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  #21  
Old Posted May 18, 2012, 6:10 AM
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I'm not saying we should be part of an SF-SJ-SAC megapolis (although it might end up that way if things keep sprawling) but they might be a good business partner--along with Tokyo, Seoul, Hong Kong or other global cities. There are advantages to spatial proximity even in a digital age, after all. If HSR ever gets built, and the Peninsula keeps putting up resistance and it gets here first, Los Angeles would be just as close.

Networks are valuable because they are interconnected--at distances both near and far. We were at our best as a city when we were the hub of a network, and our most underrated industry, state government, is based on being able to serve that role. It's also an industry that is integrally tied to the well-being of the state: when California is doing well, Sacramento does well.
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  #22  
Old Posted May 21, 2012, 3:49 PM
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We need to diversify our economy AND re-emphasize our status as the state's capitol. The later will take us becoming less insular. I'm not contradicting myself here because I don't think focusing on regionalism will help us do that. What I mean is that we are waiting for other parts of the state to recognize us and give us our due credit as the state capitol when we, as the state capitol, should be reaching out to them.
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  #23  
Old Posted May 23, 2012, 9:00 PM
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The point I was trying to make with the fashion industry example was not that the government should subsidize a school, but that Sacramento needs a stroke of luck to become home to a prestigious institution of some kind that would act as a catalyst to raise the status of a local industry. Fashion, for example, employs clothing designers, fabric designers, merchants, models, photographers, marketing professionals, and has a ripple effect to other professions as well. It's even possible that garments and shoes could be produced here, much like Italian fashion is produced in Italy. This is just an example. It's highly unlikely that Sacramento will be the next Milan, but if the art college moves downtown like you suggest, and develops a well respected fashion design program, it would create the kind of "room" for that creative scene to emerge that you mentioned. I think the contributions of academic institutions to the economy are overlooked and underutilized in Sacramento.
The importance of an industrial economy should not be discredited either. There are only so many jobs available in creative professions. Many global cities DO have a strong industrial backbone, and revenue from exports. Without a healthy economy, momentum to grow the city will fade. Yes, there are higher-order things that need attention too, but I think that bolstering industrial production is a step that most cities have taken on their way to becoming global, and is still as relevant today as ever.
Interesting idea. Another idea is for Sac to become a major center for Indie films and I think there are already some entrepreneurs working to make that a goal. With our sunny weather and attractive architecture downtown, I think that is definitely a workable goal.

I think Sac can beat the bay area in certain things. Of course we will probably never surpass the Bay, but Sac can become "cooler" in some respects such as Indie-oriented industries, or maybe an Indie fashion industry. Who knows. I think we should focus on being non-mainstream, and doing so, we will become the essence of hip and cool without needing the big bucks to take on other regions like the Bay or LA. We can be the Portland of California.
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  #24  
Old Posted May 24, 2012, 1:30 AM
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Sacramento become the capitol of hip California fashion. Are you serious? Have you seen how people here dress? We can become the hip alternative to the big coastal megapolis' but we won't if people here continue to mimic it's exurban culture.
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  #25  
Old Posted May 24, 2012, 6:23 AM
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If you're basing our urban self-worth on competition with San Francisco but starting with the assumption that we'll never surpass San Francisco, you're already doomed to failure. A global economy means we have to think about competition with workers on the other side of the planet--getting so fixated on how we compare to folks 90 miles down the road seems counterproductive. Comparing ourselves to San Francisco is pointless--so why bother doing it at all?

Thinking about Sacramento's role as a government center. Compare California to the East Coast. Imagine that the entire east coast, from Massachusetts to Georgia, was all one state, and all the state administration was done from Atlanta. Considering that this agglomeration of states would include cities like Boston, New York City, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Washington DC, and a huge land area that is diverse geographically and demographically, heck, even to its climate, you'd need a huge number of administrators to run things in such a super-state. So many that it might seem absurdly dominant in a relatively medium-sized city like Atlanta, even though in terms of that region's massive total population, a drop in the bucket. And in a state with so many big, well-established cities, Atlanta, which comes off pretty well compared to the rest of Georgia, would end up looking pretty pokey. And any time that state government did something that didn't meet with the approval of New York City or Baltimore, they'd be complaining about those morons down in Atlanta.

