The Citrus Heights Sentinel published an article about how the City of Citrus Heights values, works with, AND FUNDS neighborhoods. There are 11 neighborhood areas in the City of Citrus Heights. Anyone residing, working or owning property within an areas' boundaries is able to be involved. The City provides staff for monthly neighborhood meetings and seeks neighborhood input about projects to improve each neighborhood. According to Mayor Jeanie Bruins, neighborhood associations, "...provide a forum for people in the neighborhood to come together to have a voice as a neighborhood group, because we as council members can't reach everybody." This kind of program is possible in cities because every elected official in the city represents the city and wants to provide the city with the kind of municipal services each neighborhood wants. For more information, look at the City's Neighborhood Associations web page. This is very cool -- actually reaching out to, and listening to, neighborhoods. What a concept!
Today's Sacramento Bee article addressed the construction of "market rate" houses (which cost more than the ones we live in but don't have yards like we do) in Sacramento's Land Park neighborhood. There the City of Sacramento's Downtown Housing Initiative--6,000 market-rate units, 2,500 workforce-rate units and 1,500 subsidized units--is resulting in displacement of residents of "aging" low-income housing projects. Where will those residents live? Here, perhaps, since we have an abundance of cheap apartments and the County says we should have more? The new ones at "The Mill at Broadway" are among the projects intended to appeal to home buyers seeking hip, trendy neighborhoods. Unlike here where Sacramento County insisted--and the Judge agreed--that environmental analysis was unnecessary, at The Mill, "like all new major projects these housing projects would still be required to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act and conduct environmental impact reports." That sets those new housing units apart from our new ones. That and some other stuff like elevators, a park, money for schools, upscaling the property values, "great food" restaurants, a revitalized mixed-income community, etc. Oh, and the leadership and governance structure are different there, too.
Interior of "market rate" housing at The Mill at Broadway (millatbroadway.com/the-homes)
By now many of us have noticed that work has begun on the conversion of Cottage Way between Fulton and Watt from a 4-lane street to a two-lane "complete street" with new asphalt pavement between the roadway and the slightly-narrower drainage ditch. Completion of the project will include a median suicide lane (for turning) and striped bike routes outboard of the traffic lanes. We are told that maybe some day in the future there will also be a full, grade-separated (albeit narrow) pedestrian sidewalk along the north side that will parallel the narrow sidewalk along the south side. Well, OK, then. It will be different. It could improve things.
But what about Cottage and other Arden Arcade streets that are dominated by vehicular through-traffic (e.g. Marconi, Watt, El Camino, Arden, Eastern, Edison, Alta Arden, Fair Oaks, Howe, etc.)? What if those streets were less about commuters in cars and more about the movement of people and goods within the community? An interesting article from the web site CEOs for Cities, entitled The Case Against Urban Corridors that Act Like High-Speed Highways, makes the point that a real "complete street" serves pedestrians, cyclists, transit riders and motor vehicles equally and to the benefit of the entire community. By contrast, our community has high-speed streets with fences in the median, major arterials without sidewalks, suicide lanes without pedestrian refuges, and bike lanes that use paint to "protect" cyclists. Is this the best our community can expect? Is this how it should be?
Imagine that: a 3-story seniors' housing complex, financed by tax credits and it has elevators! It was built in 2011 and it is a mixed-use project. It's in Galt. Anton's tax-credit-financed seniors' apartments in our community on Wyda Way do not have elevators. And neither will the Anton Arcade apartments on Butano, if they are built. Arden Arcade doesn't get publicly-financed apartments as good as the ones they have in Galt. Why is that?
The City of Henderson NV is a suburb of Las Vegas, population 258K in 2010 (roughly equal to Arden Arcade, Carmichael, Old Foothill Farms, Fair Oaks and Antelope combined). It is Nevada's second largest city. Greg Blake Miller's article, "Shared Spaces, Shared City" discusses how a spirit of community there has generally triumphed over a free market, laissez-faire approach. There is an old saying that the free hand of the market that guides the public good is accompanied by a free foot that kicks the public good to pieces. Henderson seems to have found a balance between market forces and community. Sacramento County, which worships "market solutions" and defers to developers, would do well to learn a thing or two from Henderson.