As Elk Grove acquiesces on Oak Rose project and opponents organize, Councilmember Brewer faces political courage test

With last week's announcement that Elk Grove will acquiesce to litigation demands made by the state over its violation of fair housing laws, opponents of a controversial supportive housing project are organizing a counter-offensive.

That last-gasp counter-offensive is organized to convince Elk Grove Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen and the other four city council members to again deny the approval for the Oak Rose supporting housing project. Located in Old Town/Historic Downtown Elk Grove, the project is being reconsidered under threat of costly litigation brought by Calif. Attorney General Rob Bonta and Gov. Gavin Newsom for what they said is a violation of fair housing laws.

After Elk Grove's announcement that it would reconsider its rejection of the Oak Rose project - a tacit acknowledgment it would not prevail against the state-initiated litigation - opposition against it has coalesced. Some have opposed the 67-unit Elk Grove Boulevard at the recent city council meeting (see video below), while others have taken to social media.

This verbatim posting on a neighborhood-themed social media platform is typical of what is being said.

Community Alert !     OAK ROSE APARTMENTS PROJECT Please be advised, the City is throwing in the towel ! They sent out this update for the public to see. Efforts by the city to explore options for an alternative site with the Applicant have been unsuccessful. With litigation deadlines, dates and expenses on the horizon, staff will ask the Elk Grove City Council to reconsider the project during their meeting on September 27, 2023 . We need all Concerened Residents to attend this meeting , to send emails to the city and ask them not to give up on a better solution for this project.. They also are in the process of relocating the library project to a different location..There will be a special meeting on Monday ….. Please go online to the city web site and read the latest updates.  Please attend all and every meeting you can at the city hall….. Please send Emails ASAP mailto:
or mailto:
He is District 2 council person and is willing to help….

Of political significance is the call to contact Elk Grove District 2 City Councilmember Rod Brewer. While Brewer was not on the 2022 city council that unanimously denied the project, he supported the denial of the supportive housing project.

While it is unlikely the city council will once again deny the project given the state's pressure, and they wouldn't have made the announcement unless a majority of the city council secretly agreed to reverse itself, they could again kowtow to vocal residents and merchants who will appear at the September 27 city council meeting. The odds on this are long, but it is possible. 

Likewise, it would not be surprising if the city council members approved the project with a split vote, either 4 -1 or even 3 -2. Even though planning their votes ahead of time is illegal under the Ralph M. Brown Act, it regularly happens with many legislative bodies, including the Elk Grove City Council.

The most likely city council members to deny approval are Singh-Allen and Brewer. 

Even though Singh-Allen would face little consequence with voters city-wide, she is keenly aware she is on the ballot every two years. Given the paranoia of every politician, Singh-Allen could vote to reject even though she is unlikely to face substantial opposition in the 2024 election - Paranoia Strikes Deep!  

Brewer made the denial of the District 2 project the cornerstone of his 2022 election campaign. While he has not spoken publicly about the project since taking office, Brewer would be hard-pressed to support approval.

Of course, Brewer could approve the Oak Rose project this time, but not before considerable hand-wringing and a lengthy rationalization saying a gun is held to the city's head by two of the state's top elected Democratic officials. That is not without political risk, however. 

Denying the project will be popular with his conservative Trump-supporting Republican constituents at the tip of the opposition spear and probably help reelection in 2026.

However, if Brewer has aspirations beyond Elk Grove as a Democratic candidate, approval of the Oak Rose with rationalizations and hand-wringing is not the type of action that will advance his career.

Brewer's vote and actions will be a test of his political courage. We'll soon learn if he stands with his vocal MAGA-inspired project opponents or for those seeking to lift themselves out of homelessness.

Regardless, as the person posted on social media said,

He is District 2 council person and is willing to help….

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Randy Bekker said...

Personally I take offense at the use of the word MAGA. Those strongly opposed to Oak Rose are residents that date back decades in the community and some are 3 generations. No matter who voted for President or have beliefs in the running of our government different than others doing so in support of the community they have lived most their lives. It also doesn’t sit well when there are serious issues with this current location than other locations. Not having inside or outside recreational areas or full kitchen facilities. Oak Rose will be built on a very busy street where bus services have to take them clear across town for medical services or other services that don’t exist in the purposed property area. Plus the train those of us that live here understand how UP will block 3 major west roads that could hamper emergency services. I think there is a need for this type of housing. For one to claim NIMBY I don’t live where it will affect me. However I look for the overall need and a better place for the city, community, those living at the for profit apt. and the needs of those living there. Brewer with by district voting has only once choice to say No. He is full aware what a yes vote would do for his re-election. Our Mayor can easily say yes and take a small hit because the votes against her would be small as she runs at large.

D.J. Blutarsky said...

Just curious, where it is written that every Republican is a Trump supporter? You mean to tell me that Trump received 100% of the Republican votes last election! Besides the recycled press releases from the "new" Citizen, now we get to look forward to exaggeration and stereotyping from news bloggers as well. Elk Grove is quite the town.

CCO_EG said...

Wow, people are really hurt over the use of "MAGA republican".

Have you seen what these people over the last year have said about people experiencing homelessness?

Juan Trippe said...

True, not all Republicans are Trump supporters, but until elected Republican officials stand up for Democracy, and do not denounce the actions of the former president, their silence is complicity. What say you, Kevin Spease and Pat Hume? They have both been silent, so it is a reasonable summation that you and your supporters are MAGA.

Capt. Benjamin Willard said...

Regarding the question if Mr. Brewer will display political courage, if we look to the 23-plus year Elk Grove City Council record as a gauge, the answer is no. As suggested, Mr. Brewer will probably do considerable hand-wringing, vote to approve, while trying to keep himself out of his constituents frying pan.

One common trait of every current and past Elk Grove city council member is their political expediency. Mr. Brewer will follow suit unfortunately and try to appease the worst instincts of District 2 voters instead of standing up for the weakest in our community.

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