And that's where we sit. We're the administrative center for a population and geographic area the size of most of the Eastern Seaboard. In terms of state employees per capita, we were 49th out of 50 states several years ago before we started squeezing state agencies as tightly as we do now. But because the workforce needed to run the state is immense and Sacramento is not, people assume that our workforce is "unbalanced" because we have so many state employees.

And oddly enough, you never hear many complaints about the Sacramento region having too many people in the construction sector, the largest employer in the private economy, even as boom-era suburban tracts turn into ghost towns. Instead, they're jockeying local governments to approve new subdivisions that nobody wants and the region won't need for decades--subdivisions planned for land that used to be productive farmland. Which, of course, we might want to use for farming, considering how important locally-sourced produce is becoming, or that before Sacramento's working class transitioned into the building trades (and when we had a lot fewer state workers, because California's population was a lot smaller) Sacramento's big employment sector was in the processing and transportation of agricultural products.

Want to know how Portland got to be as cool and urban as it did? They decided 30 or so years ago to limit their ability to grow outward with suburbs, so they had no choice but to grow inward and upward. They didn't do it with some kind of government subsidy to attract hipsters. Although if you were to plunk Portland down in California, it still looks pretty poky compared to LA, San Diego or San Francisco--it would probably end up hanging out with Sacramento like band and drama kids in the high school cafeteria.
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  #26  
Old Posted May 24, 2012, 5:56 PM
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Originally Posted by wburg View Post
If you're basing our urban self-worth on competition with San Francisco but starting with the assumption that we'll never surpass San Francisco, you're already doomed to failure. A global economy means we have to think about competition with workers on the other side of the planet--getting so fixated on how we compare to folks 90 miles down the road seems counterproductive. Comparing ourselves to San Francisco is pointless--so why bother doing it at all?

Thinking about Sacramento's role as a government center. Compare California to the East Coast. Imagine that the entire east coast, from Massachusetts to Georgia, was all one state, and all the state administration was done from Atlanta. Considering that this agglomeration of states would include cities like Boston, New York City, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Washington DC, and a huge land area that is diverse geographically and demographically, heck, even to its climate, you'd need a huge number of administrators to run things in such a super-state. So many that it might seem absurdly dominant in a relatively medium-sized city like Atlanta, even though in terms of that region's massive total population, a drop in the bucket. And in a state with so many big, well-established cities, Atlanta, which comes off pretty well compared to the rest of Georgia, would end up looking pretty pokey. And any time that state government did something that didn't meet with the approval of New York City or Baltimore, they'd be complaining about those morons down in Atlanta.

And that's where we sit. We're the administrative center for a population and geographic area the size of most of the Eastern Seaboard. In terms of state employees per capita, we were 49th out of 50 states several years ago before we started squeezing state agencies as tightly as we do now. But because the workforce needed to run the state is immense and Sacramento is not, people assume that our workforce is "unbalanced" because we have so many state employees.

And oddly enough, you never hear many complaints about the Sacramento region having too many people in the construction sector, the largest employer in the private economy, even as boom-era suburban tracts turn into ghost towns. Instead, they're jockeying local governments to approve new subdivisions that nobody wants and the region won't need for decades--subdivisions planned for land that used to be productive farmland. Which, of course, we might want to use for farming, considering how important locally-sourced produce is becoming, or that before Sacramento's working class transitioned into the building trades (and when we had a lot fewer state workers, because California's population was a lot smaller) Sacramento's big employment sector was in the processing and transportation of agricultural products.

