Environmental Groups Claims LAFCO Executive Director Misled, Gave False Information in Elk Grove Expansion Approval

April 1, 2018

Elk Grove News.Net

In a rebuke of the February 7, 2018 decision to initiate a developer-driven expansion of Elk Grove, a rehearing of those plans will be held at the Sacramento Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo) will be held on Wednesday, April 7. That hearing will be held at the requests from environmentalist groups who claim that among numerous other infractions, Sacramento LAFCO executive director Donald J. Lockhart misled and withheld information from the body’s commissioners.

In a 10-page letter (posted below) dated March 9, 2018 from the petitioner attorney Donald Mooney, the eight areas are cited where the decision by the seven-person commission was made without a complete presentation of facts. The petitioners seeking the new hearing include the Sierra Club, the Environmental Council of Sacramento, Habitat 2020, and Friends of Swainson’s Hawk.

In that February meeting, the Sacramento LAFCO commissioners voted 4-3 in favor of an application by home builders who were seeking to place about 1,200-acres in the city of Elk Grove’s sphere of influence. Putting the land into Elk Grove’s sphere of influence paves the way for the city to annex the property into city limits, thereby allowing the developers a quicker path to new housing developments.

Read the article here.

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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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2017 Habitat 2020 Accomplishments

Habitat 2020 is ECOS’ Habitat & Conservation committee. Habitat 2020 is a coalition that works to protect the lands, waters, wildlife and native plants in the Sacramento region. The great Central Valley of California has been identified by the World Wildlife Fund as one of North America’s most endangered eco-regions. Preserving its remaining open space and agricultural land is essential for sustaining native plants and wildlife, and ensuring a high quality of life for ourselves and future generations.

In 2017 Habitat 2020 had a continued engagement in a broad range of Sacramento regional environmental protection efforts that no singular organization could address alone.

These crucial activities include:

  • Continued promotion of the Heartland Project Vision for a regionally coordinated and connected system of parks, preserves and working lands:
    • Successfully negotiated a new contract in with the UCD Information Center for the Environment and the Capitol Southeast Connector JPA to continue development of the Sacramento regional natural resources data inventory and modeling project, in accordance with the ECOS-Connector JPA Settlement Agreement.
    • Aided in visioning and oversight of the SMUD carbon sequestration inventory for Sacramento County, the first application of the UCD-Heartland Natural Resource inventory.
    • Aided in the acquisition of a $600k Federal Environmental Protection Agency grant for UCD to continue a second phase of development for the natural resource inventory to cross analyze public health factors with environmental sustainability factors to better illustrate relationships between human and ecological health in the Sacramento Region.
  • Continued a decade-long resistance to irresponsible expansion of the City of Elk Grove in an effort to protect critical habitat for myriad species in the Cosumnes River corridor, including Sandhill Crane and Swainson’s hawk. Elk Grove is currently updating its General Plan and has three current Sphere of Influence Expansion Applications. A primary concern is the Kammerrer-99 SOI proposal, outside of the long-standing County Urban Services Boundary and the Regional Sustainable Communities Strategy. Habitat 2020 engagement and commentary has so far led to the decision to recirculate the Draft Environmental impact report to better address important concerns raised with the EIR’s initial analysis. The Final EIR has recently been released and great concerns for the project remain. The Local Agency Formation Commission hearing to consider approval of the project is scheduled for February.
  • Continued critical representation of the environmental community in development of the final South Sacramento Habitat Conservation Plan and Environmental Impact Report and Statement released this year, after decades of evolution. Habitat 2020 engagement was essential to this process, being the only group to review the entire public draft of the Plan and the environmental documents, over 3300 pages. The extensive commentary Habitat 2020 has provided is aimed at correcting some long standing issues that remain before certification.
  • Partnered with Friend’s of the Swainson’s Hawk to negotiate an agreement with the City of Sacramento to preserve the integrity of the Natomas Basin Habitat Conservation Plan in mitigation of their approval of the Greenbriar project.
  • Provided expert testimony to the ongoing CA WaterFix hearings concerning important terrestrial impacts posed by the proposed Delta tunnels project with H2020 partners, including Friends of Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge and SOSCranes.
  • Tracked initial local implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, offering in depth commentary on the pros and cons of the Sacramento Central Groundwater Authority’s proposed Groundwater Management Plan Alternative, with the aim to outline a constructive path forward to address current deficiencies with increased public participation and oversight. We continued our active presence at the Environmental Caucus of the Water Forum, and this last year Ted Rauh of our Water Group became an alternate South Central Groundwater Committee Board member representing environmental interests.
  • H2020 Partner, SOS Cranes, continued participation in the Statewide Sandhill Crane Conservation Strategy Technical Advisory Committee in development of a plan due for release in 2018.
  • Continued participation in the Sacramento Area Council of Governments “Sounding Board” advisory committee for development of the 2020 Metropolitan transportation Plan Sustainable Communities Strategy (MTP/SCS), emphasizing the need for smart, more compact regional growth that simultaneously provides greater, more equitable access to non-auto modes of travel, and preserves natural and agricultural resources. Habitat 2020 has also offered important representation in the SB 375 target revision process currently underway at the CA Air Resources Board, with an aim to determine the most ambitious GHG reduction targets feasible for the Sacramento Region’s MTP/SCS.
  • Supported Audubon Society efforts to preserve essential Purple Martin nesting habitat in the City of Sacramento’s I St bridge replacement project.
  • Supported International Dark Sky Association recommendations to the Cities of Sacramento and West Sacramento for reducing light impacts to aquatic and terrestrial habitat on the Sacramento Riverfront.
  • Supported Folsom community residents in a campaign to develop an alternative plan for storm/waste water infrastructure improvements to minimize impacts to Hinkle Creek and its surrounding forest.
  • Coordinated broad regional stakeholder input into a robust set of recommendations for the City of Sacramento for the consideration of investment in a regional educational facility focused on the region’s unique natural resources.
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