Tag Archives: property

Lyon wants to make crime-fighting the number-one priority in West Sac

FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER — OCT 15, 2014 —

By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor

Jeff Lyon wants to make changes on the West Sacramento’s city council – perhaps more so than anybody else on the ballot.

Almost two years ago, Lyon and his wife bought an 1897 Victorian in the “Washington” neighborhood, a couple of blocks from the state Department of General Services offices (which are in the ziggurat building). He’s been working in those offices for some time. After moving in, Lyon started talking to his new neighbors in West Sacramento.

JEFF LYON: Running to change the city's top priority (News-Ledger photo)

JEFF LYON: Running to change the city’s top priority
(News-Ledger photo)

“It was a shock to my wife and me to hear that many of the neighbors had just got used to the fact that there are homeless transients and panhandlers and beggars walking the streets,” he told the News-Ledger. “Almost all of my neighbors had been the victim of a crime from a homeless person.”

And a nearby church was exacerbating the problem, he felt, by “feeding the homeless seven days a week and giving them clothes and camping supplies.”

“It was a daily parade of homeless people coming from the river. Since our house is right on their travel corridor, they’d come by twice a day, back and forth,” Lyon added. “Whenever you have them coming by, you have the resultant activity, which can include everything from public urination, to drinking in public, drugs in public, shouting each other, fighting – there were many fights in the church.”

Lyon said he encouraged the church’s landlord to sell, and encouraged the new landlord – developer Mark Friedman – to terminate the  church’s lease while the property awaited a new use. The church is gone now.

But the experiences led Lyon to become a spokesperson for the loosely-formed Washington Neighborhood Association, and he has been to the city council to lobby for a crackdown on illegal activities many times since moving in.

The group’s “action plan” for the homeless situation (you can see it at Lyon’s website, www.CleanUpWestSac.com) includes three piers, said Lyon. The first is “compassion” in attacking the homeless issue.

“If a homeless person wants food, shelter, substance abuse training, job training, mental health services, we’re going to get them to that service,” he explained. “Right now, Yolo County has services for each of those needs. . . We don’t need to replicate those services in West Sacramento.”

“Enforcement” is the second tenet of the plan. Lyon wants the local city and police to “make it clear we will not tolerate illegal camping in this city.”

And the third element?

“The third part of that plan is that we are going to elect representatives to the city council who support our cause, it’s as simple as that.”

Reducing the city’s crime rate is, in fact, Lyon’s number one priority. Currently, the city’s leaders have assigned “flood protection” to that number-one spot.

“I think that flood protection is a high priority, but not higher than public safety,” argues Lyon. Let’s say (flood protection) is second to public safety. . . Everything else is secondary because it does not do us any good to have new streetcars, new hotels or new development if 100 percent of the citizens do not feel safe 100 percent of the time.”

The council’s response to Lyon’s arguments has been silence, he said, and that’s part of why he gives the current council poor marks for its job performance.

“In general, the city council of West Sacramento is doing a lousy job, and I’ll tell you why,” he commented. “The main reason is I’ve publicly asked them in one of my speeches to meet with myself and my neighbors here in the Washington neighborhood to talk about our concerns about the homeless. We got no response. They completely rebuffed us.”

Nevertheless, he believes he can work with the incumbents if he’s elected to serve with them.

“I believe in the democratic process, which is majority rule,” he commented. “It’s my goal to win over each member of the city council to the way of the people’s thinking. When I get elected, they will see that my main priority is public safety. I’m going to reach out to get them aboard.”

Lyon supports the city’s development plans:

“Any development of the City of West Sacramento, whether it’s the Bridge District, Southport, the new hotels – they’re okay as long as public safety is the top priority and crime is reduced.”

He has a couple of other primary goals.

“One is to roll out the red carpet for businesses that create jobs,” Lyon said. “I built a restaurant in Texas 20 years ago and my permit only cost me $500. . . I couldn’t have opened my restaurant if I had to pay $50,000, $70,000 or $100,000 in fees like they do here in California or West Sacramento.”

In the 20 years since that restaurant opened, he reports, it has paid over $2 million in local sales tax, $180,000 in property taxes and “the best benefit is that my restaurant has employed 40 people for over 20 years.”

So Lyon would like to reduce business fees “as low as I can get them.”

He also hopes to “right-size” the city government, after doing a study of work flow at city hall.

“When I got to be chief of my section at (Department of General Services), it was the first time in history they reduced the size or downsized the staff,” he said. That happened after he studied the work flow and made a recommendation to reduce staff, by attrition.

If similar studies show there are too many people in one department or not enough at another in city hall, he said, changes could be made. Layoffs won’t be necessary.

“We don’t have to fire anybody,” said Lyon. “Through attrition, we just don’t have to backfill anybody.”

Lyon, 58, lives in his north-city home with his wife, Grace. They have five adult children in their blended family, all living outside the home.

