Sacramento, a Destination City &
Over the years public leadership has spoken about making Sacramento a destination city, including our new mayor; but perhaps, given the realities, that is a stretch too far and Sacramento would be better served focusing on what type of city it now is—good for families, good as the capitol of California—and improving on that.
And for many Sacramentans—those who live close to the American River Parkway—fixing the current non-family atmosphere of the Parkway might be a darn good place to start improving on our family-friendly city.
Instead, what has happened over time is that, if you judge policy according to actions, the city of Sacramento and Sacramento County have apparently made the decision—though not stated publically but publically evident, and certainly probably not intended—to allow illegal camping by the homeless in the Parkway.
The Sacramento Bee has helped by normalizing illegal camping along the Parkway, as evidenced in this March 19, 2017 editorial where homeless illegally camping in the Parkway are described as:
“Just when Sacramento seemed to be on a solid path to reducing the number of homeless people living under highway bridges and along the American River Parkway, the federal government has come along to inject uncertainty into the situation.” Read full article
The editorial is topped by a picture of a contented illegal camper in his tent in the Parkway with the caption reading:
“Danny Rasmussen, 69, has lived along the American River for 15 years. Sacramento is on the verge of implementing a new plan to address homelessness, although it would depend heavily on uncertain pools of federal funding." Email the journalist: Paul Kitagaki Jr. | Read full article
None of the neighborhoods in the Woodlake/Cal Expo area of the Parkway are surprised by this as they have known about this apparent policy decision by the city and county for years as they have seen their repeated pleas for help with the related crime and Parkway fires, pollution, and devastation either ignored or met with a brief period of stepped-up enforcement of the existing laws making camping in the Parkway illegal, but soon things return to the norm.
It is understandable (as residents in the impacted neighborhoods assume) why public leadership has taken this position privately, though certainly not publically, as the Woodlake/Cal Expo area of the Parkway is a better option for illegal camping by the homeless—from the perspective of public leadership—than further upriver.
There was a story in the New York Times about a town next door to a major Indian Reservation—where liquor sales are banned—that seems to exist primarily to sell liquor to Indians who travel there from the Reservation. The story focuses on the deep tragedy of alcoholism and the struggle to remove the stores from town.
In the story, the local sheriff had an insight perhaps applicable to the containment of illegal campers in the Woodlake/Cal Expo area of the Parkway:
“Sheriff Robbins echoed a common sentiment heard from both Nebraskans and Native Americans: If the stores lose their licenses and close down, people in search of beer will just drive farther to get it, endangering themselves and others on the roads. He favors containing the problem in Whiteclay, rather than allowing it to spread out over the county’s nearly 2,500 square miles.
“The people that want to drink are going to drive and get alcohol somewhere,” he said. “What I’m thinking is that it’s going to put more drunk drivers on the country roads.” Read full article
This is much the same attitude taken by public leadership in relation to allowing skid rows to continue to survive, containing the behavior not wanted in the rest of the city or the suburbs.
What is truly tragic about the entire situation is how virtually everyone suffers, and perhaps most of all, the homeless themselves, who are left to try and live with some sense of safety and security in an environment that is anything but.
Containing the problem does not solve the problem.
Let’s make, for all the neighborhoods surrounding the Woodlake/Cal Expo area of the American River Parkway, a destination again rather than the Parkway’s skid row it now is.
Auburn Dam, Now More Than Ever
I recently received an email from a reader of one of our e-letters noting the importance of someday building Auburn Dam where it was described “as so last century”; indicating how so incorrectly many still seem to regard the efficacy of Auburn Dam.
As a reminder of the many benefits, here is an excerpt from our newsletter due out later this month:
Most of us can remember that last year before the rains started, there was concern there might not be enough water to flush Sacramento toilets.
After substantial rain and snowfall, there are fears that too much water is being released from Folsom Dam during a drought year.
Both of these concerns point to the real underlying problem—too little storage for the American River Watershed, particularly, as compared to the watersheds statewide.
The original visionaries, who developed the water plan for California, designed Shasta Dam to be 200 feet higher than it now is (which would have tripled its storage capacity) and Auburn Dam (more than twice the capacity of Folsom) adding the proper amount of storage capability on the American River.
The 200 additional feet were not completed on Shasta—though it is engineered for it—because of the need for raw materials during World War II, and Auburn was not built due to earthquake concerns, which a new design can remove.
The lack of available water storage, coupled with worsening drought conditions make it the perfect time to reopen discussions about the Auburn Dam. Here's why:
Major benefits of Auburn Dam still exist:
American River Parkway/Lower American River (LAR) benefits include:
While not all of us will feel fear recreating along the American River Parkway, those of us who equate the growing prevalence of illegal camping in the Parkway by the homeless with increased crime in the Parkway, might.
Last year, the Parkway Rangers cited 1,278 occupied illegal homeless camps in the Parkway, according to their annual report, and, for the first five months of this year, they are on track to cite as many if not more according to the reports from January through May of 2016, Additional data from the 2015 annual report shows either a direct public safety threat or the potential for being a public safety threat, and there is a total, from January 1, 2015 to December 31, 2015 of 793 incidents reported.
Here is the breakdown:
Assault & Battery reports, 8
Retrieved June 26, 2016, Annual Ranger Activity Report
Reading these reports is somewhat scary, so if you want to stay safe in the Parkway, be careful out there.
Sacramento County officially supported the idea of legislation for a new state conservancy to govern the American River Parkway in a meeting February 23, 2016.
While our organization is concerned about the loss of control by local government—the proposed conservancy has 15 seats on the governing board with 9 of them state officials or state appointees—this new effort could turn out to be an improvement (almost anything would be at this point) and we wish it the best.
Keeping it local, we would favor a local independent nonprofit organization under the governance of a Joint Powers Authority of Sacramento County, the cities of Sacramento, Rancho Cordova, and Folsom, along with public members.
However, the urge is apparently to go big; rather than partnering with the state. A much more fruitful strategy would be working for National Heritage Area status, as described from their website:
“National Heritage Areas (NHAs) are designated by Congress as places where natural, cultural, and historic resources combine to form a cohesive, nationally important landscape. Through their resources, NHAs tell nationally important stories that celebrate our nation's diverse heritage. NHAs are lived-in landscapes. Consequently, NHA entities collaborate with communities to determine how to make heritage relevant to local interests and needs
“NHAs are a grassroots, community-driven approach to heritage conservation and economic development. Through public-private partnerships, NHA entities support historic preservation, natural resource conservation, recreation, heritage tourism, and educational projects. Leveraging funds and long-term support for projects, NHA partnerships foster pride of place and an enduring stewardship ethic.
The National Heritage Area Program
“NHAs further the mission of the National Park Service (NPS) by fostering community stewardship of our nation's heritage. The NHA program, which currently includes 49 heritage areas, is administered by NPS coordinators in Washington DC and six regional offices – Anchorage, Oakland, Denver, Omaha, Philadelphia, and Atlanta - as well as park unit staff.
“NHAs are not national park units. Rather, NPS partners with, provides technical assistance, and distributes matching federal funds from Congress to NHA entities. NPS does not assume ownership of land inside heritage areas or impose land use controls.”
Retrieved March 13, 2016 from the U.S. National Park Service, National Heritage Areas, website.
The legendary California Gold Rush arising from within the historic American River Watershed culminating in the nationally recognized American River Parkway are truly within the parameters deserving consideration of National Heritage Area designation.
We have proffered one suggested name, Rivers of Gold National Heritage Area, which would encompass the American River Watershed, the gold discovery site at Coloma and the American River Parkway.
Working for National Heritage Area status is a strategy that we feel has great value for the preservation, protection and strengthening of the Parkway at a much higher level than that of a state conservancy
We wrote about this in our 2007 research report.
Homeless Transformation Campus
A primary question many ask when discussing removing the homeless illegally camping in the Parkway is, “Where will they go?”
Our position has long been that our concern is with the devastation illegal camping has been causing to the Parkway, rather than determining the fate of the homeless when and if they are ever fully removed from the Parkway.
However, like everyone else, we suffer when thinking about the misery and destitution that is part of the fabric of living without a home; and over the past several weeks have developed a possible strategy, based on our practice of examining working models in use somewhere else, that will answer the question of where will they go.
Sacramento County could consider creating a homeless transformation campus capable of handling the majority of homeless in the County based on the model of Haven for Hope in San Antonio, Texas which is the largest and most comprehensive homeless transformation campus in the United States, providing residence to approximately 1,600 individuals on any given night.
The Haven for Hope campus is composed of fifteen buildings on 37 acres with almost five hundred thousand square feet of service space under roof.
The Sacramento location we suggest as capable of providing this level of service space is the Sacramento Army Depot, now known as Depot Park.
The various types of space available in Depot Park as of this writing (9/20/15) is:
Combined Warehouse—Workspace: 305,010 square feet (In several buildings, available immediately)
Warehouse — Workspace: 430,065 square feet (In several buildings, available immediately)
Office — Workspace: 68,269 square feet (In several buildings, available immediately)
Yard — Workspace: 3,000 square feet to 20 acres—paved and fenced
Proposed — Build to Suit: 500,850 square feet: Build to Suit Building
Retrieved September 20, 2015 from Depot Park
This is obviously more than enough space to accommodate the types of homeless services needed for a homeless transformation campus, including encouraging relocation to Depot Park two of the most important and largest homeless service organizations in Sacramento: Loaves and Fishes and Sacramento Steps Froward, as well as some of the programs providing residential service.
