Sacramento Region Highway CapCity Projects

On October 3, 2018, the Environmental Council of Sacramento (ECOS) sent the following letter to the California Department of Transportation regarding the Sacramento Region Highway CapCity Projects.

Dear Director Benipal:

The Environmental Council of Sacramento (ECOS) is concerned that planned freeway expansions in the Sacramento region will induce major increases in vehicle volumes, contravening the spirit and intent of state legislation such as SB 375. We are most concerned about the CapCity (SR 51) expansion (including possible widening of the American River bridge), and also concerned about the planned I-5 HOV lanes between Sacramento and Elk Grove, and the proposed widening of I-80 between Sacramento and Davis.

We appreciate the CapCity project team’s continued engagement with ECOS and its willingness to discuss the project’s progression. However, ECOS would like to expand this conversation into a broader discussion about regional transportation challenges and priorities. We are willing to work with Caltrans staff to coordinate discussions with other regional agencies and stakeholders with the aim of considering potential alternatives to address these challenges.

Following are some reasons why this conversation is timely: CARB’s greenhouse gas scoping plan shows that we must reduce VMT by 15% to meet 2050 goals for GHG emissions. Guidelines for SB 743 specify that the principal criterion in evaluating transportation projects is now VMT reduction, as opposed to congestion relief. Based on these Guidelines, Caltrans will need to consider induced travel demand from future expansion projects, such as caused by land use impacts. The Sacramento Transportation Authority is planning a tax measure for the 2020 ballot. SACOG is developing its draft preferred scenario the 2020 MTP/SCS. Finally, the fate of SB 1 hinges on the outcome of Proposition 6 in November.

The proposed CapCity expansion is emblematic of multiple other prospective projects in the region, and raises questions about historic approaches to longstanding problems as well as approaches to future challenges the region faces. We acknowledge that the challenges involved are significant, and that a rethinking of potential solutions also has great hurdles. We believe that the convergence of challenges and opportunities we face warrants an exploration of additional tools to increase travel-mode options, support infill housing and economic needs, and reduce VMT with increased transit operations and emerging strategies such as congestion pricing and shared mobility.

We would all benefit from a broadly based conversation regarding alternative solutions for regional mobility before major public funds are committed to significant increases in highway capacity. We hope that you will consider cooperating in such a discussion with ECOS, and we are sharing this letter with other organizations and government bodies that we hope to include in this conversation as well. We look forward to discussing possible meeting times and locations.

Sincerely,

Ralph Propper
ECOS President

Click here to read the full letter in PDF.

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Resolution in Support of Expanding and Enhancing Sutter’s Landing Park

WHEREAS, the Lower American River provides a beautiful place for Sacramento-area families to connect with nature, enjoy quality outdoor time together, and inspire children to learn about science; and

WHEREAS, the Lower American River and the American River Parkway generate about 8,000,000 visitor days per year making this resource one of the most popular recreational areas in the Sacramento region; and

WHEREAS, the Lower American River, the American River Parkway, and Sutter’s Landing Park provide vital habitat for a wide variety of wildlife including the Swainson’s Hawk (California threatened species), the White-tailed kite (species of special concern), river otters, and many other wildlife species; and

WHEREAS, there are very limited opportunities for Sacramento area residents to access the southern banks of the Lower American River or enjoy significant natural areas along the river’s southern banks within the City of Sacramento; and

WHEREAS, Sacramento area residents have rated parks, trails and recreation areas as the amenities most in need of investment and have rated large habitats for walking and hiking where interpretive and educational programs can take place as their top priority for the type of park and recreational facilities to be provided in the future; and

WHEREAS, the Governor and the California Legislature established the Lower American River Conservancy Program to assist local governments in protecting, restoring, and expanding wildlife areas and public access along the Lower American River and voters recently approved millions of dollars of state park bond funding for this purpose; and

WHEREAS, the City of Sacramento has the opportunity to establish one of California’s most significant urban riverside parks by expanding Sutter’s Landing Park to the west of the existing park when these lands become available from willing landowners and protecting and restoring existing open space areas; and

WHEREAS, expanding and improving Sutter’s Landing Park will provide Sacramento diverse population with a tremendous natural area that can readily connect children and other community members with nature in the heart of our city; and

WHEREAS, expanding Sutter’s Landing Park to the west is necessary to help fill the existing gap in the Two Rivers Trail gap between 16th Street and the current Sutter’s Landing Park; and

WHEREAS, each generation has a responsibility to leave our children and future generations with an improved environment and affordable recreational opportunities.

WHEREAS, the opportunity to place lands near Sutter’s Landing into public ownership has arisen, and should be seized;

WHEREAS, ECOS has long supported conservation of the American River Parkway and supports conserving and restoring the lands adjacent to Sutter’s Landing that are now in private ownership;

WHEREAS, it is important that the design process of the eventual public park be open and collaborative across Sacramento’s many communities;

WHEREAS, the park should have modern facilities, including adequate restrooms, and be designed to be accessible and useful for all;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Environmental Council of Sacramento respectfully urges the Mayor of Sacramento, the City Council of Sacramento, the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors, and the Wildlife Conservation Board to:

1. Make expansion, protection, restoration, and improvement of Sutter’s Landing Park a priority.

2. Support educational programs at Sutter’s Landing Park and along the American River Parkway to provide children with information about the river’s contribution to the natural and cultural history of our region.

3. Support and allocate funding to make Sutter’s Landing Park one of California’s greatest urban natural oasis providing our communities and other visitors with ready connection to nature and one of America’s most beautiful rivers.

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT ECOS will transmit this resolution to the Mayor of Sacramento, Members of the Sacramento City Council, Members of the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors, and Members and Staff of the Wildlife Conservation Board.

Click here to view the resolution in PDF.

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Renewal of Measure U in Sacramento

September 10, 2018

The Environmental Council of Sacramento (ECOS) has submitted a letter in response to the renewal of Measure U in Sacramento. The content of the letter is below.

Dear Mayor and City Council:

The Environmental Council of Sacramento (ECOS) agrees with the concerns about the renewal of Measure U expressed in a recent letter from neighborhood groups and their supporters to the Sacramento City Council. We are also concerned that a permanent extension of the City’s local sales tax measure (Measure U) without significant changes in community engagement, budget process, and oversight will mean that City residents who will pay this tax will have no way to ensure that the funds collected are used for the greatest and most equitable community benefit.

ECOS generally supports the four proposals outlined in the letter submitted from the neighborhood groups:

  1. There should be meaningful comminity engagement for all plans and pending decisions that represents our diverse communities. This process should begin well before a final plan or decision is released, and all comments and documents received in that engagement should be publicly available. Engagement should prioritize low-income communities and communities of color.
  2. Once per year, with the annual budget, the City should conduct an assessment of the impact on disadvantaged communities by the previous year spending and proposed spending for the next fiscal year.
  3. The City should implement a participatory budgeting process to get meaningful public input on the spending that will be proposed for each annual budget. This process must conclude before any final budget is proposed for the next fiscal year and include meaningful community engagement. Any final recommendations should include a racial impact assessment of proposed spending.
  4. There should be meaningful citizen budget oversight through a citizen oversight committee that has the ability to convene meetings when the committee deems necessary and to provide recommendations to the City on budget spending and proposals.

We request that the City Council take formal action to adopt these requests before the November election. We look forward to working with you to institute these long-needed changes to the City’s planning and budget process.

Sincerely,
Ralph Propper
ECOS President

To access the letter in PDF, click here.

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