Part IV October - December: EGN's 2023 Year in Review

Elk Grove City Councilmember Sergio Robles gets "physical" during a hearing on the Oak Rose lawsuit. | 

For the final three months of 2023, the city continued to experience bad luck in its handling of the Oak Rose affordable housing project, while things for the Elk Grove Unified School District calmed down a bit.

We also continued seeing reasons why one Elk Grove City Council member was in over their head.


Two special closed sessions to discuss the Oak Rose lawsuit

In late September and early October, Elk Grove scheduled and held special closed-session meetings to discuss the state of California's lawsuit against the city for its denial of the Oak Rose supportive housing project. Although Elk Grove Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen had said the city was trying to work with the Oak Rose plaintiff, there were no reportable actions for any of the closed sessions. 

Oak Rose says 'nuts' to Elk Grove, decides not to attend second reconsideration meeting

After punting on a staff recommendation in September to approve the Oak Rose supportive housing project, the Elk Grove City Council reconsidered the recommendation in October.

Their deferral in September was blamed on the Oak Rose project proponents' decision not to attend the meeting. Mayor Singh-Allen and her four councilmen expressed indignation they did not participate in the meeting.

Before the October meeting, KCRA reported the Oak Rose proponents would not attend the October meeting. Not surprisingly, Mayor Singh-Allen and her city council again took no action in October. 

New law adds to Elk Grove's woes

A law passed by the California Assembly and State Senate and signed into law by Gov. Newsom put more pressure on Elk Grove. The bill AB1485, supported by Assemblymember Stephanie Nguyen and State Senator Angelique Ashby, gives Attorney General Rob Bonta the authority to intervene without court permission in lawsuits brought by third parties for alleged violations of state housing laws.

With Elk Grove already under scrutiny by Bonta, this legislation further clamps down on the city's behavior. With each passing day, Mayor Singh-Allen's selfie opportunities with the attorney general are quickly disappearing.  

Affordable housing shouldn't be just apartments, Elk Grove City Council told

At the early October Elk Grove City Council meeting, a renowned smart-growth advocate said Elk Grove should expand affordable housing options, not just through additional apartment units.

During public comment on non-agenda items, the speaker noted that as the city adds new single-family dwellings, affordable units should be included so families can have the opportunity for home ownership.

Fortunately, Elk Grove has concerned citizens. Unfortunately, Mayor Singh-Allen and her city council have neither the desire nor the mental capacity to do the right thing.  

Councilmember Sergio Robles punked, cat scratched by feline advocates

Possessing a take-no-prisoners approach, feline advocates who appeared at city council meetings throughout the year targeted admitted drunk driving Elk Grove City Councilmember Sergio Robles during an October meeting.

Along with noting the first-term representative does not respond to emails, the advocates highlighted junkets he took on taxpayers' money   

Elk Grove city manager claws back at feline advocates

Maybe it was months of enduring unflattering commentary about animal shelter operations. Or perhaps it was highlighting frivolous expenditures.

Whatever the case, Elk Grove's feline advocates got under the skin of Elk Grove city manager Jason Behrmann. As you can see in the video, Behrmann's usual calm demeanor had met its limits during an October city council meeting.  

Sergio Has Left The Building! Elk Grove's unengaged, uninterested city council member

To say admitted drunk driving City Councilmember Sergio Robles is more interested in partying like a frat boy, as evidenced by his social media videos, than governing was proven in two meetings in one day in October.

Read the entire story and watch the videos displaying bout Robles' behavior at the Regional San Board and City Council meeting, where he inexplicably left the meeting unannounced before it concluded.  

Even Mayor Singh-Allen seemed surprised by Robles' disappearing act! 

Elk Grove City Councilmember Kevin Spease's broken promises

Candidate Kevin Spease promised the expansion of Elk Grove roadways in 2020. It's 2023, and he can't even get a damn sidewalk built in his district! 

Way to go Kev -  Keep It Up With That Indignation!

Elk Grove Unified Trustee Carmine Forcina scorches, clashes with colleagues over proposed school library policy  

During an October Elk Grove Unified School District meeting, Trustee Carmine Forcina had a showdown with his fellow board members. The issues for the board members were several policies, including the selection of books for school libraries.

