City Beat

News, insight and discussion on Sacramento and its neighborhoods

May 27, 2011
Will Sacramento embrace an urban arena?

Sacramento's latest arena plan depends on us to embrace a truly urban experience. Are we willing to do so?

Most notably, there are no plans to build large parking lots around the arena being proposed for the downtown railyard. Many callers and commenters on the City Beat blog have taken note of that.

Those behind the plan say there are 8,200 parking spaces within four blocks of the site, most of which are owned by the city and are vacant at night, when most events at the arena would be held.

May 26, 2011
Sacramento's arena plan reviewed by City Council, public

With Kings owners Joe and Gavin Maloof and dozens of fans in attendance at City Hall, the Sacramento City Council is getting its first look at the detailed plans behind an arena proposed for the downtown railyard.

Those plans call for an arena somewhere in the mid-range of NBA facilities - not as large as some of the mega-arenas built in recent years, but much bigger than the Kings' current home, Power Balance Pavilion.

The plan does not present a funding mechanism for the project, whose cost is estimated at $387 million. Both the public and private sectors would have to make "significant contributions" to the development, the report states.

May 25, 2011
Sacramento council members give up 'slush fund' money

After a few years of keeping their budgets fairly untouched, the City Council made a significant concession on Tuesday.

In a unanimous vote, the council decided to transfer revenue from cell phone towers and electronic billboards into the general fund, which pays for cops, firefighters and parks. I mentioned the giveback in my story today about the city's budget situation, but wanted to take a deeper look at the impact.

Some have described the money as "slush funds," paying for nothing but pet projects and political favors. But there's another side to that. Many council members - especially those representing challenged neighborhoods - have relied on the revenue for programs and services that would have been axed otherwise.

May 23, 2011
Protect Sacramento campaign opposes police, fire cuts

City cops and firefighters went door to door this weekend trying to gather opposition to City Hall's proposal to lay off 80 police officers, brown out fire rigs and cut dozens of other positions from the police and fire departments.

Campaign-style signs are now showing up on front lawns and hanging from doors in support of that effort. The group behind the campaign - Protect Sacramento - is a coalition of the fire and police unions, along with neighborhood groups.

The group assembled an overflow crowd at City Hall last week, when the police cuts were presented to the City Council during a tense budget hearing. A similar scene is on tap for Tuesday night, when the fire department's budget is laid out.

May 19, 2011
New building industry PAC will take aim at Sacramento City Hall

A new - and large - political action committee has its eyes set on Sacramento City Hall.

Tired of what they think are slow and outdated development processes, roughly 60 businesses and eight building trade groups have formed Region Builders. The committee is spearheaded by the influential Sacramento Regional Builders Exchange.

The group will enter into the political fray soon, recruiting and campaigning for candidates for next year's City Council races. Four seats are in play.

May 18, 2011
Advocates worry police cuts would damage downtown progress

The Sacramento City Council doesn't like what's being proposed for the police department budget. That much was evident during a tense Tuesday night budget hearing.

The six councilmembers who showed up for the meeting took a vote not to accept a budget proposal that would lay off 80 cops and slash dozens more crime scene and clerical positions from the department. That vote doesn't mean much, however, considering there isn't an alternate proposal on the table and the final budget won't be approved until next month.

But one proposed cut that many think will be restored is the plan to eliminate the bike and foot patrol officers from the streets of downtown - an area City Hall has poured millions of dollars in subsidies into over the past few years.

May 17, 2011
Sacramento Police Chief outlines drastic cuts to City Council if budget cuts become reality
By Ryan Lillis

Through five years of budget cuts, the Sacramento City Council hasn't faced a situation like this.

For the first time in this economic downturn, City Hall is facing the very real prospect of laying off police officers, part of a proposal to fill a citywide $39 million deficit for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Cuts to the Police Department - the most severe the department has faced in several years - were presented Tuesday night during a tense council hearing. The council will vote next month on a final budget plan.
May 17, 2011
Mayor, two councilmembers absent as city debates police cuts

Of all the budget hearings to take place at City Hall over the next six weeks, none may be as intense as tonight's, when proposed cuts to the police department are rolled out in detail.

