Creating Sustainable Communities and Landscapes

Recommended practices and tools for local collaboration on climate-smart growth

Published: October 8, 2018

By the Strategic Growth Council

The State of California has a rich history of environmental leadership. With some of the most beautiful landscapes and fertile soils in the country, we have much to protect and conserve. As the State’s population grows towards fifty million people, infrastructure demands place intensified levels of stress on California’s agricultural and natural wealth. In order to address these challenges, California has led the charge nationally to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions, because we recognize that this battle is not only about the environment – it is also about protecting the well-being of our families and communities. To ensure the prosperous future of our State, we must shift to a more conscientious approach to land use planning in California – one that balances the needs of conservation and development. In order to balance these priorities, the State has put new laws in place for new housing and infill development, community resilience, economic growth in urban and rural areas, and set an ambitious target for carbon neutrality by 2045 that relies upon efficient and orderly growth across California.

Developed through a collaboration among the Strategic Growth Council, the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research and the California Association of Local Agency Formation Commissions (CALAFCO), this paper is intended to help support coordination among local entities to advance efficient growth and conservation of natural resources. The document highlights case studies in which LAFCos, cities, counties and special districts successfully partnered to reduce suburban sprawl and increase the conservation of natural and working lands, while also considering how to improve community resilience. It also aims to raise awareness of available tools and resources that can be used to create more environmentally and economically sustainable communities throughout California.

California, State of. “AnnouncementCreating Sustainable Communities and Landscapes: Recommended Practices and Tools for Local Collaboration on Climate-Smart Growth.” CA.gov, Strategic Growth Council, 8 Oct. 2018, www.sgc.ca.gov/news/2018/10-08.html.

Read the paper by clicking here.

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Suit filed to block step toward annexation of land by Elk Grove

June 5, 2018

By Ben van der Meer

The Sacramento Business Journal

A coalition of environmental groups has filed suit to block a step that the city of Elk Grove must take before it can annex more than 1,100 acres to the south.

The plaintiffs, led by the Environmental Council of Sacramento, filed suit in Sacramento County Superior Court alleging that an environmental impact report for the move doesn’t adequately address impacts on water, loss of farmland and at-risk species such as the sandhill crane and Swainson’s hawk.

The suit also claims that the Sacramento Local Agency Formation Commission went against its stated policies to discourage sprawl when it approved a sphere-of-influence amendment for Elk Grove earlier this year.

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Click here to read the full article.

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Lawsuit filed on Elk Grove Sphere of Influence

June 1, 2018

Sierra Club, ECOS, et al. File Legal Action to Reverse Sacramento Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo) Approval of Expansion of Elk Grove Sphere of Influence

On June 1, 2018, the Environmental Council of Sacramento, Sierra Club, Friends of Swainson’s Hawk, Friends of Stone Lakes Wildlife Refuge and Habitat 2020 filed an action to block Sacramento LAFCo’s approval of an expanded Sphere of Influence for the City of Elk Grove.  “Numerous legal errors occurred in the Commission’s consideration and approval on a 4-3 vote of this landowner*-initiated amendment to Elk Grove’s potential boundary. The decision permits previously protected farmland to now be considered for annexation into the City,” said Don Mooney, attorney for the environmental groups.  “My clients represent the public interest in curbing sprawl and preserving farmland in this region.”

The Sierra Club, Environmental Council of Sacramento (ECOS) and associates have long maintained that the health and sustainability of the Sacramento region depends upon the preservation of farmland and avoidance of further urban sprawl.  “LAFCo has pivoted away from long established regional goals with this approval,” said Sierra Club Mother Lode Chapter Conservation Chair Sean Wirth,” and we aim to hold them accountable.  All of our region’s planning for infrastructure, the Regional Transportation Plan, the South Sacramento Habitat Conservation Plan, water supply, sanitation, and the Air Quality Plan are based on an Urban Services Boundary that LAFCo pushed aside in its February 7 decision.  This blatant disregard for decades of careful planning must be challenged.”

Ralph Propper, President of ECOS, noted that “Although the Sphere of Influence Amendment is just the first step in urbanization  ­—no dirt will be turned soon—, the Environmental Impact Report identified 22 significant and unavoidable impacts from this decision that cannot be mitigated.  This is a damaging land use decision that threatens the health of our community.”

Jim Pachl, Sierra Club Mother Lode Chapter Legal Chair, pointed out that “there are over 4000 vacant acres zoned for new development within the City of Elk Grove, including 1800 acres with residential project approvals that remain unbuilt.  Some projects were approved over ten years ago and remain unbuilt.  Lent Ranch Mall remains a half-built shell.  LAFCo lacks a legitimate reason to allow a conversion of farmland for expansion of Elk Grove’s footprint.”

LAFCo denied a request to reconsider its decision on May 2, setting the stage for the filing of litigation. 

*The Sphere of Influence Amendment was sought by landowners of 1,156 acres south of Kammerer Road and west of Highway 99.  The applicants are Gerry Kamilos and Martin Feletto.

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Pitch In!

Lawsuits are pricey! If you would like to provide monetary support for this, you can donate online HERE OR send a check to the Environmental Council of Sacramento, P.O. Box 1526, Sacramento, CA 95812. Please include a notation “for Elk Grove lawsuit” in the memo field of Paypal or your check to ensure that your donation goes to the lawsuit.

In The News

Suit filed to block step toward annexation of land by Elk Grove
June 5, 2018
The Sacramento Business Journal
https://www.bizjournals.com/sacramento/news/2018/06/05/suit-filed-to-block-step-toward-annexation-of-land.html

Environmental Groups File Lawsuit Against Sacramento LAFCO, Seek to Halt Elk Grove Expansion
June 5, 2018
ElkGroveNews.net
http://www.elkgrovenews.net/2018/06/environmental-group-files-lawsuit-against-elk-grove-expansion.html

Environmentalists sue to block city’s southern expansion
Elk Grove Citizen
June 8, 2018
http://www.egcitizen.com/news/environmentalists-sue-to-block-city-s-southern-expansion/article_e06d57f0-6b55-11e8-a42c-274a961568ea.html

More Information

Click here for the project application.

Click here for more background information on this issue.

Click here for a PDF of the media advisory.

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