Can a county clean up abused neighborhoods?

The Bee published an article today about the Community Prosecution Unit of the District Attorney's Office. The Unit confronts absentee and/or neglectful landlords whose properties have become sites for prostitution, drug usage, code complaints or other problems that adversely impact neighborhoods. Begun in the early 2000s, the Unit's work was cut back substantially a few years ago as an austerity measure by the Board of Supervisors. As might have been expected, the budget cuts resulted in unabated problems. The article explains that, in the two years since the work has resumed, the Unit has been trying to catch up with the backlog. Heartening as this is for residents and businesses concerned about Arden Arcade's deterioration, the following quote in the article from area historian William Burg pretty much hit the nail on the head:

"Functionally (these communities) don't look any different than the ones in city limits," Burg said. But "this is county government. Counties aren't really supposed to be responsible for developed urban areas, which these places essentially are." 

Though we certainly wish success for the District Attorney's Office in this effort, it remains to be seen whether the Office will be able to correct the problems across the unincorporated area once and for all or barely hold the line against further deterioration.

11/18/2016, 3:45pm: a scavenger on Loma Vista Drive off Fulton a few moments before foraging in the dumpster at the north end of the Global House of Imports building. 

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No one could possibly have foreseen this

What happens in the center turn lanes (AKA "suicide lanes") on or near Fulton Avenue by the car dealers? That's where cars are loaded or unloaded from transport trailers. That's NOT what center turn lanes are supposed to be used for, of course. The lanes are there so motorists can safely make right or left turns. But that's hard to do when a truck is parked in the center turn lane, isn't it? Now look at the photo below, taken at 3:45pm on a pre-holiday Friday from Fulton at Hernando: get-away traffic has already built up on Fulton Avenue, the northbound lanes are clogged waiting for the light at El Camino, the southbound lanes are briefly clear while the built-up southbound traffic waits for that same light. Now imagine you are in that northbound traffic and you just want to turn left onto Hernando to get to your house---oops, might be tricky, there's a truck parked in the center turn lane. Or imagine you use the opening in the southbound lanes to turn left from Hernando and go north on Fulton. You have to go north in the southbound lanes to get your vehicle aligned within the center turn lane, but if you do that you won't be able to move after you get there because the truck parked in the center turn lane blocks your view of oncoming northbound traffic and, besides, northbound drivers can't see you. Within Sacramento County's vast arsenal of land use approvals, conditional use permits, business licenses, business group partnerships and law enforcement tools, there has apparently been NO WAY to anticipate the obvious need of area car dealers to receive or send their inventory via transport trailers, NO WAY to mitigate the traffic impacts and NO WAY to enforce traffic laws. 

Travel trailers routinely use neighborhood streets and/or major roads like Fulton to deliver or take on inventory for car dealers on Fulton. 

 

 

 

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Dan Walters notices problems with county government

Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters mostly focuses on how California's state government functions, or fails to function, depending on one's point of view. His column today points a finger at county governments, asking about their validity. The column is remarkably clear about the perspective that county government isn't necessarily best-suited to serving the municipal needs of developed urban areas. Though he wrote about Los Angeles County, he could have just as easily highlighted Sacramento County's UnCity communities such as Arden Arcade. He quotes Zev Yaroslavsky, a long-time member (now retired) of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and thus one of California's icons of local government, who said this about county government:

It’s the worst form of government, unless you are one of the five,” Yaroslavsky said. Likening counties to the Soviet Union, he added, “Our system is ultimately going to collapse of its own dead weight.
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Mobility problems persist

Measure B in Sacramento County did not get the 2/3 approval vote needed to pass. It was billed as a way to fix the transportation infrastructure in the region. Most people are totally clear on the need to improve mobility. Here in Arden Arcade, transit service leaves a lot to be desired (ever tried to get a bus on Sunday?), pedestrian and bicycle-friendly streets are not exactly ubiquitous (said as kindly as we could put it), and our streets are significantly in disrepair (to put it mildly). Would Measure B have solved those problems, or, at least taken a bite out of them? Possibly. Or maybe not...as the motorists on Fulton Avenue might tell you. 

Just another typical late afternoon .4 mile backup on Fulton Avenue waiting for the light to change at El Camino. Fulton is one of the few N-S streets in Arden Arcade that connects to a freeway.

  

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How Arden Arcade voted

The Bee published some interactive maps of how precincts in the Sacramento region voted in the recent General Election. Results for President, Congressional district 7, some statewide ballot measures and the local Measure B (transportation sales tax) are provided down to a fine level of detail -- just go to the Bee's page and enter an address. Snapshots of the voting patterns of Arden Arcade--roughly Ethan to Mission and the American River to Business 80 minus Campus Commons and a bit of Sierra Oaks--are shown below.

