Category Archives: Politics

West Sacramento’s first mayor to discuss city’s formation at public library event

The history of the birth of the official incorporated city of West Sacramento will be recalled and revealed by its first mayor, Mike McGowan, at a special community event on Sunday, Sept. 17. It is scheduled from 3 to 5 p.m. in the Community Room of the Turner Library at 1212 Merkley Ave. in West Sacramento and is open to the public, free of charge.
Referring to West Sacramento’s early days as a new city, McGowan remembers himself and other newly-elected officials, who wondered, once they had a brand new city, “What they were going to do with it?” He will discuss the responsibility for developing it, and promises to “tell where all the bodies are buried.”
In addition to the talk, the afternoon begins with music from a small combo, featuring McGowan on percussion, and Cindy Tuttle on vocals, as part of the group. Tuttle was the first female mayor of West Sacramento. Refreshments will be served during the program.
The event is the fourth in a special speakers’ series, sponsored by the Friends of Yolo County Archives. The series celebrates the 30th anniversary of the Yolo County Archives, which operates an office and preservation facility in Woodland. The office houses historic records, photos, newspaper accounts, and other archival memorabilia of all kinds. It is open to the public by appointment on Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Thursdays from noon to 4 p.m. the archives facility is located at 226 Buckeye St. in Woodland. The office can be reached by phone at 530-666-8010 and by email at
Yolo County Archives maintains a website at An additional website for the Friends organization is: or

Broadway Bridge on the horizon but where will it land in West Sac?

By Monica Stark

Back in May, a big piece of local news was that Shell Oil Products was selling its West Sacramento refinery to the Port of West Sacramento. At a Broadway Bridge open house at Arthur Benjamin Health Professions High School on Thursday, July 27, city officials revealed that area is currently being thought of as a preferred crossing of the Broadway Bridge, connecting South River Road and 15th Street to the Broadway corridor.

For about the next two years, the cities of West Sacramento and Sacramento are studying the environmental impacts of that location, as well as three other possible drop-offs (or alignments) into West Sacramento from Broadway. (See sidebar for more information.) In short, the alignments consider 15th Street in two spots and South River Road in three spots.

Hailing the Shell deal, City of Sacramento supervising engineer for the department of public works, Jesse Gothan stated: “To (West Sacramento’s) credit, they have that deal with Shell. That’s impressive to get that.”

The Shell refinery, according to press materials last spring, is a “strategic parcel which is located at the crux of future traffic and bike/pedestrian infrastructure including: Broadway Bridge, River Walk trail extension, Modifications to 15th Street between Jefferson Boulevard and South River Road, including relocation of the railroad tracks leading to the Port of West Sacramento.”

The demolition and clean-up of the six-acre Shell facility, which has been in operation since the 1940s, according to city of West Sacramento official press releases, sends “another strong signal to the real estate development community that the transition of the Pioneer Bluff district from legacy industrial operations to future riverfront mixed-use development continues to move forward.” The agreement provides a framework for Shell to phase out operations and to clean up all contamination on the property under the supervision of the Regional Water Quality Control Board.

The Shell refinery aside, what about the others? Would those refineries be able to relocate? Those kinds of questions are currently being considered when weighing the options.

Engineers and scientists would do right by following science, not public opinion or politics, says Gothan.

Some of the feasibility issues other than the real estate of the refineries, surround habitat, whether there are tree impacts, impacts on the river way that are unique to one but not the other, if it’s in a flood zone, if there’s ground water contamination, impacts to mariners from the U.S. Coast Guard, where there are different utility lines that cross the river at one location versus another, and how West Sacramento can work around those existing utilities. The list goes on, and while the multiple sites are being considered for West Sacramento, Broadway is the only location on the Sacramento side. Long ago, Land Park residents as well as CalTrans vehemently opposed a crossing at Sutterville Road. Currently, the Land Park Community Association supports the Broadway Bridge and improvements on the street near Tower Theatre.

With the worst-case scenario of 2036 being the estimated time frame for the Broadway Bridge completion, if funding was at the fingertips of our local governmental agencies, the cities could get that $180 million bridge done between eight to 11 years.

