Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Natomas Drama, Act 23

In what is becoming a long drawn out tragedy—for all of the folks who built, bought and sold houses there— with comedic overtones from the leadership struggling to figure out what happens next, the audience awaits the next act, thankful to have another play to attend when K Street slows down.

City moves annex along
Sacramento weighs a big development in Natomas amid concerns about flood risks there.
By Mary Lynne Vellinga -
Published 12:00 am PST Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Despite the federal government's announcement last week that it would designate North Natomas a flood hazard zone, the Sacramento City Council pressed ahead Tuesday with a plan to build more houses behind Natomas levees.

Council members voted unanimously to support annexation of 577 acres of Natomas just outside the city limits, and allow construction of 3,500 houses and apartments in the proposed Greenbriar development. Mayor Heather Fargo was absent.

Technically, the council's action was an "intent" vote, with final action scheduled for Jan. 29.

Building is unlikely to begin before 2010, however. That's when the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency expects to complete sufficient levee improvements to persuade the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Federal Emergency Management Agency to once again remove Natomas from the official flood hazard zone.

In order to be considered safe for building, Natomas must have levees that meet the minimum federal standard of providing protection against a 100-year storm, the type with a 1 percent chance of happening in any given year. Otherwise, residences would have to be elevated above potential flood levels, which in the case of Natomas could be 20 feet or more.

"Our intent is not to pursue vertical construction until and unless there is 100-year protection," Greenbriar spokesman Phillip R. Serna said Tuesday.

City officials said it was important to approve the project now so that it is ready for construction to start once adequate flood protection is achieved.