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  #1  
Old Posted May 13, 2012, 6:12 PM
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Does Sacramento have what it takes to be a global city?

As the capital of the 6th largest economy of the world doesn't Sacramento hold tremendous potential to be a global city?
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  #2  
Old Posted May 13, 2012, 10:11 PM
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Define your terms. What makes a city a "global city"? Can you provide some examples of "global cities"? Be specific. Then, please explain why Sacramento might want to be one of those cities, and what specific steps might be required to get there.
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Old Posted May 13, 2012, 10:53 PM
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I don't remember who said it, but usually there's four requirements that makes a city a "global city": 1. a strong multinational corporate presence, 2. multicultural presence of peoples from different regions within the country and other nations, 3. a prestige based on the concentration of artistic and scientific elites, 4. significant international tourism or sometimes the criteria can be judged by its political, economic, cultural and infrastructural characteristics.
A few examples of "global city"=London, New York, and Tokyo.

I can think of some reasons as to why Sacramento should want to. Like I said Sacramento is the capital of California, the 6th largest economy in the world. It should be at least playing in the same global stage as Los Angeles or San Francisco, shouldn't be content being a second tier city overshadowed by San Francisco. So I think the main reason is to attain prestige, or status?

I'm not too sure as to specific steps. Perhaps start by attracting big investors?
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Old Posted May 14, 2012, 12:16 AM
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What economic, geographic and demographic factors make it possible to be that sort of city? It seems like most of them are on a coast, and none of them started on the path to becoming a "global city" by attracting big investors. They started with a location amenable to trade. Is Sacramento's physical location amenable to international trade of the sort seen in Los Angeles, London, New York or Tokyo?
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Old Posted May 14, 2012, 4:45 AM
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No way. Not even close.

But I don't think it should even be a realistic goal for Sacramento. I think Sacramento should work on attracting more businesses, and also developing a more interesting/eclectic central city which will bring more positive changes in the long run.
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Old Posted May 15, 2012, 3:00 AM
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Madrid, Berlin, Moscow, London, Paris, Johannesburg, Milan, and Beijing are a few world cities that come to mind that have certain things in common with Sacramento.
First of all, these cities are situated inland, away from a coast. Some with navigable rivers like Sacramento has, and some without. The fact that Sacramento has access to sea trade via the Sacramento river is a plus, but not a must.
All of these cities except Johannesburg have been capitals, like Sacramento is. Some were important towns before becoming capitals of large states. On the other hand, Madrid was not a very important town until after it became the capital of Spain. Coastal cities in Spain continued with business and trade as the landlocked capital built itself around its administrative role, which attracted cultural institutions, and later industry.

In becoming a center of economy, culture, and learning, the disadvantage for Sacramento has been its close proximity to two well established global cities: San Francisco and Los Angeles. Both are large and very important both culturally and economically. They are magnets for creativity and culture, and some of that magnetic energy can be felt drawing skilled young people away from the Sacramento region.
In the present century, much of the urban growth worldwide is expected to happen in second-tier cities. This can already be seen in places like Medellin, Colombia. Will Sacramento benefit from this trend? What can Sacramento do to position itself as a distinct urban region with a powerful identity that can attract culture, commerce, and investment?
I think if we look at global cities that have similarities with Sacramento (capital cities and inland cities), we can learn what factors allowed them to form and gain importance. I agree that Sacramento seems to have great potential to grow into an important global city. It might take decades or centuries to actually happen. One huge advantage for Sac: it is the only major city in California that does not need to import fresh water.
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Old Posted May 15, 2012, 2:58 PM
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With the exception of Johannesburg, all of those cities have the advantage of a temporal head start, sometimes of millenia--being a city on a river was much more of an advantage when land travel was limited to what a team of oxen could pull on a cart, and tradition carries great weight when it comes to social institutions like colleges and churches.

They also didn't shy away from their role as capitals--it's a great asset, but one that the recent wave of anti-government sentiment constantly grouches about. Being the administrative center for a $2 trillion economy is something to be proud of, but folks in the suburban perimeter constantly decry the role of state employment in the local economy (despite the value of its private sector cohorts like lobbyists, law firms, professional/trade associations, etc., who base their state operations here.)

Being a second-order city is something we used to do quite well--when Wells Fargo started out, their business office was in San Francisco but the hub of their stagecoach network was here. That old "two hours from where you'd rather be" joke comes from our other big advantage, a really good transportation network. Timing and weather kind of threw a wrench in things--along with newer forms of transportation that made us less of a transportation hub.