Answering the questions — What are the potential cost increases for each of them? What are the schedule impacts for each of them? What are the environmental constraints impacts? — the two cities are embarking on a cost-benefit analysis of the alignments, explained Gothan.

“We’re going to carry forward a few of the alignments to the full environmental analysis and that will probably take about 18 months to complete. So, upon getting the environmental approvals, then the team will be looking at securing future design funds.”

Cities of Sacramento and West Sacramento have been planning a water front for quite a while. In 2003 a riverfront master plan was adopted for improvements on both waterfronts. In 2011, the cities adopted the Sacramento River Crossings study which looked at crossings at seven different locations. In 2014, the cities launched the I Street Bridge replacement project, which is the new bridge which connects Railyard Boulevard to C Street, and takes all the auto traffic off of I Street and puts it on this new bridge. Also that year, West Sacramento got funds to do a feasibility study for Broadway Bridge. It looked at several different alignments and some of the pros and cons. In 2015, West Sacramento got a $1.5 million Teichert grant to do the environmental reviews. The grant has a 50 percent match, so each city is contributing $750,000, of local transportation dollars to the overall budget of this phase.

The Broadway Bridge will be movable to allow boat passage and will carry cars, bikes, pedestrian traffic and accommodate future transit options, including a future streetcar alignment within the bridge itself. The project also includes installation of a bridge interconnect fiber optic line to allow the new bridge, and I Street and Tower Bridges to be operated by one system.

There have been some concerns for neighbors in Land Park regarding traffic impacting streets south of Broadway. Likened to the Freeport Boulevard Road Diet, which was officially completed last November, Gothan said Broadway improvements will make the area more bike and pedestrian friendly and that the city will be launching that project in September. “In the feasibility study, traffic doesn’t really cut through Land Park. It’s really the destinations of the central business district,” he said.

The new bridge will be defined as “neighborhood friendly” per the Sacramento Area Council of Governments.

Broadway Bridge alignments

The following options are being considered as drop-offs into West Sacramento from the Broadway Bridge. The cities of Sacramento and West Sacramento are in environmental review for each of these options.

Alignment A
On the West side of the river, Alignment A connects directly to Jefferson Boulevard via 15th Street. The primary constraints, or factors, for this alignment are to avoid the Shell tank farm and to maintain the existing 15th Street alignment at the 5th Street intersection. To accomplish this, on the east side alignment A must start angling away from Broadway several hundred feet east of the railroad tracks. This serves to maintain adequate skew across the river. However, by doing so, it creates a significant skew at the railroad tracks and impacts the existing Chevron facilities on both sides of the tracks.

Alignment B
This alignment also connects directly to Jefferson Boulevard via 15th Street, but the 5th/15th Street intersection is reconfigured, which is consistent with the City of West Sacramento’s circulation plans for Pioneer Bluff. Alignment B also avoids direct impacts to the Shell tank farm. By realigning 15th Street, the alignment is able to avoid impacting the Chevron facilities on the east side of the river. The skew across the railroad tracks is similar to that of Alignment A.

Alignment C1/C2
Alignment C connects directly to 5th Street several hundred feet south of the 15th Street intersection. At approximately 2,000 feet long, this alignment is the shortest and most direct. The specific connection point at 5th Street will be required to meet the City of West Sacramento’s intersection spacing standards. By doing so, alignment C impacts the Shell tank farm. The alignment has two variations (C1 and C2). C2 aimed to optimize the bridge skew across the river and to minimize impacts to Phillips 66 facilities. An active Kinder Morgan petroleum line runs in the vicinity of Broadway and under the Sacramento River, which conflicts with alignment C2. Alignment C1 avoids the Kinder Morgan line, but also impacts Phillips 66 and creates a greater skew across both the river and railroad tracks.

