North Natomas Precinct Update, May 2016

May 3, 2016

Natomas North Precinct – Notice of Preparation of Draft Environmental Impact Report

Sacramento County is processing an application for the Natomas North Precinct Master Plan located in the Natomas community of unincorporated Sacramento County. The Project site is located north of the City of Sacramento, west of Steelhead Creek, south of the Sutter County Line, and east of Highway 99. The County Project Control Number is PLNP2014-00172 and the State Clearinghouse Number is 2016042079.

As the lead agency for the Natomas North Precinct Master Plan Project (Project), Sacramento County has determined that an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) is the appropriate California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) document to evaluate the environmental consequences of the Project. Sacramento County published a Notice of Preparation on April 28, 2016.

Scoping Meeting on May 16, 2016

In order to provide additional opportunities for agencies and members of the public to comment on the scope and content of the environmental information to be included in the EIR, a public scoping meeting will be held. The meeting time, date, and location are as follows:

Time: 6:00 to 7:30 PM
Date: May 16, 2016
Location: South Natomas Community Center, 2921 Truxel Road, Sacramento, CA 95833

At the scoping meeting, staff will explain the environmental review process at the beginning of the meeting and the applicant will follow with a short project review. Staff will then be available to receive comments on the scope of the EIR in break-out stations.

Public Comments due May 31, 2016

It is not necessary to attend the EIR Scoping Meeting in order to provide comments on what is addressed in the EIR. Written comments can be submitted to the Sacramento County Planning and Environmental Review Division (Attn: Catherine Hack, Environmental Coordinator) via email at CEQA[at]saccounty[dot]net, or via mail at 827 7th Street, Room 225, Sacramento, CA 95814. Please contact Sheryl Lenzie, Project Manager, at 916-874-7722 or lenzies[at]saccounty[dot]net with requests or questions.

Here’s the link to the Notice of Preparation: http://www.per.saccounty.net/PlansandProjectsIn-Progress/Documents/Natomas%20Joint%20Vision/2016-04-28%20North%20Precinct%20NOP.pdf

Here’s a link to the ECOS comment letter submitted in December 2015: https://www.ecosacramento.net/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/bsk-pdf-manager/2015_12_December_16_Letter_to_Board_re_Natomas_Growth_106.pdf

Image featured in this post was painted by Granville Redmond

CEQA & Land Use Training April 16

Dear Sacramento Valley residents and citizens,

Here is an affordable educational opportunity to get some CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) & Land Use training next weekend, April 16th, 2016! The Sacramento Valley Section of the American Planning Association is pleased to announce a Planning Commission Training Workshop, which includes CEQA and Land Use topics and is open to the public within the Sacramento Valley!

The Workshop will be held on:
Saturday, April 16, 2016, 9:00 am to 3:00 pm
West Sacramento Community Center (1075 West Capitol Avenue, West Sacramento)
Cost $25 [registration cost covers coffee and light breakfast in the morning, lunch and afternoon cookies]

ECOS is in serious need of volunteers with knowledge in these areas. Don’t miss this opportunity to increase your own valuable environmental expertise, and feel free to share this invitation with your networks!

Agenda

2016 4 April 16 APA CEQA Land USe training image

Flyer: http://files.ctctcdn.com/ab56286d401/12e349a3-ce3b-49c6-b26c-baf1fcfe0c06.pdf

Register here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/planning-commissioner-training-workshop-tickets-22119445858

Proposed condo tower has midtown looking skyward

March 20, 2016

By Ryan Lillis

The Sacramento Bee

A 13-story condo tower called Yamanee is being proposed for 25th and J streets in midtown Sacramento.

Most of the letters arriving to the City are supportive of the dense, vertical housing. Those who are in opposition point out the problems in giving the OK for Yamanee to be built higher (178 feet) than the 65-foot height limit in midtown.

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/news-columns-blogs/city-beat/article67230682.html


On Monday, April 11, ECOS will begin looking at the Yamanee Project at our Land Use Committee Meeting.

Monday April 11th, 2016, 6:00 – 7:30 pm
Mogavero Architects, 2012 K Street, Sacramento, CA

The ECOS Land Use committee will begin evaluating a 178-foot tower at 25th and J called Yamanee, which would be the tallest residential building in midtown. William Burg with Preservation Sacramento will give a presentation. The proponents of the project have been invited to present, as well.

Read the complete agenda for the April 11th ECOS Land Use committee meeting by clicking on the image below or here.

