Tag Archives: west sacramento news

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

Target store doesn’t let RCHS students inside during the day

The Target logo looms over a football game at River City High School’s home stadium (Laura Asatryan, River City H.S. Journalism staff)

The Target logo looms over a football game at River City High School’s home stadium (Laura Asatryan, River City H.S. Journalism staff)

NEWS-LEDGER — JAN 21, 2015 —

By Bailey Hill and Rebecca Schwartz
River City High School Journalism Class

Groups of students at River City High School, ever since they moved into the new campus on 1 Raider Lane in 2008, have made a habit of spending time after school at Target, which is directly across Linden Road.

Recently, school administration sent an email to teachers to inform students that Target is now restricting minors from entering the store before 5:00 pm unless accompanied by an adult.

River City High School senior Kimi Crist, who frequently went to Target after school said, “…My friends and I go there all the time so we can have time together. I don’t think the entire school should be punished for the actions of a few kids.”

As news of the restriction began to circulate around campus, reactions to the policy were mixed.

“I think it’s kind of a sad commentary on the community’s perception of what River City students are like… They [Target] are more frustrated at the students that they would rather lose the money that they are gaining from the students rather than dealing with their behavior,” Vice Principal Mrs. Kristin Rodriguez had said.

Officer M. Kirkland, a West Sacramento police department School Resource Officer, had a different perspective. He mentioned the fact that when students steal from target they often try to steal alcohol and that causes both a legal and medical concern.

“…When they go to steal it mainly has to do with alcohol and that gives us a medical concern as a town. Target has been too lenient with the immature students,” says Kirkland.

After repeated attempts to contact Target’s Chief of Security, they declined to issue an official statement, however claimed that this was a preexisting agreement that they had with the school dating back to when it was first established, and are only asking River City to reemphasize the rule again as they had in the past. Employees of Target had said that they wouldn’t have minded the students, if they had been more respectful of Target as a private business.

“We’re probably going to open up some after school activities at the Rec Center,” said RCHS principal Stan Mojsich, “So maybe some kids, instead of hanging out in front of the store, the number of people hanging out won’t be as great, there’ll be people doing hopefully some things at the rec center.”

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A message & invitation from Yolo Supervisor Oscar Villegas

West Sacramento’s OSCAR VILLEGAS (right) took the oath of office again last week. Administering the oath were his children, Vincent and Elena (courtesy photo)

West Sacramento’s OSCAR VILLEGAS (right) took the oath of office again last week. Administering the oath were his children, Vincent and Elena
(courtesy photo)

From Oscar Villegas
Yolo County Supervisor, District 1

Thank you for allowing me to serve as your Yolo County Supervisor, District 1, representing West Sacramento and Clarksburg.  In February 2014, I was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown, to serve on the Yolo County Board of Supervisors in the seat vacated by the legendary Mike McGowan of which he held for nearly 20 years.  In June 2014, I was elected by the voters to retain this seat.  On January 5, 2015, it was a personal special moment to take the oath of office administered by our children, Elena and Vincent.

After thoroughly enjoying the honor and privilege of serving on the West Sacramento City Council for nearly 14 years, I have found it equally exciting and rewarding to have the opportunity to represent District 1 on the Yolo Board for the past 10 months.

I look forward to a new productive new year in 2015 by working with my colleagues on the Board to ensure that we continue to provide thoughtful stewardship over the many challenges ahead during our term of governance.    It is my intent to facilitate efforts to address the following:  restore our county reserves; seek avenues to  prudently restore  some of our basic services that were cut during the economic downturn; work collaboratively and productively with our local,  state and federal stakeholders on flood protection; finalize the integration of health and human services to provide a better system of safety net services for our residents; preserve the viability of Yolo agriculture while promoting the emerging Farm-to-Fork movement and expand our agricultural processing opportunities; continue to take bold and innovative steps to reduce the likelihood of homelessness, and to ensure that our community remain safe as we implement various aspects of the state’s realignment of offenders.

To responsibly address these issues, I humbly extend an invitation to residents of District 1 to assist by serving on various boards and commissions which serve as advisory to me and the Board.  It is critical that the residents have an opportunity to participate and provide input on those issues that impact our community.  As such, I would ask that you consider applying to serve on a board or commission where you believe you can make a positive contribution through your professional or life experience.  There are many topic areas ranging from aging, children services, both health and mental health services, etc.

To learn more about the boards and commission that service District 1, please visit my website at http://www.yolocounty.org/general-government/board-of-supervisors/district-1-oscar-villegas.  I also invite you to contact the district office located at 500 Jefferson Blvd., Suite C, West Sacramento, (916) 375-6440 or email:  oscar.villegas@yolocounty.org

Thanks again for bestowing me the honor of serving in this capacity.

Copyright News-Ledger 2015

West Sac looks to public art to help unify Sac/West Sac streetcar line

NEWS-LEDGER — JAN 14, 2014 —

The West Sacramento City Council voted last month to work with regional partners to apply for a public arts grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) . The “Our Town” grant of up to $200,000 would focus on bringing art pieces to the city’s Washington neighborhood and the future streetcar route connecting Sacramento and West Sacramento.

Also involved in the art planning project are the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission, the City of Sacramento and Crocker Arts Museum.

“The ‘Our Town’ proposal envisions art installations as a place-making feature of the planned streetcar route and way-finding for bicyclists and pedestrians moving between West Sacramento’s waterfront neighborhoods and civic center and Sacramento’s railyards, capitol and museums,” said a staff report. “The cities would also use the funds to select one artist that will create two pieces which will engage, interact or connect with each other to be installed in each side of the river respectively. Another installation will be analyzed within the Washington District depending on the final grant award amount and budget.”

The plan being proposed to the NEA calls first for a consultant to work with the public and create a “curatorial vision” for the Washington district and streetcar area. No actual art pieces have yet been picked.

The city has already received a $400,000 grant for art from the state parks department, for art at the corner of Riverwalk and Tower Bridge Gateway, with a $200,000 local match.  These funds will be used as the “local match” needed for the proposed NEA grant.

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Copyright News-Ledger 2015