What The Elk Grove Councilman Says - And What He Knows

By Michael Monasky | March 12, 2016 | I touched a nerve at a recent city council meeting when I declared that the city council members...

By Michael Monasky | March 12, 2016 |

I touched a nerve at a recent city council meeting when I declared that the city council members “must be removed from office...only then will a new sun of sensibility shine upon Elk Grove, and disinfect it of your influence.”

I made these remarks related to the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) for Laguna Ridge, a specific plan development area defined by Poppy Ridge, Bruceville Road, Elk Grove Boulevard, just West of State Highway 99. It includes the public lands set aside for the civic/senior center, veterans hall, and aquatic center. Fees assessed in this defined community facilities district have a complex narrative which embraces the disciplines of planning, engineering, and finance.

Needless to say, developers, financiers, insurers, banks, attorneys, construction companies and affiliated trade unions, land speculators, and other private companies that engage in land use issues, are all “stakeholders” and weigh in the policy-making process. But where do the people of Elk Grove fit in?

The result of the city's policy-making, planning, and construction efforts at Laguna Ridge has been what one disgruntled citizen characterized as being promised a mansion, with a built-in pool, and in-law's quarters...but being given a mobile home, a pop-up pool, and a future expansion to a double-wide to accommodate the in-law.

The city council has long done the bidding of its developers, whose political contributions have put and kept them in office. Fees assessed for parks and other amenities have been so low that infrastructure development has been hampered. The city and its developer-base have argued that more rooftops must be built to generate new funds to pay for past promises. This is the planning department's version of a Ponzi scheme, a house of cards; it limps and will eventually collapse.
I hold Michael Baker International responsible for this irresponsible planning. Acting as Pacific Municipal Consultants, PMC is the private planning agency that drives planning policy in Elk Grove. It is the company that propelled the campaign to incorporate the city in 2000, and now has its fingers in every project conceived by the city council.

But, back to what infuriated especially one city councilman: I had been hammering the council on its poor judgment in not applying responsible environmental review; policy for handling solid waste (our waste contractor burns most of our lawn clippings;) the council's minuscule and impotent housing stabilization program; its plan pay excessive consultancy fees to place a regressive sales tax increase on the ballot to pay for delayed road maintenance. I closed with a critique of the city's failure to fully assess developers' housing projects with fees sufficient to maintain roads, build parks, fund public transit, and pay for needed infrastructure.

That last critique set off Steve Detrick, who launched into an ad hominem attack against me, itemizing his disgust at my negativity towards city policy. He said that if I did not understand the staff reports, I should solicit staff time and expertise, as he does, for a layman's explanation of these complex issues. Otherwise, Detrick said, I'm wasting my time, the time of the council, and demonstrating gross disrespect for the excellent staff and the hard work they put into these great reports.

Now, back to that Laguna Ridge Capital Improvement Plan. It was presented by the city manager's assistant, Christopher Jordan. He could be the most suave bureaucrat, or the biggest idiot ever to make a report; I think he's just human and made a significant error that night, but not as serious as councilman Detrick. Jordan's estimate for the infrastructure costs of the CIP came to $34 Million; but his arithmetic was $9 Million off. The error was caught by Chris Bardis, of the development firm, Reynen and Bardis.

In his green-sheet letter correcting Jordan's error the day before the city council meeting, Bardis decried the staff's reluctance to meet with his company about the Laguna Ridge CIP. “We have attempted to get involved with the proposed CFD [Community Facilities District] but were informed that the City does not need our inputs...Reynen and Bardis were the principal developers of the Laguna Ridge Specific Plan...[and] is the largest participant in the City's project. I was in total shock when I was informed...that the city was prepared to move forward without any inputs from Reynen and Bardis...[so we're] formally objecting to the proposed Staff Report.”

Some of the shock that Mr. Bardis feels from being excluded from the policy-making process is that all his campaign contributions to the mayor and city councilmen might not buy the political access he expected. Perhaps this is his (first?) glimpse into how it looks to regular taxpayers who do not engage in such political influence, but are subjected to verbal abuse from the dais when they dare to question and challenge elected officials.

The members of the Elk Grove City Council frighten me in the vast chasm between what they say they know, and what they really know. Meanwhile, good luck with getting potholes filled, or that time in traffic. This council has grand, sexy schemes in mind; civic duties to its citizens are secondary or merely forgotten.

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An Elk Grove taxpayer and registered voter said...

Thank you for your insight Mr. Monasky. In a way, the people are just as much to blame as the technocrats and elected puppets are. The aggregate apathy expressed by the citizens of this town allows these five to get away with all that you reference in your piece. What gets the average person to turn out for a city meeting is something that personally affects them, like increased crime in their neighborhood, Section 8 housing or low-class retail projects near their neighborhood, or to push their "pet" issues like animal shelters, subsidized shuttle service to their downtown jobs, subsidized soccer fields, or subsidized swimming pools they want. As the great taxpayer-funded PR campaign begins to sell us a sales tax, we must ask ourselves whether we are we better off now as an incorporated city, or when we were part of the County?

Another Taxpayer and Voter said...

Well written Op Ed Mr. Monasky and extremely factual in content. Steve "The Mentor" Detrick couldn’t write a piece like this if his life depended on it.

Rumor is when he was “appointed” Mayor of Elk Grove, and submitted regular Op Eds to the Elk Grove Citizen, they were all written by a ghost writer. And because I know her writing style, I wasn’t fooled for one minute. When the public thought they were reading the opinions and perspectives of Detrick’s, they were actually reading those of Ms. Conley.

In my opinion, the man is a complete and utter fraud which is why he acts the way he does to cover up his inadequacies and shortfalls because he certainly doesn’t have a command of the English language.

Also, someone please tell the man that “alls” isn’t a word!

Anonymous said...

When you make somewhat hostile remarks to speakers it can lead to the decline of public moral and trust levels. It is generally classified as heckling the speaker. When a person enters this political domain it's not always going to be your rah-rah experience. It appeared Mr. Monasky was speaking to the city as a whole and for some curious reason Mr. Detrick took it as being personally dire cted to him.

Anonymous said...

It appears Mr. Detrick has a hugh chip on his shoulder with the people of this community. More notably with the more vocal & knowledgeable citizen speakers at council meetings. Perhaps we're lacking in making more contributions to his campaign and should try harder to squeeze a little more out of our household budgets. $$$ talks it seems.

Anonymous said...

When I attend or listen to many of the City Council meetings, I sometimes feel like I’m on a runaway midway ride and no way to get off!

Anonymous said...

Elk Grove is well on its way to becoming a steaming pile suburban sprawl with a touch of Stockton added.

Love traffic, haphazard land uses, street crime, pot houses, crazy drivers?

You will love Elk Grove, a city without culture. Just a bunch of ankle biters, soccer moms and Bay Area refugees.

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