For months, a handful of people urged the district to ban certain books from school libraries that they personally found objectionable. Forcina agreed with those seeking to exclude certain books, many with LGBQT+ themes, from school libraries. 

Whoops - Someone at Elk Grove City Hall dropped the security ball, city's website is not secure

It wasn't exactly a data breach, but someone committed a technological snafu in the city's IT department. Thanks to the keen eye of an Elk Grove News reader, it came to our attention that the city's website has let its security certification lapse (see image above). 

The Sacramento Zoo relocation project presentation does not answer who pays?

In October, the Elk Grove City Council heard an update on the proposed relocation of the Sacramento Zoo to Elk Grove. Little new or revealing information was presented.

The one question almost everyone has remains - who will pay the estimated $400 million? Naturally, the city is unable or unwilling to provide that answer. 

Public given preview of city's winter sanctuary in Old Town

As part of its plan to address its growing homeless population, especially during cold months, Elk Grove had a public preview in late October of its Winter Sanctuary. The sanctuary was launched chiefly from the efforts of the city's housing manager, Sarah Bontrager. 

The facility started operation on November 1 and will conclude on March 31. The facility will serve 30 clients with wrap-around services and seeking to help them secure permanent housing. 

Remodel plans approved for relocated Elk Grove Library

The remodeling plan, which will cost $15 million, for the Elk Grove Library was approved in late October. The structure, which is the temporary Winter Sanctuary, was a Rite Aid drug store until 2019 and was purchased by the city.

Located on the southwest corner of Waterman Road and Elk Grove Boulevard, it will replace the library on the corner of Elk Grove-Florin Road and Elk Grove Boulevard. That building has experienced several structural defects since its 2008 opening. 


Elk Grove finds itself in Bonta's scope...again

In early November, California Attorney General Rob Bonta marked the second anniversary of his Housing Justice Team within the California Department of Justice. With the announcement, among other things mentioned, was the lawsuit against Elk Grove.

Seems Bonta is not going to let the city of Elk Grove and Mayor Singh-Allen out of his scrutiny. 

Mayor, Vice Mayor skip only November city council meeting

Because of the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, the Elk Grove City Council has only one meeting in November and December. Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen and Vice Mayor Kevin Spease skipped November's sole meeting for unexplained reasons. 

As the senior council member, Darren Suen presided over the meeting. The session was heavy on proclamations and little else of significance, so if Spease and Singh-Allen were going to play hooky, they chose the right meeting. 

Elk Grove Unified adopts instructional materials policy during contentious meeting

A controversial policy stance that vexed the Elk Grove Unified School District Board of Trustees for over a year was approved in November. The seven-member board approved the instructional materials policy that includes, among many items, determining how school library books are selected.

For months, trustees heard from a handful of people who objected to certain books they deemed repulsive in school libraries. Some books they wanted to be banned were considered literary masterpieces, while others had LGBQT+ themes. 

Even though the matter was on the consent calendar, Trustee Carmine Forcina continued his objections. Forcina clashed with trustees Michael Vargas and Nancy Chaires-Espinoza. 

Judicial ruling against another city's local control lawsuit spells more bad news for Elk Grove

As Elk Grove continues to defend itself from lawsuits over its rejection of the Oak Rose supportive housing project, a November ruling against another municipality bodes poorly for the city. 

A federal court tossed out a lawsuit by Huntington Beach, Calif., that sought to dismiss the state of California's fair housing lawsuit against them.  

Along with Huntington Beach, the city of Elk Grove is in the crosshairs of Attorney General Rob Bonta and Gov. Gavin Newsom for violating fair housing laws. Not long after the state began its pursuit of Huntington Beach earlier this year, it set its sites on Elk Grove. 

“Today’s ruling from the court signals that Huntington Beach, and other communities like it, will not succeed in trying to use the legal system to stall the development of badly needed housing," Newsom said after the ruling. 

