Friday, November 12, 2010

City Expansion: Good Discussion to Have

With the failure of the recent incorporation of Arden Arcade, further discussion about bringing under-served residents into the service area of the city of Sacramento, as reported by the Sacramento Bee, makes good sense.

An excerpt.

“Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson touched a nerve last week when he said he'd like to see a conversation take place over whether the city should merge with unincorporated areas of the county.

“While stopping short of suggesting Sacramento embark upon its own manifest destiny, the timing of the mayor's remarks played a big role in the reaction.

“Just two days earlier, voters in the unincorporated Arden Arcade community soundly defeated a measure proposing cityhood for that area of the county. The mayor said he was relieved with the result and said there could be advantages to having Arden Arcade fold into the city.

“Both sides on the Arden Arcade incorporation debate have come out against having their community of 100,000 residents gobbled up by the city of Sacramento. With that in mind, here are a few answers to some of the questions swirling about city-county consolidation.

“Has the city looked at annexing portions of the county?

“Scot Mende, the city's new growth manager, said there are five areas of the county that the city will study annexing over the next 20 years as part of its general plan: Arden Arcade, Freeport, Fruitridge-Florin in south Sacramento, the Rosemont-East Policy Area and the Natomas Joint Vision Area.

“To date, discussions have been held only on the Natomas area, a 10,000-acre swath of land north of the city made up mostly of farms and Sacramento International Airport. As for the other areas:

"We've spent a minimal amount of time thinking about them," Mende said.

“The City Council could vote to initiate the annexation process for Freeport, Fruitridge-Florin and Rosemont because those areas are in the city's "sphere of influence," loosely defined as areas within the city's natural future expansion. But those areas have been in the sphere of influence since 1981 with no movement by the city toward annexing them.

“Even if the council votes to move forward with annexation, the Local Agency Formation Commission would need to approve the proposal. It would go to voters for approval if enough signatures were gathered in those areas protesting annexation.

“Arden Arcade and the Natomas Joint Vision Area are not in the city's sphere of influence, although they could be labeled with that distinction in the future.”