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

 

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Disparate Interests Pan Elk Grove’s Expansion Plans at Sacramento LAFCo Meeting

December 18, 2017

Elk Grove News.net

Notwithstanding their 40-plus minute presentation, the City of Elk Grove was criticized at last week’s meeting of the Sacramento Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo) for its plans to enlarge the city. The criticisms, which were made by a variety of interests, condemned Elk Grove’s planned expansion through the sphere of influence (SOI) process.
 
The presentation to the LAFCo commission was made by Elk Grove assistant to city manager and planning specialist Christopher Jordan [sic] at the Wednesday, December 6 meeting. Jordan’s presentation, which was as much part history lesson and part public relations pitch, focused on the city’s state-mandated general plan update and three current SOI applications, which are the initial steps to annex property.
During public comment, the presentation was criticized by three environmentalist, two agriculture interest, and one Elk Grove resident. There were no public comments in favor of Elk Grove’s expansion plans.
 
Speaking on behalf of the Mother Lode chapter of the Sierra Club, [and Co-Chair of the Environmental Council of Sacramento’s Habitat Conservation Committee] Sean Wirth noted there was nothing in Jordan’s presentations on the effects on the environment. He also opined what environmental documents included in the application were faulty. 
 
“If this new SOI is approved outside the urban services boundary, there is going to a general belief that other areas nearby will also be able to be part of this sphere,” Wi[r]th said … [“It is going to be impossible to do conservation in that area. The effect will be that it is going to be too expensive to buy any land there.”] … .*
 
Wirth also noted flooding that occurs every seven to ten years on the southern portions of the city along the Cosumnes River which affect sandhill cranes. When flooding occurs, the cranes flee to higher ground and if the land is developed, they will lose habitat. 
 
Speaking for agriculture interests was Bill Bird from the Sacramento Farm Bureau who in part echoed Wirth. Bird said agricultural uses were not taken into account and once the land is annexed, farms will be abandoned for a variety of reasons.
 
“When you consider all three sphere of influence amendments, you are talking about taking roughly 1,800-acres out of agricultural production,” he said. “Once these amendments are granted, the writing on the wall for farmers is crystal clear – the message is – GET OUT!”
 
Addressing Elk Grove’s performance regarding employment development was resident Lynn Wheat. In her comments Wheat noted there was no mention of the quality of the new jobs developed, the 2,000 promised new jobs should the Wilton Rancheria gain approval of their proposed casino will be low wage hospitality jobs, and that the Elk Grove Unified School District remains the largest employer in the city.
 
Wheat also noted former Mayor Gary Davis’ announcement two years ago that NRC Manufacturing, whom he called a large Silicon Valley concern, was locating to Elk Grove. Since that time NRC has not relocated any of their operations to Elk Grove.
 
“A firm from the Bay Area NRC was to come a couple of years ago,” Wheat said. “Since it was presented to our city council and spoken about we haven’t heard anything, so the joke in our community is N R C stands for not really coming.”

Click here to read the full article.

Click here to read the comments the Environmental Council of Sacramento have submitted on these attempts by Elk Grove to enlarge their city.


*This sentence was originally misquoted and the meaning was unclear. It was corrected for the purpose of this post.

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Kammerer Road-Highway 99 Sphere Of Influence Amendment DREIR

On September 11, 2017, ECOS submitted our comments on the Draft Recirculated Environmental Impact Report (DREIR) for the Proposed Kammerer/Highway 99 Sphere Of Influence Amendment (SOIA) Application for the City of Elk Grove.

Click here or on the image above to read the comment letter.

Summary

We appreciate the added attention to detail offered in the recirculated draft EIR, but rather than alleviate our concerns expressed in our original letter, the DREIR only further confirms those concerns. ECOS remains strongly opposed to the proposed Kammerer-99 Elk Grove SOI expansion and stands by our initial observation summarizing the project: Elk Grove’s anticipated growth can be accommodated within the existing City limits, and we find no justification for expansion beyond the Sacramento County Urban Services Boundary (USB) established in 1993 to be the ultimate growth boundary within the County. The proposal is inconsistent with the Sacramento Area Council of Governments’ (SACOG) Metropolitan Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy (MTP/SCS) for meeting State mandated greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions, Federal mandates for Air Quality Attainment under the State Improvement Plan (SIP), as well as myriad regional goals for social equity, public health and natural resource conservation. There is an extreme lack of certainty that municipal water can be provided to this area without severe regional impacts, and the impacts to invaluable agricultural and biological resources by the proposal are potentially impossible to mitigate. The RDEIR confirms significant and unavoidable impacts in all these above-mentioned areas, with the exception of less than significant biological impact after mitigation which is a finding we disagree with. The question is, what justification is there for these impacts? We, again, find that there is not, and we strongly recommend that LAFCo decline the proposed Kammerer/99 SOIA.

Click here to read our comment letter to the Draft Environmental Impact Report, submitted March 31, 2017, which is referenced in our letter.

Click here for the Friends of Swainson’s Hawk’s comment letter on the Draft Recirculated Environmental Impact Report, submitted September 11, 2017, which is also referenced in our letter.

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