Cultivating a center for creativity and culture has a lot to do with the ability for creative people to meet and network--and, to a limited extent, the willingness of local private-sector individuals to support culture (often simply by attending shows, plays or galleries, if not becoming patrons of art.) The use of "eds and meds" (educational institutions and hospitals) is a popular trend in many cities seeking new identities, like Pittsburgh, who is making a comeback as a medical center rather than a steel town. We're pretty well set in the "meds" department, and while one of our most important hospitals is also a medical college, we're a bit lacking in the "eds" department. We have thousands of college students, a highly educated workforce, and a lot of little satellite campuses downtown, but not a single, large and visible campus--CSUS and UC Davis are suburban campuses too far from the downtown core.

I'm still crossing my fingers that we can get a university in the Railyards. It might be a long shot considering that college debt is on the edge of becoming the next bubble (if it isn't already) but a campus based in the old Shops buildings seems like a good way to connect some of that force of tradition with new innovation--railroads were the "dot-com" boom of their day, which drew innovators and high-tech enthusiasts, and the list of patents developed in those Shops buildings is very, very long. Add a complex of modern buildings north of the shops and a dormitory or two (technically "low-income housing" as students generally have low incomes) and you have a neighborhood population that values education, proximity to mixed uses and cultural amenities, and doesn't mind getting around by bike or small housing unit sizes.

The question is, how do you get around the growing issue of student debt? A working campus based around internships, working for your degree instead of borrowing for it? Massive private benefactor providing scholarships? And how do we get Inland to provide use of the land, instead of sitting around waiting for the next real estate bubble?
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Old Posted May 15, 2012, 6:12 PM
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With the exception of Johannesburg, all of those cities have the advantage of a temporal head start, sometimes of millenia--being a city on a river was much more of an advantage when land travel was limited to what a team of oxen could pull on a cart, and tradition carries great weight when it comes to social institutions like colleges and churches...
All good points, and I think that you are right about the weight of tradition that gives institutions their clout, which is an advantage for older cities. Sacramento is not a small or new town though, there are some world class schools and museums here already. The greater Sacramento region has over 2 million people, which seems to be the threshold for becoming a global city.

I think one good strategy would be building up the industrial sector, so Sacramento becomes known as a productive city. Industrial jobs will help the population continue to grow.

Another strategy would be to surpass San Francisco in something, anything. Fashion? Sustainable technology development? Culinary arts? Furniture Design? If we take fashion design as an example, there will need to be a world renowned fashion design school here, as well as fabric suppliers, and an active fashion design industry built around at least one major high-end label. A first step would be attracting a school with a fashion design program with potential to be great. Some private donations to the schools endowment would allow them to bring in famous designers to teach and lecture. Then the school could begin to be very selective, choosing the best applicants to accept. Talented individuals would come to Sacramento to study, and a few would choose to stay and work here post-graduation. Maybe a few former classmates would succeed in starting a trend-setting clothing label. Then all of a sudden Sacramento is known as a hub for fashion design, and it takes off from there.

A less strategic approach can be found in Portland and Vancouver, where urban planning, design, architecture, and development trends have created interesting urban experiences that attract new residents. Creative people are drawn to those cities because they are dense, walkable, and full of variety. Sacramento is on the right track as long as there is some population growth to warrant the continued development of housing in the central city. When there are enough people living in an urban environment in close proximity to each other, spontaneous kinds of productive enterprise start to happen more frequently. Sacramento's identity will form and take shape on its own as new ideas and movements emerge.
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Old Posted May 15, 2012, 6:27 PM
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Due to its size and its economy that is focused on state government, I doubt that Sacramento, by itself, will ever be a global city. What it can be, however, by integrating itself with the Bay Area through improved transit, is an important part of the Northern California mega-region. The Bay Area has 6M - 7M residents and the Sacramento region has another 2M - 3M residents. Together, this is nearly 10M residents. Mega-regions, both in the US and abroad, play a disproportionately significant importance in economic geography, responsible for a large percentage of patents, GDP, productivity, etc...