A perusal of the Haven for Hope website will provide more information about these specific strategies and we will be researching and presenting more information about this over the next several months.
Management of the American River Parkway
There are several critical issues concerning the Parkway: lack of funding, demands on the rivers water impacting salmon, illegal camping by the homeless impacting public safety and habitat, adjacent development pressure impacting view space, exclusion of responsible usage impacting expanded recreational opportunities; but by far, the most serious of these, at this point in time, is illegal camping.
It is obvious now that the new dedication to stopping illegal camping, and the many problems emanating from it, in the Parkway that was so publicly proclaimed by public leadership and media a few short years ago, has fallen short.
Illegal camping by the homeless, based on reports from Parkway Rangers, has continued and has begun to move further upriver, as we reported in a May 1, 2015 news item posted on our websites news page.
Illegal camping in the Parkway, traditionally clustered in the North Sacramento/Cal Expo area, has been a problem for decades and for decades public leadership in North Sacramento, including Robert Slobe, president of the North Sacramento Land Company whose family was deeply involved in establishing the Parkway, the Woodlake Neighborhood Association and the North Sacramento Chamber of Commerce, and our organization, have pleaded for solutions to remove this constant source of habitat degradation, neighborhood crime, and fire danger.
Sadly, it appears little has changed, and that is truly tragic, especially during this period when a downtown renaissance appears to be in full bloom in which the Richards Blvd. area of the Parkway could be playing a significant role.
Our solution has long been nonprofit management of the Parkway under contract with a Joint Powers Authority of all Parkway adjacent governments: Sacramento County, City of Sacramento, Rancho Cordova, & Folsom; which we detail on the strategy page at our website.
This is the governance model that can bring the kind of Parkway dedicated attention leading to solutions for the critical issues facing our most treasured natural resource, just as it has done for the model we use, the Central Park Conservancy in New York City.
ARPPS NEWS ITEM
Illegal Camping is Growing in Parkway
Based on the figures from the past 13 months (March 2014 through March 2015) of Parkway Rangers Reports, it is clear that illegal camping by the homeless is growing much furtherand in greater numbersup the Parkway from its traditional site in the North Sacramento are of the Parkway.
Examining all of the Parkway Ranger Reports since March of 2014, the following statistics about illegal camping by the homeless are revealed.
Illegal Camps Occupied & Cited: 834 (Primarily North Sacramento Locations)
Other Locations & How Many ( ) Illegal Camps:
Steelhead Creek/Silver Eagle Way (1);
Homeless Trashing Areas: Sara Park; Sunrise; El Manto
One way to help Sacramento County Park Rangers address this issue is to have Parkway users who see illegal camps during their Parkway visits, have an expeditious method of reporting them.
Since most folks using the Parkway usually have their cell phones with them, we propose the County establish a dedicated cell phone number that Parkway users can text locations and send photos of campsites and publicize this phone number at all entrances to the Parkway.
We've written to County Parks suggesting they consider this option.
Links Golf on the Parkway
Local media has recently noted the synergy being created by the downtown Kings Arena and the potential downtown soccer arena as a major catalyst elevating Sacramento's long woeful downtown into a vital urban center.
This synergy portends downtown revitalization well beyond anything that has ever been in Sacramento. Additionally, the possibility of a links golf course in the Parkway's North Sacramento/Cal Expo area adds recreational diversity and increased utilization.
The construction of a links course in this area would virtually end the long-term and wide-spread illegal camping problem and the Parkway degradation caused by related Parkway fires, pollution, and crime.
Links golf courses are built with minimal disturbance of the underlying land, and a peek at the tragic photos taken by Bob Slobe after the most recent Parkway fires reveals the links-ready land underneath the burned out greenery.
As new downtown hotels and housing begin emerging from the arena building synergy, the ability to play golf along the American River, and in view of the confluence with the Sacramento River, offers an experience for downtown and North Sacramento residents long enjoyed by upper Parkway residents at Ancil Hoffman and Campus Commons golf courses on the Parkway.
Besides the site itself, the beauty of a links course there is that the Parkway site is historic. The Niesnan Indian village of Yamanepu was located on a knoll on the north bank of the American River a bit east of the Sacramento River, and disturbing as little of the land as possible retains the historic contour of Sacramento's first residents.
David H. Lukenbill, Senior Policy Director
Congressman McClintock on Water Policy
Congressman McClintock is a strong advocate for common sense water policy and we are very fortunate he is in Congress.
California Water: It's the Storage
Two weeks ago, President Obama visited the drought-stricken Central Valley of California. He announced his administration's response: he wants to spend another billion dollars to study climate change.
I can save him the trouble. The planet has been warming on and off since the last ice age, when glaciers covered much of North America. The climate has been changing since the planet formed, often much more abruptly than it has in recent millennia.
Until the earth begins moving into its next ice age, we can reasonably expect it to continue to warm. That will mean less water can be stored in snow packs and therefore more will need to be stored behind dams.
There, I just saved a billion dollars.
Everyone thinks that the Colorado River is the mother lode of all water in the Western United States, but the Colorado is a junior sister to the mighty Sacramento River system. The difference is that we store 70 million acre feet of water on the Colorado and only 10 million acre feet on the Sacramento.
Droughts are nature's fault and they are beyond our control. WATER SHORTAGES, on the other hand, are OUR FAULT.
We have not built major water storage on the Sacramento system since 1979 because of opposition from the environmental left, and most recently from this administration.
Indeed, we have had to fight back against its attempts to destroy perfectly good existing dams, including four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River.
Even in years of plenty, this administration has insisted on diverting 200 billion gallons of water from Central Valley agriculture for the amusement of the Delta Smelt, devastating the economy, drying up a quarter million acres of fertile farmland and throwing thousands of Californians into unemployment.
Because of opposition from the environmental left, we have been unable even to raise the spillway at the Exchequer dam by ten lousy feet in order to add 70,000 acre feet of storage at Lake McClure.
Because of radical environmental regulations, 800,000 acre feet of desperately needed water–that's a one acre column of water 150 miles deep–was drained from Shasta, Oroville and Folsom lakes last fall—knowing full well that we were heading into a potentially catastrophic drought.
Governor Brown proposes to spend $14 billion for cross-delta tunnels that will produce exactly ZERO additional storage and exactly ZERO additional hydro-electricity.
Yet for a fraction of that cost–roughly $6 billion–we could complete the Shasta Dam to its design elevation, meaning 9 million acre feet of additional water storage–nearly doubling the capacity of the Sacramento River system.
Everyone has seen the eerie pictures of Folsom Dam as its lake lay almost completely empty. For just a few billion dollars, we could complete the Auburn Dam, upriver of the Folsom, that would hold enough water to fill and refill Folsom Lake nearly 2-1/2 times. That's in addition to 800 megawatts of electricity for the region and 400 year flood protection for the Sacramento Delta. The fortune we are currently spending on Delta levee repairs is to protect against a 200-year flood.
Enough is enough.
We are at a cross-roads, and it is time to choose between two very different visions of water policy.
One is the nihilistic vision of the environmental left: increasingly severe government-induced shortages, higher and higher electricity and water prices, massive taxpayer subsidies to politically well-connected and favored industries, and a permanently declining quality of life for our children, who will be required to stretch and ration every drop of water and every watt of electricity in their bleak and dimly lit homes.
The other is a vision of abundance, a new era of clean and cheap and plentiful hydro-electricity; great new reservoirs to store water in wet years to assure abundance in dry ones; a future in which families can enjoy the prosperity that abundant water and electricity provide, and the quality of life that comes from that prosperity. It is a society whose children can look forward to a green lawn, a backyard garden, a family swimming pool, affordable air-conditioning in the summer and heating in the winter, brightly lit homes and cities and abundant and affordable groceries from Americas agricultural cornucopia.
Retrieved March 3, 2014 from the official website of Congressman Tom McClintock
David H. Lukenbill, Senior Policy Director
Open Letter to Sacramento County Board of Supervisors
This letter is to express our strong support for increasing the size of the park ranger force in the American River Parkway.
Over the past year, you have conducted a dedicated response to the long-term and wide-spread illegal camping by the homeless in the North Sacramento area of the American River Parkway, for which you are to be heartily applauded.
However, the work is ponderously ongoing and more needs to be done, and–as you well know–more rangers on the ground are needed to do it, as well as to solidify the gains already made.
Fortunately, there has been some improvement in the local economy and we assume this means there will be more funds available for important local issues.
Other than being known as the state capital of California, the American River Parkway is arguably our next best claim to fame from a tourists perspective; and it should further encourage your action ensuring it is safe and beautiful from the confluence to Folsom Lake.
The most important reason is to finally provide a safe and beautiful Parkway experience to the adjacent and long-suffering communities of North Sacramento.
While our organization still feels the permanent solution for the Parkway is to have an independent nonprofit organization be responsible for daily management and philanthropic supplemental fund raising modeled on the Central Park Conservancy managing the globally renowned Central Park in New York City, we are very gratified by your work improving public safety in the North Sacramento area of the Parkway over the past year.
We respectively urge you, during your upcoming budget hearings, to provide more funding for park rangers in the American River Parkway to enhance that work.