Want to know how Portland got to be as cool and urban as it did? They decided 30 or so years ago to limit their ability to grow outward with suburbs, so they had no choice but to grow inward and upward. They didn't do it with some kind of government subsidy to attract hipsters. Although if you were to plunk Portland down in California, it still looks pretty poky compared to LA, San Diego or San Francisco--it would probably end up hanging out with Sacramento like band and drama kids in the high school cafeteria.
I agree with you regarding the urban growth boundary. I have no idea why developers would even plan to create more subdivisions when we have such a weak real estate market here, with so many distressed homes.

I agree that Sac and Portland do share a lot of similarities. I don't want Sac to have to compete with SF, I want it to develop its own reputation as a unique and off-beat city. Funny thing is that when I mention this to friends who just moved here from other parts of the country, they say we are already there. They live in Midtown and said they've never been in a place where weed was smoked so openly, and there were so many Portlandia type liberals and hipsters crawling all over the place.
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  #27  
Old Posted May 24, 2012, 7:45 PM
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I agree with you regarding the urban growth boundary. I have no idea why developers would even plan to create more subdivisions when we have such a weak real estate market here, with so many distressed homes.
Because if you're a suburban real estate developer, it's profitable to turn cheap farmland into suburban neighborhoods, even if they end up sitting vacant. And because it's the standard business model, they don't want it changed even if reality changes around them. So they support candidates that vote in favor of more sprawl.

And when regions start talking about more sensible forms of growth, the sprawl lobby starts claiming it's some kind of United Nations conspiracy to force people into apartments:

http://www.sacbee.com/2012/05/24/451...ylink=misearch

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I agree that Sac and Portland do share a lot of similarities. I don't want Sac to have to compete with SF, I want it to develop its own reputation as a unique and off-beat city. Funny thing is that when I mention this to friends who just moved here from other parts of the country, they say we are already there. They live in Midtown and said they've never been in a place where weed was smoked so openly, and there were so many Portlandia type liberals and hipsters crawling all over the place.
Sacramentans seem to have a very hard time believing how cool our city already is...my favorite pet quote was from a touring Portland band I met last year, who described Sacramento as "Portland with palm trees."

I even catch myself doing it--last month as a friend and I were planning the route for a Tweed Ride, we met a couple of folks who were in town for a bike race who were really impressed with Sacramento. They described Sacramento as a "big city" and, as much of a booster as I am, I had to suppress the instinct to correct them. Sometimes it helps to get an outsider's perspective.
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  #28  
Old Posted May 25, 2012, 4:43 PM
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Want to know how Portland got to be as cool and urban as it did? They decided 30 or so years ago to limit their ability to grow outward with suburbs, so they had no choice but to grow inward and upward. They didn't do it with some kind of government subsidy to attract hipsters. Although if you were to plunk Portland down in California, it still looks pretty poky compared to LA, San Diego or San Francisco--it would probably end up hanging out with Sacramento like band and drama kids in the high school cafeteria.
That's funny but true wburg. You and o_e have given we some things to think about.

There's not much we can do about the suburban built environment we already have. We could try create more density with in-fill but that will be a big long battle- as the Curtis Park railyard project demonstrates. Besides IMO the best thing would be to maintain both true suburban and true urban environments in the city and not try and urbanize the suburbs. Only the areas within a 10 minute walk of the light-rail stations should be urbanized otherwise you are just creating more of a traffic mess and draining the vitality out of the core- as 'edge city' places elsewhere have shown.

