Monday, May 11, 2009

The Riverfronts

We heartily agree that the riverfronts need to be developed and this article from the Bee is an excellent plan for the Sacramento River, but public leadership also needs to look at the American River as—especially in the North Sacramento, downtown and midtown areas—it's plagued by large scale illegal camping which has long created a public safety issue for neighborhood families (or tourists staying at downtown hotels) to safely recreate there.

We wrote a letter to the editor about riverfront development that was published, and it is posted here.

An excerpt from the Bee article.

“In Sacramento, Interstate 5 remains a great physical barrier between downtown and the river. But The Bee's own Eleanor McClatchy and other civic leaders did the region a big favor, fighting to move the route three blocks from the river, saving most of the Old Sacramento historic quarter.

“In doing so, they sowed the seeds for developing the beauty of the waterfront in Sacramento and West Sacramento as an attraction for residents and visitors. Since the late 1960s we've seen the creation of Old Sacramento as a state historical park; the arrival of the State Railroad Museum; the docking of the Delta King riverboat, the creation of a pedestrian/bike trail, Raley Field and more. What's missing is a way to tie both sides of the river with a transportation network that moves people without adding new traffic congestion.

“Here's my dream.

“Let's make it a priority to link both banks of the Sacramento River with a streetcar system.

“Other cities have seen the value of a transportation network in reclaiming their waterfronts. In Portland, Ore., for example, a streetcar line began with a study in 1990, groundbreaking in 1999 and opening in 2001. And just at the end of April, the city received federal funds to build a three-mile extension for a riverfront loop – across Broadway Bridge in the north, along the east side of the Willamette River, and then across the river once again to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.

“Savannah, Ga., just opened a streetcar line in its historic district last year. It was a five-year effort. A big plus to this project is that the streetcars are fitted with an onboard generator fueled by used cooking oil from Savannah's restaurants, eliminating the need for unsightly overhead wires.

“In the Sacramento region we have many noteworthy arts, cultural and sports venues, but they're "scattered and developed in isolation." That was the conclusion of a January study, "Planning for Civic Amenities in the Sacramento Region," commissioned by Valley Vision, the American Institute of Architects Central Valley and Urban Land Institute Sacramento.

“This is especially true of the waterfront, where facilities are strung out along a three-mile stretch of the Sacramento River. We need to tie together the river's attractions with easy access, building on existing and historic rail lines. I envision three stages in creating a transportation loop:

“Stage 1: Expand use of the existing rail excursion line that runs south from Old Sacramento along the Sacramento Southern rail line.”