being placed on the city too. I'm sure it will hit the media soon if true.

Anonymous said...

The General Plan update includes an expansion of the city limits. Look at the staff report for the most recent council/planning commission meeting. The industry working group was all developers and their first point was consider expanding the city limits.

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