In most ways Natomas was really bad news for downtown so adding more housing and commercial development in Natomas will only continue to put he hurt on it. I would love to see a 100 year ban on building anything more in Natomas and all the undeveloped land turned into non-structural uses such as recreational parks with playing fields and courts, regional park with gardens and a new zoo, nativescapes with oaks forests, grasses, wildflowers and seasonal ponds, a recreated interpretative farm museum and community gardens where folks in Midtown/Downtown can rent plots to grow their own food, even not so eco friendly golf course would be preferable to building more suburbs. It's unlikely I know but I can dream.
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Last edited by ozone; May 25, 2012 at 5:18 PM.
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  #29  
Old Posted May 25, 2012, 7:09 PM
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The idea isn't to "urbanize the suburbs," but to stop building new suburbs on greenfields. Natomas was a mistake, it's true--but we're stuck with that mistake, the best lesson we can learn is to stop repeating that mistake with new suburban growth on the freenfields we have left. New suburban development takes development energy away from central cities by dispersing it into the periphery--if you limit the growth into the periphery, that energy is naturally diverted back to the center. It also means there is less need to subsidize central city growth because the artificial subsidy of greenfield-to-suburb sprawl is choked off.

I agree with what you say about putting transit-oriented (walkable) development near transit. If such developments don't start out with the transit first, they end up as car-centric neighborhoods like Laguna West, or North Natomas. If light rail to the airport had been built before housing and commercial in Natomas, it might look very different today (although it wouldn't be any less susceptible to floods.)

Instead of an interpretive farm museum, the farmland on the urban boundary should be used for farming--that way, instead of a fake petting-zoo type farm, kids can visit an actual working farm! And while community gardens are a fun hobby, it is far more energy-intensive for city residents to drive to Natomas to plant a community garden (requiring multiple auto trips for a few basketfuls of produce) than it is for a large-scale farm to ship trucks of vegetables to cities, and the city resident to walk to the store and buy 'em.
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  #30  
Old Posted May 26, 2012, 5:58 PM
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Actually there are people talking about urbanizing the burbs (maybe not here though). I agree about no more farmland or open land built upon. It should be a state-wide thing. Of course if we did that the burbs would probably become more urbanized. But there's still a lot of room in our downtown for growth. We've had some unfortunate intervention in the past by anti-highrise people and groups like the Old City Assoc. and others which put the kibosh on a more urban environment here.

As far as the things I listed I'd like to see in Natomas instead of continued suburbs. Of course, from a true ecological and sustainable point of view you are right but cities also need fun and have recreational places. An interpretive farm museum can also be actual working farm. I know because I've been to one. Like you said community gardens are a fun hobby and maybe more energy-intensive but don't discount the health of the soul and science is now finding that actually getting one's hands in the soil is healthy for the mind and body. I think sometimes in our attempts to become "green" we lost sight of human needs.

What is going on with Natomas and future building there?
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  #31  
Old Posted May 26, 2012, 11:15 PM
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Meh, there is plenty of room for highrises downtown and plenty of spots zoned for it, economic pressure (or rather, lack of it) is the real problem--take your pick of skyscrapers vs. landscrapers. The suburbs would, to some extent, "urbanize" a bit more, because developable land would be more limited and thus there would be more incentive to build things taller and with smaller parking lots. Zoning places for high-rises isn't what gets them built--much of downtown has been zoned for high-rises for years, it didn't happen because it was so much easier and cheaper to build low-rises and office parks in the suburbs instead. It wasn't the Old City Association that siphoned away the market for condos downtown during the boom, it was sprawlburbs in Natomas and Lincoln and Elk Grove that sucked away the potential downtown population. So instead of 50,000 people in condos in the Railyards, Docks, R Street Corridor and River District, we have 50,000 people in North Natomas waiting for the next heavy flood year to wash them downstream--or folks farther up the hill living in the only occupied house in a half-built subdivision in Lincoln, above the floodplain but deep underwater on their mortgage.

If someone wants to garden in Midtown, there are plenty of community gardens in the central city that you don't have to walk to, and more on the way, so there's no shortage of places to put your hands in the dirt. Lots of people in the central city have room in front or in back of their houses for small gardens, even those in apartments, and some folks put rogue gardens on vacant lots in their neighborhoods, or the mow strip between the sidewalk and street. It's silly to drive from downtown to Natomas just to participate in a community garden. Part of being "green" is keeping sight of human needs--which includes things like recreational amenities you can walk or bike to, instead of the kind you need a car to reach. Those amenities don't need to be anything fancy--and walking or biking there is half the fun!