David H. Lukenbill, Senior Policy Director
Auburn Dam Council Sponsored a Regional Water Forum
The Forum was held Friday, June 7, 2013, and the event was a reminder that the best way, still, to provide water storage during Sacramento's periodic dry spells, and protect us from flooding at the 400 yr. level–the levee improvements currently underway will only get us to 200 year level–is to build the Auburn Dam.
When a flood control system provides 100-year flood protection, it means there is a one in 100 chance that a storm will occur that is beyond the capacity of levees and reservoirs to contain, and 500-year protection–the gold standard for the United States, though Holland and Japan use a 1,000-year level–means there is only a one in 500 chance that a storm will overwhelm a system.
Congressman Tom McClintock was the keynote speaker, and his talk covered many of the points he outlined in another recent talk on his website, and all of the following quotes are retrieved from there.
In general, he noted that nature produces an abundance of water needed by human beings, so our planning needs to revolve around this abundance of water, rather than the scarcity of water narrative from the environmentalists; and, in particular, he outlined five self-evident truths about water:
"Self-Evident Truth #1: More water is better than less water. Can we agree on this first point? I know Im stating the obvious–but I keep hearing, that, "no, conservation is the key to the future because conservation lessens demand. That may be true, but ultimately conservation is the management of shortage and abundance is better.
"Some say that in many cases conservation is the least expensive way of adding supply. But thats the point: it doesnt ADD supply. And, IF conservation is the least expensive way of managing shortage, it doesnt need to be mandated, does it?
"The point at which conservation becomes economically preferable is the point when a water user decides he can save money doing it. The more expensive the water, the more expensive is the alternative hes willing to employ.
"Which brings us to Self-Evident Truth #2: Cheaper water is better than more expensive water. If we agree on this, then it naturally follows that before we employ more expensive sources of water like desalination and recycling, we should first be sure weve exhausted the less expensive alternatives, like surface water storage.
"Self-Evident Truth #3: Water is unevenly distributed over both time and distance. So if we want to have plenty of water in dry periods we have to store it in wet ones, and if we want to have plenty of water in dry regions we have to move it from wet ones. That is why we build dams and aqueducts and canals.
"Which brings us to Self-Evident Truth #4: that we dont need to build dams, aqueducts and reservoirs if our goal is to let our water run into the ocean. Water tends to run downhill very well on its own and doesnt need our help to do so. The reason that we build dams, aqueducts, and reservoirs is so that the water DOESNT run into the ocean, but rather is retained and distributed where it will do the most good.
"We can tell where it does the most good by its relative value, which brings us to Self-Evident Truth #5: Water is valuable, which allows the market to assign a price to it that can account for its scarcity, availability, storage, transportation, demand and substitution costs, including conservation.
"Do I have everybody so far?
"If so, then an important question arises: if these truths are valid and self-evident, then why arent we proceeding with a water policy that is in concert with them?
Congressman McClintock also made a very good point about the salmon population in relation to wild salmon versus hatchery salmon.
This is a very important point as hatchery salmon are not included in the salmon counts when environmentalists warn of the shrinkage of the salmon runs as a reason not to build new dams or tear down existing ones.
"Were told that hatchery fish arent the same as fish born in the wild.
"Really? The only difference between a fish born in a hatchery and a fish born in the wild is the difference between a baby born in a hospital and a baby born at home. The same genetic variables are at work in the breeding and the same laws of natural selection are at work when they are released to the wild. And except for the markings on the hatchery fish, there is no way to tell them apart genetically or any other way."
This was an excellent event, and the most significant local forum devoted to issues related to the need for upstream water storage, the Auburn Dam, in quite some time, for which all the credit goes to the event leadership group of Ken Payne, Pete Bontadelli, Robert Shibatani, and Roger Canfield; and the rest of the folks at the Auburn Dam Council.
AMERICAN RIVER PARKWAY PRESERVATION SOCIETY (ARPPS)
Cordova Hills and Suburban Living
by David H. Lukenbill, published on January 30, 2013, at 1:01 PM
Last night, the County Board of Supervisors approved the Cordova Hills project to create a new suburb in the eastern end of the County.
I watched some of the session on the project on television and was struck by a couple significant misrepresentations being oft quoted by the opposition which were fortunately corrected during the session.
One was that approving the project would threaten federal transportation funds, which was corrected by a former federal transportation official who found nothing in the project warranting such a claim.
Another was that the project should not be approved because it was so far away from everything else, which was corrected by the board chair reminding people that it was only far away if you live in the city of Sacramento, but for those people who live in Rancho Cordova and Folsom, its right next door.
Our organization doesnt have any particular feeling about the Cordova Hills project as it is not adjacent to or even close to the American River Parkway, but we are concerned about suburban development in general.
The Parkway is surrounded by suburbs and the Sacramento region is largely a suburban region so the health of the suburbs is important to all of us and the approval of good suburban projects–which Cordova Hills appears to be–is good for the region.
The suburban home, lifestyle, and residents have been the recipients of criticism ever since people began moving from the congested, polluted, and dangerous cities out to the nice house in the country, and the call for the end of suburban living as if it is just-around-the-corner, is as much a fantasy as the validity of much of the criticism.
The typical urban planner in Sacramento probably looks out over the sea of suburban housing surrounding the American River Parkway and sees a lot of wasted space, but the people fortunate enough to live here–your author included–see sacred space; space devoted exclusively to their families and their private lives, space where their children are relatively safe and can grow to maturity within the most defining aspect of the American Dream, the California suburban lifestyle, the Sacramento Dream.
To the urban advocate, being a suburbanite is virtually always suspect, and its reflected in our language. The Oxford Dictionary has as one of its definitions of suburban: "2. Having characteristics regarded as typical of residents or life in the suburbs of a city; esp. provincial, narrow-minded, uncultured, naïve.
However, being urbane, from urban, fares much better. "2. Having the qualities or characteristics associated with town or city life; esp. elegant and refined in manners, courteous, suave, sophisticated.
Prejudice against suburban living as somehow living an inauthentic life is widespread and repeated regularly.
It was a stance I also held–though I was raised in the suburbs–when I was young and single, living in downtown or midtown Sacramento, when I was sometimes able to even forgo owning a car and during that period of my life, I truly enjoyed urban living.
However, once I was married and we had a child, the importance of more space, a back yard, and easy access to entertainment and shopping with free parking, and the relatively low crime rate in the suburbs, led to us living and remaining there.
While the car, among many members of the urban planning community, is largely tainted by the negative narrative of suburban living–and correctly the cause of some air pollution–much of the value of being in our own car as we tool around the community to work, play, and shop, is the way in which it provides an extension of our personal space and comfort, as a buffer against the often chaotic and hard-edged nature of the public space we all have to traverse daily.
It is also the only way you can really shop at Costco.
There is value in all types of living arrangements and the many arguments about why one is better than the other are generally more based on sincerely held ideological zeal rather than logical thought.
The two major environmental reasons given for the evil of the suburbs, air and water pollution–though urban environments have also long contributed to each–have largely been addressed by better technology.
Living in the suburbs is at the heart of the American Dream and virtually every day, I am reminded in some way of the great joy that is part of our family life largely resulting from our life in the suburbs, whether it is the busy chirping of the flocks of birds eating from our bird feeders or bathing in our bird baths, or the squirrels eating up the sunflower seeds sprinkled on the patio each morning, or the occasional hawk finding our back yard to keep the dove and squirrel population in check; or the warmth of the winter and early spring sun when sitting in the back yard, and the refreshing cool of the pool under the blazing Sacramento summer sun; and the peace and quiet largely surrounding us broken occasionally by a barking dog or the playing of the neighbors children or the murmur of a barbeque party; being able to jump in the car and within a couple minutes to be shopping in the grocery store or ordering in a restaurant for a spontaneous meal; or take the short walk to the river; it is all wonderful, all part and parcel of suburban life in the suburban communities surrounding the American River Parkway and the river flowing through it. But, as much as I now love living in the suburbs, I will never forget how much I once loved living in the city, and for that reason, Sacramentans can be thankful we are blessed with an abundance of many ways of living our lives.
Disclosure: The author is the founder of the American River Parkway Preservation Society.
Retrieved February 25, 2013, from Sacramento Press
American River Public Market
By David H. Lukenbill
There has been some interest expressed in local media lately about establishing a permanent farmers market in Sacramento to concretize the recent proposal by Mayor Kevin Johnson to promote one of the historic strengths of Sacramento as America's Farm-to-Fork Capital.
Establishing a permanent farmer's market is a wonderful idea and the seminal model exists in Seattle, Pike Place Market.
For those of you who have shopped there–I lived in Seattle for a year and shopped there often–you know it is a truly world class public market taking advantage of the setting next to the ocean and local produce, which in Seattle's case is, among other things, fish, flying fish.
Wikipedia has a great entry about Pike Place and Yelp has some great reviews.
Given the availability of open space and the advantage of placing it alongside one of our rivers, would seem to indicate looking at the south side of the American River, in the area bounded by I-5 on the west, Richards Blvd on the south, North 7th Street on the East and the American River Parkway on the north.
The other advantage of siting in this general area is its closeness to existing lower-income housing communities who benefit most from the low price and high quality of farmer's market produce, such as Alkali Flats, Dos Rios, North Sacramento and—on the planning board—the low-income residences planned for Township 9 and the Railyards area.
Other areas that have been mentioned include the Railyards area and K Street, both of which would be good, but getting close to the blue water American River and the green beauty of the American River Parkway would be priceless.
There is a lot of history connected to this part of the American River.
