The Rise of Urban Farms

The Rise of Urban Farms

Volunteer Day at Lake Washington Farm By Bia Riaz The City of West Sacramento, an urban center situated in the midst of Yolo County’s rich rural farm traditions and home to More »

West Sacramentan to be featured artist at Blue Wing Art Gallery

West Sacramentan to be featured artist at Blue Wing Art Gallery

You spend your life trying to perfect your technique, But you only make an impact when you find your own language. That’s when you start communicating your art… John Nichols will be More »

City Partners With West Capitol Ave. Businesses To Curb Alcohol Abuse

City Partners With West Capitol Ave. Businesses To Curb Alcohol Abuse

The City of West Sacramento has launched a campaign encouraging local businesses to refuse alcohol sales to inebriated customers. The program, T.E.A.M. (Together Everyone Achieves More), is a partnership between West Sacramento More »


West Sac city manager to retire

TOBY ROSS, City Manager of the City of West Sacramento (photo is from the city's website)


FOLLOWING IS A City of West Sacramento press release issued today, in its entirety. This article has been updated to reflect a correction from the original press release; the city manager’s retirement will be effective by July 1 of this year, and not 2013.

City of West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon announced today that City Manager Toby Ross has announced his intention to  retire sometime before July 1.  In his letter to the City Council, Mr. Ross stated, “…This decision does not come lightly.  I am not only leaving a position where I have had unrivaled support from the Council and staff, I am ending a career in a profession that I care about deeply.  I cherish my time in public service and believe that I have made a difference in the communities I have served. It has been a privilege and my good fortune in West Sacramento to work with a mayor and council members who demonstrate their commitment to the community through confident and creative leadership. It has been my pleasure to approach the opportunities and challenges of West Sacramento with my valued colleagues and friends. I appreciate the support, and latitude afforded me by the members of this exceptional community…”

Mr. Ross has served as West Sacramento’s City Manager since November 2002. Mr. Ross has managed many projects and programs that have improved the quality of life for residents and workers in West Sacramento and  have positioned  the City for an enhanced and respected role in the region.  Some accomplishments include major retail development in the north and south ends of the City, with anchor tenants such as IKEA, Wal Mart, Nugget and Target; the development of the City’s downtown into a vibrant government center encompassing City Hall, the Arthur F. Turner Yolo County Library, a satellite facility for Sacramento City College and a City Community Center. The City’s aggressive flood protection program was developed and advanced under Mr. Ross as well as major infrastructure projects in support of the Bridge District, an intense urban riverfront development south of Tower Bridge. Mr. Ross also serves as the Executive Director for the Port of West Sacramento.

Immediately prior to this appointment, Mr. Ross served as the City Manager for Park City, Utah.  Park City is a world-class, resort community that played host to approximately 40 percent of the events of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. Mr. Ross presided over this full-service resort city for more than 13 years and was named “Manager of the Year” by the Utah League of Cities and Towns for his work on statewide growth and planning issues.

Mr. Ross has an extensive educational background. He earned MA and PhD and degrees from UC Berkeley; and a BA degree from UC Santa Barbara. Mr. Ross has also held a number of university faculty positions.

Mayor Cabaldon stated, “Toby Ross is one the West’s most highly regarded city managers, and for good reason. He has been pivotal to our city’s transformation as he delivered project after project while running a tight fiscal ship and fostering a City Hall where talented, passionate people can get things done. We will miss Mr. Ross dearly, but today I’m just grateful that West Sacramento has had the exceptional good fortune of his leadership for a decade. Now our city says, ‘thank you’ and ‘best wishes for a much-deserved retirement’.”

Celebrating a pioneering children’s story


The Yolo County Library is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Caldecott Medal-winning children’s book “The Snowy Day,” which “was one of the first books to feature an African-American child in a main role that appeals to all children.”

Storytime programs at the West Sacramento branch, 1212 Merkley Avenue, will feature the book as follows: for kids age 1-3, visit “Mother Goose on the Loose at 11:15 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 21; Russian storytime for kids age 3-6, 6:15 p.m. on Wed., Feb. 22; age 0-1, “Hug-a-Bye Baby,” at 11:15 a.m. on Feb. 23; preschool storytime for ages 3-6 at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 24; and bilingual English/Spanish storytime for kids age 2-6 at 10:30 a.m. on Sat., Feb. 25.

