Tag Archives: mayor

West Sac’s college branch celebrates five years, lays plans to expand

Local college branch: five years old & hoping to grow  (News-Ledger photo)

Local college branch: five years old & hoping to grow (News-Ledger photo)

NEWS-LEDGER — FEB 4, 2015 —

By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor

With public speakers, cookies and a martial arts performance, West Sacramento’s branch of Sacramento City College celebrated five years on West Capitol Avenue last Thursday afternoon.

The branch’s success, and the partnerships that helped bring that success, were themes of the day.

Mayor Christopher Cabaldon noted that the college took a gamble on building the new center when demand for community college classes in West Sacramento was unproven. Previously, the college had only offered a limited number of classes in this city in borrowed classrooms. And the branch also took a gamble by choosing a site on troubled West Capitol Avenue – on a stretch that’s now partially redeveloped near city hall.

Cabaldon said the college’s leadership decided, “We’re going to open a new center – we’re going to double-down, triple down.”

And from the city’s point of view:

“We anchored our entire downtown, which didn’t exist, to this facility.”

Now the 1000-block of West Capitol includes the college, city hall, a transit center, community center and nearby library.

Mary Leland, an administrator at the college as well as a West Sacramento school board member, noted the “extraordinary partnerships” involved in the city’s college, school system and city programs.

The college’s local presence started in 1999 with three classrooms and a computer lab on Halyard Drive.

In 2010, it moved into its new three-story building at 1115 West Capitol Avenue, with 11 classrooms, a computer lab, and expanded course offerings. It combined with the college’s Downtown Center and serves about 2,600 students, according to its dean, Art Pimental.

ART PIMENTAL Dean of the West Sacramento branch of Sac City College (News-Ledger photo)

ART PIMENTAL
Dean of the West Sacramento branch of Sac City College
(News-Ledger photo)

“Roughly about 30 percent of our student body have West Sacramento addresses,” Pimental later told the News-Ledger. He also outlined the center’s expansion plans:

“Basically, the plans are to have two additional facilities here at the site,” said Pimental. “Two additional phases. At final buildout, the site will be approximately 80,000 square feet. The current facility is 25,000 square feet.

A 2008 state bond measure may help pay for Phase II.

“The district has approximately $5 million towards Phase II from Measure M,” Pimental explained. “Phase II will cost approximately $12 million.”

So building it will depend partly on help from state bond funds as well as continued enrollment growth. Best case scenario is that construction starts in 2017.

The new facility would be built next to the current structure, on a grassy area to the west close to Carol’s restaurant.  As for Phase III: there is no timeline yet, but construction would occur on the northern, parking-lot side of the current facility.

The next phase would allow the branch to serve more students, build a “wet lab,” and offer new courses that “reflect the needs of the community,” said Pimental.

A planned streetcar line coming to the site from across the Tower Bridge can only help with the branch’s success, he added.

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Copyright News-Ledger 2015

 

West Sacramento gets grant to help new urban farm program

Farmer Sara Bernal at the 5th & C urban farm soon after the new soil was trucked in. Neighbors include older homes, newer urban townhouses, a liquor store and the I Street Bridge. (News-Ledger photo/May, 2014)

Farmer Sara Bernal at the 5th & C urban farm soon after the new soil was trucked in. Neighbors include older homes, newer urban townhouses, a liquor store and the I Street Bridge. (News-Ledger photo/May, 2014)

NEWS-LEDGER — JAN 28, 2015 —

The City of West Sacramento has received $40,000 in grants and in-kind donations for its urban farm program, courtesy of the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the Scotts Miracle-Gro Company. The city was one of four national winners in a program to support gardening and green spaces.

West Sacramento, partnering with the Center for Land-Based Learning, opened up an urban farm last year at the corner of 5th and C streets in the “Washington” neighborhood, near the I Street Bridge.

The new grant will help the partners improve that farm – including creation of a new “point of sale” farm stand – and pursue other urban farms in the city.

The farm is meant to help new young farmers launch their career, bring fresh produce to an underserved area, and create a positive use on a former vacant lot. City officials believe that eventually, courtesy of market forces, the temporary farm at 5th and C will give way to new development as the neighborhood is revitalized.

“The level of excitement and community support for the urban farming initiative has been extraordinary,” said Mayor Christopher Cabaldon in a city press release. “West Sacramento residents recognize urban farms as an asset and are eager to have more sites like our flagship 5th and C farm in our town. . . We will use the funds to improve livability and food access while increasing the visibility of West Sacramento as a regional food hub.”

Other grant-winners were Dallas, Texas; Rochester, New York; and Hartford, Connecticut. The winners were chosen by a panel of former mayors and national gardening experts.

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Copyright News-Ledger 2015

South River Road: land use transition and rail safety become issues

FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER — JAN 21, 2015 —

By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor

A petroleum “tank farm” has bumped up against concerns by city leaders about the safety of rail cars loaded with hazardous materials and also the about the changing role of South River Road in West Sacramento. The facility has sued the city about the dispute.