For centuries the dominant village of the local native Indian tribe, the Nisenan, was Pujune, which stretched for miles along the Sacramento River from just south of the confluence with the American River north to the Feather River.
There is a historical marker—listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971—in Discovery Park by the archery range on the east side of the park, marking the location of the Nisipowinan Village Site, which is also known as "Joe's Mound" and ethnographically as Pujune.
When the new Sacramento City Hall was being built, many Indian artifacts and human remains were unearthed, some 4,500 years old.
A 19th century fur trapper and trader, for whom the American River Bicycle Trail is named the American River Parkway Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail, reached the American River in April 1827 and explored the area around the confluence of the two rivers.
And, of course, in 1839 Captain John Sutter established his fort—he had a dream of creating an agricultural utopia at Sutter's Fort—close to the confluence of the American and Sacramento Rivers which ultimately led to Sacramento being born as a city and the capital of California after the gold discovered at Sutter's Mill in Coloma in 1848.
History, setting, natural resources, and agricultural heritage can come together in a truly significant way if this project now being discussed comes together, and, if it can happen along the American River, that would be wonderful.
Disclosure: The author is the founder of the Parkway advocacy nonprofit organization, American River Parkway Preservation Society.
Retrieved December 17, 2012 from Sacramento Press, American River Public Market.
AMERICAN RIVER PARKWAY PRESERVATION SOCIETY (ARPPS)
Response to the Illegal Camping in the North Sacramento Area of the Parkway
The response to the illegal camping outlined in yesterday’s Marcos Breton column in the Sacramento Bee is extraordinary: daily and indefinitely enforced dusk to dawn Parkway closure; social service agency involvement; City police may conduct several enforcement sweeps each week; Highway 160 area fortified against dug-in camping; fencing off of feeding areas around Highway 160 bridge and adjacent wooded areas; and a media campaign led by County Supervisor Phil Serna to raise money for additional homeless shelter.
If this multi-effort strategy is carried out with vigor and persistence, it will surely stop the illegal camping and restore that area of the Parkway to safe use by the communities adjacent to it.
Many deserve credit here, and first is Bob Slobe, whose relentless advocacy has driven this discussion to this apparent solution, as well as the long-term support of the North Sacramento Chamber of Commerce and its leaders Rob Kerth and Franklin Burris who've consistently spoke to restoring the Parkway.
County Supervisor Phil Serna has been the one public leader who has taken a solid and sustained approach to this issue and deserves significant credit.
New County Executive Brad Hudson surely deserves credit for leading the County to action.
The Sacramento Bee, in particular columnist Marcos Breton, whose detailed columns over the past few weeks, along with the front page story in the Bee and various editorials, have truly brought the magnitude of the damage being caused to environment and community by the illegal camping, also deserves sustained kudos.
And the multitude of local residents and Parkway users, whose voices have been raised in various forms of media deserve great credit, for they remind us all that being safe on the Parkway and enjoying its beauty is truly what all in our community treasure.
We can make the Parkway the jewel of Sacramento once again, and this is a significant start, so once again, Bravo! to all those who made it happen.
David H. Lukenbill, Senior Policy Director
AMERICAN RIVER PARKWAY PRESERVATION SOCIETY (ARPPS)
Illegal Camping in North Sacramento/Woodlake Area
Over the past several days we, and other Parkway organizations and public leaders, have been receiving emails with photos and pegged maps attached designating the ongoing proliferation of illegal camps in the North Sacramento/Woodlake area of the Parkway.
Much of this material is also being posted to the American River Parkway Woodlake Area Facebook page.
This is a signal issue for us, as we believe that, until the entire American River Parkway is safe to visit by the families who live adjacent to it, public leadership is neglecting public safety in one of the most significant parks in the country.
We are, as is everyone else involved in this issue, deeply aware of the financial difficulties faced by local governments trying to meet their obligations in an era of diminished public funding.
This is why we have advocated for the formation of a Joint Powers Authority of Parkway adjacent entities who would then contract with, either an existing nonprofit or create a new one, to provide daily management and supplemental funding for the American River Parkway
More detail is on our website strategy page.
The benefits from forming this type of public private partnership are obvious from the example we often point to, Central Park Conservancy in New York City.
The Conservancy raises 85% of the funding needed by Central Park and has actually made the Park safe to venture into at night, virtually unheard of in the past, as this article from the New York Times notes:
Right now, in the North Sacramento/Woodlake area of the Parkway, venturing into it alone during the daylight hours is not recommended, and as for going there at night, forget about it.
We can do better Sacramento, we can do much better!
AMERICAN RIVER PARKWAY PRESERVATION SOCIETY (ARPPS)
Trouble at Gibson Ranch?
A recent story in the Sacramento Bee seems to indicate that is so, but we have always supported Doug Ose’s management of Gibson Ranch (see our January 5, 2011 Press Release: ARPPS SUPPORTS OSE PROPOSAL FOR GIBSON RANCH, below, and our inclination would be to give Doug Ose the benefit of the doubt.
He has taken on a very difficult and complicated job—the re-opening and management of a 300+ acre park with very few resources, but has so far restored and enhanced the extensive range of activities the park was known for before being closed by Sacramento County.
Their website tells the story in pictures and listing of events. http://gibson-ranch.com/index.html
Here is Doug Ose’s online response to the Bee article from the comments section. “Interesting article. I apologize in advance for the length of this posting. I posted earlier but for some reason it has not been put up on the blog.
“In the public arena, our critics keep us honest. I just wish they were honest about their private agendas. Brisbois and Moore are active participants in a cabal that is advocating for the creation of another layer of government with a new layer of property taxes governed by a whole new group of elected officials for the purpose of managing our public lands. I actually respect their advocacy, but strongly disagree with their proposal. Their proposal includes no reforms to prevent a recurrence of the mismanagement that occurred for years under the previous department head; "just mo' money, honey." Their worst nightmare is that my team and I will succeed, thereby showing the public that this pipedream of bigger government and higher taxes are unnecessary. Consequently, they are doing everything they can to cause delays and increase costs at the park in the mistaken belief that we will grow tired and give up.
“How do we measure success in this endeavor? We measure success by comparing the current condition of the park against the likely condition had we not gotten involved. Prior to our involvement, the park was closed. The County was spending over $200,000 per year to keep it closed. No public use was allowed. No maintenance was performed. Improvements and infrastructure at the park were deteriorating at an increasing rate. Many people, including the individuals cited in this article and the editorial board of the Bee, said the County should keep the park closed rather than privatize operations. Therefore, the baseline condition against which we compare ourselves starts with: the park was closed, the public didn't have access, the County was spending a lot of money and no maintenance was being done, and the grounds were increasingly occupied by homeless men (not homeless families - homeless men).
“We asserted in June, 2010 that the park could be operated using private management and pay all the operating expenses associated therewith. We developed a plan. That plan was put through a public vetting process. Interestingly, none of the "experts" cited in this article proposed an operating plan, lacking either the will or the vision or the ability to do anything to cure the problem.
“How has our plan worked out? Let's review the facts. Sacramento County, instead of paying over $200,000 per year to keep the park closed, has paid or is on the hook for just over $70,000 in reimbursements to us for 2011 for correcting some, but not all, of the deferred maintenance that existed at the park on April 1, 2011. Therefore, the County is approximately $130,000 ahead of where it would otherwise be, and the park is open for the public's use. For us, we operated the park at a loss of about $35,000 through December 31, 2011. However, we expected to lose over $100,000 in that time period, so we are $65,000 ahead of where we otherwise expected to be.
“Simply put, we succeed by persuading people to come to the park. How do we do that? Primarily, we let our work speak for itself. The park is open every day from sunrise to sunset. The park is clean. The bathrooms are clean. The garbage is removed regularly. The homeless men who previously resided throughout the park have been asked (politely, of course) to reside elsewhere. The grass is cut regularly. The fishing lake is stocked regularly. The phone is answered. If a message is left, someone returns the call. If there is an opportunity, we try to seize it. If there is a problem, we deal with it. If there is a maintenance issue, we address it. If we make a mistake, we correct it.
“Are we perfect? No. There are things that are not yet done. That's the way it is on a working ranch.
“Or a business. Or a family. Or any other organization you can think of.
“Are we succeeding? My answer is: I think so. Thirty Boy Scouts spent the night last night in the park. Two weeks ago the Girl Scouts were onsite in the rain for a "thinking day" event. On Easter there were over 3,000 people in the park enjoying the sunny weather and family time. We are still cleaning up the eggs and plastic and piñatas from that. Later today, the Sacramento Valley Women's Soccer League will play on our soccer fields. Next week there will be 450 Boy Scouts on a camporee. The week after that there will be 750 Boy Scouts on a camporee. The week after that we are hosting a motorcycle get-together of an estimated 1,000 retired Marines. The week after that we are hosting 1,200 to a labor union annual picnic. The week after that we expect 10,000 people to visit us for the Civil War Days re-enactment. The week after that is Memorial Day when we honor those who have gone ahead. The week after that we have a concert with The Fish. Etc etc etc. In the interim, we will host weddings, barbeques, birthdays, fishing clinics, horse riding, fun runs, yard sales, corporate team building events, camping, and a gazillion other active and passive recreational pursuits. (BTW - we can host your event, too. :))
“I invite you to visit the park. We are open every day. My team and I are there every day. If you call ahead I will be pleased to give you a personal tour. We can be reached at 916-806-3868. If we don't answer it’s because we are on the other line or dealing with another visitor. Leave a message and someone will call you back. Bring your family and make it a picnic.
