Public Information Requests Show Elk Grove Mayor, City Council Not Forthright in The General Plan Update

July 20, 2016 |

Last week many Elk Grove residents received their bi-monthly garbage bill from the City. Inside garbage customer's bills was an informational insert regarding the City's General Plan Update.

The insert provided some basic information about the general plan update and on the cover, asked three questions. Those questions are; How big should Elk Grove be; where should growth happen; and should the City expand?

Along with posing those questions, the garbage bill insert directed customers to more information about how comments can be conveyed regarding their thoughts on how the City should grow. The insert also showed included a map showing possible area of expansion.

Click to enlarge
As it relates to the maps, though, how thorough was the insert in conveying the entire story?

While the garbage insert map shows four areas that The City said could be expansion areas, as we learned in one of the recent joint meetings of the City Council and Planning Commission, in which Mayor Gary Davis was absent, that is not the case. During the joint May 26 meeting it was revealed to the public, for the first time that we can verify, there have been three private applications submitted to the Sacramento Local Agency Formation Commission, LAFCo, the entity that approves expansion plans, for portions that are within the proposed areas, and one that extends beyond the City's proposed area.

One such area is the so-called Bilby SOIA, which is part of Area 3 in the map posted above. The SOI application - sphere of influence - came from an independent, non-governmental entity seeking to expand the city's boundaries by 479-acres.

That application, which was submitted on April 12, 2016, came from Mather, Calif.-based KBLH Investments and is headed by local residential real estate developer heavyweight, Katherine Bardis. Along with her family including father Christo Bardis, they have been generous financial contributors to all of the current and several of past city council members.

As revealed from a public document request, the City of Elk Grove and Mayor Gary Davis in particular, knew of the private application as early as April 4, 2016, and at least a month earlier for city staff. On April 4 Davis received an email from Attorney John Hodgson of the Sacramento-based Hodgson Company, who represents Mather Calif.-based KBLH Investments, requesting a meeting.

In his initial email (see below), Hodgson tells Davis that Katherine Bardis is interested in filing an independent SOI application to initiate the process to annex 475-acres into Elk Grove city limits to build "higher end residences." Hodgson also tells Davis that "we've" met with city staff as well as Peter Brundage and Don Lockhart of the Sacramento LAFCo in March.

The series of emails culminates with a scheduled meeting between Davis and Hodgson on Friday, April 22 at the Corner Bakery on Laguna Boulevard in Elk Grove. By making the land part of Elk Grove before the City does, it will be easier, and more importantly, quicker, for KBLH to initiate construction of residential units.

Below are maps of the Bilby SOI application.

Katherine Bardis Elk Grove SOI Sacramento LAFCo

By comparing the map the city sent to garbage customers to the Bilby application maps, it is clear that a portion of that area is already under consideration for expansion, albeit from a private party and not the City. While the City may not be legally bound to disclose this information in its communications with the public, it likewise is not being forthright to the populace. Not telling the whole story is often correctly equated to lying.

Why did the City Council or Mayor not convey this information much earlier during one of the City Council meetings? Why the need to conceal this information - are they working for real estate developers or the people? 

So while the garbage insert may pose three questions about the city's future, one of those queries - should the City expand? - has already been affirmatively answered by Mayor Davis. Will his successor follow the same path?


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1 comment

W. Morris said...

Although the esteemed Mayor left a paper trail for the public to discover through the Public Records Act, let's not pin him as the primary culprit here. Any smart investor knows you don't spend a nickel until you have at least 3 council votes in your pocket, so we should assume that more other council members met with them as well. This is a package deal of five characters--and my garbage bill is one of their tools of communication!

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