City Beat

News, insight and discussion on Sacramento and its neighborhoods

July 28, 2011
Should City Hall follow state's lead on redistricting?

All this drama over City Council redistricting got me thinking: Would the council consider taking itself completely out of the redistricting game and hand over the reigns to an independent commission?

I posed that question this week to Councilman Steve Cohn, the elder statesman of the council and a guy who is working through his second redistricting on the council dais. I asked him if he'd be open to a commission similar to the one being used at the state level, given the fact he's seen how the sausage has been made twice in the city (the 2001 and 2011 redistricting efforts).

"I'm open to that, but I'd wait to make that judgment until I see what sausage (the state commission) comes up with," Cohn said, adding that the 2001 redistricting was even nastier than this year's increasingly contentious process.

July 26, 2011
City Hall aims to improve business climate in Sacramento

City Hall wants to fix what some officials think is a hostile business environment in Sacramento.

The city is launching an effort aimed at speeding up development and doing away with regulations criticized for scaring businesses away from the city, officials announced today.

The process will begin over the next few weeks, when the city's Community Development Department will move toward placing permitting processes online, reducing fees associated with solar projects and creating "express lanes" for some projects.

July 14, 2011
Sacramento arena task force starts its regional sales job

Members of Mayor Kevin Johnson's arena team hopped on a bus in El Dorado Hills this morning to begin a four-county sales pitch of building a new facility.

The centerpiece of the sales pitch was a report the group released showing that most people who attended events at Power Balance Pavilion during a three-year period live outside Sacramento County. The numbers for the analysis were provided by the NBA and Sacramento Kings.

Placer County residents made up 13 percent of those attending events at the arena, the highest number among those living outside Sacramento, according to the study. San Joaquin County residents made up 8 percent of event goers, and Solano and Yolo County residents each made up 6 percent.

July 13, 2011
Sacramento arena task force taking its show to the 'burbs

Sacramento's arena task force will embark on a regional bus tour Thursday to advocate in the suburbs for a new facility.

The tour is scheduled to kick off at 10 a.m. in El Dorado Hills. Stops in Roseville and Davis are also planned before the tour ends up in Rancho Cordova.

The Think Big Sacramento task force will also release a study analyzing the economic impact of an arena on the region. Think Big released an economic impact report two weeks ago, but apparently the study slated to be presented Thursday will look at a larger geographic area.

July 12, 2011
Greyhound set to move from downtown, open new station

The years-long push to move Sacramento's Greyhound bus terminal from L Street downtown is about to get underway.

City and Greyhound officials will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday at a new terminal on Richards Boulevard, north of downtown and the planned railyard development. The new station will open next week, perhaps as early as next Tuesday.

Both company and city officials have lauded the move. Downtown interests have long lobbied to move the Greyhound terminal from Seventh and L Streets, complaining that it has created traffic congestion and been a magnet for crime.

July 11, 2011
What should be done with Sacramento's Downtown Plaza?

A majority of young professionals surveyed by a local business group think a redeveloped Westfield Downtown Plaza is "very important" for the city's future and that City Hall should help pay for the project.

In a survey conducted by Metro EDGE, a 40-and-under branch of the Sacramento Metro Chamber, more than half of those asked also thought private investors and the city should partner in purchasing the mall.

Westfield is reportedly trying to sell the mall, which has plummeted in value in recent years. Mayor Kevin Johnson has demanded that the company improve the mall or sell, and many downtown interests see the plaza as a key peg in the area's revitalization.

July 11, 2011
City Hall's highest-ranking managers won't unionize

The latest unionization effort at City Hall will move forward without the city's highest-ranking officials after all.

City officials called me this morning to say they had forgotten to tell me last week that a small, but important class of workers - mostly charter officers and department heads - have been taken out of the organizing effort.

As a result, those managers will not join a union being formed by their support staff and administrative assistants. Several other managers, including police captains, labor relations officers and other deputies, are considering unionization.

July 7, 2011
Arena task force seeks volunteers, will launch design contest

Here We Draw.

Hoping to build on what they say is a groundswell of public support for a new sports arena, the task force charged with coming up with a financing plan for the facility will launch a design competition for a public space near the arena.

That competition, which will get underway in the coming weeks, is part of a broader plan dubbed the Citizen Architects initiative. That plan is seeking volunteers from the public to take a more active role in the Think Big Sacramento arena task force.

July 5, 2011
Police union members to weigh in on pension changes

The city police union will survey its membership to gauge interest in officers contributing to their pensions and other benefit concessions.

Any agreement on pensions and benefits would have to come with a condition, the union said: cops, community service officers and dispatchers could not be laid off during the life of the union's current contract, which runs to 2013.

Police officers agreed to their current contract in 2009, delaying raises in the process. That agreement avoided police layoffs at the time.

July 1, 2011
Public safety unions criticize mayor, want closer look at budget

The city public safety unions are firing back at Mayor Kevin Johnson after the mayor told reporters this week that the police union must discuss pension reform if it wants to save the jobs of cops.

In a letter to the mayor, Brent Meyer, the head of the police union, and firefighter union boss Jaymes Butler said the mayor's comments "deeply concern us and leave us more frustrated than ever."

Police officers and firefighters do not pay into their pensions. If they did, city budget officials said it would save the city millions.

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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