“Come see the park and judge our work for yourself. Constructive criticism is always welcome. Thank you for taking the time to read this.”
Retrieved April 15, 2012 from http://www.sacbee.com/2012/04/15/4414667/ose-at-helm-but-gibson-ranch-still.html#storylink=cpy
The link to read what the Sacramento Bee is reporting is at http://www.sacbee.com/2012/04/15/4414667/ose-at-helm-but-gibson-ranch-still.html.
David H. Lukenbill, Senior Policy Director
GOLDEN NECKLACE TRAIL; SACRAMENTO COUNTY
The Golden Necklace Trail (as written about in our 2007 research report beginning on page 30). is envisioned as beginning in Coloma, running southwest along the South Fork of the American River over the Salmon Falls Bridge, southwest along Folsom Lake to connect with the American River Parkway, continuing southwest along the Parkway Trail to the confluence with the Sacramento River, turning south along the Sacramento River to the historic Chinese town of Locke, and then turning northeast up the Cosumnes River Preserve, to—either the Folsom South Canal Trail or the Deer Creek Hills Preserve Oak Woodland—both of which would then turn northeast to connect back to the American River Parkway at Lake Natoma.
Let’s begin at the gold discovery site at Sutter’s Mill where modern California really began, along the south fork of the American River, in Coloma.
The American River Conservancy is working on a trail project eventually linking the discovery site at Coloma to downtown Sacramento.
From downtown, continuing south along the Sacramento River, our envisioned Golden Necklace links to the Sacramento River Greenway project working to extend the trail along the Sacramento River.
As the necklace extends south along the Sacramento, it links with the historic Chinese town of Locke.
From Locke we connect to another link in the Golden Necklace, the Cosumnes River Preserve.
From the Cosumnes link in the necklace we proceed to the Folsom South Canal Corridor Plan and their 14 mile link from Sloughhouse Road to the Aquatic Center and the American River Parkway.
Another trail variation from the Cosumnes north is the vision presented by the Sacramento Valley Conservancy on their website, the 21st Century Open Space Vision Map which would be further east than the Folsom South Canal Corridor, through the Deer Creek Hills Oak Woodland.
The Rails to Trails concept design for the actual trail is the best one I have seen, accommodating pedestrians, bicyclists, and equestrians.
Visioning this complete concept as one long linked entity, allowing people to travel by bike, by foot, and by horse along the historic and beautiful golden trails that could become the Rivers of Gold National Heritage Area we wrote about in our 2007 report (starting at page 30), easily outshines many of the already established sites listed at the National Park Service National Heritage Areas website.
Here we have drawn a map of the Sacramento County phase of the Golden Necklace Trail to give you an idea of what it would look like.
AMERICAN RIVER PARKWAY PRESERVATION SOCIETY (ARPPS)
If you are living in suburban California, you are part of the Dream, the California Dream.
A central part of the birthing vision of the American Dream was the California Dream and all that America promised, as Kevin Starr notes: “In a very real sense, the California dream was the American dream undergoing one of its most significant variations.” Americans and the California Dream 1850-1915. (1973). New York: Oxford University Press. (p.443)
The American River Parkway is surrounded by suburbs, which is appropriate being that a central axis of the California Dream is suburban single home ownership, and the American River running through it was where gold was first discovered, leading to one of the greatest migrations in history.
The suburban single home ownership aspect of the California Dream is under attack, as Joel Kotkin notes in a recent article, California Wages War on Single Home Ownership: “In California, the assault on the house has gained official sanction. Once the heartland of the American dream, the Golden State has begun implementing new planning laws designed to combat global warming. These draconian measures could lead to a ban on the construction of private residences, particularly on the suburban fringe.” Retrieved July 26, 2011 from California Wages War on Single-Family Homes.
To help protect that vision, which we all hope to sustain, we have defined a sixth critical issue, shaped our approach, and formulated our sixth guiding principle.
Critical Issue #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.
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.
David H. Lukenbill, Senior Policy Director
AMERICAN RIVER PARKWAY PRESERVATION SOCIETY (ARPPS)
Supervisor Phil Serna
The award was presented to Phil during the North Sacramento Chamber of Commerce luncheon March 17, 2011 at Enotria by ARPPS President Michael Rushford & Bob Slobe.
Phil is the Sacramento County Supervisor for District 1, elected with over 70% of the vote in his first elected office.
District 1 is the site of the most impacted area of the Parkway from illegal camping by the homeless, which for the past 25 years has caused great environmental destruction, a drastic lowering of public safety, and the virtual holding hostage of the residents of the adjacent neighborhoods to safely use their part of the Parkway.
Supervisor Serna has taken a clear stand to protect the Parkway from the corrosive impact of illegal camping while retaining a compassionate stand to help the homeless.
His voluntary charitable experience, as a member of the board of directors of Cottage Housing, which provides a clean and sober environment—enforced through drug testing—in the residential housing complexes it operates, amplifies his commitment.
In a February 23, 2011 article in the Sacramento Bee about the Parkway and the illegal camping he wrote:
“Much has been reported in recent days regarding the situation along the lower reach of the American River Parkway. Unfortunately, there's been a predictable attempt by some to hijack public attention to narrowly advocate their cause instead of acknowledging the complexities of the situation.
“Dealing with those complexities and seeking solutions is the responsibility of your local elected officials. As one of them, I've made every effort during the past three weeks to thoughtfully and compassionately address the issue of illegal camping, public safety, environmental impact and homelessness. Admittedly, it is not an easy thing to do 50 days into the job.
“Parkway users deserve a safe, clean environment free from harassment or other personal threat. They should not feel compelled to avoid the parkway for fear of their own safety, which is what a number of constituents have conveyed to my office in recent weeks. They deserve better; we all deserve better.
“The American River Parkway offers one of the best recreational opportunities anywhere in the country, but it will be enjoyed only if it is safe. To that end, local law enforcement, including Sacramento County park rangers, have established added presence along the lower reach of the parkway to enhance public safety and to encourage parkway users to return.
“Let's also remember that the parkway itself is a "constituent" here. Illegal camping has produced tons of trash and debris, some of which is hazardous biological waste. Illegal campgrounds, large and small, "self-governed" or not, contribute to this problem. Along the American River Parkway, refuse has collected in makeshift dumps, and what doesn't remain in these derelict collection sites oftentimes is spread by the wind, is scavenged by animals or ends up pooled along the riverbanks.” We are very happy to award this level of commitment by Supervisor Phil Serna to one of the finest urban recreational areas in the country.
David H. Lukenbill, Senior Policy Director
ARPPS SUPPORTS OSE PROPOSAL FOR GIBSON RANCH
The ARPPS Board of Directors voted to approve the Ose proposal for Gibson Ranch at our meeting of 1/3/11.
In The Sunday, December 26, 2010 issue of the New York Times, we are informed that:
"Versailles, one of the most visited monuments in the world, will soon be able to offer tourists a place to rest for the night.
"The Hotel du Grand Controle, an annex building on the edge of the Versailles estate, will be transformed into a 23-room hotel, administrators of the publicly owned palace announced recently.
"The restoration and modernization of the 17th-century building will be overseen by a Belgian company called Ivy International, which has taken out a 30-year lease on the property. The project is a rare transfer of control of a French public heritage site to the private sector.
"It’s a pioneer initiative," Jean Jacques Aillagon, the chairman of the Versailles palace, said in a news conference in Paris. "The building was given to us in a dilapidated state; my concern was to save it." (page TR. 2, highlighting added)
Saving shuttered Gibson Ranch from further dilapidation and whether the County should approve management by a forprofit entity led by former Congressman Doug Ose is the issue.
It is an issue which has been of interest to our organization as it addresses much of what we have also found lacking in local government management of the American River Parkway.
Our organization has long called for the use of innovative funding and management practices for the Parkway that are being used successfully with other parks and the concepts embedded in the Ose proposal are congruent with those practices.
When the board of supervisors agreed to study the privatization proposal in November of 2010, the opposition–County Parks and aligned nonprofits—appeared to build their case primarily from the damage it might do to their in-house regional park proposal, which would increase taxes, while the Ose proposal would save taxpayers money.
The proposal to open the Ranch to the public under a lease management agreement comes from a family with a long-established record of public service and philanthropy, is supported by many locally, and is aligned with standard lease management agreements involving some form of privatization.
Given that, the opposition–especially that voiced in the editorial pages of The Sacramento Bee http://www.sacbee.com/2010/12/14/3255239/county-to-pay-ose-to-turn-park.html–seemed overwrought.
We were very pleased when the county agreed to move forward in their consideration of the plan to turn over management of the park to a forprofit entity.
With final approval, which we wholeheartedly support, it will be refreshing to see innovation and creativity become part of the mix of local parks management which, if it is as successful as we anticipate, may also impact future decisions regarding the American River Parkway.
If it’s good enough for Versailles, it’s good enough for Gibson Ranch!
AMERICAN RIVER PARKWAY PRESERVATION SOCIETY (ARPPS)
The homeless issue is a Parkway issue as the Lower Reach of the Parkway-Discovery Park to Cal Expo-has been the de jure tent city for the homeless for years.