Natomas still has a building moratorium. Mayor Johnson and Councilmember Ashby keep begging the feds to lift the moratorium for economic reasons, but the feds are more concerned with the flood risk than economics.
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  #32  
Old Posted May 31, 2012, 5:31 PM
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Of course there’s plenty of room for highrises downtown and plenty of spots zoned for it. Who ever said there wasn’t?
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Zoning places for high-rises isn't what gets them built--much of downtown has been zoned for high-rises for years, it didn't happen because it was so much easier and cheaper to build low-rises and office parks in the suburbs instead.
I agree with you that the growth of Natomas and the other burbs has had a negative effect on developing housing downtown, but economic pressures alone have not been the problem.

You of all people, being a historian, should be aware of the many plans for downtown mid-to-high rises that were fervently fought against over the years by a small, vocal and overly-influential group of people -including the Sacramento Old City Association (SOCA) of which you are its current president. You’re being intellectually dishonest by refusing to acknowledge your organization’s strong opposition to numerous downtown developments in the past, high-rise and otherwise.

As far as there being plenty of community gardens in the central city and no shortage of places to put your hands in the dirt. That depends on what you consider to be plenty. Yes, if you are a homeowner you can put in a garden but as you have pointed out that, the vast majority of people in the central neighborhoods are renters. Most renters have neither the space nor permission to plant a garden. Besides there’s a lot more going on in community gardening than planting a few cucumbers as my friend who oversees a number of community gardens for the city of Providence RI has pointed out to me- social interaction is probably their greatest asset [and an increasingly important one as one gets older.] As far as rouge gardens on empty lots-- good luck with that. I know of two lots in Midtown that was started out on weed-infested lots only to have the participants kicked out soon afterwards and cyclone fences erected around then because the property owners became worried about the liability.

But my whole point about Natomas was to suggest turning the land that has not yet been developed into something other than more suburban sprawl. Yes ideally recreational amenities would be within walking distance but that is a not reasonable expectation for a majority of Sacramentans. Even in San Francisco a great number of residents must either drive or take public transport in order to get to Golden Gate Park.

I would love to see the feds ban new development there but I have no faith this will happen and the suburban parks, gardens and farms you seem to detest so much are very likely never going to materialize anyway. So you can sleep well my friend.
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Last edited by ozone; May 31, 2012 at 5:48 PM.
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  #33  
Old Posted Jun 2, 2012, 4:51 AM
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I'd like the region to come together and establish growth boundaries, definitely. Then focus efforts on education, public safety, and pleasant streetscapes, parks etc. Nothing crazy, just basic concepts.

We already have a workforce that's educated above the average, it would be an easy sell to businesses and their employees to locate here if we also had great schools (across the region) and super low crime.


I think we all sigh at how Natomas has turned out so far but there is still the room and potential there to save the place. Light rail, some TOD and a couple bigass parks probably wouldn't hurt. Is their regional park even complete? That area could turn out to be a great inner ring suburb if that potential isn't squandered.
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  #34  
Old Posted Jun 2, 2012, 5:30 AM
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It's partially squandered already--once a car-centric neighborhood is already built out, it's terribly difficult (and disruptive to residents) to try and retrofit it as a transit-oriented neighborhood. Plus there's that whole building moratorium issue to deal with--one heavy rain year and Natomas is the latest submerged neighborhood on the cable news network cycle. Although I suppose for light rail, better late than never. I'm curious to see what happens in the Railyards and Township 9 once the Green Line starts later this month.
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  #35  
Old Posted Jun 3, 2012, 5:13 PM
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True. But build the green line to the airport, zone for TOD around the stations, and everything else like ozone said turn into parks, etc.

I'd rather see population grow in the railyards and 'river district' first, definitely.
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