Private Developers Plans To Expand Elk Grove By Two Square Miles Win Sacramento LAFCO Approval

Home building consultants Brian Cooley (left) and Jim Gillum appearing before
Sacramento LAFCO on behalf of clients seeking to expand Elk Grove's city limits. |   
February 8, 2018 |  

Plans by private real estate developers to expand Elk Grove city limits by about two square miles scored a major administrative victory last night before the Sacramento Local Agency Formation Committee. 

In a 4-3 vote, the Sacramento LAFCO approved the environmental impact report of the so-called sphere of influence application from developers who are seeking to have their land annexed into Elk Grove for residential real estate development. The application by Reynolds & Brown, Kamilos Development, and Feletto Development is an essential step toward annexation of the parcel which is south of Kammerer Road and west of Highway 99 into the city limits.

Although the commission approved the matter, it was not before it heard almost three hours of testimony regarding the application. Most of the comments were opposed to the expansion of Elk Grove based on environmental concerns, elimination of farmland, and the need to contain urban sprawl and its harmful effects.

As part of the testimony, the LAFCO commission allotted the Environmental Council of Sacramento (ECOS) a block of time so several of its members could address a host of concerns. Those concerns ranged from the loss of habitat for the Swainson Hawk and Sand Hill Crane to increased air pollution.

ECOS board member Rob Burness noted the land lies outside the urban services boundary that was established several years ago by Sacramento County to act as a guide for growth. Burness, who is a retired planner for Sacramento County said he was involved in that process.

"It was intended as a long-term boundary for growth," he said.  

Noting flaws in the environmental impact was attorney Don Mooney. As a practitioner with over 25 years of experience in the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), Mooney pointed out that there were 22 overriding considerations in the report.

"When you have a project that requires you to do a statement of overriding considerations for 22 impacts, that would give me pause," Mooney said. "That says there is something here that is not working with that environmental document."

Speaking on behalf of the expansion was Elk Grove resident Tom Waltman who stated the city needs the additional land for housing.

"The city of Elk Grove needs more housing, regardless of what anybody says," Waltman said.

Leading off deliberation, Commissioner Gay Jones noted the mission of LAFCO's is to provide a mechanism for orderly and smart growth of communities. Jones said based on the staff's recommendation that the EIR be adopted, she said they were failing in their mission to contain urban sprawl.

"I have not seen much difference between this application and 2013," Jones said. "All the issues still exist."

That 2013 application, which was sponsored by the City of Elk Grove sought to expand city limits by 8,000-acres. After LAFCO indicated they would not approve that application based on a wide variety of environmental and urban sprawl issues, the city withdrew it from consideration.

Jones also expressed concern that the process was being driven by private developers and not the city. "This is supposed to be a government, an agency type of decision," she said.

Joining Jones in voting against the request was Commissioner Jack Harrison, who is the public representative, and Angelique Ashby. Both commissioners expressed skepticism that the city immediately needed the land for expansion.

"To take that action now would be untimely," Ashby said.   

Voting in favor were Elk Grove City Councilman and LAFCO Chair Pat Hume, and commissioners Susan Peters, Bruce Greenwood and Sue Frost. In their support of the application, the commissioners cited the need for Elk Grove to have local control of planning, the parcel's proximity to the long-awaited Southeast Connector road, and that it would be an economic driver for the community.

"This is a unique opportunity because of its location," Frost said noting it will front the proposed Southeast Connector road.

After the meeting Elk Grove Vice Mayor Darren Suen said with the approval of the EIR, the developers will now start the planning process of the acreage with the city. Once the annexation plan is completed, it will go before Sacramento LAFCO for approval. 

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