As the cold of winter invigorates the urgency of public policy strategies to alleviate the suffering of those who are homeless, we do well as a community to remember that the primary and most effective help is often a balanced combination of giving aid and inspiring those aided to begin the internal work of personal transformation that will elevate them beyond the need for aid.
Providing services without inspiring internal change generally leads to a tragic continuation of the problem
In this regard, we might note the words from the seminal book, To Empower People: From State to Civil Society, by Peter Berger & Richard John Neuhaus, who wrote:
"Time and again, I found that indigenous community leaders have substantial long-term impact because they have been able to affect not only the behavior of those they serve but also the internal base of values that determines behavior. In tackling the most critical problems that confront low-income communities, they have made distinctions-as most top-down programs do not-between poverty that is caused by factors outside an individual's control (for example, lay-offs or extended illness) and that which results from the life choices an individual makes (drug-addiction and out-of-wedlock births, for instance). They recognize that, with regard to poverty that results from an individual's choice, an internal change is prerequisite for any external programs or aid to have lasting and substantial effect.
"Grass-roots activists who live within the same zip code as the people they serve have a unique capacity to inspire this kind of transformation. In many cases they have suffered-and have overcome-the same problems that they are guiding others to battle. They are often living examples of achievement against the odds, and they provide models of the values and principles that they espouse. Hundreds of testimonies from effective grass-roots leaders have shown that their foundation of faith has enabled them to see potential for transformation and revitalization where professionals have limited their goals to custodianship.
"Furthermore, surveys have shown that a base of local support is a more natural and more approachable resource than professional services that are "parachuted in" to the communities. When queried, hundreds of low-income people responded that if they confronted a crisis they would turn first to family members, friends, local churches, and other organizations that are indigenous to their communities for help. Only as a last resort would they choose to turn to a professional service provider.
"In spite of this reality, we continue to use a service delivery system that relies on what is the last choice of those who are in need."
Berger, P. L. & Neuhaus, R.J. (1996). To Empower People: From State to Civil Society. (2nd Ed.) Washington D.C. The AEI Press. (pp. 106-107)
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and remember that empowerment is more truly compassionate than pity.
David H. Lukenbill, Senior Policy Director
American River Parkway Preservation Siciety (ARPPS)
A proposal was presented to the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors this month by the regional parks department, with support from some Parkway advocacy groups, to consider adopting one of three strategies to provide money for regional parks.
Each strategy calls for an increase in taxes requiring a two-thirds vote for approval.
Each strategy uses the American River Parkway as the lead park for the marketing of the tax increase for all regional parks.
While appreciating the concern the supporters of this proposal have for the Parkway, this is a direction that could actually cause more harm than good. Potentially, this could divert resources and attention from strategies which have a chance of becoming reality and promise more long term funding sustainability. There is a better way.
Raising taxes to pay for parks is not an equitable approach, as those who do not use parks, or realize an adjacent property benefit, would be required to pay an additional tax for something they do not use or benefit from.
Those who live adjacent to the North Sacramento area of the Parkway are already burdened by neighborhood crime and habitat degradation caused by the illegal camping of the homeless. These citizens will see no value in having their taxes increased to continue failed policies.
There is a better way, and it can be found in the funding success of other signature parks, such as the Central Park Conservancy and the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy.
Seek support for the American River Parkway through the non-coercive method of philanthropy tied to nonprofit daily management and Joint Powers Authority governance. (See our blog post, Another View: A Nonprofit Should Run the Parkway
Based on the deep love the regional community has for the Parkway, a philanthropic strategy offers more promise than a tax increase.
OPEN LETTER TO THE
January 7, 2010
Susan Peters & Don Nottoli, Sacramento Board of Supervisors
Dear Committee Members:
As you continue your work to ensure the American River Parkway is sustained and enhanced for the future of all the communities that treasure and use it, we would like to offer you our suggestions concerning the Parkway Joint Powers Authority (JPA) your committee is tasked with considering, as it relates to Parkway management and funding.
We support the JPA idea your committee is working on, though not the tax increase currently coupled with it, and would ask you to consider the concept of creating a nonprofit organization to provide daily management and supplemental funding through dedicated philanthropy.
We support the JPA board composition-two (2) members from the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors, two (2) members from the Sacramento City Council, one (1) member from the Rancho Cordova City Council, and one (1) member from the Folsom City Council.
We support the formation of a Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC), but would ask you to consider including a member of the CAC, chosen by the CAC, to sit on the JPA board.
We believe that the ability of dedicated management and raising supplemental funds philanthropically, which the managing nonprofit could do, is a much more effective way to develop the level of funding that is needed.
As an example, the Central Park Conservancy-the nonprofit that manages Central Park in New York City-raises 85% of the funding needed by Central Park, and I am sure we would all agree that the American River Parkway is as valued a resource to us as Central Park is to them.
The type of public safety, access, and vandalism problems adjacent neighborhoods have to deal with-illegal camping in the Lower Reach, late night carousing at Paradise Beach, Parkway users parking in neighborhoods impacting residents, and business encroachment issues-could all be much more effectively responded to through a nonprofit organization able to respond directly to these local issues.
The history of nonprofit organizations working to benefit the Parkway is a very positive one and this type of expansion would be congruent with that history.
With your leadership, and the deep love our many communities have for the Parkway, the development of a proactive and productive funding and management policy for the future can be assured.
Another View: A Nonprofit Should Run the Parkway
Special to The Sacramento Bee
Two recent articles in The Bee tell us that funds for the American River Parkway will be reduced again, continuing the funding shortage the parkway has been dealing with for several years.
One is the The Bee's editorial: "Buy a yearly pass to help river parkway" from Oct. 28, and the other is the Public Eye column: "Bumpy trails ahead on American River Parkway" from Oct. 30.
The editorial's call to buy a pass isn't realistic considering most people feel they have already paid taxes to use the parkway, nor is the other article's reliance on public funding, given the recent drop in available money.
We support the proposed strategy under discussion by local leadership, also mentioned in the editorial, to form a "joint powers authority" of local governments to provide base funding, though we do not support the idea of creating a benefit assessment district to raise taxes on parkway-adjacent property, which is coupled with the plan.
Instead, we would prefer that the joint powers authority create a nonprofit organization for daily management, and develop and sustain substantial philanthropic funding for the parkway.
The separateness is crucial as management and fundraising have to be solely dedicated to the parkway and be as accountable to donors and parkway users as they are to the public and local government.
The best example of this is the Central Park Conservancy, which raises 85 percent of the funding needed for Central Park in New York City.
While there may be little to compare between Sacramento and New York City, we can compare the significance of Central Park to New York City to the significance of the parkway to the Sacramento region.
A parkway-dedicated nonprofit would need to raise substantial amounts of money, requiring that the executive director be a nonprofit management professional adept at raising significant funding.
In the trying economic times our region has been dealing with, any discussion of increasing taxes or fees to help our parkway is counterproductive. However, philanthropy is still significant, with more than $307 billion raised nationally in 2008.
With the love our community has for the parkway, plus professional leadership, a parkway-dedicated nonprofit could be relied on to rally that love around preserving, protecting and strengthening the parkway long into the future.
David H. Lukenbill was the founding president and is currently the senior policy director of the American River Parkway Preservation Society.
The Need for an American River Parkway Conservancy
Last month, the Sacramento County Recreation & Park Commission approved discussion of a Joint Powers Authority (JPA) Agreement for consideration by the respective jurisdictions of Folsom, Rancho Cordova, Sacramento City, and Sacramento County.
ARPPS applauds the short-term purpose of this discussion approval which: “is to formalize the cooperative working relationship of each of these jurisdictions”; however, ARPPS does not approve the long-term goal which: “would be to impose a Benefit Assessment District for the American River Parkway” (Recreation & Parks Commission, June 25, 2009, Agenda Item 2, p. 2, Retrieved July 12, 2009 from http://www.msa2.saccounty.net/parks/Pages/RecreationParkCommissionMeetings.aspx?y=2009.
ARPPS noted in a January 18, 2008 press release (see below) that the concept of a benefit assessment district and subsequent property tax increase was not a good idea for an already over-taxed public, and a better method is to raise funds philanthropically.
What would allow the JPA to raise substantial supplemental funding would be for the JPA to create a nonprofit conservancy, the American River Parkway Conservancy is our suggested name, dedicated to the management and funding of the Parkway.
The ability of nonprofit organizations to raise funds for worthy causes, even in a bad economy, is well proven.
Last year over $300 billion was raised by nonprofit organizations nationally and 75% of that came from individual donors.
Creating a nonprofit organization and raising money philanthropically is the strategy taken by other signature parks, such as Central Park in New York City, where the Central Park Conservancy manages the park and raises funds, raising 85% of needed funding. http://www.centralparknyc.org/site/PageNavigator/aboutcon_cpc.
While there may be little to compare between Sacramento and New York City, we can compare the significance of Central Park to New York City, to the significance of the Parkway to the Sacramento region, and from that perspective learn valuable innovations about sustaining and enhancing our beautiful resource.
In addition to learning from others, it is also crucial to ensure that the executive management of a future Parkway Conservancy is a nonprofit management professional adept at raising funds in all of the ways necessary to be of significant financial help to the Parkway.
In addition to the ongoing strategy of social enterprise, there are many methods of fundraising:
The well managed nonprofit that needs substantial amounts of money, like a Parkway Conservancy certainly would, will need to conduct all of these efforts throughout the year, while keeping the ongoing fundraising creative and vibrant to ensure the continued interest and loyalty of funders.