Alignment D
Based on preliminary input and analysis, alignment D aims to balance the transportation benefits and impacts resulting from a new cross-river connection with the right of way constraints, and the real estate potential, for Pioneer Bluff, Stone Lock, and Southport. At the time of writing this technical memorandum, only informal coordination has been initiated with the USCG regarding alignment D. Based on the USCG preliminary feedback, the movable navigation span for alignment D would need to be wider than the 170 feet proposed for alignments A, B, and C to enable tug and barge traffic to negotiate the river bend immediately downstream. To confirm the navigation channel required, the cities will need to submit a formal request to the USCG. This request will also subsequently be submitted to the waterway users for a 30-day comment and response period. The project team has prepared preliminary cost estimates for alignment D to inform stakeholders and
decision-makers of the potential cost implications of the longer overall alignment and wider movable
span. A cost comparison table is included in the executive summary, and detailed assumptions are
included in the Cost Estimate Technical Memorandum. Alignment D impacts property owned by Ramos and Buckeye Terminals on the west side. On the east side, the alignment directly impacts Phillips 66 tanks south of Broadway and encroaches into Miller Park, requiring a significant configuration of the existing access to both the park and marina.

West Sacramento veterans share stories of glory, pride and sacrifice this Independence Day

By Michele Townsend

Fourth of July, the American Flag and veterans are all symbols that we as Americans should all appreciate and admire. On Independence Day morning, the veterans at the West Sacramento VFW Post 8762, had plans to hold a salute to Old Glory (The American Flag). Because of the way that events unfolded that morning, the salute was not as grand of a spectacle as they had planned for the morning. But that didn’t stop the vets that were still there from celebrating our flag in a small presentation.

Peter Macias, the post’s flag specialist and historian, explained how once we were independent from the rule of King George and needed a standard of our freedom, and that the flag, your flag, is that standard.

Peter said, “The flag is not just a piece of cloth; it is a symbol of the freedoms that we have and continue to enjoy.” He continued by saying that “if it weren’t for the men and women, in uniform, and patriots, this magnificent piece of cloth which symbolizes our nation, would mean nothing.”

He reminded everyone that “the flag has been our symbol for 241 years, that any and all of us should be glad to stand our post and ensure that no one takes Old Glory away. We should all love and respect the flag of the United States of America!”

When Peter was done speaking, you could feel the pride in the room. Another vet (name unknown) stood up and said that he just wanted to say that “the flag is in fact a very strong symbol of our country, and for those who have served in another part of the world, traipsing around the countryside for months at a time, and you come back and see your flag flying at any base, it is a very powerful symbol! And you realize how glad you are to be home.” They spoke about Prisoners of War: those that have survived, those that haven’t, and those that are still there. They asked that we all take a moment and consider how much those men and women would love to see the flag, be wrapped in it, and safe. I feel safe in saying that we all send our thoughts and prayers to those servicemen and women that are still battling!
The presentation ended and people dispersed and went on their ways. The question of what different people had planned for the day was asked back and forth among the veteran brothers and some of their responses led to an entire new feeling and conversation about the day.

I then had a very intense, real, and eye opening conversation about veterans, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and fireworks. To the rest of us, the Fourth of July is a holiday filled with sun, barbecue, beer, friends and family. And of course, fireworks.

But, to many veterans, Independence Day is a day of flashbacks, rapid heartbeat, sweating, heavy breathing, uneasy feelings, and sometimes fear or panic. Fireworks are pretty and colorful light shows. The boom of them being lit off is part of the excitement for the general public. However, for many veterans the fireworks that are set off on July Fourth are just the sound of bombs going off. In fact, they are bombs going off. They are just constructed to blow up pretty, instead of deadly.

Post Commander James Brashear explained that for some vets, going to a fireworks show is OK because they know that they are coming and they know to expect it. He further explained that he “still has the physical symptoms when he goes to a show. My heart beats fast and my breathing picks up, but I can control it for the most part because I am expecting it.” He also explained that he has many friends that cannot handle it. Explaining further, he said, “The worst thing is the ones that people in the neighborhoods have and light off privately. The reason that they are so bad is because they are out of the blue with no kind of warning”. The PTSD symptoms are much stronger and harder to control. James said that “Sounds and smells are the most powerful flashback triggers. Those triggers bring you back to a fight or flight response that is instinctual for everyone. For a veteran, who has been programmed to fight, as soon as he hears the sounds, he goes into the response of take cover, look what’s going on, assess the situation and engage, you are now taking that assessment and engaging your neighbors. But you are in auto pilot and don’t realize it, so that fight or flight response becomes fight.”