Lyon lived in different areas while growing up, and earned bachelor’s of science degrees in both chemistry and chemical engineering. He has worked for oil companies as an engineer, in public affairs and in real estate management.

He worked for the state’s Department of General Services office (two blocks from his current home in West Sacramento) for about 13 years before retiring this year.

Other candidates seeking the two available seats on next month’s city council ballot are incumbents Mark Johannessen and Chris Ledesma as well as fellow challenger Nancy Heth-Tran.

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West Sac and the Yolo County region see property values rebound

NEWS-LEDGER — JULY 9, 2014 —

(Editor’s note: several additional pieces of information have been added to this article taken from the News-Ledger’s print edition)

Yolo County’s property assessment roll has topped $21 billion for the first time, reports county assessor Joel Butler.

“The improving real estate market and thriving agricultural economy, coupled with new construction and (reassessment due to) changes in ownership” are responsible for lifting the value 6.56 percent this year, to $21.8 billion, he said.

City by city:

Woodland’s assessed values increased by 9.47 percent, West Sacramento’s by 7.14 percent, Winters by 6.15 percent and Davis by 4.49 percent. The unincorporated parts of Yolo County grew in value by 6.11 percent.

Davis has a total (secured and unsecured) property value of about $6.92 billion, followed by West Sacramento with $5.65 billion, Woodland at $4.74 billion,  and Winters at $455 million. Unincorporated areas of the county add another $4.05 billion worth of value to the 2014-2015 fiscal year.

Individual property values are now available at the Yolo County website at www.yolocounty.org/assessor. Make sure to have your street address or Assessor Parcel Number handy to look up your value. If you don’t have computer access, you may call (530) 666-8135 to get your property value information.

Do you think your property is valued — and therefore taxed — too high? You’ll find information on “assessment appeals” at the same website, www.yolocounty.org/assessor.

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Copyright News-Ledger 2014

Property value again over $20 billion: click on link to find a house value

FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER NEWSPAPER — JUNE 26, 2013 —

Yolo County’s property tax roll was valued at over $20 billion for the first time since 2008, reports Assessor Joel Butler.

“The improving real estate market and thriving agricultural economy, coupled with new construction and changes of ownership (which trigger reappraisal) increased this year’s roll to $20,475,478,048 of taxable value – a 4.16 percent increase over the prior year,” said a statement from Butler’s office.

“All areas of the county experienced increases in assessed value,” added the tax assessor’s statement. “Davis had the largest increase for a city at 5.75 percent; Woodland had the least, at 1.88 percent; with Winters at 3.85 percent and West Sacramento at 3.83 percent. The unincorporated areas of Yolo County grew by 4.58 percent, reflecting the strength of rural and agricultural properties.”

Recently assessed property values will be available for public view by July 12 at http://www.yolocounty.org/index.aspx?page=1603. To find your property value, have your Assessor Parcel Number or street address available. If you don’t have computer access, you can phone for your valuation at (530) 666-8135 (the assessor’s office is closed Friday’s for budget reasons).

There is a process available for those who believe their property is over-valued for tax reasons.

 

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Copyright News-Ledger 2013

 

State audit says West Sacramento’s handling of redevelopment property was clean & legal

FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER — NOV 14, 2012 —

By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor

West Sacramento has become the first California city to be certified by the state controller with a clean bill of health for the manner in which the city “wound down” its redevelopment agency assets.

MAYOR CHRISTOPHER CABALDON (News-Ledger photo)

When the state abolished redevelopment agencies in a revenue-raising maneuver, cities like this one were left with property assets – some of them major – that were owned by the redevelopment agency, but suddenly in danger of being divvied up and parceled out. West Sacramento handled its redevelopment assets in various ways, putting acreage near Stone Lock under purchase option to the locally-controlled Port of Sacramento, and moving small potential “right of way” properties along roadways to the city itself.

The office of State Controller John Chiang has just announced that transfers like these were in compliance with the law. The properties transferred to the city served an obvious governmental purpose, he said.

At the same time, his office found the City of Hercules inappropriately handled $51.1 million of its assets, which must now be turned over to the local “successor agency” to the redevelopment agency in Hercules.

“We’re the first city in the state to have a completely clear audit,” Mayor Christopher Cabaldon told the News-Ledger. “The controller’s office was auditing whether the transactions that occurred as the redevelopment agency was winding down were appropriate. Some cities had problems.”

How much property did West Sacramento move out of the agency?

“In the range of $70 million, with some as large as parts of the Stone Lock District and some more like 50 square feet,” he said. “Most are not really high-value properties, like those rights-of-way. Our concern was that if we gave them up and they went to auction, somebody could pick them up for next to nothing because they had no development value. Then they could essentially hold us hostage and try to extort the taxpayers for huge sums of money because we need them (for road expansions and such).”

The audit process isn’t over, said the mayor. The state still needs to sign off that West Sacramento transferred some of its pre-existing tax obligations in a legal manner. The redevelopment agency had committed some of the local property tax increment to projects like the Bridge District and Stone Lock District, and the state needs to give approval for those commitments to continue.