Agenda Capture

 

2016 Metropolitan Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy Adopted

On February 18th, the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) Board of Directors unanimously adopted the 2016 Metropolitan Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy (2016 MTP/SCS) for the six-county Sacramento region and certified the associated Final Environmental Impact Report. See the article mentioned here to read ECOS’ comments about the MTP/SCS. Learn more about the plan by clicking here.

Mind the Gap: the Sacramento Region’s 2016 Sustainable Communities Strategy

Mind the Gap: the Sacramento Region’s 2016 Sustainable Communities Strategy

August 13, 2015, on the ClimatePlan blog

Guest post by: Matthew Baker, Land Use and Conservation Policy Director, The Environmental Council of Sacramento (ECOS)

Link: http://www.climateplan.org/mind-the-gap-the-sacramento-region-and-its-2016-sustainable-communities-strategy/

Leading, and lagging

Right now, the Sacramento region is updating its Sustainable Communities Strategy for 2016.

The region’s 2012 plan really set the standard for the state, and we believe that leadership will continue.

But there’s a big disconnect between the region’s governing agency—the Sacramento Area Council of Governments, or SACOG—and the region’s cities and counties, which are lagging far behind.

The scenario: fact or fiction?

The update is well under way. In April, Sacramento’s draft “preferred scenario framework” came out. The full draft plan comes out in September. There will be a 60-day review period, and the final plan should be adopted in February 2016.

Based on what we’ve seen so far, the plan looks promising. The new SCS looks like it plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through true land use and transportation change to significantly reduce vehicle miles traveled (VMT). The Sacramento region, we believe, is doing this—exactly what these plans are intended to do—to a greater degree than any other region in the state.

In the plan, SACOG achieves its reduction in driving, or VMT, largely by reducing sprawl development. That is, if the region’s footprint does not continue expanding, its residents won’t have to keep driving more and more. This is a laudable goal, and for this, we applaud SACOG and its leadership.

But will the strategy actually be implemented? Right now, it looks very unlikely.

The region is planning to dramatically reduce sprawl. But the cities and counties that make up the region—and make the land-use decisions—aren’t. There is a big gap between vision and implementation here. Too many jurisdictions are headed in the wrong direction.

Overall themes of the plan: fix it first and get it done

Because the plan’s major parameters have not changed much—the greenhouse gas reduction targets are the same, and growth projections are only slightly down—the SACOG Board chose to focus instead on two overall themes: a “fix-it-first” initiative, and the implementation of the 2012 plan.

These themes make sense. Implementation is the key. Here’s how those are playing out, with some improvements in the 2016 plan over 2012:

To “fix it first,” SACOG has increased funding for maintenance and rehabilitation of the existing road system by 4% to total 36% in the 2016 plan. These funds have largely been moved from the “new road and highway capacity” category. As we hear more and more about deteriorating infrastructure regionally and nationally, this makes sense, to fix roads now and prevent much higher costs later.

But what about transit? Despite this step in the right direction for road funding, we are concerned that the plan largely funds public transit with new revenues; that means transit funding will drop from current levels if these new revenues (from cap and trade, or from local measures) don’t actually materialize. That’s going in exactly the wrong direction.

To “get it done,” SACOG sees its role largely as providing information and tools to help jurisdictions, who make the decisions. The agency has made significant innovations in modeling, performance assessment, and tools to inform decision-making. It has developed its first-ever Climate Adaptation Plan. Its Rural Urban Connections Strategy (RUCS) is impressive: it takes a close look at the impacts on the agricultural economy of differing growth scenarios. SACOG has also improved the plan’s consideration of public health, equity, and natural resource conservation. You can find SACOG’s summary of anticipated performance outcomes of the Draft Preferred Scenario here.

The real concern around implementation, however, is that despite SACOG making it a theme for the past three years, there is still a yawning gap between the plan’s projections and jurisdictions’ actions.

It’s still not clear that the plan will actually be implemented—despite the theme.

Nearing the target

Targets set by the Air Resources Board define how much the region must reduce its greenhouse gas emissions: 7% by 2020 and 16% by 2035. SACOG’s Preferred Scenario comes in at 7.73% and 15.55%, and narrowly meets federal air quality conformity standards.

While this isn’t a final number, we’re concerned that this isn’t quite hitting the target — they’ll need to get that number up to 16% in the final plan.