An example would be Baltimore or Philadelphia. Neither of these cities can be considered global cities by themselves but they are thoroughly integrated into the Northeast corridor through transportation links, economic exchanges and employment and commuting patterns. As part of their role in a larger mega-region, they are far more significant than their respective size alone.
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Old Posted May 15, 2012, 7:47 PM
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I think one good strategy would be building up the industrial sector, so Sacramento becomes known as a productive city. Industrial jobs will help the population continue to grow.
Again we have an advantage with the weight of tradition--we were an industrial city for our first century, state government was a very minor employer until the mid-20th century. The Railyards are the perfect example of this, but they weren't the only one--we were an industrial hub. People tend to assume that anything having to do with food processing is a "farm town" thing, but it's actually big city business--look at Chicago, the ultimate "cow town" with its slaughterhouses, or Los Angeles' suburban growth based on the citrus industry. A lot of that stuff is gone now, but we still have the buildings where the two biggest canneries in the country were located (one of which is part of the largest almond packing operation in the world), and a complex that people think is a cannery now but actually did nothing but make cans for other canneries to fill--more than any other similar facility in the nation at its peak. With the growing interest in "farm-to-table" and locavorism and the return of interest in craft/artisanal production of food and drinks, we could certainly step back to our roots in industrial food production, assuming that transportation networks become more localized and once again based on rail transportation--given the price of fuel these days, I wouldn't rule it out entirely.

And we still have a lot of industrial capacity, big and small--the aforementioned Blue Diamond packing plant, Campbell's Soup, and other examples--we even still make trains, at the Siemens light rail/electric locomotive plant near Florin.

The problem is that "global cities" generally aren't big industrial producers. Industrial production is an interim to higher-order functions--service economies, banking, information economies. As a city of administrators and information specialists, we might be better suited to use that existing brainpower for higher-order needs than packing vegetables (although there are a lot of vegetables that need packing, and plenty of folks who could use the jobs.)

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Another strategy would be to surpass San Francisco in something, anything. Fashion? Sustainable technology development? Culinary arts? Furniture Design? If we take fashion design as an example, there will need to be a world renowned fashion design school here, as well as fabric suppliers, and an active fashion design industry built around at least one major high-end label. A first step would be attracting a school with a fashion design program with potential to be great. Some private donations to the schools endowment would allow them to bring in famous designers to teach and lecture. Then the school could begin to be very selective, choosing the best applicants to accept. Talented individuals would come to Sacramento to study, and a few would choose to stay and work here post-graduation. Maybe a few former classmates would succeed in starting a trend-setting clothing label. Then all of a sudden Sacramento is known as a hub for fashion design, and it takes off from there.
Creative scenes typically don't happen due to government subsidy--they happen when there is enough room for a creative scene to emerge. A school of fashion design might be nice, but it's hard to set out to break into such a field. Also note that this does not count as an industry--even in fashion centers like New York and Los Angeles, the real work of creating clothes doesn't happen there, it is done overseas and shipped here. So counting it as an industry is hard to justify.

Generally, creative scenes are fostered by cheap rent, a critical mass of creatives in a relatively small geographic area, and enough flexibility (or at least ability to pass under official radar) to set up creative events that cross genre lines--from fine art to hip hop shows.

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A less strategic approach can be found in Portland and Vancouver, where urban planning, design, architecture, and development trends have created interesting urban experiences that attract new residents. Creative people are drawn to those cities because they are dense, walkable, and full of variety. Sacramento is on the right track as long as there is some population growth to warrant the continued development of housing in the central city. When there are enough people living in an urban environment in close proximity to each other, spontaneous kinds of productive enterprise start to happen more frequently. Sacramento's identity will form and take shape on its own as new ideas and movements emerge.
Portland used an urban growth boundary to limit outward growth and redirect population to the city center. Vancouver's physical limitations had a similar effect--they grew upward because they couldn't grow outward. As long as the Sacramento region's ability to sprawl outward is unrestricted, we'll continue to build more "landscrapers" in the suburbs and fewer skyscrapers downtown, with resulting lack of central city density.

Case in point: We already have an art/design college in town, but it's in a low-rise office park in Natomas instead of a walkable neighborhood near the central city, so the students live all over the region and drive to class instead of living nearby and being part of a campus/student community where creative interaction takes place. Personally I'd love to see it move downtown, where it would become part of a neighborhood instead of being something folks visit by car that goes dark at night.
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  #11  
Old Posted May 15, 2012, 8:33 PM
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Creative scenes typically don't happen due to government subsidy--they happen when there is enough room for a creative scene to emerge. A school of fashion design might be nice, but it's hard to set out to break into such a field. Also note that this does not count as an industry--even in fashion centers like New York and Los Angeles, the real work of creating clothes doesn't happen there, it is done overseas and shipped here. So counting it as an industry is hard to justify...
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.
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Old Posted May 15, 2012, 8:54 PM
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Due to its size and its economy that is focused on state government, I doubt that Sacramento, by itself, will ever be a global city. What it can be, however, by integrating itself with the Bay Area through improved transit, is an important part of the Northern California mega-region. The Bay Area has 6M - 7M residents and the Sacramento region has another 2M - 3M residents. Together, this is nearly 10M residents. Mega-regions, both in the US and abroad, play a disproportionately significant importance in economic geography, responsible for a large percentage of patents, GDP, productivity, etc...

