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West Sac residents take a look at city’s long-term ‘general plan’

At a public workshop Monday evening, Mayor Cabaldon asked West Sacramento residents to ask what they wanted their city to look like in the future.  The city is updating its long-term ‘general plan,’ which has a 20-year horizon. (News-Ledger photo)

At a public workshop Monday evening, Mayor Cabaldon asked West Sacramento residents to ask what they wanted their city to look like in the future. The city is updating its long-term ‘general plan,’ which has a 20-year horizon.
(News-Ledger photo)

FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER — APRIL 30, 2014 —

By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor

About 75 citizens attended a meeting Monday evening to provide input on the West Sacramento’s long-range “general plan,” and to make comments four specific planning projects. Hosted by the city’s planning department, the workshop took place in the community center on West Capitol Avenue.

Several residents asked questions and showed concern about new growth bringing about more traffic problems, and about the city’s level of protection from floods.

Mayor Christopher Cabaldon attended briefly.

“The general plan, as you’ll hear, is one of the most important plans we have in the city,” Cabaldon told the crowd. “It is a long-term plan. It goes to 2035 – but that doesn’t mean nothing is going to happen until July of 2034.”

He asked participants at the workshop to envision the city they want.

“What do you want this place to be like, in value-based terms?,” Cabaldon asked. “What do you want your neighborhoods to be like?”

The mayor himself said the future city ought not to be “all residential suburbs” or “just rural, with horses,” but ought to be combined of different elements, including housing opportunities for the different stages of life.

West Sacramento’s city manager for the past two years is Martin Tuttle, a former executive with the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG). Tuttle talked to the crowd about the “Blueprint,” a six-county regional guide to future development.

The Blueprint aims to promote transit-oriented development, encouraging compact growth near transportation options and attempting to avoid sprawl into farmlands.

“This community has incredible assets,” said Tuttle of West Sacramento, including “the port area, the riverfront and the emerging downtown area. . . You really are seeing more compact development, more development near transit. When we started ‘Blueprint,’ Sacramento was on its way to 35 miles per day of driving per person. Now it’s around 21 miles.”

David Tilley, the city’s senior planner, explained that the general plan contains a number of distinct elements – most mandated by the state. The plan includes a “preferred land use alternative,” a climate change plan and other elements.

“Our general plan will keep the child care element (in) and also have a ‘healthy communities’ element,” reported Tilley. Cities are required to create a general plan and update it periodically.

He introduced the four specific project areas being shown off at the workshop, inviting residents to look at drawings, chat with staff and leave comments, which staff would try to tabulate afterward.

The “Stone Lock District,” he said, surrounds the barge canal near Jefferson Boulevard, and includes the bluffs known as “Honda Hills” often used by motorcyclists.

“This is roughly 210 acres,” said Tilley. “It could be ripe for a master plan of some sort.”

An earlier plan to jointly develop Stone Lock with the Cordish Company expired during the economic downturn.

“Seaway” includes about 300 acres west of Lowe’s, on Port of West Sacramento property along Southport Parkway. It has been zoned for industrial and business park uses.

“It’s on the table,” Tilley said. “We want to hear what you think is best for the community.”

The “Liberty Specific Plan” is the only one of the four projects with a working developer on board. The acreage is east of the Clarksburg Trail in Southport, between Linden Road to the north and Davis Road to the south. It could hold up to 1,900 residential units.

“This is the last major piece in Southport that’s unentitled,” said Tilley.

Lastly mentioned was “Pioneer Bluffs.”

“This is the area along South River Road south of 15th Street, going down to where it presently dead-ends.”

This stretch is home to “legacy uses,” said Tilley, including the city’s old wastewater treatment plant and industrial uses including petroleum “tank farms.”

“It’s been long-planned to transition to mixed-use, but the question is how do we do that,” said Tilley. “It’s likely to be served by not one, but two new bridges: the South River Road Bridge, and another, perhaps in the area of 15th Street, crossing from Sacramento.”

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Streetcar project gets a bump up

FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER — MAY 7, 2014 —

West Sac officials are now in Washington, D.C., to gather support for local flood projects and other local priorities —

By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor

Mayor Christopher Cabaldon reported yesterday that the Sacramento/West Sacramento streetcar project has hit a milestone in the process of earning federal funding.

Mayor Christopher Cabaldon (News-Ledger file photo)

Mayor Christopher Cabaldon
(News-Ledger file photo)

“I just got word we’re approved to move into ‘project development’ for the streetcar,” said Cabaldon. “We’re now a ‘federal project.’ It’s not approved yet as a final project.”

Among other things, the new status means that money spent by the two cities can be counted later towards a required “local match” of dollars for the streetcar system.

