Benign negligence in Elk Grove - As the city pushes new development, older neighborhoods start their deterioration

The Bond Plaza in Elk Grove. | 

Before he became his present self and before the tragedies of September 11, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani had a well-known reputation for addressing the city's quality of life. One of the pillars of reviving the quality of life for New Yorkers was the implementation of his so-called broken window theory.

Although its implementation and results were controversial, the principle had a degree of truth. In its simplest form, the broken window theory states that if a municipality does not adequately address minor neighborhood issues like broken windows, it invites further deterioration, typically followed by an array of criminal activities. 

Unfortunately, in most American cities, including Elk Grove, there is an almost institutionalized practice as newer, flashier developments are pursued, older, less flashy neighborhoods are relegated to the city dump. Executive bureaucrats, and especially politicians who control them, behave like children who banish old toys for the newest thing before their eyes.

As Elk Grove Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen crams the $400 million zoo down taxpayers' throats and the city council obliges her, a sense of benign municipal neglect seems to be growing in older neighborhoods, especially in the city's north side. An example of this is visible in the almost 30-year-old Bond Plaza on Bond and Elk Grove-Florin roads on the city's northside. 

This shopping center has had a high turnover of tenants, including nail salons, gyms, massage parlors, dentists, sandwich shops, restaurants, and other small retailers who came and went. Fortunately, there is only one empty spot in the center, and the center's anchor tenant, Adams International Market, has brought the strip center stability. 

Nonetheless, as a low-rent strip center, the property shows signs of wear and neglect. Prime examples of this are the two billboard signs.

The Bond Road sign is broken, as seen in the above photo. The Elk Grove-Florin sign is poorly maintained with broken panels, and it appears the landlord is not rushing to repair it.

Furthermore, the facility has many tall palm trees with untrimmed fronds. During high-wind events, fronds are hazardous for motorists and especially pedestrians.

According to the Elk Grove municipal code 23.62.120, the city can enforce sign maintenance. It will be noteworthy to monitor the landlord's compliance.

Aside from the compliance issue, the shopping center's deterioration over the last several years demonstrates that older parts of Elk Grove are ignored as the mayor and city council members pursue their flashy new toys. This shopping center is in District 2, bordering District 3.

You can't help but wonder if District 2 Councilmember Rod Brewer monitors what is happening in his district or is distracted by his pursuit of the zoo and moving the Oak Rose supportive housing project, which he and the entire city council view as a nuisance, to District 3. Even though the strip center isn't in his district, Kevin Spease lives closer to the eyesore than Brewer, so getting things cleaned up might be in his interest.

Regardless, as Elk Grove pushes development south and focuses on flashy things like the $400 million zoo, the mayor and her city council must be constantly reminded to maintain and improve the quality of life in older neighborhoods. Benign negligence never works out well for residents.   

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Renegade said...

The editor makes very valid points here. Our council must not pursue shiny new projects over the quality of life of their existing constituents when items such as these begin to falter. There is a basic need and legal requirement that public items in disrepair get addressed timely and effectively. Madame Mayor? Councilmen Brewer and Spease? What say you?

Capt. Benjamin Willard said...

As noted in the story, Ms. Singh-Allen and the city council view Oak Rose and its residents as unfavorable elements for the city. Not surprisingly, they are moving it to an older, less flashy neighborhood, to the closest possible location near the northern city limits.

D.J. Blutarsky said...

Another casualty of urban decay caused by urban sprawl is the shopping center across from Home Depot that used to be home to Bed Bath and Beyond, Logan's Roadhouse, Steve's Pizza, and the other empty storefronts in that center. I drove by there yesterday and noticed another tenant gone--I think it was a jewelry store. 

Is this another one of those slow-simmering "crockpot" projects that Brewer was talking about?

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