Good suburban development in the Capitol Region is one of six critical issues we focus on—we completed a research report about it—and which we validated as:
6) Continuing encasement of open space, restricting suburban community development upon which a sustainable tax base funding necessary public works is built, is contrary to sound future planning.
Our Approach: Suburban communities are where the overwhelming majority of American families wish to live, and the opportunity in our region for those communities to be built for the families who hope to live in them, is a shared supportive responsibility for those of us who presently enjoy our life in the suburbs and for those who hope to enjoy the suburban family lifestyle in the future.
Solution: Support the growth of suburban communities.
Our Guiding Principle: The suburban lifestyle—as surrounds the American River Parkway—which is imbued within the aspirational center of the California Dream and whose vision is woven into the heart of the American Dream, is a deeply loved way of life whose sustainability we all desire.
A planned development near Rancho Cordova is sparking intense debate, Infill or outpost? Sprawl or smart planning? How some people view the Cordova Hills development proposed for southern Sacramento County may depend on which end of Highway 50 they’re looking from.
In late January, Sacramento County supervisors approved a 2,688-acre development adjacent to Rancho Cordova into its general plan on a nearly unanimous vote. Besides approving the specifics of the massive and complex project, the 4-1 vote seemingly endorsed a new process for evaluating urban development that put increased emphasis on extensive regional collaboration and meeting highly detailed environmental criteria.
Nonetheless, Supervisor Phil Serna, the lone dissenting vote, blasted the project for what he believed was runaway and wasteful sprawl. Critics added the heated charge that Cordova Hills developer Ron Alvarado had tricked the supervisors into approving the project with a bait and switch tactic, sweetening the proposal to include a university that didn’t really exist.
“What is really driving the need to do this now?” Serna asked rhetorically during the January council meeting, adding that the proposed community for nearly 20,000 people was being built “in the middle of nowhere.”
But one person’s cow country is another person’s city. “We’re not in the middle of nowhere,” insists Rancho Cordova Mayor Linda Budge. “Characterizing it that way made it sound like Cordova Hills was out in the boonies. In reality, it’s across the street from Rancho Cordova’s city limits, and I don’t think downtown is the hub for all decision making in Sacramento County.”
Or at least it’s adjacent to land that Rancho Cordova wants to build on some day, acknowledges Matthew Baker, habitat director for the Environmental Council of Sacramento (ECOS), which filed a lawsuit in March along with the Sierra Club challenging the Supervisors’ approval. “But I’ve been on the site, and there’s nothing out there,” he adds, estimating that the proposed development along Grant Line Road is miles away from the core of Rancho Cordova’s urban development.
Beyond rebutting Serna’s characterization of Cordova Hills, Budge’s commentary could also be interpreted as a declaration of independence of sorts as the 10-year-old city of Rancho Cordova asserts itself, intent on charting its own destiny. “There are now three regional employment centers in this region,” (Rancho Cordova and Roseville in addition to downtown Sacramento) Budge says, emphasizing that each has its own needs and priorities.
When Cordova Hills was proposed, the project looked like every other development plan in its embryonic stage. Areas for housing, schools, shopping, businesses, parks and open space were laid out on a map, each identified by its own colored splotch. Developer Ron Alvarado characterizes each splotch as a critical part of a self-contained community, with an advanced transportation system, land set aside for natural habitat, a mix of high- and low-density housing and 1.3 million square feet of commercial shopping.
“We expanded the preserves for natural habitat from 210 acres to 500 acres in direct response to environmentalists’ concerns,” says Alvarado, who added that one-third of the project’s acreage is devoted to parks and open space.