Environmental Groups Claims LAFCO Executive Director Misled, Gave False Information in Elk Grove Expansion Approval

April 3, 2018 |  In a rebuke of the February 7, 2018 decision to initiate a developer-driven expansion of Elk Grove, a rehearing ...

April 3, 2018 | 

In a rebuke of the February 7, 2018 decision to initiate a developer-driven expansion of Elk Grove, a rehearing of those plans will be held at the Sacramento Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo) will be held on Wednesday, April 4. That hearing will be held at the requests from environmentalist groups who claim that among numerous other infractions, Sacramento LAFCo executive director Donald J. Lockhart misled and withheld information from the body's commissioners. 

In a 10-page letter (posted below) dated March 9, 2018 from the petitioner attorney Donald Mooney, the eight areas are cited where the decision by the seven-person commission was made without a complete presentation of facts. The petitioners seeking the new hearing include the Sierra Club, the Environmental Council of Sacramento, Habitat 2020, and Friends of Swainson's Hawk.

In that February meeting, the Sacramento LAFCo commissioners voted 4-3 in favor of an application by home builders who were seeking to place about 1,200-acres in the city of Elk Grove's sphere of influence. Putting the land into Elk Grove's sphere of influence paves the way for the city to annex the property into city limits, thereby allowing the developers a quicker path to new housing developments.

In their letter, the petitioners contend that Lockhart not only withheld public comments from the commissioner, and provided "false and misleading comments to the commissioners."  The letter cited five instances where Lockhart misled the commissioners.

Among their assertions, the group claims that Lockhart said there was a documented water source for the development. According to Mooney's letter, the Sacramento County Water Agency has stated there is no allocation of water for the 1,200-acre SOI area, which is the opposite of what Lockhart presented to the commissioners.

Another primary contention of the petitioners is the classification of the 1,200-acres, which is currently designated for agricultural use. The developers and Lockhart claim that 1,200-acres is not prime agricultural land, and thus exempt from the City of Elk Grove's one-for-one acre mitigation.

The letter states "This is one of the petitioners' major issues, which [LAFCo] Staff and Applicant ignored repeatedly, and misled commissioners during the hearing."

The petitioners also took comments by two commissioners, who voted for approval, regarding the benefit in approving the SOI application to helping the Capital Southeast Connector Project to task. That project is seeking funds to build a road between Interstate 5 in Elk Grove and U.S. Highway 50 in southwestern El Dorado County.

The petitioners noted the comments were made after public comment had closed, and there was no discussion of the road project as it related to the SOI application and the environmental impact report.

Although the application to annex the land is being pursued by private parties interested in developing additional housing units, member of the Elk Grove City Council have expressed support for the annexation. Elk Grove Council member Pat Hume is the current Sacramento LAFCo commission chair and voted in favor of the SOI application.

Additionally, Elk Grove Vice Mayor Darren Suen spoke glowingly of the application during the public comment section of the February 7 meeting. Suen's comments can be viewed in the video posted below embedded documents.

The LAFCo meeting will be held at the Sacramento County Administration Building, 700 H Street, Sacramento, on Wednesday, April 4, and starts at 5:30 p.m.

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