The first phase of the streetcar line is envisioned to send one spur across the bridge down the middle of West Capitol Avenue in West Sacramento, terminating at city hall and the transit center at the 1100-block of the street. City officials would like to later extend the spur further west on West Capitol. They’d also like to add a north-south branch that might stretch (tentatively) from the CalSTRS and ziggurat buildings in the north down into Southport, said Cabaldon.

The first phase of the line would wind through downtown Sacramento, with stops near the planned new arena, the railyards, downtown and midtown.

Planners hope to open the line in 2017.

“We have a lot of work to do yet,” Cabaldon told the News-Ledger. “We identified the 2017 timeline about a year ago, and all the ducks are lined up.”

Cabaldon reported the news from amid the annual “Capital to Capital” trip, in which leaders from all around the Sacramento area drop in on federal officials in Washington, D.C., to talk about local priorities.

The West Sacramento delegation this year includes city council members Beverly Sandeen andChris Ledesma, city manager Martin Tuttle and department head Mike Luken. Local county supervisor Oscar Villegas and officials from the West Sacramento Chamber of Commerce are also making the trip.

Their lobbying priorities include continuing the work on getting partners for local flood control projects and for planned construction of new bridges across the river at I Street and Broadway, said the mayor.

Copyright News-Ledger 2014

Corn as high as an elephant’s eye? Unusual land use crops up in urban West Sac neighborhood

SARA BERNAL has plans for an unused city lot that used to have bad soil. She’s part of a project involving the City of West Sacramento and a Yolo County nonprofit that promotes agricultural education.   (News-Ledger photo)

SARA BERNAL has plans for an unused city lot that used to have bad soil. She’s part of a project involving the City of West Sacramento and a Yolo County nonprofit that promotes agricultural education.
(News-Ledger photo)

FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER — MAY 7, 2014 —

By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor

There is sudden new activity on that old, city-owned vacant lot at the corner of 5th and C streets in West Sacramento’s old “Washington” neighborhood. New soil has been dropped off, and a tractor is leveling it out. People are bustling about onsite.

The lot is surrounded by elements of urban West Sacramento old and new:

Just west lies the popular new Broderick Roadhouse pub. A couple blocks east is the venerable old I Street Bridge. Across the street is a liquor store. Passersby include commuters, students, the residents of nearby homes, and various denizens of the city’s streets.

So what are they building on this two-thirds-acre piece of urban infill? Will it be new townhouses or apartments, like those going up elsewhere on the West Sac riverfront? A mixed-use building? A restaurant?

The answer is probably not your first guess. What they’re building is a farm.

Sara Bernal was on site yesterday, supervising the spreading of a new layer of topsoil. She will be the first farmer at the temporary “urban farm” at 427 C Street.

“My goal is to have the irrigation system built by next week,” said Bernal. “I hope to start planting in two weeks.”

What crops are going in?

“Lots of heirloom tomatoes, baby green mixes, cucumbers, melons, summer squash, onions, carrots and radishes, eggplants and peppers,” she started to list.

Bernal has small-farm experience, including producing for “subscribers” and for farmers markets. She hopes to sell her veggies at farmers markets – including West Sacramento’s – and at restaurants – including nearby “Broderick.”

“In 30 days, we will have baby lettuce and small radishes,” said Bernal.

This “urban farm” project is the first partnership between the city and the Center for Land-Based Learning, headquartered in Winters. The city hopes to make available various vacant sites for use as temporary, rotating small farms. The Center for Land-Based Learning, which supports training for farmers, has leased this city lot for $1 per year for five years.

Mayor Christopher Cabaldon says the neighborhood and the city get several different things out of the relationship.

“First, it’s the rejuvenation of a public-owned parcel that’s been almost thrown away for a full generation,” he told the News-Ledger. “(Vacant lots) continue to be safety issues. We want to have activity there.”

Then, there’s the opportunity to help train new farmers and get them a start in their profession. West Sacramento officials are seeking to make the city a “food hub,” central to food production and processing.

“For most of recorded history, you became a farmer because you grew up on a farm,” he said. “Today, there’s a whole new crop of young people who want to be a farmer, but their parents don’t own a farm. They don’t have the land to begin farming. So reason number two for this is to incubate farmers.”

“Third is that we want to create new options for local neighbors and kids, so they’re connected to farms and can buy more healthy food. (The fourth reason is) we really want to create a pipeline for local restaurants to locally-source specialty produce. You saw that with Dan Gannon’s farm in Southport, and the Eatery.”

The Eatery was a well-regarded Southport restaurant that often served local produce such as Gannon’s. The restaurant recently closed for financial reasons.

“One key feature is that this will be a temporary use,” said Cabaldon of the C Street farm. “Five years from now, it could be a mixed-use building with people living upstairs and a restaurant or book store down below. When that happens, we and others have plenty of other vacant properties in the city.”

Mary Kimball is executive director of the Center for Land-Based Learning, which is leasing the vacant lot and has hired Bernal as the farm manager. She said this project is made possible primarily by Wells Fargo, with help from Community Business Bank and other sponsors. Soil on the lot was so poor that they trucked in 600 cubic yards of (slightly aromatic) composted topsoil.