Buckeye Terminals operates a gas distribution facility on both sides of South River Road to serve local BP stations and other operators. As part of its operation at 1700 South River Road, the company has, until December, been operating under a series of “conditional use permits” by which it’s been allowed to bring some of its ethanol supply in by train. The last permit expired in December after the city planning commission opted not to renew it.

Meanwhile, West Sacramento officials – like others in the country and Canada – have become increasingly concerned by their lack of control over rail cars moving through the community or being parked in it. Rail operators like Union Pacific are largely immune from local regulation and they don’t have to disclose what’s in those parked cars, or even if they are full of hazardous materials or they’re empty.

Also, since the 1980s, that old industrial riverfront off of South River Road has been zoned to become something more urban and vibrant, although old land uses are “grandfathered in” as long as they don’t plan on making big changes to their operations. That strategic change in land use is now finally beginning to look imminent –last year’s opening of the Mike McGowan Bridge connecting South River Road to Southport, the likely construction of a new Sacramento River bridge connecting Broadway in Sacramento to the 15th Street area in West Sacramento, and the demolition of the old Cemex Silo just south of the freeway all look like early harbingers of that transition.

When the planning commission voted in November not to extend Buckeye’s rail permit, the company appealed the decision to the city council. The council listened on Dec. 17 (quotes below come from city video of that meeting).

Braiden Chadwick, an attorney for Buckeye, argued that the permit should be approved because moving the ethanol by rail is safer than the alternative.

“Rail traffic is not only safer than truck, but also is cleaner in terms of movement of hazardous materials,” he said. He added that in the last couple of years, “there’s been zero complaints out there” about rail crossings that impeded local traffic.

“There have been no accidents,” he added.

Braiden criticized staff for misidentifying ethanol cars and other petroleum product cars, and for putting too much blame on Buckeye for times when rail crossing arms were down at local intersections such as one on Jefferson Boulevard.

West Sacramento’s fire chief, Rick Martinez, said the decision between moving a limited amount of ethanol traffic from rail to truck was one of “managed risk.”

“We have, as I’ve stated in the past, no jurisdiction over the movement of rail in our community,” said Martinez. “These tanker cars come into our community, they sit for days. . . adjacent to housing, parks and obviously the terminal. With the migration from tank cars to truck, it’s just a ‘managed risk’ situation. It allows us to influence the speed at which they travel through our community, the route which they take, and where they’re stored overnight.”

City Councilman Bill Kristoff commented at the meeting that he had recently come off of westbound 80 at the South River Road exit, and drove past the water tank and Ironworks subdivision:

“As you look to the left, you saw 20-30 rail cars – I didn’t count them, but it took me by surprise,” said Kristoff. “I don’t know the rail business well enough to know why all of these cars have to stay in our community for as long as they stay, and at the same time we don’t get to know what’s in them. That’s sort of alarming to me.”

He noted that many of those cars probably do not contain product for Buckeye.

As the council readied for what would be a unanimous vote against issuing the permit, Mayor Christopher Cabaldon added:

“There is no animus toward the project and Buckeye.”

“We’re firmly committed to the transition of this area,” he said. “But the existing Buckeye facility is absolutely welcome to remain and operate at its existing site to the extend that it’s complying with the terms of its permits. If it’s not invading the public right of way or engaging in any otherwise illegal activity, it’s perfectly welcome to stay in our community in the South River Road district.”

He said it’s always been clear that the time would come when the city would stop making “extraordinary allowances to nonconforming uses” along South River Road, and that this time has come.

“The era where we would waive our policies around what this district is supposed to be – that era is coming to a close,” said Cabaldon.

Buckeye has filed a lawsuit over the decision, saying that putting the ethanol in trucks will increase the threat to public safety.

Copyright News-Ledger 2015

West Sacramento gets new vice mayor, or ‘mayor pro tem’

Mayor Christopher Cabaldon (right) is sworn in for another two-year term at the helm of the City of West Sacramento. (Photo & info from AL ZAGOFSKY/copyright News-Ledger 2014)

Mayor Christopher Cabaldon (right) is sworn in for another two-year term at the helm of the City of West Sacramento. (Photo & info from AL ZAGOFSKY/copyright News-Ledger 2014)

NEWS-LEDGER — DEC 24, 2014 —

Mayor Christopher Cabaldon was sworn in for another two-year term last Wednesday by Kryss Rankin, City Clerk. Cabaldon easily won re-election during the November local ballot.

Also reelected last month were city council members Mark Johannessen and Chris Ledesma, who each earned another four-year term from local voters.

Johannessen finished up a stint as ‘mayor pro tem’ last week. The council selected Chris Ledesma (whose face can be seen above, just left of Cabaldon) as ‘mayor pro tem’ for the coming year. It’s essentially a vice mayor’s post.

In West Sacramento, the mayor’s position is a two-year, separately-elected position. The other four members of the council receive four-year terms. Every two years, two of those seats go up for reelection.

Copyright News-Ledger 2014