Only a few months ago, SACOG’s plan wasn’t meeting the targets at all. The agency took decisive steps to fix that.

SACOG’s travel model assumes lower gas prices mean more driving, but since gas prices have been unexpectedly low, the 2012 project list no longer met the 2035 greenhouse gas reduction target. So this spring, SACOG staff worked with individual jurisdictions to revise the plan. Building on the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s model for “project performance assessment” and adding its own innovative “phasing analysis,” SACOG was able to demonstrate the poor performance of over 80 road projects. As a result, $400 million worth of poor projects have been delayed or cut out of the MTP, to get the region back on track to meet the 2035 target.

SACOG’s success at getting rid of bad projects that were already part of the plan is truly impressive. It is unprecedented in Sacramento, and is a big step towards SCS implementation.

Housing numbers don’t add up

SACOG is known for doing some of the best planning in the country and leading the way to connect land use and transportation.

But the region is woefully unprepared to successfully implement its 2016 SCS, because the growth plans of individual jurisdictions differ wildly from the regional land-use scenario. They plan for far more homes than the SCS does, and put far more of them outside existing communities.

You can see a comparison of the regional housing forecast totals of the SCS to the “build-out estimate” of the cumulative general plans here.

The total build-out, from all the general plans of the Sacramento region, adds up to 661,211 houses beyond the 2012 existing stock—2.3 times the SCS estimate of 284,896. Of this 661,211 figure, 60% of the growth is greenfield development: with 2.2 times the growth in SACOG’s “developing community” areas, and 8 times more growth in “rural residential” areas than in the SCS. Over 123,000 units are completely outside of the SCS footprint. And these figures don’t even include other major areas that cities and towns still want to expand into.

There is tremendous growth pressure on the region’s fringe, and not much yet, it seems, to stop it.

More transit funding needed, sooner

Transit must be funded far more and far sooner to guide the region’s long-term growth to successfully implement the SCS. That’s what it will take to reduce driving, fight climate change, and create more healthy and sustainable communities.

Investing in major public transit improvements could help, by guiding growth along rail and bus lines to reduce driving. But the SCS puts these improvements off until far too late to change the region’s growth patterns.

The situation is made worse by the region’s inadequate funding for transit. Transit funding and service was severely cut in 2008-2010 amid the economic downturn, and the system has still not recovered. SACOG’s current draft scenario does not anticipate getting back to 2007 transit levels of service until 2020. Some estimate that it will take even longer. That’s an egregious delay.

SACOG gets good GHG/VMT performance in early years of the plan by dedicating substantial funding—8% of revenues—to bike-walk improvements. This is great.

But public transit is the key. In the plan, many major transit improvements don’t happen until its later years, and the financing for these late improvements seems murky.

The success of a planned 2036 transit system depends on significant changes in Sacramento’s growth patterns, but jurisdictions are failing to plan for enough infill to provide the densities and ridership needed to make the system work.

SACOG analysis shows that the proposed transit improvement timeline could work if the region’s jurisdictions were willingly conforming to the land-use footprint of the SCS, but they are not.

More funding is needed soon for public transit, for both expansion and operations, to help guide growth in a more sustainable way. If towns build homes and jobs first, then try to add transit, that’s far less likely to be effective. Especially if those homes and jobs are built far from anything else.

Closing the gap

New transportation funding measures are being considered for the 2016 ballot in Sacramento. It is critical that these put significant percentages toward public transit. Your voice will be needed to help shaping these measures—and so shape the region’s growth, and its future.

For now, ECOS, ClimatePlan, and partners will continue to work together and work with SACOG to improve the plan, and ultimately, help the region live up to its potential.

ECOS endorses campaign for a just Affordable Housing Ordinance

July 28, 2015

At our Board of Directors meeting last night, the Environmental Council of Sacramento (ECOS) voted to endorse the campaign currently led by ECOS member the Sacramento Housing Alliance, the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), Area Congregations Together (ACT) and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1000 for a just affordable housing ordinance in the City of Sacramento. Sacramento’s Mixed-Income Housing ordinance is slated for changes, and has much plenty of room for improvement. Let’s work on a solution together! The city council will discuss the changes next on September 1st, 2015 at City Hall, 915 I Street.

Read more about the latest proposed changes to the City of Sacramento’s Mixed Income Housing Ordinance in this Sacramento News and Review article, published on July 23, 2015:
https://www.newsreview.com/sacramento/segregation-039-will-happen-if/content?oid=17653788