Sprawl monitor: Sacramento’s leading environmental protection nonprofit sees growing interest in demanding smarter growth

By Scott Thomas Anderson

July 13, 2017

Sacramento News and Review

ECOS prepping ballot initiative against suburban sprawl

South Placer County beware: An environmental organization is on a mission to educate people about the impacts of wide-scale suburban sprawl. And it’s getting big turnouts.

On June 28, the Environmental Council of Sacramento held a town hall-style meeting about potential ballot initiatives aimed at slowing the tide of business parks and subdivisions spilling across the valley.

For critics of sprawl, the issue has become especially pronounced in cities like Folsom, which is currently allowing 11,000 new homes to be built across 3,600 acres of open space. Across the border in Placer County, expanding tract home developments are overtaking oak woodlands and merging the cities of Roseville, Rocklin and Lincoln. ECOS representatives charged that Elk Grove, Rancho Cordova, north Natomas and unincorporated Sacramento County territories are also guilty of approving “egregious” levels of sprawl.

According to the Seto Lab at Yale University, suburban sprawl erodes California’s productive farmlands and delicate habitats, accelerates unnecessary energy demands and harms “high-value ecosystems.”

ECOS has noted that the trend is contributing to a large automobile dependency around the region, along with related air quality issues. According to its research, the region has zoning for nearly 120,000 new single family homes already approved, with another 50,000 single family homes being planned for “remote areas.”

ECOS’ June 28 workshop was held at Mogavero Architects on K Street. “The turnout was great,” said ECOS Director of Operations Alexandra Reagan. “It was standing room only.”

Reagan is planning similar workshops in the future, though she said the next major step would be identifying which municipality should be the subject of a sprawl-controlling ballot initiative from her group. Once that’s determined, she thinks her organization will have a lot of help. “When we asked everyone there who would be willing to work on a campaign, 95 percent of them raised [their] hands.”

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The Bilby Ridge Sphere of Influence Amendment

June 9, 2017

The City of Elk Grove continues to fail to demonstrate a need for more land on which to build, and yet they want more anyway. The Bilby Ridge Sphere of Influence Amendment proposes to increase the City of Elk Grove’s Sphere of Influence, thereby allowing increased urban sprawl around the area of Elk Grove and South of Sacramento. The Environmental Council of Sacramento has submitted our comments regarding the Notice Of Preparation Of A Draft Environmental Impact Report For The Bilby Ridge Sphere Of Influence Amendment_(Lafc 04-16) Application.

Our comment letter addresses the Demand for the Project, the Loss of Agricultural Land, Water Demand and Availability, the Growth-Inducing Effects associated with this amendment, as well as the important Biological Resources at stake.

Click here to read the full letter.

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Sprawl Control Ballot Initiatives Introductory Discussion

If you are interested in stopping urban sprawl please come to a meeting to discuss possible ballot initiatives on Wednesday, June 28th, 2017, 6:00pm – 7:30pm at Mogavero Architects, 2012 K Street, Sacramento, CA.

Background: Low-density sprawling suburban communities cause automobile dependency and large amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, as well as many other negative impacts on our communities. Redirecting growth into existing neighborhoods has synergy in many areas of social, economic, and environmental aspects of daily living. Currently there is zoning for nearly 120,000 new single family homes already approved in the Sacramento region, not counting the much larger number of residences that can be built on empty lots in existing neighborhoods. Nonetheless, Rancho Cordova, Elk Grove, Folsom, Roseville, Placer County, El Dorado County, and Sacramento County are working to approve development for over 50,000 new single family homes in remote areas.

This Meeting: the purpose of this meeting is to gauge the level of interest in undertaking a campaign to run ballot initiatives to control sprawl boundary and urbanization expansions by regional cities and counties over the next few years. If you would like to stop this egregious violation of the public trust and public value giveaway to land speculators please join us.

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