An example would be Baltimore or Philadelphia. Neither of these cities can be considered global cities by themselves but they are thoroughly integrated into the Northeast corridor through transportation links, economic exchanges and employment and commuting patterns. As part of their role in a larger mega-region, they are far more significant than their respective size alone.
That's a very realistic goal for the near future. Even smaller cities like Baltimore, part of large mega-regions, can still be classified as "Gamma World Cities". That would be a start!
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Old Posted May 15, 2012, 9:33 PM
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Due to its size and its economy that is focused on state government, I doubt that Sacramento, by itself, will ever be a global city. What it can be, however, by integrating itself with the Bay Area through improved transit, is an important part of the Northern California mega-region. The Bay Area has 6M - 7M residents and the Sacramento region has another 2M - 3M residents. Together, this is nearly 10M residents. Mega-regions, both in the US and abroad, play a disproportionately significant importance in economic geography, responsible for a large percentage of patents, GDP, productivity, etc...

An example would be Baltimore or Philadelphia. Neither of these cities can be considered global cities by themselves but they are thoroughly integrated into the Northeast corridor through transportation links, economic exchanges and employment and commuting patterns. As part of their role in a larger mega-region, they are far more significant than their respective size alone.
Very good points. Never really thought of our region , SJ - SF - Sac, as comparable to Batlimore - DC - Philly, or Philly - NYC - Boston. But with some work through transportation links and such as you describe, it would make the most sense for Sacramento pursue this type of connection. We're not going to beat the Bay Area at anything and don't think that should be the goal. The goal should be economic synergy.
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Old Posted May 16, 2012, 3:34 AM
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That kind of connection is nothing new--when Wells Fargo was founded, they opened in San Francisco and Sacramento on the same day, due to their high-speed water connections, with San Francisco as the banking/administration center and Sacramento the hub of their transportation network. Considering that information travels faster now than it did in 1852, regional coordination and cooperation in the business world shouldn't be all that hard.
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Old Posted May 16, 2012, 8:24 PM
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IMO the comparison between the San Jose - San Francisco - Sacramento and DC - Philly - NYC - Boston isn't really a fair several reasons, distance being one of them. Aside from Baltimore-DC the distances between the major cities back east are much greater. Between Boston and DC is more than 400 miles.The distance between Boston and NYC is about 200 miles but between San Jose and Sacramento it's only about 90 miles. Our relative close proximity to San Francisco is why we will never be a 'global city'. There can only be one shining light around here and that's always going to be San Francisco.

So I agree that our goal should be economic synergy. We need to make those connections. But that doesn't mean we should become just another subcity of San Francisco. I wouldn't want Sacramento to become the Baltimore of the Bay Area. I don't know what other region we could be compared to but please not that.
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Old Posted May 17, 2012, 3:57 AM
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Considering that calling a city "global" implies connections between that city and other countries, or on other continents, connections that can span thousands of miles, national borders and language barriers, 90 miles down the street should not be a big problem. The idea should be to make economic connections with the Bay Area as trading partners in a separate but adjacent region, not offering to become a subsidiary of their region.

And, similarly, the idea of a "global city" is based on those interconnections with other nations and regions. Necessary to that effort is the ability to promote Sacramento as a region--which can be difficult when some of our suburbs tend to deny that they have any economic association with us. The economic, industrial and transportation connections of West Sacramento, Roseville, Folsom and Rancho Cordova are part of Sacramento's network too--and potential places for international and inter-regional connections.
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Old Posted May 17, 2012, 7:46 PM
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I'm assuming that he was meaning a stand-alone 'global city'. It doesn't matter how integrated we are with the Bay Area, San Francisco will always be the City.

But you make an important point. Is there a lack of regional cohesiveness here? Do people in Roseville really deny that they are part of Sacramento? If so why? Is it because these outer suburbs tend to be more racially divided and politically conservative than the City of Sacramento? Maybe it's because of our relatively weak core and it's poor reputation?

But the denial goes both ways. People here in Midtown and in the older closer-in suburbs look down at places like Roseville and Elk Grove -as cultural wastelands full of unsophisticated and very conventional people. They also resent the fact that Roseville should have the region's best shopping while downtown Sacramento struggles.

