New Elk Grove District 3 housing project approved despite opposition led by former councilmember

Last night the Elk Grove City Council approved a subdivision on one of the last sizable vacant parcels in District 3. By a 5-0 vote, the city council approved the Sheldon Grove development located on the northeast corner of Sheldon and Power Inn roads.

With the vote, the parcel is now classified for single-family dwellings at seven units per acre or so-called RD 7 zoning. The 18-acre parcel was zoned for commercial use, and according to the staff report is now considered an in-fill project with no more than 122 single-family dwellings. 

While Elk Grove consistently allows rezoning, this particular property drew the ire of former Elk Grove City Councilmember Steve Detrick. A resident of the private gated community Shortline Lake, which is across Sheldon Road from the development, Detrick argued the density was too high and not appropriate for the neighborhood. 

During his comments, Detrick expressed frustration that his gated 45-acre subdivision, which has five-acre homesites, should be adjacent to lower-density housing, such as five housing units per acre. Detrick noted that his lot has 500 feet of frontage on Sheldon Road.

"I am very disappointed that the staff report as well as the report from [attorney] Matt [Keasling] discounted the 45-acre Shortline development with five-acre home parcels [agricultural residential five-acre per dwelling, AR 5] as part of the evaluation of what's compatible," Detrick said. "Typically, over the last 15 years that I have been involved there has always been a feathering when you went up to a high density. There is no feathering here."

Detrick also criticized others who spoke in favor of the project claiming "they live two to three miles away - they aren't impacted."    

Brushing aside Detrick's comments was Sheldon Grove developer Angelo G. Tsakopoulos' attorney Matthew Keasling who noted that directly to the west of the Shortline community is the Camden Springs retirement facility which has a density of 20 units per acre. Additionally, be noted that the other adjacent subdivision has RD 5 and RD 7 densities. 

"There was no discounting of the A. R. five that is located to the south, there are five units on A. R. five, there's also over a hundred that are R.D. 20, and we didn't discount those either," Keasling said. "We thought those two were a wash, and so we focused on the R.D. seven and R. D. five next to us, and our density perfect matches those."    

With the assistance of District 3 Councilmember Kevin Spease, Detrick convinced the city council and the developer to create a homeowner owners association. During the planning commission meeting, Detrick implied that RD 7 subdivision without a homeowners association could be an incubator for problematic housing units.

Pushing back on Detrick's characterizations during council deliberation was Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen, who defended RD 7 housing developments and their residents. Singh-Allen also cited the state's housing crisis and noted that many housing types are needed. 

"I do not subscribe to the NIMBYism that comes with R. D. sevens, "Singh-Allen said. "So any stigma that goes with that, that there are some bad elements that come with R. D. sevens, I just whole-heartedly reject that because that implies that people, these hard-working families are going to do something bad in our neighborhoods."

She added negative attitudes towards RD 7 are "a little elitist sometimes too." 

Detrick's opposition drew a disparate group of public speakers in favor of the development, notably smart planning advocate Lynn Wheat. A frequent critic of the city's frequent rezoning, Wheat said this action was appropriate given the developer's willingness to address concerns about community walkability, design standards as well as California's housing shortage.

Wheat also suggested naming one of the streets in the neighborhood after a former Elk Grove City Councilmember, Sophia Scherman, who has mentored Councilmembers Pat Hume, Kevin Spease, and Mayor Singh-Allen during their political careers. A member of Elk Grove's original city council upon incorporation in 2000, Wheat also noted Scherman's numerous legislative accomplishments. 

"A street within this residential area should be named after Councilmember Scherman," Wheat stated. "Just as former Councilmember Scherman met the needs of our population, so will this new residential development."

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Capt. Benjamin Willard said...

As much as the public speakers supported the project, in equal parts it appears to be a repudiation of Mr. Detrick, especially the comments by Madame Mayor Singh-Allen.

Eye on Elk Grove said...

In my opinion, the pandering to the former council was a bit much and so easy to detect. One council member appeared to repeat the same demands. Scripted maybe as his marching orders with a note to sound forceful?

Kudos to Mayor BSA for her “elitist” comments. Look around at what the Elk Grove City Council approved in the past; we have a lot of RD7 housing. Those are the very same people who pay staff’s high salaries!

And funny to note that most of the previous RD7 projects received rubber-stamped approval by the city council without any changes and/or conditions. What was the difference here? A child could figure that one out.

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