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Houses, Gentrification, and Building….Oh My!

Updated: Jan 19, 2022

Here's your recap of the April 6th Sacramento City Council Meeting. Thanks to Graham Gardner and Meg White for the assist on this one.

Item 30: Submittal of Draft 2021-2029 Housing Element With the housing crisis tornado staying at the forefront of city planning discussions, we need eyes open, and all hands on deck as the City council works on approving new housing developments.

The Sacramento County Housing Element​ is a required element of the County's General Plan. It analyzes existing and projected housing needs for all income groups as well as special needs populations and identifies programs to address those needs. Housing Element is seeking to get an 8-year housing strategy approved by the city council which will address housing concerns in Sacramento.

The target goal per the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) is 45,580 units. With the influx of people from the bay area flying into Sacramento and the high rates of homelessness, availability of housing is crucial.

One of the main concerns of the public is our yellow brick road doesn’t look like the elimination of single family zoning (R1 housing) which may be detrimental in terms of gentrification and the historical qualities of longstanding neighborhoods.

A proposal from the public recommends leaving this aspect out of the plan, protecting single family homes, and to avoid the ideal of the "desirable neighborhood". Some argued our red slippers may be using funds to improve the conditions of already existing neighborhoods (such as Oak Park) and allowing residents the opportunity to own property as a means to advance in economic standing instead of allocating funds to building. Building new properties can drive up housing prices, making it difficult for those who are already facing financial difficulties. Protecting our communities means providing affordable housing because afterall, there’s no place like home.

Item: Aggie Square, Cannabis Dispensaries, and Fossil Fuel Investments

Equitable Housing, Environmental Justice, Health Equity, Inclusive Economic Development The Background: Aggie Square is a $1.1 billion proposed project located at Stockton Boulevard and Second Avenue in Sacramento, mostly on property owned by UC Davis. It would expand the university’s Sacramento campus. The Lawsuit: A coalition of a dozen neighborhood groups called Sacramento Investment Without Displacement(SIWD) filed a lawsuit saying that the university’s environmental impact report didn’t address the loss of affordable housing, increased pollution, and gentrification. If approved by the Superior Court the city would’ve fought against the neighborhood groups to prevent the delay of what Mayor Darrell Steinberg and Councilmembers Jay Schenirer and Eric Guerra are calling "the biggest economic investment Sacramento has received in decades."

Current Status After announcing a settlement shortly before the meeting started, the Mayor called for a vote to approve the Aggie Square Community Benefits Partnership Agreement and Enhanced Infrastructure Financing District (EIFD). The motion was approved 7-2 by the council, with 'no' votes by Valenzuela and Vang.

Valenzuela and Vang voted 'no' because they wanted more time for community members and the council to review the settlement with SIWD. Some council members also felt like they didn't have enough time to review the California Business Properties Association (CBPA).

The settlement does provide $50 million to support affordable and workforce housing, guarantees that 25% of the new jobs go to local residents and broadly says that SIWD and the broader community will be active partners and the plan will reflect local community needs.

Concerns raised by some council members about present and near-term displacement, as well as speculative real estate investment in Oak Park, were not addressed. There was some discussion about how funds could be used short-term for affordable housing and housing support, but details on that are to be worked out.

While we’re all on board with the economic advancement of Sacramento, not at the cost of our local communities housing needs.

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