View Single Post
Old Posted Sep 25, 2007, 2:50 PM
Stephemento Stephemento is offline
Registered User
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Sacramento, CA
Posts: 3
Sacramento looks south, with ambivalence, for expansion

Annexing Fruitridge-Florin area would actually be financial loss

Sacramento Business Journal - September 21, 2007 by Michael ShawStaff writer

As the general manager of the Southgate Recreation and Park District during the mid-1970s, Robert Overstreet successfully fought the city of Sacramento's attempts to annex portions of the Fruitridge-Florin neighborhoods in south Sacramento.

Three decades later, Overstreet is on the other side of the fence. He's now the architect of the city's general plan update, and one of his tasks is contemplating future expansion. That includes the possibility of adding thousands of acres in Fruitridge-Florin and another neighborhood to the east, Rosemont.

Overstreet and others, despite the city's past failures, think a southward push might still be a good idea, even though it would unquestionably be a financial loss for Sacramento and residents are likely to resist absorption as they have repeatedly over the years.

So why does the idea keep hanging around? It goes beyond an aesthetic desire to square off the city limits.

"There's a benefit to having local land use under your control," said Scot Mende, Sacramento's new-growth manager. "To create a coordinated neighborhood, you have to have a consistent land use."

The unincorporated portion of Fruitridge-Florin reaches like a twisting finger of county property up into Sacramento's southern city limits, surrounded on three sides by city boundaries. Mende and others note awkward lines cause overlapping and overextended services. In Fruitridge, jurisdictional divisions leap across some streets; a sheriff's deputy might be dispatched to one side of Stockton Boulevard while a Sacramento city police officer is patrolling the other. Or both could arrive at a crime scene because of the mutual aid agreements, a needless duplication of services, some say. Garbage pickup, likewise, requires both governments to provide services in an area where one collection service would be more efficient.

"If you have a more unified effort in providing services to the area, it helps others around it as well," Mende said.

Signs of economic life
Sacramento County is willing to entertain annexation discussions as long as any agreement ultimately compensates the county for loss of tax revenue, said Paul Hahn, administrator of Sacramento County's Municipal Services Agency. Officials say both Fruitridge-Florin and Rosemont are considered financial losers -- they will cost the city more in services and tax-sharing agreements with Sacramento County than they'll return in tax revenue.

"Cities don't make money off of residential land," Hahn said. "They make it off commercial property."

As commercial uses have dwindled in south Sacramento areas, roads and other infrastructure are aging.

"Florin Road has taken a beating," Mende said, noting auto dealerships that once dotted the landscape have moved elsewhere. The city and county are working together on a plan to restore the Florin Road commercial corridor perhaps a precursor to working together on an annexation agreement.

There is still economic life in the region, however. A new $67 million Florin Towne Center is planned to replace the demolished Florin Mall.

The 2,500-acre Rosemont area looks attractive because it acts as a bridge to an additional 3,500 acres to the east coveted by the city and the county. The property, owned primarily by Granite Construction Co. and Teichert Inc., has been mined for years, but operations are slowing with the anticipation that the property will become suitable for development.

Meanwhile, undeveloped portions of North Natomas hang like a peach ripe for annexation to the north because new residential construction provides a one-time spark of tax revenue that older neighborhoods do not. So, the city's active efforts are focused there, meaning it might be years before there's political will to seriously consider pushing south, other than a small, 140-acre strip near Freeport that includes the city's Bartley Cavanaugh Golf Course.

Hahn noted there are significant challenges once the effort starts in earnest.

The city's utility tax is 7.5 percent, 5 percentage points higher than the county's tax. That means residents in annexation areas will have to agree to pay more in taxes, a roadblock that has halted previous annexation attempts. County residents have grown accustomed to their services, including Overstreet's former employer, the Southgate Recreation and Park District, which oversees the parks for 110,000 residents between Sacramento and Elk Grove.

"Our board hasn't had a chance to discuss this," said district spokeswoman Veronica Carloni, noting that board members had only recently viewed a map that shows Fruitridge-Florin as possible future expansion. "We don't have an official opinion on it -- it's too early on in the process."

The district's residents won't easily embrace changes, she said.

But Overstreet said any new effort to annex Fruitridge-Florin will be viewed more favorably than previous attempts. His objection 30 years ago stemmed from the city's effort to enfold shopping centers within city limits while leaving residential neighborhoods within the county. Regulations now prohibit such maneuvers, he said.

He suggested annexation agreements might allow the park district to remain in place, at least for a period of time. That could ease a transition into the city.

"It's a new day, regardless of what has happened before," Overstreet said.
Reply With Quote