City Beat

News, insight and discussion on Sacramento and its neighborhoods

November 30, 2012
Warren, Hansen declared winners in Sacramento council races

With the vote count finalized today, developer Allen Warren and biotech firm manager Steve Hansen have been elected to the Sacramento City Council.

Sacramento County elections officials released a final tally this afternoon that found Hansen had defeated architect Joe Yee by 173 votes in the race for District 4, the seat representing the Central City, Land Park and part of South Natomas. That slim margin existed after more than 26,000 votes were counted.

In north Sacramento, Warren prevailed over former Councilman Rob Kerth by 206 votes. A total of 13,281 votes were cast in that district. We'll update the blog as soon as I hear back from the candidates.

November 28, 2012
Mayor Johnson names new chief of staff

Mayor Kevin Johnson has named a new chief of staff.

Daniel Conway will take over the post on Monday. He was most recently the Legislative and Public Affairs Director for the California Restaurant Association.

The mayor's office also announced that Helen Hewitt would be joining the staff as director of constituent affairs. Hewitt has held various posts at City Hall, including district director of former Councilwoman Lauren Hammond.

November 27, 2012
Warren appears headed for victory over Kerth in Sacramento council race

Developer Allen Warren, a native son of Del Paso Heights, appears to have been elected to the Sacramento City Council to represent the neighborhoods of north Sacramento.

In election results updated today, Warren led Rob Kerth - the area's former councilman - by 198 votes. That's a big increase over the 35-vote advantage Warren held last week. More than 13,000 votes have been counted.

Meanwhile, Steve Hansen - a biotech firm manager and downtown resident - maintained his lead over architect Joe Yee. Hansen leads by 135 votes, roughly the same margin as the last update. That race appears too close to call.

November 21, 2012
Handful of votes still separate candidates in Sacramento council races

County elections officials are down to 27,000 provisional ballots left to count. And even at that late stage, two City Council races remain divided by razor thin margins.

In a surprising development after results were updated today, Allen Warren has taken the lead over Rob Kerth in the race for the north Sacramento council seat. But Warren leads Kerth by just 35 votes after 12,697 votes were tallied.

Meanwhile, Steve Hansen maintained his lead over Joe Yee in the District 4 race in Land Park, the Central City and the River Oaks neighborhood of South Natomas. But Hansen's lead is still slim; just 139 votes separate the candidates after nearly 25,000 votes were tallied.

November 20, 2012
Winter housing program for homeless gets financial boost

Mayor Kevin Johnson announced this morning that faith, business and elected leaders had raised enough money to fund the Winter Sanctuary program that houses 100 homeless men and women every night in houses of worship.

With a check for $50,000 from Wells Fargo, this is the first time the program has been fully funded before the start of the winter season, the mayor said. All together, 27 congregations have signed on to house homeless people every night at a total cost for the season of $150,000.

"Sacramento is no longer sweeping homelessness under the rug," the mayor said.

November 19, 2012
Two weeks later, two City Council races remain too tight to call

The outcomes of two City Council races remained practically unchanged in results posted today - meaning both races are still too close to call.

Rob Kerth widened his lead slightly over developer Allen Warren in the north Sacramento council race. Kerth now leads Warren by 169 votes - an increase of 14 votes - with more than 12,000 votes tallied in District 2.

In District 4, Steve Hansen maintained his lead over Joe Yee. Hansen leads Yee by 151 votes in the campaign for the seat covering Land Park, the Central City and the River Oaks section of South Natomas. Nearly 25,000 votes have been counted.

November 15, 2012
Poker room given permission to move to Woodlake hotel

Despite opposition from some neighborhood residents, City Manager John Shirey has approved an application by the owners of the Casino Royale card room to move to the Red Lion Hotel at Woodlake.

Shirey said in an email today to the City Council that he does "not expect a spike in either traffic or criminal activity will result from the relocation." Casino Royale is currently located on Auburn Boulevard.

Rival card room owners had also expressed concern with the move, saying Casino Royale could move to create a "mega card room" in the larger Red Lion Hotel. But the owners of the Casino Royale said they had no intention of purchasing the license for another card room and city code prohibits two poker rooms to co-locate at the same address.

November 15, 2012
Hansen expands lead over Yee in Sacramento council race

One City Council race is getting closer. In the other, one of the candidates has begun to widen his lead.

