Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Parkway Governance is Broken, Fix it, Part Two

This story from today’s Bee brings the politics of the American River Parkway planning process into clearer focus, with Rancho Cordova wanting to become inolved in the governance of the Parkway, a third of which lies within their city boundaries, and the bottom line is best expressed by Rancho Cordova City Councilwoman Linda Budge, who says:

"We believe we are good stewards," Budge said. "If anything, this is just another part of the evolution of the governance structure changing."

That is a correct assessment and the objections are primarily from the same folks whose stewardship has not been so good.

The current stewardship has led to the Parkway being threatened with closure a couple of years ago, and has allowed the Lower Reach of the Parkway to become overrun with crime, trash, and illegal camping, detailed on our website,, and in many stories in the media since 2003.

Based on the work Rancho Cordova has done on its plan for their part of the Parkway, and the forward thinking embedded in the governance of itself as a new city, this will not continue to be the case once they become directly involved, as they should be, with Parkway governance.

It is important to remember, as was specified in the 1985 American River Parkway Plan currently being updated: “The American River Parkway is a regional park which crosses jurisdictional boundaries.” (p. 1-1)

Then, that only involved the city and county of Sacramento.

Times have changed, and the updated plan should reflect that change.

Here is an excerpt.

City's tactic on parkway riles board
County supervisors to talk with Rancho Cordova about control along river, but say the issue shouldn't have been forced.
By Judy Lin -- Bee Staff WriterPublished 2:15 am PST Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Rancho Cordova's push for joint authority over the American River Parkway nearly backfired Tuesday when two county supervisors voiced displeasure with the way the city has conducted its campaign.

In a 3-2 vote, the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors agreed to meet with representatives of Rancho Cordova to discuss power sharing as stewards try to update the parkway's management plan for the first time in more than two decades. Rancho Cordova Mayor Robert McGarvey said his office will schedule that meeting soon.

The city of Sacramento and the county are now working on a parkway management plan, which requires state legislative approval. The two jurisdictions exercise control over the parkway.

Rancho Cordova's leaders want to expand that joint authority to include their city, as well as any future cities that may have a direct interest in the parkway. Rancho Cordova incorporated as a city in 2003.

The plan will guide the preservation, development and administration of the regional parkway that extends 29 miles from the Folsom Dam to the American River's confluence with the Sacramento River.

But rather than rally local support for a governance change, Rancho Cordova got a state senator to introduce legislation to bypass local jurisdictions.

The move elicited angry response from at least one county official.

"This is not the way this should happen," said Supervisor Roger Dickinson. "There's a protocol here and I have to tell you that I'm offended that that protocol has just been tossed out the window."

Dickinson said he would have preferred building local consensus - as the region did with public transportation and regional sanitation - before getting the state involved.

Last month at the city's urging, Sen. Dave Cox, R-Fair Oaks, introduced a bill that would require Rancho Cordova to approve the pending plan in addition to the city and county of Sacramento.

Rancho Cordova officials say they believed legislation was the only way to start a serious discussion about governance change.

The city, which has about five miles of the parkway within its boundaries, wants voting power when it comes to managing the park. Officials say they don't want to slow down the planning process, but would like to have a say in the current plan.

Preservationists said they encourage Rancho Cordova's participation, but opposed any immediate governance change out of concern that it would delay the parkway plan.

Alan Wade, president of Save the American River Association, said it would be unfair to the people who have been working for months on the parkway management plan, a large portion of which focuses on the lower sections of the parkway that do not involve Rancho Cordova.

"I am unfortunately led to the conclusion - or at least the suspicion - that there's some political mischief going on here," he said.

"I can't imagine the purpose of changing the rules of the ballgame when we're already in overtime. It would be unfair to all the players."

Rancho Cordova City Councilwoman Linda Budge assured supervisors there is no hidden agenda, saying that the bill was submitted late February only to meet a legislative deadline.

"We would like to sit down with you and the city of Sacramento and that's what Senator Cox has offered to do," Budge said.

Parkway planners say representatives from Rancho Cordova have been involved in the process all along. McGarvey noted, however, that the city has little authority when it comes to management and priorities.

Budge and McGarvey said it's wrong for the city to put its resources - such as police officers and park workers - into the river parkway without having a say over its future.

One idea that the city's planners floated would be to build a bicycle and pedestrian bridge linking Hagen Community Park in Rancho Cordova and Ancil Hoffman Park in Carmichael.

"We believe we are good stewards," Budge said. "If anything, this is just another part of the evolution of the governance structure changing."