As LAFCO Reconsiders Expansion of Elk Grove, Public Comments, Including Planning Commissioner, Condemn Annexation

May 1, 2018

Elk Grove News.net

At their regular monthly meeting on Wednesday, May 2, the Sacramento Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) will hold a second hearing reconsidering their February 7 decision opening the doors for an expansion of Elk Grove city limits.

That decision which approved the environmental impact statement for a so-called sphere of influence (SOI) application is a significant step to annex the nearly two square miles into Elk Grove. Unlike an unsuccessful effort led by the city in 2013 to annex 12-square miles, this smaller annexation is being pursued by private real estate developers Reynolds & Brown, Kamilos Development, and Feletto Development who want to build thousands of residential dwellings.

The second hearing, which was initially scheduled for April but rescheduled to tomorrow, was granted after requests from several environmental groups and individuals. Collectively they claimed the 4-3 commission decision was flawed and did not fully consider issues such as how will water be supplied conveyed for the development.

Along with the comments from environmental groups and Elk Grove area residents, public comments also came from residents outside the area. Typical of this was a comment from Carmichael, California resident Peggy Berry who framed the issue as anti-citizen and pro-developer.

In her comments dated April 4 Berry wrote; “When will sound planning stand a chance against monied interests? It’s discouraging and makes citizens who care about the broader picture of preserving open spaces and their dwindling habitats feel their caring means little to nothing when looking at Sacramento’s future desirability.”

Click here to read the full article.

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LAFCo Hearing May 2 re Elk Grove Expansion

Dear Advocates for Farmland and Wildlife, as summarized by our partner, the Friends of Swainson’s Hawk:

It is time again to stand up for sound planning. LAFCo will hold a hearing on whether to reconsider their 4-3 decision 2/7/18 to allow a landowner Sphere of Influence amendment to Elk Grove. This approval to allow conversion of 1,156 acres of farmland is actually a huge change in planning for growth. The staff report recommends denying the reconsideration hearing due to lack of new information. Reconsideration has been requested both by Suzanne Pecci (Elk Grove resident) on water issues, and by environmentalists on a number of issues.

You can help by sending an email to LAFCo Commissioners commissionclerk [at] saclafco [dot] org urging that the Commissioners grant a reconsideration hearing because the issues are big and complex and there are 22 significant and unavoidable impacts of the decision that won’t ever be fully mitigated. These include negative impacts on farmland and agriculture in Sacramento County.

It is always helpful for people to show up at the hearing to show their concern and interest.

Here is the link to our webpage with more references. You can find our letter asking for reconsideration there and also the link to the staff report.
http://www.swainsonshawk.org/Kammerer99.html

PLEASE COPY US ON YOUR EMAIL at swainsonshawk [at] sbcglobal [dot] net.

Thank you for your support.

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Can Sacramento County save its farmers? Not if Elk Grove expands

By Judith Lamare and James P. Pachl

May 01, 2018

Special to The Sacramento Bee

On Feb. 7, four Sacramento LAFCo commissioners began unraveling of decades of agricultural protection, orderly urban growth and open space planning that relied on a firm urban limit at Elk Grove’s southern boundary.

The split decision by the Local Agency Formation Commission — three commissioners voted no — gave Elk Grove the go-ahead to plan development on 1,156 acres of farmland. Elk Grove’s presentation made clear that it intends to pave over much more than this in coming years.

Environmental groups have asked the commission to reconsider its decision on Wednesday, based on a state law that requires it to ensure orderly growth and preserve farmland and open space when it considers changes in city boundaries.

Vacant land within existing city limits is supposed to be a key factor in calculating whether a sphere of influence expansion onto farmland is needed to accommodate growth. In Elk Grove, there are about 4,000 acres of vacant land zoned and available for development, including 1,800 acres where residential projects remain unbuilt, some for more than a decade. The LAFCo executive director’s report misled the public and commissioners by counting as “vacant” only the land that did not have project approvals. Plenty of vacant land exists inside Elk Grove’s present boundaries for growth.

The commission adopted a statement prepared by staff to dismiss 22 significant and unavoidable impacts that cannot be fully mitigated, including loss of farmland and open space and further groundwater depletion. Also, the sphere of influence amendment conflicts with the Metropolitan Transportation Plan that underpins all federal and state funding. Notably not discussed by the commission was the additional cost to the public to acquire right of way for the planned Capital Southeast Connector bordering the expansion area due to land speculation it causes.

At the core of this decision is the future of farming and Sacramento County’s agricultural economy. One commissioner implied that the decision would not harm farming because so little of the land is defined as “prime.” Yet the environmental report identified significant impacts on agriculture that cannot be mitigated.

If we are only prepared to save “prime” farmland, then California’s agricultural fabric will become more tattered and unsustainable. That fabric includes different kinds of farmland and an infrastructure supporting an industry that produced more than $500 million in revenue last year in Sacramento County.

If the commission doesn’t reverse its decision, we are facing a dramatic loss of farmers in our region.

Click here to view the article on the SacBee website.

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