Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Suburban Dreams

Sacramento is a suburban region, whether from the older suburbs like the Fab Forties, Woodlake, & Oak Park to the newer like Sierra Oaks, Fair Oaks, Carmichael, Rancho Cordova, Gold River, & Citrus Heights, we are a suburban region, a large part of our desirability for families and retirees.

Living in the suburbs is at the heart of the American Dream, well documented in many books, such as Sprawl: A Compact History, by Robert Bruegmann, Don’t Call it Sprawl: Metropolitan Structures in the Twenty-First Century, by William T. Bogart, and War on the Dream: How Anti-Sprawl Policy Threatens the Quality of Life, by Wendell Cox, and, from a global perspective, The City: A Global History, by Joel Kotkin, and explored regularly on the New Geography blog.

Advocating for suburban living—suburbs surround the American River Parkway—is one of our guiding principles, noted in an August 8, 2011 Press Release.

That history essentially nullifies—by long-standing public choice on where and how to live—the position of this Sacramento Bee editorial.

An excerpt.

“Sacramento County supervisors will be at a crossroads today.

“Will they stand up for their constituents and move forward with growth guidelines that will lessen traffic and air pollution and protect taxpayers?

“Or will they kowtow to their developer benefactors and put the county on a path for more costly suburban sprawl?

“After seven years of intense debate, it's decision time on the growth management strategy that will be incorporated into the county's 2030 general plan.

“The staff recommendation is the least that supervisors should do:
• The county's urban growth boundaries would stay as is, except for adding a small area known as West of Watt.

“An early draft had called for extending the urban growth area to include 12,000 acres along Jackson Highway in the south and 8,000 acres along Grant Line Road near Rancho Cordova. Opening up that much land to development was plainly ridiculous with the housing crash, and it's to their credit that most involved recognized that.
• Developers could apply to expand the growth boundaries, but to win approval, their projects would have to follow "smart growth" criteria.

“The criteria are supposed to make sure that subdivisions and other projects can be efficiently served with infrastructure and municipal services, would balance jobs and housing and would help the county comply with state laws to lower carbon emissions (AB 32) and to encourage mass transit (SB 375).

“While it would be better to stick with the original staff recommendation that listed more detailed "smart growth" measures, county planners say the current proposed framework is a "reasonable compromise" – a "flexible but credible" approach that balances competing interests and that addresses most concerns raised by the public, environmentalists and developers.”