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Copyright News-Ledger 2012

West Sac property values drop 3%

FROM THE WEST SACRAMENTO NEWS-LEDGER — AUG 22, 2012 —

  The following article includes a link for you to use to look up your property tax information or ask for your tax value to be reassessed.

Yolo County Assessor Joel Butler has released the 2012-13 Yolo County Tax Roll, which shows a slight decline in the roll value from last year.

The numbers of properties that have been reduced below their Proposition 13-factored base year value have grown from over 18,000 to greater than 20,000.

  County staff has reviewed 27,500 parcels for possible declines in value, said Butler’s office. The reduction in this year’s roll was partially offset by new construction, change of ownership in properties with older base year values, agricultural properties and properties at the Proposition 13 value receiving the 2% inflation factor. The result is a net decrease to the Yolo County tax roll of less than 1% to a value of $19,658,240,750.

The city of Davis showed a modest increase at 2.09%. The cities of West Sacramento and Woodland continued to reflect the declining real estate market at (3.09%) and (1.29%) respectively.

“Employees in the Assessor’s office have done a tremendous job in reviewing home values, as well as other property types, to help avoid the need for filing appeals,” said Yolo County Assessor Joel Butler in a press release.

Values are now available on the Yolo County Assessor’s website: http://www.yolocounty.org/index.aspx?page=1603. A parcel number or street address is necessary to view one’s value online. Those without computer access or with questions can call the Yolo County Assessor’s office at (530) 666-8135.

Those wishing to file an appeal of their assessment can do so online: http://www.yolocounty.org/index.aspx?page=1520 or via an application available in the Clerk of the Board’s office, located at 625 Court Street, Room 204 in Woodland. For more information, visit the website or call (530) 666-8195.

Note: Due to budgetary constraints, the Yolo County Assessor’s office is closed some Fridays through the remainder of 2012. Visit: http://www.yolocounty.org/Index.aspx?page=1740 for information of office closures.

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Copyright News-Ledger 2012

‘Measure G’ for West Sac voters

FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER — AUG 1, 2012 —

By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor

With the dissolution of its redevelopment agency, a lot of the property tax money West Sacramento used to finance big infrastructure projects and help encourage development will be directed other places — like the State of California.

  But some will find its way back to the City of West Sacramento. City staff estimates the city will get about $2.5 million from the Redevelopment Property Tax Trust Fund in the current fiscal year.

The city council has a current policy that this money will serve some of the same purposes that redevelopment did, by heading into the Community Investment Program.

There, says a city staff report, the money will go to “core activities [including] infrastructure project funding and project delivery (planning, design and project management), economic development (business attraction, retention and expansion efforts), and real estate transactions (land acquisition and disposition related to infrastructure projects and development site assembly).”

Tonight, the council will talk about making this a long-term city policy by putting an advisory measure on the November ballot in West Sacramento. The ballot measure could ask the following question:

“Should the City direct ongoing revenue it receives from the dissolution of its Redevelopment Agency to fund community investment projects such as streets, bridges, transportation, and public infrastructure?”

CHRIS LEDESMA, West Sacramento City Council Member (News-Ledger file photo)

City council member Chris Ledesma is one of those studying how West Sacramento can promote economic development (think of the renaissance now underway in the Bridge District) without a redevelopment agency. He thinks earmarking these funds for “community investment” is a good idea.

“We’re proposing that some of these residual dollars that come back can be directed to some of the same purposes as redevelopment, to maintain our momentum,” said Ledesma. “What we’re trying to get at with this advisory measure. . . is to go to the voters and see if they think this is a good use of the money.”

Ledesma said West Sacramento is better off than many cities, which are struggling just to keep basic services running at an acceptable level in this economy.

If the council approves the planned advisory measure, it will be added to the November 6 presidential ballot. The Yolo County Elections Department plans to call it “Measure G.”

It would be a non-binding ballot measure. Anyone who wishes to draft an opposing argument for the ballot will have until Aug. 20 to submit an argument of up to 250 words for consideration.

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Copyright News-Ledger 2012

Committee: don’t sell school land

NEWS-LEDGER — MARCH 21, 2012 —

A citizen’s committee charged with studying the real estate owned by Washington Unified School District has recommended that the district not sell off any “surplus” property at this time.

But the committee recommended that WUSD “evaluate the advantage of consolidation of site usage or joint facility usage to make any future liquidation easier.”

“For example,” it told district officials, “if the District Administrative Offices (at 930 Westacre Road) were moved from their current location, the city block they vacate would become more marketable for development. . . (T)he District Offices, the Yolo Education Center, and surrounding properties hold a higher potential for development based on the proximity to transit and city services.”

  Committee members were Carrie Buchmiller, Dani Langford, Ron Morazzini, Karri Pina, Diane Smith, Matthew Wilkins, Patricia Flint, Larry Langford, Don Stauffer, Henry Walker and Dave Blake.

Copyright News-Ledger 2012