Streetlights for your neighborhood

A neighbor recently asked us about the process for adding streetlights in neighborhoods that don't have them. Here's what the County says:

"Sacramento County does not provide funding for the installation of new street light systems. In newly developing areas, street lights are installed by developers as a condition of approval of their development. In developed areas without lights, street lights may be installed by homeowners or business groups through formation of an assessment district, or by hiring an electrical contractor to install County standard lights under a County encroachment permit. Other agencies may fund the installation of lights."

As a developed area, our community's only options are:

  • Seek help from SMUD for safety lights -- on SMUD poles at major intersections if the County agrees and if funds are available
  • Seek help from SMUD for night lights -- on SMUD poles on private property, billed to the property owner
  • New property tax assessment -- join with other businesses or other homeowners, such as through annexation to County Service Area 1 

The City of Rancho Cordova has been upgrading itself since incorporating several years ago. It has had some streetlight success sponsoring the County Service Area approach.  Rancho Cordova also has a program to install better, less expensive street lights throughout the City, with low-interest loan funds from the California Energy Commission. These are examples of how cities can facilitate improvement of their neighborhoods.

New light emitting diode (LED) street lights in Rancho Cordova on Sunrise Blvd. The LED lights (on the left) emit a white light instead of orange light projected from existing street lights (on the right) on Sunrise Boulevard. Photo courtesy of City of Rancho Cordova

 



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GENERAL PLAN

A General Plan is the blueprint for a community's future. California state law requires that every city and county must adopt a General Plan and revise it from time to time as circumstances change. Goals, objectives and policies articulated within a General Plan are supposed to be internally consistent. Ordinances, such as a Zoning Ordinance, that implement a General Plan must also be consistent with the General Plan. Under California law, there are 7 required elements (chapters) of a General Plan: land use, circulation, housing, conservation, open space, noise and safety. The Governor's Office of Planning and Research promulgates Guidelines for preparation of General Plans. 

You got to be careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there.
— - Yogi Berra


It can be a challenge to plow through Sacramento County's General Plan and the current (1980) community plan for Arden Arcade as amended (2006). Yet a thorough understanding of these documents is helpful for area residents and businesses that seek to reverse the downward spiral of land uses and property values in the community.

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CEQA

The California Environmental Quality Act is referred to as CEQA (pronounced SEE-kwuh). It is found at California Public Resources Code § 21000 et seq.

The Act is a disclosure law. It requires state and local government entities to analyze and publicly disclose the environmental impacts of their governmental decisions. Feasible mitigation of impacts are required unless the governmental entity makes a finding of over-riding consideration.

The Act requires preparation of an "Environmental Document", which can be any of the following: Notice of Exemption, Negative Declaration, Mitigated Negative Declaration, Focused Environmental Impact Report, or Environmental Impact Report. 

Notice of Exemption (NOE) may only be issued for projects that are either called out in law as being exempt (statutory exemptions) or as per administrative law embodied in the CEQA Guidelines issued by the California Resources Agency (see California Code of Regulations Title 14 § 15000 et seq.).

Projects that are not exempt are typically subjected to an Initial Study (checklist) keyed to the issues addressed by the statute and the guidelines. Depending on the results of the Initial Study, the project is determined to have no significant impacts on the environment or, if impacts may exist, the project is subjected to detailed analysis culminating in an Environmental Impact Report. See the attached chart.

The Anton Arcade apartments project was determined by Sacramento County to be a "ministerial" project (involving no discretion by the County's decision-making process) that merited a Notice of Exemption. The Dolk et al v. County of Sacramento lawsuit is challenging that assertion.

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