SacRT to modernize light rail system, increase train frequency to Folsom

August 14, 2019
Emily Hamann
Sacramento Business Journal

“Sacramento Regional Transit District is in the beginning stages of a multiyear, multimillion-dollar project to upgrade its light rail system, which will include more frequent service to Folsom.

Most of SacRT’s current light rail cars are reaching the end of their useful life, and will start costing SacRT more money in maintenance and repair costs. So SacRT is upgrading to new low-floor cars. The doors on low-floor cars are level with the street, which eliminates the need for elevated platforms at light rail stops.

Most of the state funding for the project is directed toward upgrading the Folsom line, which is aimed at reducing traffic congested corridors. Some of the funding is also coming from the settlement of a lawsuit between Caltrans and the Environmental Council of Sacramento. The environmentalist group had sued Caltrans over a plan to add carpool lanes on Highway 50. As part of an out-of-court settlement, Caltrans agreed to pay $7 million toward improving the Gold Line, which parallels the freeway. “

Read the full article here.

Seeking Nominations for Environmentalist of the Year 2019

The Environmental Council of Sacramento (ECOS) first started hosting the Environmentalist of the Year Awards in 1973. The awards ceremony is a time to celebrate and recognize the past year’s regional champions and community sustainability successes. It is also a time to reflect on the work we still have in front of us in the year ahead. The reception includes hors d’oeuvres, wine and live music.

We are now accepting nominations for Environmentalist of the Year Awards 2019 for our event in the fall (Date TBA). Click here for a list of the past awardees. Does someone you know deserve to be recognized for their environmental work or lifestyle? How about a group, coalition or project? Their name could be added to this prestigious record of awardees! Please send the name of your nominee, a short biography about the person or group, and the reasons why you believe they deserve the award to office[at]ecosacramento[dot]net. Nominators will be entered to win a special prize! The deadline for nominations is September 2, 2019.

Click here to go to the main page for the Environmentalist of the Year Awards.

South American Subbasin Alternative Comments

July 25, 2019

Dear Mr. Eck:

As you are aware, ECOS and Habitat 2020 have been following the Sacramento Central Groundwater Authority’s (Authority) development of the South American Subbasin Alternative (South American Alternative), and the Department of Water Resources (DWR) review and decision regarding its acceptability under the terms and requirements of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).

The letter you received, dated July 17, 2019, from DWR’s Deputy Director Taryn Ravazzini, and the accompanying staff report, form a well-reasoned determination that the South American Alternative will not satisfy the requirements of SGMA. While the Authority is given thirty days to provide information to refute DWR’s findings, it seems that devoting time to this pursuit is not in the best interest of the Sacramento region and the Authority.

Ralph Propper and Rob Burness

Full letter here.

ECOS Board Meeting July 23rd

At this meeting, we will hear from Special Assistant Julia Burrows, the new senior policy advisor to Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg. She will share with us some insight into how the City of Sacramento is currently handling environmental concerns. This is also a chance to raise issues of which we think their office ought to be aware. Click here to learn more about Julia Burrows.

Date: Tuesday, July 23rd

Time: Reception is at 5:30 pm (feel free to bring something to share) and the meeting begins at 6:00 pm

Location: The meeting will be held in the Sierra Club CA conference room on the second floor of the Breathe CA building, at 909 12th Street, Sacramento. Ring the buzzer for Sierra Club to be let in. Street parking is difficult, but lightrail stops right by the office and there is secure bike parking inside the building.

Click here to see the agenda.

We look forward to seeing everyone!

ECOS comments on Elk Grove Hospital NOP

On June 27, 2019, the Environmental Council of Sacramento, Habitat 2020 and the Friends of Stones Lakes National Wildlife Refuge submitted a letter in response to the Notice of Preparation of an Environmental Impact Report for Northstate University Medical Center, planned for the outer edges of the City of Elk Grove, south of Sacramento.

Our concerns include: an increase in bird collisions, helicopter flight impacts on migratory birds in surrounding roosting and foraging habitat, lighting impacts, building a hospital in a floodplain, surface water runoff, cumulative impacts, compliance with our region’s Metropolitan Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy, growth inducement and more.

Click here to read the letter in full.

Reminder to City to follow State Law on Surplus Land

The Environmental Council of Sacramento (ECOS) and the Sacramento Housing Alliance (SHA) have sent out letters to City of Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, as well as the Facilities & Real Property Superintendent Richard Sanders (at the Department of Public Works). These are to remind the City of Sacramento to follow the Surplus Land Statute.

In the letter to Mayor Darrell Steinberg, The Environmental Council of Sacramento (ECOS) and the Sacramento Housing Alliance (SHA) write:

We are prompted to offer this reminder of the Surplus Land Act because of concerning trends in the sale of city properties. Reviewing recent sales of seven city owned lots, only one was sold to an affordable housing non-profit (City of Refuge, who plans to build a homeless shelter for women and children on the land). The other six were sold to for-profit entities. Most alarming is the case of 4722 9th Ave and 4601-4625 10th Ave, where the city rejected a proposal to build 130-195 affordable rental units in favor of market rate apartments.

We are requesting city officials be particularly mindful of a few key provisions in the Surplus Land Statute.

1. Prioritize proposals that make at least 25% of the housing units affordable to low income households.

2. Give priority to the proposal with the most affordable units at the most affordable level.

3. Enforce the inclusionary requirement tied to the sale or lease of surplus land.

4. The City of Sacramento can sell or lease the land at a discount to affordable housing developers.

Click here to view the full letter to Mayor Darrell Steinberg, and the four key provisions in the Surplus Land Statute.

In the letter to Superintendent Richard Sanders, The Environmental Council of Sacramento (ECOS) and the Sacramento Housing Alliance (SHA) write:

The City has a real opportunity to lead on this important issue and we urge you to do so. For example, the City could serve as a clearinghouse for public surplus lands available in the city, including parcels controlled by other public agencies (local utilities, Regional Transit, RASA, etc.). Having a centralized location to get information about all public sites would support getting the most public benefit from the use of these sites and facilitate access to critical information to affordable housing developers and the public.

In summary, the Sacramento Housing Alliance and the Environmental Council of Sacramento specifically request [that] the City:

1. Establish specific policies and procedures to:

• Provide clear, consistent standards for evaluating the potential of publicly owned sites for disposition.
• Provide timely notice to public agencies and interested parties that a surplus site is available.
• Prioritize proposals for use of surplus properties that commit to making at least 25% of the housing units affordable to low income households.
• Prioritize proposals with the greatest number of affordable units at the most affordable price or rent.
• Ensure surplus property developed with 10 or more residential units include at least 15% of the units as affordable to lower income households.

2. Play a leadership role in maximizing the use of public surplus properties for affordable housing purposes by establishing a clearinghouse of sites available from all public agencies within the City including Regional Transit, public utilities, and RASA. In addition, the City should ensure all public agencies understand the law and their responsibilities regarding the use of public surplus property for affordable housing.

3. Evaluate establishing a phasing policy to maximize the potential reuse of surplus properties for affordable housing purposes.

4. Engage in a robust and transparent public process to establish such policies.

5. Encourage the Sacramento Area Council of Governments to establish a policy, similar to one adopted by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission in the Bay Area, that incentivizes local governments using surplus public property for affordable housing purposes.

Click here to view the full letter to Facilities & Real Property Superintendent Richard Sanders.