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EDITORIAL: public risk for hotel project

The latest vision of a West Sacramento riverfront hotel, in an artist’s rendition. After studying a city-owned hotel project north of the Tower Bridge, the city is now looking at a public-private deal to create a hotel with a restaurant and conference. They’re now aiming for a ‘premier’ site next to Raley Field, Tower Bridge and the Sacramento River. (From Hornberger+Worstell, Architects)

The latest vision of a West Sacramento riverfront hotel, in an artist’s rendition. After studying a city-owned hotel project north of the Tower Bridge, the city is now looking at a public-private deal to create a hotel with a restaurant and conference. They’re now aiming for a ‘premier’ site next to Raley Field, Tower Bridge and the Sacramento River. (From Hornberger+Worstell, Architects)



The City of West Sacramento is working on a plan to boost a local riverfront hotel project, and that plan involves some degree of risk to the city general fund. That fund is the pot of money that pays for things like police and fire protection.

The theory is that with some help from the public, a new hotel planned near Raley Field can become an upgraded version of what would happen if developers are left to private financing alone. The hotel would get a conference center and other amenities that consultants say won’t happen if the project has to relay only on private financing.

The city’s contribution won’t – if all goes well – touch your police and fire money. The city will stand behind $30 million in bonds, which will be repaid by indirect income from the future project. The bonds will be paid back with money from hotel room taxes and increased property taxes from the site – money that, without the project, might otherwise not come in at all.

If those future revenues fall short, then yes, your tax dollars are at risk.

Now, it’s not the first time that the City of West Sacramento has used public financing to help make a desirable project happen. The same kind of thing happened with the first office tower on the river (the “ziggurat” building, originally built for a lending company) and again with Raley Field, for example.

Those projects worked out. The truth is, that while West Sacramento has a public policy of stepping in with public financing mechanisms or other support to help make a desirable project come true – especially when that project is the “first of its kind” to take a gamble here – the city hasn’t gone hog wild with taxpayer money or taxpayer risk. City-backed bonds for Raley Field, for example, are being paid back on schedule as per the deal, without the need for West Sacramentans to reach into their pockets for cash and cover a shortfall. The stadium was a success, and it helped change the image of West Sacramento and its diamond-in-the-rough riverfront.

Now, the particular hotel currently planned for the Bridge District may never even come to fruition. But if it does – and if city participation nudges it to a higher quality project possessed of greater amenities – then the hotel will help raise the bar for the rest of the developing waterfront. The quality of some of the housing, businesses and restaurants going in nearby will go up alongside the business-class hotel, and so might future nearby property taxes, sales taxes and payrolls.

You can be philosophically opposed to public participation in private development, and that’s fine. But if so, you’ll have to recognize that it’s going to be hard to accomplish big projects in an urban area – or, at least, in your urban area. Competing cities may not be so ideologically pure, and they may become the places that get the edge for the ambitious projects.

Or, you can recognize that sometimes public involvement in development is a boondoggle. A city’s hopes can cause it to financially overextend itself, falling over backwards to make a dream project come true. Then it finds itself bushwhacked by its own overenthusiastic financial projects, or by the surprise of a crashing economy, or by the guile of tricky development partners.

But what if you think that it’s sometimes okay for a local government to take a modest amount of risk to make something good happen? Then this hotel project looks like a pretty good bet.


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West Sac clubs to sell fireworks


The City of West Sacramento has held its annual lottery to see which schools, churches and nonprofit organizations will be authorized to operate a fireworks booth during the Fourth of July season.

The winners:

West Sacramento Little League will operate a booth near Papa Murphy’s Pizza, Lake Washington and Jefferson boulevards in Southport.

Campus Life Connection/Collings West Sacramento Teen Center will be in front of Safeway.

Joy Christian Ministries will be outside Wal-Mart.

The West Sacramento Christmas Basket Project will be at Jefferson Plaza.

West Sacramento Community Singers will have a booth near Walgreens and La Bou.

The West Sacramento Historical Society will be at the Southport Town Center.

The West Sacramento Rotary will sell fireworks near Whitey’s Jolly Kone near Jefferson and 15th Street.

River City Rowing Club will be in front of Arteaga’s Supermarket on Sacramento Avenue at Kegle Drive.

Each group will work with a fireworks wholeseller, and will get to keep some of the proceeds from the “safe and sane” fireworks. The booths will open up about a week before July 4.

Copyright News-Ledger 2013

Bustamante agrees to plea deal

ARTURO BUSTAMANTE: RCHS teacher/coach makes a plea deal after molestation charges

ARTURO BUSTAMANTE: RCHS teacher/coach makes a plea deal after molestation charges


Former River City High School teacher and football coach Arturo Bustamante yesterday pleaded “no contest” to a misdemeanor count of “annoying or molesting a child.” The plea deal occurred on the first day of trial in which he faced three felony counts of molestation and several misdemeanor counts.. The incidents allegedly involved improper contacts with three underage female students on the school campus.

The trial evidence included a claim that Bustamante  exposed himself over the internet to a 17-year old girl in Texas — although in Texas, a 17-year old is old enough to consent. Bustamante’s attorney, West Sacramento’s Fidel Martinez, tried and failed to exclude that claim from the evidence in this case.

Bustamante’s local troubles started in 2010. A 19-year old woman told police that when she was a roommate at his home, she believed Bustamante had set up a video camera in his home for inappropriate use. No arrest followed that police investigation.

Bustamante was arrested in October, 2011, though, after a girl at the high school complained he had inappropriately touched her in the buttock- or lower back-area.  Bustamante was placed on leave at the school and arrested. Several other allegations from students followed.  He was 42 at that time.

  Bustamante will be sentenced on June 10 by Judge Timothy Fall in Yolo County Superior Court. He faces up to a year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $5,000. He’s already served about 4o days in jail awaiting trial, estimates his attorney, West Sacramento’s Fidel Martinez.

“He will be punished hard,” said Martinez. “He will have to register for his lifetime as a sex offender. He is now no longer able to be in the educational field.”

Martinez said that with the evidence facing Bustamante, he felt “it would be hard for the jury to reach a verdict that would allow him to continue teaching.” That was a major impetus to make the deal and end the trial, he said.

Editor’s note: this updated version of our May 14 article includes several corrections. The article is corrected to reflect the fact that Bustamante’s criminal court plea was “no contest” and not “guilty.” And in the 2010 allegation mentioned here, the video camera in Bustamante’s home was not in a bathroom but a more public area of the house. The News-Ledger apologizes for the errors.

Copyright News-Ledger 2013


‘State of the City’ event returns

Mayor Christopher Cabaldon (News-Ledger file photo)

Mayor Christopher Cabaldon
(News-Ledger file photo)


Mayor Christopher Cabaldon will deliver the keynote “State of the City” address during Thursday’s annual civic dinner at city hall.

Cabaldon is serving his fifth consecutive two-year term as West Sacramento mayor — he’s the only person elected to the post since voters opted to make it a separately-elected office, beginning in 2004.

The May 16 event will also include presentation of civic awards to four local citizens and businesspeople. Award winners will be:

— Broderick Restaurant, in the “Pride” category

— Food Action Team, in the “Prosperity” category

— Beverly Sandeen, for “Service”; and

— Friends of the Main Drain Parkway, for “Community.”

The annual dinner is sponsored by the West Sacramento Chamber of Commerce. For event information (individual tickets are $65), click here.

Copyright News-Ledger 2013