The police and fire unions will be there in force, scheduling a press conference before the 6 p.m. hearing to criticize proposals to lay off 80 police officers and shut down fire rigs. Cops, firefighters and neighborhood activists will also be there, as will the media.

But three key people won't be there.

May 6, 2011
Political consultant Townsend surveys mayor's popularity

The mastermind behind Kevin Johnson's election as Sacramento mayor says his client is more popular with voters than his colleagues on the City Council.

Political consultant David Townsend said a poll he commissioned found half of all Sacramentans are satisfied with Johnson's performance, but fewer than 40 percent of those surveyed are satisfied with the council.

The poll was conducted by Jim Moore. Townsend was the consultant who worked on Johnson's successful 2008 mayoral run, and he continues to be one of the mayor's chief political advisers.

Johnson hasn't said for sure whether he'll seek a second term next year. And since we're several months away from campaign season, the existence of a poll concentrating on the mayor shouldn't be seen as a sign that he's launching a re-election effort just yet.

May 5, 2011
Maloof: Kings will spend to improve team, keep key players

We don't know what the future holds for the Kings beyond the 2011-12 season. But team co-owner Gavin Maloof is saying some things about the franchise that might give fans some optimism for the upcoming season.

After an hour-long meeting with Kings sponsors today, Maloof told reporters the team would take advantage of its available salary cap space this off-season. Also of note: Maloof said the Kings would try to re-sign guard Marcus Thornton and center Samuel Dalembert.

"We have money, we have cap space, we have the most cap space of any team in the NBA," Maloof said. "That's how you win. You need players. And we have money and we're going to spend it."

May 5, 2011
More than 20 city garbage truck drivers out sick, delays reported

More than 20 solid waste drivers in the city of Sacramento are out sick right now, leading to delays in garbage pick-up for some households.

Jessica Hess, spokeswoman for the city's Department of Utilities, said all of the sick leave requests "were legitimately approved" and are not part of a coordinate work stoppage.

Delays appear to be hitting parts of Land Park and South Land Park, where solid waste cans have been sitting out since Wednesday morning.

May 5, 2011
Gavin Maloof, Mayor Johnson to meet Kings sponsors at Sheraton

RP NBA KINGS GAVIN AND MAYOR.JPGSacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, left, and Gavin Maloof share a laugh during a season ticket holders luncheon where the two talked about support for the Kings. Photo by Randy Pench

The Maloofs are becoming a visible part of the rebranding of the Sacramento Kings.

That effort takes another big step this afternoon, when Gavin Maloof joins Mayor Kevin Johnson at a 1 p.m. luncheon with Kings sponsors at the Sheraton Grand. Gavin and his brothers, Joe and George, already spent several hours earlier this week calling sponsors and luxury suite holders after deciding to keep the team in Sacramento another year.

Meanwhile, a team of the NBA's top marketing specialists are in town helping the Kings reconnect with season ticket holders. While not giving out numbers, Chris Granger, executive VP of the NBA's Team Marketing & Business Operations group, said the response to season ticket renewals has "exceeded even our most hopeful expectations."

May 4, 2011
Webber will play a role in Sacramento's arena fight

We're going to hear a lot of people weigh in over the next few months on how to finance a new arena for the Kings. But one voice heard this week is having a particularly strong impact with fans.

Former Kings great Chris Webber is saying he has private investors lined up to help fund the construction of an arena. Speaking Monday on TNT, Webber said the city must prove it deserves the team and that there's a lot of work to be done.

"Within this year, we're going to make some special things happen," Webber said.

About City Beat

Ryan Lillis has covered the city of Sacramento, its 108 neighborhoods and its politicians since 2008. Prior to that, he covered crime at The Bee. A native of upstate New York, Lillis has a journalism degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

Contact reporter Ryan Lillis at


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