In the trying economic times our region has been dealing with, any discussion of increasing taxes is counter-productive; but the love our community has for the Parkway is very evident and, given professional nonprofit management and fund raising leadership, an American River Parkway Conservancy could be relied on to rally that love around preserving, protecting, and strengthening the Parkway long into the future.
Call for a Joint Powers Authority for the Parkway
The American River Parkway is the most important recreational area in our region, but it has been struggling for several years with some serious problems that have not been dealt with effectively, which we think can be best addressed by forming a Joint Powers Authority (JPA) to govern it.
Because of the Parkway’s unique nature as the signature park area in our region, spread out over several separately governed areas, it may be best served through stakeholder Parkway communities within the joint governing entity of a JPA
Another signature park area in our state governed by a JPA —which can serve as an excellent model—is the San Dieguito River Park, http://www.sdrp.org
JPA governance will give our Parkway a higher potential for dedicated management and philanthropic fund raising capability instead of having to raise taxes—particularly if the JPA supports eventual formation of a nonprofit conservancy dedicated to the management and ongoing funding of the Parkway—necessary to preserve and enhance its premier local and national status.
We will be investing the next five years in two strategic directions; one concerning the JPA, the other ongoing.
We will focus on encouraging local government to create a JPA—the one idea from our five years of research into practical approaches—that can most significantly impact the critical issues negatively impacting the Parkway.
Our ongoing work will focus on continuing to help build a community knowledge base around the results of our five research reports.
More information about our strategy, including an example of an American River Parkway Joint Powers Agreement, is available on our website at http://www.arpps.org/strategy.html.
American River Parkway Preservation
The award will be presented to Rob during the ARPPS Board of Directors Awards luncheon January 5, 2009.
Rob Kerth’s ties to North Sacramento are directly related to his concerns and outstanding work over the years to ensure the community he grew up in was able to recapture the sense of community he remembers as a youth.
ARPPS Article Published in
By David H. Lukenbill - Special to The Bee
Most people in Sacramento are concerned about how best to help the homeless. All of us hope and pray that the unfortunate folks struggling without homes, and their associated problems, will someday be helped into being able to live a life of security and health.
We at American River Parkway Preservation Society are no exception to this concern, particularly how it impacts the American River Parkway and the adjacent communities.
Helping the homeless is often a devil's bargain, as those who work in the field know all too well, and we can generally divide the homeless into three groups.
First, those who are willing to work and just need some help in getting back on their feet, but have not yet developed the capacity to do so.
Second, those who are mentally ill, require long-term housing and treatment, and generally cannot do much about their situation without medical help.
Finally, those who are alcoholics, addicts (though some would include these in the second group) and petty criminals, who generally will not cooperate with programs offered to them.
Recently, our local government decided to become part of the national 10-year plan to reduce chronic homelessness – a combination of the second and third groups. A key part of the plan is the adoption of the "housing first" model. Our organization is a supporter of the housing first approach to helping the chronic homeless.
Housing first is built on the common-sense concept that until homeless people are actually housed, they will not have the internal resources to devote toward rebuilding their life.
Housing first specifies two methods of implementation. One is housing and services concentrated in one area, and the other is housing scattered in individual units throughout the community with services delivered by treatment teams.
The concentrated method is particularly destructive of the communities it is housed in, and the examples in the various neighborhoods in our community bear that out.
A recent article in The Bee noted that a south Sacramento neighborhood is concerned about concentrated homeless housing moving into a converted 74-unit apartment complex. They are right to feel concern, as the complex will quite possibly degrade their neighborhood as the concentration of homeless services has degraded the 12th Street and Richards Boulevard area.
The impact of those concentrated services has been spilling over into illegal camping in the parkway, aggressive panhandlers on the K Street Mall and increased crime in both areas.
The other major benefit in the scattered-site approach is that the homeless, rather than being surrounded by other homeless who, in effect, help create and maintain the very same failure-oriented situation they are trying to escape from, are scattered into neighborhoods of regular folks whose influence is much more salutary.
During the formation of this project in Sacramento, our organization advocated for the scattered-site approach to alleviate the illegal camping along the parkway. However, our advice was not taken, and illegal camping by the homeless in the parkway (to stay close to the concentration of homeless services in the 12th Street and Richards Boulevard area) is now spilling over into the midtown areas of the parkway.
The concentrated approach now being pushed in the poor community of south Sacramento will invariably have the same effect on the surrounding neighborhood and commercial district as the existing concentration of homeless services has had on downtown and North Sacramento.
The situation is currently getting worse in the North Sacramento area as there is a major illegal camp along the parkway, clearly visible underneath the Highway 160 at the corner of the Northgate Boulevard exit and Del Paso Boulevard entrance.
Look to your left as you exit from downtown along 16th Street and make the stop at Del Paso Boulevard. This camp has been there for some weeks.
The North Sacramento Chamber of Commerce has been advocating something be done about the illegal camping in its neighborhoods for years, and though periodic cleanups have occurred, the problem keeps falling back into the same rut of decaying neighborhoods, increased crime and a degraded business atmosphere.
We can do better, much better, and our neighborhoods as well as the homeless need us to do better.
We have two suggestions.
The first is to conduct regular sweeps by the police, accompanied by homeless advocate and treatment organization representatives through the parkway to eliminate the illegal camping that is still prevalent.
The second, regarding the implementation of the housing-first approach, is that the scattered-site method, with stringent screening, be used to help the chronic homeless, rather than the concentrated method.
About the writer:
American River Parkway Funding
Some public resources are so valuable, like the Parkway, that they lend themselves more to acquiring a permanent and dedicated source of supplemental funding through philanthropy rather than taxation.
In light of a new tax being proposed on Parkway adjacent property owners to help fund the Parkway, it is a good time to reiterate our position on Parkway funding.
We have advocated that baseline Parkway funding come initially through a Joint Powers Authority (JPA) of the local government entities with an interest in the Parkway and that the JPA contract with a nonprofit organization to provide daily management and supplemental funding for the Parkway through philanthropic efforts rather than taxation.
This method has proven successful with valuable public resources like Central Park in New York and the Sacramento Zoo.
The formation of a JPA as part of the new tax proposal is also being discussed and the JPA model to involve Parkway interested government entities is a very important step in reaching the level of regional involvement with the Parkway necessary for long term stability and we support this effort.
A JPA is being used for similar purposes very successfully in Southern California:
&auot;The San Dieguito River Park Joint Powers Authority was formed as a separate agency on June 12, 1989, by the County of San Diego and the Cities of Del Mar, Escondido, Poway, San Diego and Solana Beach. It was empowered to acquire, plan, design, improve, operate and maintain the San Dieguito River Park. The vision of the River Park is to preserve and interpret the natural and cultural resources of the river valley from the river's source on Volcan Mountain, north of Julian, to the Pacific Ocean in Del Mar” Retrieved January 8, 2008 from sdrp.org.
An additional two points regarding any new taxes being imposed for the Parkway:
1) Sacramento County residents are already being taxed for parks and any new taxes providing service for the county should be approached in the appropriate way, through a county-wide tax proposal which requires a 2/3 vote.
2) The Parkway adjacent property tax is essentially unfair as it taxes some property owners for a regional resource benefiting all residents and the Parkway is a regional resource, as reflected in virtually all of the reports about it, and certainly in our membership which includes members from Auburn, Davis, Elk Grove, Folsom, Gold River, Granite Bay, Rocklin, Roseville and Sacramento.
The American River Parkway is an absolutely wonderful resource, and even with the many problems it has, it is treasured by the regional community.
With this deep well of support, it would seem that structuring the opportunity for long-term philanthropic support solely dedicated to the Parkway through a nonprofit organization partnering with a JPA, would be the approach most embraced by the community.
American River Parkway Preservation
The award will be presented to Dave during the ARPPS Board of Directors meeting January 5, 2008.
Dave—with a degree in Recreation Administration from CSU Chico and married for 26 years with a 22 year old son—has been working in the parks field since 1975 and for Sacramento County Parks since 1979. He began as a Park Ranger and was promoted to Chief Ranger in 2002, and in 2006 became the Deputy Director for the American River Parkway & Regional Parks Division.
Dave has always provided a supportive and honest voice to the many citizens and community organizations whose work involves looking out for the Parkway and has been a dedicated public servant advocating for the Parkway.
His integrity and concern for the Parkway have been evident in the lengths to which he consistently makes himself available to respond to community concerns, present a voice during community meetings, and deal with the complicated issues involving public safety on the Parkway.
The morass of interests and issues surrounding the illegal camping on the Lower Reach of the Parkway has been one area where his tact, diplomacy, kindness, and integrity have endeared him to all sides of the ongoing discussions.
His deep support for the recreational treasures of the Parkway and ensuring the safety of the community fortunate to enjoy them is well-known and deeply appreciated.
Public service, in its highest calling, is the clearest form of advocacy, and it is our pleasure to honor the public leadership and integrity of Dave Lydick by presenting him with the 2007 Slobe Parkway Advocate Award.
Published in the Sacramento Union www.sacunion.com
The American River Parkway:
David H. Lukenbill, Senior Policy Director American River Parkway Preservation Society www.arpps.org
The American River Parkway is one of the premier recreational and natural resources in the capital region; over 4,000 acres of walking, equestrian, and bike trails, fishing and rafting spots, picnic areas, parks, golf courses, islands and a beautiful river drifting through one of the major urban/suburban and richly historic areas of the nation.