Former Councilman Rob Kerth saw his lead over Allen Warren decrease to 155 votes in the race for the north Sacramento council seat after nearly 12,000 votes were counted, according to results updated today. Kerth had led Warren by 200 votes earlier this week.

In the District 4 race, Steve Hansen now leads Joe Yee by 160 votes. Hansen had led Yee by 108 votes earlier this week in his attempt to represent Land Park, the Central City and the River Oaks neighborhood of South Natomas. More than 25,000 votes have been counted in that district, which is close to the total number both campaigns had projected.

November 14, 2012
Sacramento denied bid for NCAA basketball tournament games

Once again, Sacramento has been passed over by the NCAA.

The city and Sleep Train Arena are not on the list of venues hosting NCAA men's basketball tournament games in 2014 or 2015. That list was released earlier this week.

Sacramento sports officials were surprised earlier this year when the NCAA asked them to apply to host tournament games after being denied a bid in 2009. An NCAA official told The Bee in September that Sacramento and its arena met the standards for host venues, including having an arena seating at least 12,000, a major airport and hotels.

November 13, 2012
Sacramento City Council races still too tight to declare winners

Both City Council races remain too close to call.

In results updated this afternoon, biotech manager Steve Hansen has taken the lead over architect Joe Yee in the race for District 4 in Land Park and the Central City. But Hansen's lead is just 108 votes with more than 22,000 counted, meaning the race won't be decided for at least a few more days.

North Sacramento's race is also very close, with the area's former councilman, Rob Kerth, holding a 200-vote lead over Allen Warren. That's after 10,582 votes were tallied.

November 13, 2012
If Obama calls, Mayor Johnson says he won't leave Sacramento

He spent a good chunk of the fall campaigning for President Obama outside California. But Mayor Kevin Johnson insists he's not trying to position himself for an appointment in Washington.

Asked today by a KCRA reporter whether he would consider accepting a job offer by Obama, the mayor said he was "100 percent committed to Sacramento." The mayor was re-elected to a second term in June, but has yet to be officially sworn in for that term.

"This is the city I love," he said. "I could live anywhere, I came back here (after retiring from the NBA), this is going to be my resting place, I know it. There is nothing I could imagine that I would ever do that would require me to live anywhere but Sacramento."

November 13, 2012
Literacy program launched by Mayor Johnson recognized

A third grade literacy program launched by Mayor Kevin Johnson has received a national accolade.

Sacramento Reads, which places volunteer tutors in city schools, was recognized today with a Pacesetter Honor by the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. The mayor's initiative seeks to have 80 percent of third graders reading at grade level by 2020; fewer than 40 percent read at grade level now.

"We can and we must get our kids reading by the end of third grade if we are serious about having them graduate from high school, ready for college, ready for careers, ready to contribute to our nation's participation in the global economy and to end intergenerational poverty," said Ralph Smith, the managing director for the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.

November 12, 2012
Cost to rebuild McKinley Park playground after arson: $690,000

The effort to rebuild the destroyed McKinley Park playground now has a price tag.

The City Council is being asked Tuesday night to approve a budget for a $686,379 project to rebuild the play structure, which was torched by a suspected arsonist in July. That money will come from a mixture of sources, including insurance settlements and fees collected from developers.

On top of that cash, city officials said donations collected from the public will be used to purchase materials used by volunteers in the construction effort. So far, more than $100,000 in donations have been made, with another fundraiser scheduled for Thursday from 4 to 8 p.m. at Downtown Ford on N. 16th Street.

November 9, 2012
Sacramento council, claw races remain too close to call

Both Sacramento City Council races remain too close to call after election results were updated this afternoon.

Former Councilman Rob Kerth has increased his lead over developer Allen Warren in north Sacramento. Kerth has 51 percent of the vote to Warren's 49 percent, a difference of 215 votes. That margin was just 63 votes earlier in the week.

The District 4 race is even tighter. Architect Joe Yee has taken back the lead in the latest results and now has a 46-vote advantage over biotech firm manager Steve Hansen. In results posted Wednesday, Hansen led by 28 votes.

November 9, 2012
With updates coming, many close calls in Sacramento elections

County election officials expect to update the results of Tuesday's election this afternoon and there are a few city races worth monitoring.