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Supervisor Peters Admits Ethics Violations

The Sacramento Bee has reported that the Fair Political Practices Commission's staff investigation of Susan Peters, who represents Arden Arcade and other areas on the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors, has concluded that she violated state ethics law. It was determined that Supervisor Peters received personal benefits from her votes on projects connected with the former Mather Air Force Base. According to the settlement document presented in the article, she has concurred with the findings and has agreed to pay a $9,500 fine for her transgressions. The settlement will be made final by the Fair Political Practices Commission at a future meeting. Some excerpts from the article:

"Sacramento County Supervisor Susan Peters and Elk Grove City Councilman Steven Detrick have agreed to settle ethics cases brought by the state’s political watchdog, according to documents released Friday."

"Peters violated state ethics laws by voting for the conveyance of land from the Air Force to Sacramento County and from the Air Force to the Sacramento County Office of Education when she owned property nearby, the FPPC found. She further violated the law by approving the demolition of blighted buildings near her property. "

"In a written statement, Peters said she has consistently sought advice from county counsel about her votes on Mather projects and there “was never intent on my part to run afoul of the FPPC rules and I regret making the error. I continue to review items carefully to avoid even the perception of making a similar mistake.”

Sacramento County District 3 Supervisor Susan Peters (photo credit CalNews.com)

Sacramento County District 3 Supervisor Susan Peters (photo credit CalNews.com)

 

 

 

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What's Stopping Arden Arcade from Becoming a City?

Guest speaker Michael Coleman spoke at our meeting last night. He is a recognized expert on municipal finance. His talk identified a big fly in the incorporation ointment -- one put there by the state Legislature. Specifically, the Vehicle License Fee (VLF) is an important revenue source for cities and counties. The share apportioned to cities has historically been spread across all cities, including new ones. A few years ago the Legislature's habit of making last-minute bills that don't get much attention in the rush to adjourn the legislative session resulted in a VLF distribution that cut new cities out of the equation. The cities' share of VLF revenues were thus spread across existing cities ONLY, along with some magic-and-pixie-dust and sleight-of-hand that also fiddled around with property taxes to schools and state-level school subventions. One of these days the elves here at our web site might put up a more detailed explanation of this phenomenon over at our "Governance" pages. For now, though, the simplified message is that an unintended consequence of the Legislature's "great work" has been the virtual elimination of new incorporations. With serious buyers' remorse, the Legislature has been trying to fix that problem for California's youngest cities (mostly in Riverside County) that have complained that their local budgets were victims of the legislative tomfoolery. Some minor adjustments have been made to give some help to those cities, but the Governor has steadfastly wielded his veto pen to stand in the way of correcting the main issues.

What does this mean for Arden Arcade? Not much at the moment, really, because 1) nothing in state policy ever stays the same forever, 2) there is no incorporation proposal on the table now and, as several speakers have pointed out at Advocates' meetings, 3) the process of acquiring local control is long and difficult.  In the group discussion last night it was stated that 2020 would likely be the earliest any ballot measure about incorporation might go before the electorate. In the meantime, there are many, many preliminary steps to be explored BEFORE a specific proposal for incorporation might be ready for consideration. Here at the Advocates for Arden Arcade, we're fine with that because we are about community awareness and knowledge.  Mr. Coleman's presentation struck us as very informative and very helpful. And we would be delighted to hear your thoughts, too, so please feel free to send us email at [email protected],org. 

A whole bunch of people came to hear Michael Coleman's talk about what stands in the way of incorporation for Arden Arcade. Surprise! The main barriers are the Legislature and the Governor! 

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(In)complete street

Wilhaggin Drive is an important local road for Arden Arcade. It is one of a handful of streets connecting American River Drive to Fair Oaks Boulevard. It has vehicle lanes for motorists, sidewalks for pedestrians, and a striped bike route for cyclists. In other words, Wilhaggin is a "complete street" that addresses the full set of modes of travel. Well, sort of...  As the photo below shows, someone thought it was important to fix the pavement for motor vehicles. But only half of each bike lane was repaved. Having half of each lane with good pavement makes it harder for cyclists, who must either choose to ride a narrow line where the good pavement is or stay where the pavement is bone-jarring but has more safe space to the side. The bike route is particularly significant because it provides a fairly safe way for cyclists to travel between Arden Park and the American River Parkway. Whether those cyclists are riding two-wheelers or tricycles (you see more and more trikes these days, especially the ones designed for faster speeds), didn't they deserve to have the entire width of the bike lanes repaved? After all, the cars have new pavement for the full width of their lanes.

Wilhaggin at Wycombe. Who thought it was a good idea to only repave half of the bike lanes?

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Can Arden Arcade afford to be a city? -- Municipal finance expert to speak on 10/26/16.