It is also being sadly mismanaged by Sacramento County to the point that even basic maintenance is falling drastically behind every year, and the overall annual budget shortfall—when factoring all that should be being accomplished—has been declared by one Parkway organizations to be $8,595,427.
Our first guiding principle is: Preserving the Parkway is not an option, it’s a necessity and from this perspective the way to preserve, protect, and strengthen the Parkway as a vitally necessary ingredient to our quality of life, is through two initiatives.
The first is to provide daily management for the Parkway through a nonprofit organization, and the second is to work for the Parkway to become part of a National Heritage Area (a program of the National Park Service) encompassing the historic Gold Rush landscape in the American River Watershed.
With an independent nonprofit organization providing management, the ability to accomplish long range goals for the Parkway, such as the federal designation or endowment fund development, will be greatly increased.
Regarding the funding shortage, some feel a Benefit Assessment District is the best way to raise funds for the Parkway, but we don’t agree with that approach for three reasons:
1) Benefit Assessment Districts tax the property of those who benefit from the entity but how that would be determined fairly in this case is uncertain, as many people who live close to the Parkway don’t use it while many living far away do.
2) It delivers the funds to the same local government entity—Sacramento County—that has already failed in managing the Parkway for several years—with a threatened closure in 2004— with no clear promise or perceived capability that anything has changed.
3) There is a better way.
Part of a better way is a Joint Powers Authority (JPA).
A JPA makes sense, is fair to the newer cities such as Rancho Cordova and Arden Arcade—if it incorporates—could create a stable base funding stream and provide balanced governance oversight of a contract with the managing nonprofit.
Bringing in the cities
as partners in a JPA addresses the current political and economic
climate facing the County—the difficulty
of raising taxes and the continuing incorporation of new cities—causing
the County’s financial situation to continue to deteriorate
leaving even less future funding for the Parkway.
American River Parkway Preservation
SACRAMENTO: The 2006 research report: “The American River Parkway, Protecting its Integrity and Providing Water for the River Running Through it: A Report on the Auburn Dam Policy Environment” was released today. This is our second annual report released as part of World Rivers Day, http://www.worldriversday.bcit.ca/ a global celebration of our rivers.
The report can be accessed on our website at www.arpps.org/news.html .
What has long been needed to protect the integrity of the recreational and natural assets of the Parkway is a constant and stable source of cold, fresh water running fast enough to allow optimal conditions for the salmon and the year-round recreation that make the Parkway a treasured resource.
Recently, because of Katrina, Sacramento learned it is the least protected major city in the country from flooding. Given our history of flooding, this is a public policy issue of the highest level of urgency, and, in conjunction with the necessity to protect the integrity of the Parkway, on May 22, 2006 ARPPS came out in support of the only option providing 500 year flood protection for Sacramento, the Auburn Dam.
One of the most asked questions regarding this issue, once people realize it is the only 500 year level flood protection option is, “Why isn't everyone in support of this?”
In search of the answer to that question; which led us into the complexity of the history of the pastoral ideal, the nuances of new age religion, local hydrology, the history of dams and other water infrastructure in California, global warming, and the free flowing rivers movement; we are now able to offer our report to the community.
Michael Rushford, President
American River Parkway Preservation
ARPPS 2006 Research Report: Executive Summary
AMERICAN RIVER PARKWAY PRESERVATION SOCIETY (ARPPS) ANNOUNCES
Mary E. Tappel
The award will be presented to Mary during the ARPPS Board of Directors meeting October 9, 2006.
Over the past several years, in many capacities, most recently as the organizer of the lower American River Parkway* River Keepers, Mary has been a dedicated, deeply committed, and leading community voice advocating for the lower Parkway.
Mary is an environmentally-knowledgeable Parkway user and environmental activist who lives close to the lower Parkway. She has been very active in Sacramento’s Creek Week**, for nearly 20 years now, having led and organized creek, river, and neighborhood clean ups throughout North Sacramento for the past 15 years. For the past 5-7 years, she has led many of the most popular Creek Week field trips, the local evening beaver walks.
Mary works for the State Water Board as an Environmental Scientist, where she has worked with Adrian Perez, one of our State’s Environmental Justice leaders, for over 20 years. She also maintains some of the Water Board’s public outreach websites, which promote public engagement in watershed cleanup and restoration. She has completed some five years of contractual work for SAFCA, protecting the lower Parkway’s extensive native riparian restoration plantings from both excessive beaver pruning and destructive human vandalism, developing new low cost ecological methods along the way. She has always maintained a strong environmental and social justice perspective in all her work.
Mary continues her dedicated advocacy for the Parkway, often appearing in front of the Sacramento City Council and Sacramento County Board of Supervisors to press for more effective and affordable public safety and maintenance to keep the Lower Reach area of the Parkway safe and clean.
Mary backs up her public requests by getting out on the Parkway regularly, focusing, with many others from all walks of life, on organizing volunteer efforts initially to keep one area near the Rusty Duck clean and safe, and then expanding outwards from this area as the success of the effort has allowed. Mary is doing the absolutely vital work of coordinating volunteers from all walks of life in now successfully protecting the public against Parkway crime in the area formerly having the dubious distinction of being the most dangerous in the Parkway.
Mary works continually to involve all of the stakeholders in the process of dealing compassionately with illegal campers and others who are responsible for causing and/or sustaining public safety and/or environmental problems in the Parkway, while insisting on the primacy of equal public safety for everyone, and environmental and social justice for everyone.
Mary is currently working with the largest local homeless support organization, Loaves and Fishes, other Parkway organizations, a wide range of area neighborhood and conservation groups, Sacramento County Park Rangers, the Sacramento City Police Department, Sacramento County Sheriff’s deputies working in the Parkway, the City of Sacramento Department of Utilities Stormwater Management Program Community Action grants, and the North Sacramento Chamber of Commerce, where she is a member of the American River Parkway Task Force.
Mary is an excellent example of the type of committed advocacy the Slobe Parkway Advocate Award was created to recognize, and it is our honor and pleasure to be able to present it to her.
*Meaning the Lower American River Parkway from the CalExpo/Bushy Lake area and Paradise Beach/River Park neighborhood downstream to the confluence with the Sacramento River
**Sponsored and organized by the Sacramento Urban Creeks Council
THE AMERICAN RIVER PARKWAY PRESERVATION SOCIETY ANNOUNCES SUPPORT FOR AUBURN DAM, AMERICAN RIVER LEVEE STRENGTHENING, AND RAISING THE HEIGHT OF FOLSOM DAM
Sacramento, CA: May 22, 2006: The Society is announcing its support for the construction of the Auburn Dam, the strengthening of the American River levees, and the raising of Folsom Dam, to protect the natural and recreational integrity of the American River Parkway, the health of the salmon, and flood protection for Sacramento.
In January we announced our support for a major new dam on the American River to capture and control the American River Watershed run-off, which, through flood-condition releases from Folsom Dam, was devastating one of the most important parkways in the country.
Since then we have witnessed the following:
Since then, based on the continued and focused interest by national, state, and local government on flood protection and water supply in the Sacramento region, we are now confident that the planning for Auburn Dam will embrace the changing needs of the region, and, with the proposed raising of Folsom Dam and American River levee strengthening, will provide the storage, (and flow capacity when needed) to protect the integrity of the Parkway, the health of the salmon, and provide 500 year flood protection to the Sacramento region.
Michael Rushford, President
American River Parkway Preservation Society (ARPPS)
Sacramento, CA: January 10, 2006: It is time for those concerned about the American River Parkway to join with us in announcing support for the construction of a major new dam on the American River to capture and control the water, which, through flood-condition releases from Folsom Dam is devastating one of the most important parkways in the country.
In addition to the obvious benefit to the Sacramento region’s citizens from a major new dam offering 500 year—or more—flood protection, the protection of the Parkway from flooding will pay substantial recreational and habitat dividends, allowing a deeper, more stable level of year-round enjoyment.
After the evidence of New Orleans, and local flood conditions of the past few weeks, it is clear that in order to protect the Parkway’s recreational and natural assets for use by the citizens of Sacramento and provide optimal conditions for the salmon, a major new dam needs to be built somewhere on the American River.
The Parkway river flows during the first weeks of January, due to the need to release water from Folsom Lake to accommodate the expected run-offs from new storms, were running at 35,000 cubic feet per second, about ten times the optimal flow for human and salmon use.
It is only through the capture of the watershed run-off and the subsequent creation of the lake behind a new dam, that controlled flows and temperature will be available for the salmon and the year-round recreational needs of the growing population of the Sacramento region.
The Auburn Dam, planned for the North Fork of the American River, is the only proposal currently being put forth, and while there are some indications the proposed storage lake it would create needs to be larger, we will follow the congressional evaluation of that project to see if it addresses the demands imposed on the Parkway at the highest run-off levels.
Whatever comes from that evaluation, the fact remains, we need a major new dam on the American River, whether it is the Auburn Dam or some other proposal yet to emerge.
Opinion: A disturbing view of parkway destruction covers the devastation caused by illegal camping in the Parkway
Safety along the Parkway Trail has improved. and this July 4, 2013, interview with Chief Parkway Ranger Stan Lumsden in the Sacramento News & Review helps explain why.
The Trail of Fears The American River Bike Trail is idyllic, as long as you don't get maced, mugged or beaten with a rock.