I think all this is part of the growing-up pains of a city that was not so long ago a smallish capital. In 1980 we only had 275,000 people. That's smaller than Stockton today!
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Old Posted May 18, 2012, 1:02 AM
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In my opinion Sacramento has great opportunity to be 'global city'. When recession will end (yes its still there) Sacto will grow very fast, even now any new bar or restaraunt in d/m area always full on fridays and saturdays, now its really hard to find any street parking on weekend. People from suburbs who want to live in 'city' and cant afford SF flocking back in long time ago abandoned central city. Of course there are some problems, government-dependent economy now when more and more cuts leave more empty places, but most important thing here is wise leadership to make sacto attractive. Vacancy rate is very high , and it will be higher, so this is our opportunity; empty , cheap city with great weather, light rail, new trans hub in railyards, brand new int'l terminal- best place to move for corporations and affordable city for young people. That will make us AT LEAST gamma city , I think Sacramento deserves it.
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Old Posted May 18, 2012, 2:37 AM
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I'm assuming that he was meaning a stand-alone 'global city'. It doesn't matter how integrated we are with the Bay Area, San Francisco will always be the City.
"Stand-alone global city" seems like a contradiction in terms--a city becomes "global" because of its interconnections with other cities, countries, continents. No city stands alone, and a city with "global" status only gets it because they develop those connections. Cut the connections, and the city dies! What would New York be without its ports, or Los Angeles without its media? (Or New York without its media and Los Angeles without its port, for that matter?)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_city

The idea isn't somehow outshining San Francisco or growing bigger than them--that misses the point altogether. The idea is viewing them as a trading partner, the other end of a supply chain or a business partnership, not to make Sacramento an extended suburb of the Bay Area.

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But you make an important point. Is there a lack of regional cohesiveness here? Do people in Roseville really deny that they are part of Sacramento? If so why? Is it because these outer suburbs tend to be more racially divided and politically conservative than the City of Sacramento? Maybe it's because of our relatively weak core and it's poor reputation?

But the denial goes both ways. People here in Midtown and in the older closer-in suburbs look down at places like Roseville and Elk Grove -as cultural wastelands full of unsophisticated and very conventional people. They also resent the fact that Roseville should have the region's best shopping while downtown Sacramento struggles.
I don't think it has much to do with "the people" in terms of population--there are plenty of teabaggers in the East Bay who protest transit-oriented development because they think it's part of a United Nations "Agenda 21" conspiracy to force everyone out of the suburbs and into Soviet-style premade apartment blocks, and there are plenty of Orange County Republican suburbanites that pride themselves on never going to depraved, decaying, Democrat-filled downtown Los Angeles. I'm talking more about regional leadership, which generally means the real estate development community (it being the biggest business in the region outside of state government) and the leaders they elect. As long as leadership in cities like Roseville consider Sacramento a necessary evil rather than the core of the region (and refuse to economically participate with regional transit plans unless we pay for 100% of them), and supervisors of counties like El Dorado aren't even willing to participate in regional planning (preferring more centerless sprawl-burbs in El Dorado Hills, with public transit limited to a couple commuter buses) it's going to be tough to present the region as a whole to potential partners.

As to the shopping, that's a separate issue to our role as a global city--and the case in pretty much any American city with an old core and new suburbs. Shopping is better where the population sits, and in most western cities, that population is in the suburbs.
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I think all this is part of the growing-up pains of a city that was not so long ago a smallish capital. In 1980 we only had 275,000 people. That's smaller than Stockton today!
We're no younger than any other city in California--and the main reason we can't grow "up" is because the counties to the east are so insist on growing "out" in the wrong direction. They're still stuck with the idea that cities are evil and the future is an endless procession of cul-de-sacs and shopping malls.
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Old Posted May 18, 2012, 4:06 AM
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@wburg

I'm not interested in arguing for argument sake. Especially since I think we probably agree far more than we disagree but I wanted to make myself clear.

When I say "stand alone" I assume people are smart enough to understand that I'm not referring to isolated parts of a metropolis but rather to being the undisputed city in the larger whole. Los Angeles has Long Beach but LB is part of LA and not the other way around. I am not missing any point. I understand what others are saying. I just don't see how we could ever be a 'global city' by being part of some San Jose- San Francisco -Sacramento megapolis.

I have to take issue with you regarding the differences between our suburbs and those in the Bay Area. Statistically the Bay Area suburbs are much more politically aligned with San Francisco-Oakland than our suburbs are with the city of Sacramento.

Since the leadership reflects the people they represent I stand by my statement. But all that gets back to the issue of becoming a global city. I don't think we need to focus on regionalism to become a better city or achieve what we want. In fact, I go further in saying that regionalism is bad for the City of Sacramento.

Lastly I never said we were younger I said we had a small population not so long ago. So we are a older city that remained relatively small for the better have of the 20th C. Do you dispute this?

On most of your other point I completely agree.
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