The closest race in the city - and maybe anywhere - is in City Council District 4, where just 28 votes separate biotech firm manager Steve Hansen and architect Joe Yee. That slim margin exists even after more than 16,000 ballots have been tallied in Land Park, the Central City and the River Oaks section of South Natomas.

In north Sacramento, 63 votes is the difference between Rob Kerth and Allen Warren. Kerth seems pretty confident in the final result, telling people on Facebook this week that it "looks good" and saying, "What a wonderful feeling it is to know that about half the people of North Sacramento have decided that I am the person to lead our community forward."

November 7, 2012
Sacramento sales tax approval likely means beefed up public safety

City Hall is suddenly entering unfamiliar territory: posting a help wanted sign.

With the passage of Measure U on Tuesday, city officials have begun assessing what they plan to do with the estimated $28 million in revenue an increase in the sales tax will provide the city.

City Manager John Shirey and two council members told me today the immediate focus would be on replenishing the ranks of the public safety agencies. There's talk of hiring more than 100 cops, bringing back specialty investigative units and ending rotating closures of fire department rigs.

November 7, 2012
Razor thin margins continue in Sacramento council races

The two Sacramento City Council races remain incredibly close.

Results updated just after midnight Wednesday morning showed a difference of just 28 votes separating biotech firm manager Steve Hansen and architect Joe Yee in the race for District 4, the seat representing Land Park, the Central City and the River Oaks section of South Natomas. Hansen held the slim margin over Yee with 16,220 votes counted.

In north Sacramento, the area's former councilman Rob Kerth led developer Allen Warren by 63 votes after 7,949 ballots were counted.

With many more ballots left to be counted, it could be days before either race is determined.

November 6, 2012
Sacramento sales tax measure passes, charter panel fails

Voters in the city of Sacramento have approved an increase in the sales tax to fund core services such as police and fire protection, parks maintenance and pool hours.

With more than 71,000 votes counted, Measure U led 62 percent to 38 percent late Tuesday. The measure calls for increasing the city sales tax from 7.75 percent to 8.25 percent - a hike that city officials said would generate $28 million a year for the budget.

Meanwhile, a measure seeking to create an elected charter commission failed by a large margin. With 69,364 ballots counted, Measure M trailed 75 percent to 25 percent.

Two City Council races remain too close to call.

November 6, 2012
Sacramento sales tax measure leading, charter panel losing

A measure seeking to raise the sales tax in the city of Sacramento by one half of a percent was leading by a wide margin in early returns tonight.

Another measure seeking to create an elected charter commission was losing overwhelmingly.

And a proposal to alter green waste collection by allowing the city to require green waste bins was passing by a slim margin.

November 5, 2012
Mayor Johnson hosting election night party at new K Street bar

His own re-election already assured in the primary, Mayor Kevin Johnson is holding a party Tuesday night - and he's inviting everyone.

The mayor is hosting an election night party at the new Oishii Sushi Bar & Grill at 1000 K St. The party is scheduled to run from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.

If you're interested in attending, the mayor's office asks that you RSVP to

November 2, 2012
Vote - and then get a flu shot - in Sacramento on Tuesday

Feeling a bit under the weather about your decision at the polls on Tuesday? County election officials have you covered.

Officials announced today they will provide flu vaccinations at three polling stations: the Fruitridge Christian Church, 4445 Fruitridge Rd. from 9:30 a.m. to noon; the Pannell Community Center, 2450 Meadowview Rd. from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and the elections office at 7000 65th Parkway from noon to 5 p.m.

"We think this is the perfect time to get a flu shot, especially for susceptible populations like the elderly who just happen to be one of the highest propensity voting groups," said Sacramento Supervisor Phil Serna.

November 1, 2012
Sacramento council campaign getting tense in final days

Hansenmailer.jpegAfter weeks of cordiality, the race for the city's most coveted council seat has gotten a bit contentious.

One candidate has filed a complaint with the state's political watchdog, charging the opposition with failing to report rent paid or donated for campaign office space. And the other side has taken issue with a campaign mailer they said implies President Obama has taken a position in the race.

First the mailer. Steve Hansen, one of the two candidates running for the seat covering Land Park, the Central City and the River Oaks section of South Natomas, sent out a piece this week featuring a photograph of the president. Under the picture, it reads, "Democratic Leaders & Progressive Organizations Support Steve Hansen for Sacramento City Council."

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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