“It’s kind of surprising how much even a half acre can produce,” said Kimball. “Two of our graduates are going to help (Bernal.) It’s all going to be vegetable produce – it will be for really different markets, like restaurants. ‘Broderick’ restaurant has put in an order for what to grow.”

The produce will also be sold at farmers’ markets and farmstands, and possibly through a “CSA” program (“community supported agriculture,” in which consumers sign up to receive a portion of the produce).

The urban farm fits with her organization’s mission.

“We have a beginning farmer training program called the California Farm Academy,” said Kimball. “Each year, we graduate about 20 farmers into the community.”

Sara Bernal hopes sales from the C Street farm help cover her own salary as farm manager for the plot.

Is she worried about people vandalizing the little farm, or walking off with the “fruits” of her labor?

“Oh yeah, definitely,” answered Bernal. “Unfortunately, we can’t afford to fence it off. We’re hoping people will see how much work we put in, and leave it alone. I’m sure it will happen, though.”

City officials are holding a groundbreaking for the urban farm at 10 a.m. on Friday, May 9,  at 427 C Street.

And in case you’re wondering, the West Sacramento Farmers Market is scheduled to open for the season on May 29; look for information on the Thursday-afternoon market on Facebook here.

 

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Copyright News-Ledger 2014

Trotting off the written page

Students from Southport and Westmore Oaks elementary schools get a close look at a pair of Belgian draft horses, “Tip” and “Champ” who weigh in at close to a ton apiece. Originally from  an Amish farm, they are carriage horses in Old Sacramento. Click to enlarge.  (News-Ledger photo)

Students from Southport and Westmore Oaks elementary schools get a close look at a pair of Belgian draft horses, “Tip” and “Champ” who weigh in at close to a ton apiece. Originally from an Amish farm, they are carriage horses in Old Sacramento. Click to enlarge. (News-Ledger photo)

FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER — APRIL 30, 2014 —

By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor

They called it “Horsin’ Around for Literacy.”

The regional district of Rotary International asked its local chapters, like the Centennial Rotary Club in West Sacramento, to do something to improve literacy among children. So the local chapter several months ago launched a two-pronged, equestrian attack.

Explained Don Schatzel of Rotary:

“Thanks to support from the Southport PTO (parent-teacher organization) and the West Sacramento Trail Riders Association, we bought a book for every second grader at Southport and Westmore Oaks – books with horses in them. Now, in the spring, they get horses. We’re trying to teach it, see it, read it.”

The Southport students came to Westmore Oaks (the “old” River City High campus on Clarendon Street) for a special assembly Thursday morning. On the school’s football track were a bunch of horse trailers, horses and riders.

Charyl Silva and Don Schatzel, riders and Rotarians. Click to enlarge.  News-Ledger photo

Charyl Silva and Don Schatzel, riders and Rotarians. Click to enlarge.
News-Ledger photo

Wrestling with a struggling microphone system on a windy day, emcee Roberta Firoved introduced each horse and rider to the attentive students. She also explained some things about horses, including why their eyes are on the sides of their heads (as a prey animal, horses need to keep watch for predators) and how to measure a horse’s height (by using “hands”). Among the horse teams were:

— Ron Morazzini (trail riders’ president) with his quarterhorse “Jiggers.”
Jiggers “loves to follow Ron around the pasture like a puppy,” said Firoved.

— Rod Beckwith with a mule names “Socks.” A mule is a cross produced from a male donkey and female horse, explained Firoved.

— A pair of impressive Belgian draft horses, weighing in at 1,600 and 1,800 pounds, respectively.

— And a pony.

Jason Williams, an employee of the Bureau of Land Management, showed a little bit about how he helped round up wild horses with help from his dog “Hannah.” He rode “Stinger,” a horse born wild and bearing a BLM brand on its neck. He told the kids how he used his dog to help round up a wild horse.

Jason Williams with his horse “Stinger’ and his working dog ‘Hannah.  ‘ Williams works for the Bureau of Land Management and sometimes helps round up wild horses -- animals like Stinger.  (News-Ledger photo)

Jason Williams with his horse “Stinger’ and his working dog ‘Hannah. ‘ Williams works for the Bureau of Land Management and sometimes helps round up wild horses — animals like Stinger.
(News-Ledger photo)

“If I say ‘come by,’ she will go around the horse to the left,” said Williams. Another command sends Hannah to the right of the targeted animal. Hannah is prone to giving a horse a little nip on the heels as he scoots past, helping to herd the animal.

“A lot of times, that’s what I’ll do to gather horses,” said Williams.

After the talk, kids were invited to line up on one side of a fence while the horses came by in touching distance along the other:

“Read it, see it, touch it.”

 

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Copyright News-Ledger 2014