PTSD can occur when someone has lived through or seen a life threatening or very traumatic incident like military combat, natural disaster, terrorist incidents, serious accidents, or violent personal assaults like rape, beating or mugging, etc. According to; All Veterans with PTSD have lived through a traumatic event that made them fear for their lives, see horrible things and feel helpless. People who have PTSD often have nightmares, flashbacks, difficulty sleeping, and feeling emotionally numb. Not everyone gets PTSD, and it is unclear why some do and some don’t. It has been around for as long as there have been wars. In WWII, PTSD was called “shell shock” or “battle fatigue” The Department of Veteran Affairs estimates that PTSD afflicts almost 31 percent of Vietnam Vets, 10 percent of Desert Storm Vets, 11 to 20 percent of Iraqi vets and 11 percent of Afghanistan vets.

James said that he is very lucky because he lives in a good neighborhood and has great neighbors. “It’s just one more reason that you should know your neighbors!” he said. “If my neighbors have fireworks, they know that they will effect me, and they will come over and tell me they will be lighting them off and do I want to come watch. Even if I don’t go, at least I know they are coming.”

So, in future years, by all means celebrate our wonderful nation, but remember your neighbors. Remember that maybe that old guy that is yelling at you for having fun, has a reason for that. Invite them to join the party, or at least give them a heads up that it will be coming.

West Sacramento Riverfront Renaissance Projects Showcased

By Jan Dalske for the News Ledger
Anyone who was interested in finding out what is happening along the Downtown Riverfront was invited to attend the event that was recently held at the City of West Sacramento’s Corporation Yard. The details of all the projects that are currently in the planning stages were displayed. CWS staff members were on hand to answer any questions. In an effort to obtain “Community Feedback”, a card which asked for any thoughts, comments or questions about the various projects was handed out to all attendees.
The Southern Riverfront area includes the Pioneer Bluff and Stone Lock reuse Master Plan. The CWS has been working on ways to what they refer to as “re-envision” the historic waterfront from industrial uses to a vibrant and active mixed-use community.
Plans for the Bridge District were first introduced in late 2010. It is also a mixed-use development. Located from the Tower Bridge to the Interstate 80 overpass, it is directly on the Sacramento Riverfront in West Sacramento. The expected build-out will include 9.6 million square feet of residential and commercial development.
The Sacramento Docks Area Specific Plan is a future mixed-use development project which is in close proximity to historic Sacramento, Raley Field Stadium and the Crocker Art Museum. This plan began in 2009 with the adoption of a Specific Plan. The adoption of this SP represented the final stage in a planning process which included the Sacramento Riverfront Master Plan (2003) and the Docks Area Concept Plan (2005).
Miller Park Redevelopment Area was included in the 2003 Riverfront Master Plan. This area is proposed as a residential neighborhood clustered around Miller Park and the marina. It would be a mixed-use development which would include restaurants and retail while promoting connections to the riverfront.
Broadway Complete Street includes the Broadway Corridor, which is home to a variety of businesses, residents, government facilities, industrial centers, and cultural hot spots in the CWS. The goal is to identify the changes that will be necessary to make this historic corridor a more inviting and safe place for all travelers, including pedestrians, cyclists, transit users and motorists. The preliminary plan was developed in April of 2016.
Other Sacramento River crossings include the I Street Bridge Replacement Project, the I Street Bridge Deck Conversion and the R Street to Garden Street Pedestrian Bridge. These projects will be coordinated with the city of Sacramento. The ISBRP will include a new bridge crossing upstream of the existing ISB between the Sacramento Railyards and West Sacramento’s Washington planned developments.
West Sacramento will be partnering with the city of Sacramento to study the feasibility of converting the upper deck of the historic I Street Bridge to a bicycle and pedestrian crossing, following the construction of the C Street/ Railyards Bridge. The study will begin in the Summer of 2017.
The 2003 Riverfront Master Plan identified a proposed new pedestrian bridge which would connect R Street on the Sacramento side across the Sacramento River to Garden Street in West Sacramento. The new bridge would provide an additional pedestrian and bicycle connection and access to destinations in both cities. The crossing will be a movable bridge and a new signature landmark for the area.
All of these projects will take time, but, for both the cities of Sacramento and West Sacramento, they will be worth waiting for.