City once again schedules, cancels special closed session meeting for Oak Rose lawsuits 

In an 18-hour period, the Elk Grove City Council scheduled a special meeting and then issued a cancellation notice. The closed-session meeting was to discuss two lawsuits against the city from the state of California and the Oak Rose apartment developers.

On Thursday the 16th, at about 4:30 p.m., the city issued a notice that a closed-session city council meeting would convene at 5 p.m. on Monday. November 20. Then, less than 18 hours later, the Elk Grove city clerk's office circulated a cancellation notice.


User fees for Elk Grove's District56 facilities, aquatics center increased.

During the Elk Grove City Council's only December meeting, a plan to increase user fees for District56 meeting rooms and swimming pool was approved.  

While most fees are increasing by about 10 percent, some categories have significant increases. Rental fees for recreation Pool/Treasure Island for up to 100 guests for private pool party rental for 2 hours will double from $175 to $350 for non-Laguna Ridge Elk Grove residents.

Another category that increased by more than 10 percent is the swimming pool.  

Oak Rose lawsuit filings against Elk Grove revealed more details

An early December filing in the Oak Rose lawsuits revealed more information about the litigation ensnaring Elk Grove Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen and her city councilmen. Among several things revealed in the legal documents was the land swap that Mayor Singh-Allen consistently promoted.

Read more about what was revealed, but suffice it to say the city offered the equivalent of swamp land. The mayor must believe the plaintiffs are backwater hicks who fell off a turnip truck that rolled into Elk Grove.  


The Israel-Gaza war appears at the Elk Grove City Council

As has happened across the country since the October 7 invasion of Israel by Hamas, people opposed to the violence against Palestinian civilians are making demands of elected officials. Although an international affair, demands for a cease-fire resolution are also appearing before municipal governments.

Speaking during public comment on non-agenda items, one person, noting the emotional nature of the conflict and calling the death of people in Gaza a genocide, demanded Elk Grove adopt a resolution calling for a cease-fire. The demand was made during the lone December meeting. 

Mayor Singh-Allen nor her city councilmen commented on the demand. 

Underground utilities approved to make Old Town like San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter

As part of Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen's desire to transform Old Town-Historic Downtown into a tourist destination on par with San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter, the city council approved plans for moving overhead utility lines underground during their December meeting. 

Another swing and miss! Judge rules against Elk Grove in Oak Rose litigation
In another swing and miss, or was it a delay tactic, a Sacramento County Superior Court Judge ruled against Elk Grove, who sought to prevent the plaintiff in the Oak Rose lawsuit from amending their complaint in a December hearing.

Irritated by Elk Grove's legal argument, Superior Court Judge Stephen Acquisto granted the plaintiff's motion to file an amended complaint. Acquisto granted the motion after a 30-minute hearing. 

Verbally lashing Elk Grove's outside counsel, the judge said, "As a respondent, you don't really get to dictate what a petitioner gets to allege."  

Better luck next time!

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Eye on Elk Grove said...

EGN, your year in review is depressing. A bad beginning made for a bad ending. The poor choices and bad behavior of some of the council members, namely Robles, only serves to further the call for his resignation. The others are just sheep who are deathly afraid of the lioness in the center square.

In other words, no thanks for the memories!

The only bright spot once again, as she has been for many years, is Lynn Wheat! She continues to challenge the status quo to promote a better way for the people of Elk Grove. Take note, Elk Grove City Council, that is a real leader.

Steve L said...

Eye is correct. It was a dismal year for our local government, most of it self induced and certainly embarrassing. As usual Lynn Wheat was the voice of reason, thoughtful comments and solutions. She was ignored, as usual, by those on the dais who couldn’t hold her lipstick socks on their best day. Thanks Lynn, some of us appreciate you and your drive to make EG a better place to live.
Let’s hope 2024 is a better year for us all.

D.J. Blutarsky said...

As we bid farewell to 2023, I can only imagine what lies in store at City Hall in 2024. Generous labor contracts are signed; Measure E sales tax revenue is running strong; and the Granite Bay developers are setting up their PACs to support their five YES votes they need to turn more dirt into cash! Happy New Year!

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