For information, visit the library or

Raiders are on a roll: 10-0 in league

Junior Katie King with the 3 point shot. Katie was the high scorer with for RCHS with 25 points (photo by DE’ONNA JACK)


Sophomore Mikaila Robinson in action for JV. Mikaila was the high scorer for her team with 18 points. (Photo by DE’ONNA JACK)


UPDATE FEB 16: RCHS athletic director Char Ghio announced today the school will host its first-ever girls basketball playoff game at RCHS on Tuesday, Feb. 21, at 7:00 p.m.  The opponent and ticket prices have not yet been determined — watch here for further information.

On February 7, 2012, the River City High School girls basketball team faced the Union Mine Diamondbacks.

Both the River City J.V. and varsity squads won their respective games in convincing fashion; while the freshman team played in Woodland. River City’s varsity girls came into the game with a 9-0 record in league play and a 23-1 record overall. By beating Union Mine, they improved to 10-0 in league play and 24-1 overall. Final score was 61-32, River City.

The junior varsity Raiders won 39-20.

High scorers:  JV Raiders –  Sophomore Mikaila Robinson with 18 points. Varsity Raiders –  Junior Katie King with 25 points and Senior Jordan Ligons with 17 points.

  The RCHS girls will be home again on Friday, February 17, for their final, regular season home game. They’ll also be celebrating “senior night.”

(Facebook members can find up-to-the-minute info on RCHS sports at contributor De’Onna Jack’s Facebook page. Click here.)

  Support local journalism, and see all our articles every week! Subscribe to the News-Ledger.  It’s only $20 per year within West Sacramento – once a week, delivered to your mailboxl.

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Copyright News-Ledger 2012

Dog bite: officials looking for dog


Yolo officials are looking for a dog and its owner after a delivery driver was bit on Friday near 807 Elder Drive in West Sacramento. The incident occurred at about 3:30 p.m.

According to the Animal Services Section of the sheriff’s department, the driver dropped off a package at an Elder Drive home, when two loose dogs came from a driveway in an area with a 3-4 foot high fence, and attacked him. The victim was unable to identify the dogs’ owner.

The dog that bit the driver was described as a brown brindle pit bull with cropped ears. It was with a black and white pit bull.

The biting dog needs to be examined for rabies.

Anyone with information is asked to call (530) 668-5287 (available 24 hours/day) or email

Scholarships for high school volunteers


The Yolo Community Foundation is looking to honor local high school seniors who have volunteered with a Yolo nonprofit for at least 60 hours during their junior or senior years of high school. Winners will receive a $1,000 scholarship and a Yolo Youth Service Award; the nonprofit they support will receive $500.

Deadline to apply is March 19. For information, visit, email, or call (530) 312-0593.

‘Not too tall’: U-Haul fights on, takes its signage rights to court

U-Haul may have the last major out-of-compliance pole sign in West Sacramento’s business district, after a new city ordinance took effect in 2008. (News-Ledger photo)

NEWS-LEDGER — FEB 8, 2012 —

By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor

There was a time when West Capitol Avenue was a glitzy and fairly prosperous thoroughfare, decorated with jet-set era neon lights that were designed to entice travelers to spend the night or pull over for a bite or a drink.

Then, after a freeway came in nearby in the ‘50s, the through-traffic on West Capitol slowed to a trickle. After the ‘50s, there were quicker ways to get from San Francisco to, say, Sacramento or Lake Tahoe. So a lot of the motels, restaurants and other attractions on the strip began to show their age – and so did their billboards, pole signs and “whirlybird” signs.

As part of a drive to clean up the strip, the West Sacramento city council in the late ‘90s adopted a new sign ordinance, giving businesses downtown 20 years to phase out their old, too-tall or too-big signs and replace them with something more modest. All of them have – except one, city code enforcement officer Larry Brooks told the News-Ledger last August.

“All the other businesses agreed to take down their pole signs and put up monument signs to comply,” said Brooks. “U-Haul (at 1750 West Capitol) has just always maintained it just could not come into compliance like all other businesses.”

Brook’s office cited U-Haul for failing to comply last year. The Arizona-based company appealed to a city hearing board, and lost. Now, U-Haul has filed a “writ of mandate” in Yolo County Superior Court, asking the court to tell West Sacramento to leave the sign alone.

Jeff Aran, a Sacramento sign law attorney, said he has represented the company on a number of other cases – and he is confident the company’s pole sign will still be up when the legal dust settles on the West Sacramento sign case.

“There’s a state law that specifically says, despite whatever ordinance a city has, if a business is going to suffer a material loss of visibility to comply, it doesn’t have to bring its sign into compliance,” Aran told the News-Ledger on Monday. “I’ve represented U-Haul on a number of these cases.”

How did those work out?

