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.

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.

Reconsideration of LAFCo Decision on Elk Grove expansion

UPDATE: On April 4, 2018, LAFCo cancelled this hearing for reconsideration due to protests of the killing of Stephon Clark in the downtown area. The item will likely be back on their agenda on May 2, 2018.  

Thank you to everyone who has communicated with LAFCo about the importance of this decision and the need to rethink the 4-3 vote.  
 
Thank you also to those who have sent donations to help pay the cost of our attorney.

ECOS and Sierra Club have asked and been granted a hearing on whether there should be reconsideration of the Feb 7, 2018 LAFCo decision to approve adding 1,156 acres of farmland to the Sphere of Influence for Elk Grove (first step in urbanization). The hearing will be April 4, 2018, 5:30 pm at 700 H Street. As we get closer, we will ask you to write again to LAFCo to oppose this conversion of farmland.

We have asked for reconsideration based on:
1. Lack of evidence to support a Statement adopted by the Commissioners to “override” the 22 significant and unavoidable impacts of the decision.
2. Misleading statements at the hearing on water availability, farmland mitigation, benefits of the decision to the JPA Connector, and the extent to which impacts can be mitigated .

This was a very close decision with Councilmember Angelique Ashby of City of Sacramento, Metro Fire Board member Gay Jones, and Public LAFCo Member Jack Harrison voting against the SOI, and Supervisors Sue Peters and Sue Frost, CM Pat Hume of Elk Grove and Carmichael Water District Board Member Ron Greenwood voting to approve. We hope to reverse this decision.

We would like the commissioners to receive comments with time to read them before the hearing at 5:30pm on Wednesday, April 4, 2018.

Click here to view the hearing agenda.

Click here for links to the most recent relevant documents, on the Friend’s of Swainson’s Hawk website.

Click here to learn more about the background of this issue.

Action Alert: Help hold the line on urban sprawl

Once again, the Sacramento LAFCo (the Local Area Formation Commission) is considering adding 1,158 acres of farmland to Elk Grove’s potential urbanization south of the present Elk Grove city limit and beyond the County’s Urban Services Boundary (USB). A public hearing will be held before voting on whether to allow the City of Elk Grove to grow onto farmland south of Sacramento County’s Urban Services Boundary. A vote of approval will contradict regional water, transportation, wildlife conservation and climate action strategies. Help hold the line on urban sprawl.

Step 1: Send an email

Please send your thoughts by February 7, 2018 to the LAFCo Commissioners that an expanded Sphere of Influence (SOI) for Elk Grove is wrong. You can do this by simply emailing commissionclerk[at]saclafco[dot]org. Be sure to include your name and address. Key issues to write about are below. (please copy swainsonshawk[at]sbcglobal[dot]net)

Step 2: Attend the Hearing

Come to the hearing in Sacramento on February 7th, 2018 at 5:30 pm at the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors building at 700 H Street, Sacramento, 95814. Speak, or simply attend, to show your concern about Elk Grove’s latest attempts to sprawl.

Background

In 1993, the Sacramento County adopted an Urban Services Boundary (USB) to protect farmland against sprawl development and to ensure orderly growth. The developer of Kammerer/Highway 99 SOIA wants LAFCo to authorize 1158 acres beyond the USB, despite thousands of undeveloped acres of vacant land inside the USB and City of Elk Grove. Orderly development requires developing available land inside the USB before paving over more farmland.

What is Your Hot Button?

Protection of Farmland?

The Sacramento County Farm Bureau has opposed approval of this project because of the loss of farmland and other impacts on agriculture that would result. The EIR finds the approval of Kammerer/99 SOIA would have significant and unavoidable (can’t mitigate for) impacts on farmland. See http://www.swainsonshawk.org/Images/Significantunavoidable.pdf for a list of the 14 different significant impacts that can’t be mitigated.

Endangered Wildlife?

The EIR for this proposal finds significant, unavoidable and unmitigatable impacts on wildlife if this project is approved. An approval will signal that decision-makers will sacrifice the success of the South Sacramento County Habitat Conservation Plan, intended to mitigate for the loss of wildlife habitat inside the USB.

Water Supply for the Future?

The Sacramento County Water Agency has stated that all available water has been allocated for existing and future development within the USB. The Sacramento County General Plan states that more development is presently planned in the County than can be served by water supply. Yet this proposal will either further drain the groundwater supply already depleted in the South area, or take water intended for other projects, long ago entitled. The EIR states that depletion of groundwater supplies is a significant and unavoidable impact of an approval of this proposal.

Climate Change?

Our Climate Action Plan depends on sticking with the adopted Metropolitan Transportation Plan (SACOG’s MTP) and its strategy for curbing vehicle trips. The MTP assumes Elk Grove stays within its current boundaries until at least 2036. SACOG has told LAFCo that the Kammerer/99 proposal is outside the MTP footprint.

Urban Sprawl?

The proposal is the very definition of urban sprawl –approving farmland for urban use while adequate land supply already exists within the urban area for expected growth. LAFCos are mandated to curb urban sprawl and protect farmland by saying no to premature expansion of cities. Tell LAFCo to do its job and say NO to the Kammerer Road/Highway 99 Sphere of Infuence.

Smart Transportation?

The proposed east-west Southeast Connector is planned to allow east-west traffic (particularly trucks) to bypass the Sacramento urban area by linking highways I-5, 99, and 50 south of the urban area. Allowing Elk Grove to strip-develop along this roadway will take away the intended transportation efficiency.

Thank you to the Friends of the Swainson’s Hawk for putting together this summary. 

More Information

Facebook Event Page for Feb 7 Hearing

Final Environmental Impact Report, November 2017

ECOS Comments to LAFCo, September 11, 2017

LAFCo Report, February 7, 2018

Disparate Interests Pan Elk Grove’s Expansion Plans at Sacramento LAFCo Meeting, December 18, 2017 – Elk Grove News.net