Railyards Update & June 30 Public Meeting

June 23, 2016

NOTICE: There will be a public meeting of the City Planning & Design Commission on the proposed Railyards project in Sacramento.

When: Thursday, June 30th
5:30 Commission Training on Principals and Terminology
6:30 Railyards Review and Comment
Where: E.M. Hart Senior Center, 915 27th St, Sacramento, CA 95816.

Background

The Sacramento Railyards project is one of the largest contiguous infill opportunities in the nation. The 2007 Specific Plan for the project estimated the construction of approximately 10,000 to 12,000 new dwelling units of varying types within the Plan Area. The city of Sacramento has stated that we need 10,000 more residential units downtown to correct the jobs-housing imbalance in the urban core. In November 2015, Railyards planners were stating that they had changed the plan to include only about 6,000 housing units. In response, the Environmental Council of Sacramento (ECOS) and Mike McKeever of the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) both expressed concerns about this reduction in housing units.

The Latest

On June 13, 2016, Alan Hersh LDK Ventures, the project’s developer, presented to ECOS at our Land Use Committee meeting. You can view the full minutes from the meeting, including his presentation, here. Hersh said they are “getting an entitlement for 10,000 units.” The zoning entitlement allows for a maximum of 10,000 housing units, but there won’t be a minimum requirement of units to actually get built, although this requirement could be created in the zoning. Hersh says only 6,000-8,000 units are probably realistic and that the density that works in the current market is 4-6 stories wrapped around central parking. This allows for wood frame buildings and will result in significant cost-savings per square foot.

What’s Next?

ECOS is disappointed that the number of units has been so drastically slashed and we hope that number will rise again. This is major infill proposal that could potentially do a lot to improve the jobs-housing balance in Sacramento and potentially set an example for a successful smart growth, infill, brownfield development for the rest of the country to consider.

Take Action

Make sure your voice is heard as the plans for this major development are being formed.

  • Contact the Planning and Design Commission and City Council via email, letters, phone calls and social media.
  • Attend the June 30th meeting if you are able and interested in flexing your civic power.
  • View early design concepts of the Railyards and provide feedback directly to the Railyards planning team here.
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American Medical Association warns of health and safety problems from ‘white’ LED streetlights

June 17, 2016

By Richard G. ‘Bugs’ Stevens

The Conversation

The American Medical Association (AMA) has just adopted an official policy statement about street lighting: cool it and dim it.

The statement, adopted unanimously at the AMA’s annual meeting in Chicago on June 14, comes in response to the rise of new LED street lighting sweeping the country. An AMA committee issued guidelines on how communities can choose LED streetlights to “minimize potential harmful human health and environmental effects.”

Can communities have more efficient lighting without causing health and safety problems?

Read more here: https://theconversation.com/american-medical-association-warns-of-health-and-safety-problems-from-white-led-streetlights-61191

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Update on the Status of a Lower American River Conservancy (AB 1716)

June 14, 2016

From our friends at the Save the American River Association (SARA)…

ACTION ITEM: Help make a state conservancy happen for the Lower American River. AB 1716 has passed the Assembly and moved on to the Senate where it will be heard in the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee:

June 28, 2016 at 9:30 a.m. in Room 112

Please join SARA on the 28th to show your support. SARA and our many partners, as well as the County of Sacramento, have submitted amended language to the bill that we feel would help strengthen the intent of the Conservancy to protect the natural resources of the lower American River Parkway and ensure that local control is not compromised. Click here to view the bill with proposed submitted amendments.

BENEFITS OF A CONSERVANCY

Over the past twenty years, conservancies have directed hundreds of millions of state dollars to acquire and restore land and improve public access to key resources including the coast, Lake Tahoe, the Sierra Nevada, and several rivers including the San Joaquin, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Gabriel, and others.

The proposed Lower American River Conservancy would be a state partner that would provide grants to the County of Sacramento, nonprofit organizations, and others to:
– Restore lands along the lower American River that have been severely damaged by fire and invasive weeds;
– Acquire and restore additional lands to further advance the American River Parkway values;
– Improve public access.

THE CONSERVANCY’S ROLE

AB 1716 does not change the current management of the American River Parkway and expressly protects the existing authority of the County of Sacramento and other local agencies. The Conservancy’s role would be to fund projects that strengthen the natural and recreational values of the American River Parkway consistent with the American River Parkway Plan. A very exciting benefit of the Conservancy would be to acquire critical funding for the Natural Resources Management Plan.

June 7, 2016

Assembly Bill 1716 is the proposed legislation to create a state conservancy for the lower American River. The American River Natural History Association, the Effie Yeaw Nature Center, the Environmental Council of Sacramento, Habitat 2020, Sierra Club, Planning and Conservation League, the California Native Plant Society, the County Parks Department, etc., have been working diligently with the bill’s co-authors, Assembly Members Kevin McCarty and Ken Cooley, to make sure our identified amendments make the final bill. The goal is to ensure a bill that will bring all of the promised conservation benefits to the lower American River Parkway by potentially providing millions of dollars of state funding for projects such as habitat restoration, invasive plant eradication/management, projects improving water quality and trail access to the Parkway, as well as fund projects that provide for continued education and interpretation of the American River’s and Parkway’s cultural and natural resources.

While the legislative process is more a marathon than a sprint, the bill is moving along and soon will be the time to write letters of support. More details will follow at the appropriate time.

AB 1716 TIMELINE TO DATE

January 28, 2016
Assembly Members Kevin McCarty, Ken Cooley, Senator Richard Pan, Sacramento City Council Member Jeff Harris and County Supervisor Phil Serna held a press conference at Discovery Park announcing AB 1716, proposed legislation to establish a state conservancy for the lower American River Parkway.

March 3, 2016
First public workshop at the Clunie Clubhouse in McKinley Park. More than 100 members of the public attended and expressed support for AB 1716.

April 25, 2016
AB 1716 passed out of the Assembly’s Natural Resources Committee with three amendments.

May 4, 2016
Appropriations Committee heard AB 1716 and referred it to the suspense file.

May 27, 2016
Second public workshop at the Effie Yeaw Nature Center in Ancil Hoffman Park. Approximately 75 members of the public attended and expressed support for AB 1716.

May 28, 2016
AB 1716 passed out of the Appropriations Committee.

June 1, 2016
AB 1716 passed the Assembly. Ordered to the Senate.

The bill probably will move on now to the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee. This is the committee that will take up the amendments we submitted.

Please keep your networks informed. The Save the American River Association is offering to meet with anyone or group who would like more information regarding AB 1716. You can contact Save the American River Association (SARA) to arrange a presentation.

The requested amended language that Sacramento County has sent to the State can be found by clicking here. These amendments reflect the desired changes identified by our coalition of stakeholders and changes the County identified as important. Please read the requested amended language carefully and let us know what you think.

Participation in this issue is critical to the future of the lower American River Parkway.

Sincerely,

Betsy Weiland, Facilitator
American River Parkway Coalition

The Mission of the American River Parkway Coalition is to provide a forum for continuing communication, collaboration, and coordination in order to better protect and preserve the natural and recreational resources of the American River Parkway and monitor and implement the American River Parkway Plan.

[Photo by George Nyberg]

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