Monday, August 02, 2010

Downtown Planning, K Street

As revealed in these photos of K Street, the 700-800 blocks, downtown development hasn’t moved much, and part of the cause may be the assumptions around downtown development, as we noted in a December 26, 2007 E-letter to our membership.

Sacramento Downtown Development: Too Monocentric?

An important insight concerning development that has not yet been understood by local leadership is that noted by Bogart (2006):

“The dominant intellectual approach to describing cities during the twentieth century was the monocentric city model. In a monocentric city, all commercial and industrial activity takes place in the central business district, while the rest of the city consists of residential areas. This description was reasonably accurate as recently as 1950 in most cities…

“Even by 1960 observers such as Jane Jacobs and Jean Gottman had discerned a new structure for metropolitan areas, although popular interpreters of their work have neglected this insight. This new structure was called the polycentric city, in recognition of the multiple centers of economic activity that now comprised the metropolitan area. While some people have recognized this change for more than forty years, it still has surpassingly little impact on the design of public policy.” (p.9)

Sacramento is a text-book example of this thinking with the over-focused approach to the Sacramento downtown area’s development as somehow the key to the region’s well being, while the suburban areas of Arden Arcade, Citrus Heights, Elk Grove, Folsom, and Rancho Cordova, develop into thriving centers of their own virtually unrelated to what occurs in downtown Sacramento, unless their residents happen to work there.

The impact this has on the planning around the Parkway is also significant, from the virtual giving over of its Lower Reach section—Discovery Park to Cal Expo—to homeless encampments by downtown Sacramento interests, to the discouragement of the desire on Rancho Cordova’s part, to revitalize its section of the Parkway for the enhanced recreational and enjoyment of the natural setting envisioned by the Parkway founders; destroying the congruence many, including our organization, see as the optimal future of the Parkway.

Given that the suburban regions in question all lie within the boundaries of Sacramento County, one would naturally expect that entity to play a leading role in planning that could bring the differing regions together around the one area they share, the Parkway.

Bogart, W. (2006). Don’t call it sprawl: Metropolitan structure in the twenty first century. New York: Cambridge University Press.