“The signs are still standing.”
The problem with the West Sacramento property, said Aran, is that U-Haul’s truck rental customers may have trouble finding the facility to pick up or return a vehicle, and they may be looking for it at night. The pole sign – which Aran estimated at 35 feet tall – is needed so they can spot U-Haul and safely pull onto the property.

Aran said the company has tried to work with the code enforcement department to explain its visibility issues or craft a compromise, but that the city hasn’t cooperated.

“The issue for us is that U-Haul wants to be a good corporate citizen,” said Aran. “It’s not like we haven’t tried to figure out a solution.”

The News-Ledger took a look at the sign from the east (approaching from Jefferson Boulevard) and also  from the west (from Harbor).

It looked like a shorter sign (at the 12-foot legal maximum) might be partly screened by the company’s own trucks in its parking lot. On the other hand, the existing tall sign might already be hard to spot from the westbound lanes during some seasons, because of the tree canopy on the median.

  “We got into a big truck and came down West Capitol Avenue from both directions, and spotted the sign,” said Larry Brooks of the city’s code enforcement department in August. “It is our contention that the (current) sign cannot be seen by most drivers anyway, because of the tree canopy. In this day and age of smart phones and GPS, drivers already know which way to turn.”

A clutter of signs competed for attention on West Capitol Avenue, creating what an early city council called “visual blight.” This photo shows signage on the 1700-block of West Capitol years ago, before the new sign ordinance took effect. (News-Ledger file photo, undated)

Aran argued that either the city’s sign ordinance, or its enforcement, might be too selective. For example, a McDonalds near U-Haul sports a very tall flagpole with an American flag at the top – and a McDonald’s flag just under it.

“These are the kinds of exceptions they’ve made for their preferred free speech,” said Aran.

The Yolo courts have not yet set a hearing date for the issue.

Copyright News-Ledger 2012

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Lengthy sentence for 2009 murder


District Attorney Jeff Reisig announced that on January 13, Yolo County Superior Court Judge Stephen Mock sentenced 31-year-old Christopher Allen Smith of West Sacramento to 45 years-to-life in state prison for murdering Gidd Gomel Robinson IV on November 3, 2009.

According to the Yolo D.A.’s office:

Shortly after noon that day, Smith was driving with his seven-year-old son in his pick-up truck after leaving his father’s house in West Sacramento.  Smith, who is white,  encountered Robinson, an African American, who was walking his children to school.  After Robinson gave Smith a “hard stare” and Smith “flipped him off,” Smith drove his truck around the corner on Jasmine Avenue and loaded his gun.  Robinson approached the truck and some kind of confrontation occurred. Smith fired one shot at Robinson.

Police responded to the report of a “man down” on the 400-block of Jasmine. Robinson was transported to a hospital with a fatal gunshot wound to the abdomen.

Smith immediately drove to the Elkhorn boat ramp and tossed the gun in the river and rubbed mud on his hands to conceal any gunshot residue.  He was arrested on Old River Road as he was leaving the boat ramp.  Detectives seized a computer from Smith’s home which was later forensically analyzed by the District Attorney’s Computer Forensics Unit.  That analysis revealed that Smith habitually visited racist websites containing inflammatory pictures and articles about African Americans.

During his trial, Smith claimed self-defense and said Robinson had a gun, but police did not find a gun near the victim.

Investigators found over 40 firearms in Smith’s home.

  Robinson’s fiancé Jennifer Richardson gave an impassioned victim impact statement during the sentencing hearing.  “This horrific tragedy has made me become so much stronger than I could’ve ever imagined,” said Richardson.  “Mr. Smith stole the life of my fiancé, my best friend, the daddy to my babies. Over these past 2 years I’ve had to learn how to become the single mother that I never thought I would be.”

Chief Deputy District Attorney, Jonathan Raven, prosecuted the case.  He praised the dedicated efforts of West Sacramento Police Department, the DA’s Computer Forensics Division, and the DA’s Victim Services Division who worked with the family of Gidd Robinson.  He also thanked the jury who spent three days deliberating on the case.  “The jury was thoughtful and worked hard to bring about a just verdict,” said Raven in a press release.  “I know that Gidd’s family feels that justice was served.”

  Support local journalism, and see all our articles every week! Subscribe to the News-Ledger.  It’s only $20 per year within West Sacramento – once a week, delivered to your mailboxl.

  You can even try it for free for two months if you live in West Sacramento. Just send your name and mailing address to (offer open to new subscribers in West Sacramento ZIP codes 95691 & 95605).

Copyright News-Ledger 2012