City Beat

News, insight and discussion on Sacramento and its neighborhoods

July 30, 2013
Turner Construction selected to build new Sacramento arena

The Sacramento Kings ownership group has hired Turner Construction to build the planned arena at Downtown Plaza, the team announced today.

Turner Construction is the firm building Levi's Stadium, the new facility for the San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara. Turner also built the new Terminal B at Sacramento International Airport.

Kings president Chris Granger, who began his duties in Sacramento on Monday, said Turner is "the best in the business."

July 30, 2013
Mayor: Sacramento, Elk Grove should join forces in Major League Soccer push

Mayor Kevin Johnson thinks Sacramento is a great fit for Major League Soccer. He apparently also thinks Elk Grove would be a great spot, too.

Johnson told reporters today that he'd like to see two potential MLS ownership groups combine forces in an effort to lure the league to the Sacramento region.

One of those groups, led by Warren Smith, is the driving force behind the USL Pro squad called Sacramento Republic FC that is scheduled to begin playing next year at Hughes Stadium. The other group, led by former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez and Elk Grove Mayor Gary Davis, is trying to lure MLS and build a stadium in Elk Grove.

July 29, 2013
Sacramento arena vote campaign escalates with robocalls

The campaign over whether to hold a public vote on the city's arena financing plan continued to escalate over the weekend.

In a tactic not normally seen in off-election periods, a coalition of Kings fans, building industry groups and labor organizations trying to avoid a vote on the arena made a robocall to city voters on Sunday. The call can be heard here.

Joshua Wood, the head of Region Builders, a building coalition that has spearheaded the anti-vote campaign, said the call went to more than 56,000 voters. He said the call was paid for by the groups that are funding the campaign, a full list of whom can be found here.

July 26, 2013
Arena vote campaign: opposition made up press release quote

Another day, another turn in the increasingly tense campaign to seek a public vote on the city's arena subsidy.

This time, it's the pro-vote campaign that's lobbing charges that the other side is misleading voters. Representatives with Taxpayers for Safer Neighborhoods and Sacramento Taxpayers Opposed to Pork (STOP) today publicized a draft press release from the anti-vote side that shows a quote attributed to "CITIZEN TO BE NAMED."

Later versions of the press released, issued by pro-arena groups Region Builders and Crown Downtown, attach the quote to a Sacramento resident named Linda Cano. The early version of the release can be found here: DowntownArenarelease.pdf

July 24, 2013
Sacramento making progress on copper theft crime wave

Public works crews and a police task force in Sacramento are finally beginning to beat back a crime wave that City Manager John Shirey once called "an epidemic."

Copper wire thefts of city property have been cut by 40 percent since 2011, officials told the City Council on Tuesday. At the same time, the wait period for city crews to repair damaged street lights has dwindled, from a backlog of one year in many cases to 30-day turnarounds.

It hasn't been a cheap effort. The city has spent $1.7 million in labor and materials costs since 2010.

July 24, 2013
'Inside Out' art project shown today in downtown Sacramento

InsideOutProject_Flier_Sacramento.jpgAn art project that has travelled the world sets up shop in downtown today.

The "Inside Out Project," by Parisian street artist J R, will be at 9th and L streets from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The traveling art installation allows people to take photos of themselves and post those photos on a wall to be part of the growing international movement.

While the project has aimed to support different causes in different counties, it is being touted as way to promote immigration reform in its stop here.

July 23, 2013
Video: Sacramento arena vote campaign worker misleads

A group trying to block an effort to place the city's arena financing subsidy before the voters released a video this week that shows a campaign worker making misleading statements as she tries to collect signatures for the initiative.

The video - posted on - shows the signature gatherer tell a man carrying a camera that the city is raising taxes to come up with its subsidy for the arena at the Downtown Plaza. A tax hike is not part of the city's plan.

That campaign worker is part of a group seeking to gather enough signatures to place the arena subsidy on the June 2014 ballot. Two affiliated groups are involved in that effort: STOP, a Sacramento-based committee, and Taxpayers for Safer Neighborhoods, a political action committee based in Orange County.

July 22, 2013
Plan for museum with mounted exotic animals in Sacramento delayed

The wealthy couple seeking to stock a proposed Sacramento waterfront natural history museum with their collection of mounted exotic animals is delaying the plan.

Following community concerns and issues raised about the design of the project by the city's planning commission, Paul and Renee Snider are delaying a request to buy land for the museum until next year.

The Sniders plan to build a $15 million facility on Front Street, across from the city animal shelter, to house a new automobile museum and a museum displaying hundreds of animals the couple has hunted. The couple decided to delay the project last week following a planning commission meeting at which the project was discussed.

July 16, 2013
Sacramento mayor, city manager oppose Delta water tunnels


Mayor Kevin Johnson and City Manager John Shirey both expressed their opposition today to Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal to build giant tunnels that would divert water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to farms and cities in Central and Southern California.

Speaking at a groundbreaking event for a new water treatment plant north of downtown, the mayor said he expressed his opposition directly to Brown during a recent meeting with the governor and mayors of the state's big cities. Johnson expressed concerns over the tunnels' impact on the region's water supply and habitat.

"For us, we want to be good stewards," the mayor said. "I'm going to speak out any chance I get."

July 15, 2013
Group now aiming for Sacramento arena vote in June 2014

The group trying to force a public vote on the city's plan to subsidize a new Kings arena downtown has given up on the idea of holding a special election this year and will instead aim for the June 2014 ballot.

Sacramento Taxpayers Opposed to Pork (STOP) said Monday that efforts to collect signatures from city residents who want the public vote is going well, but that the group was unable to gather enough signatures before today's deadline to force a special election.

Instead, the group now has until Dec. 16 to file 22,000 signatures from registered city voters.

July 12, 2013
Sacramento Animal shelter surprised by plans for nearby mounted animal exhibit

The revelation that a wealthy couple is planning to build a new natural history and auto museum to house their personal collection of mounted exotic animals surprised a lot of people. None more than Gina Knepp.

Knepp is the director of the city animal shelter, which stands directly across Front Street from where Paul and Renee Snider hope to fill a 60,000-square-foot exhibit space with stuffed bears, lions, rhinos, deer and other creatures. The collection would be combined with a new 100,000-square-foot auto museum that would replace the existing California Automobile Museum.

Knepp had heard rumblings about the plan for the new auto museum. But it wasn't until she read Thursday's Bee that she realized the mounted animals were part of the plan, too.

July 11, 2013
What happened to City Suds in midtown Sacramento?


Some prime real estate in midtown appears in flux.

City Suds, that quirky laundromat at 19th and L streets, is closed and surrounded by a chain link fence. I'm not sure how long it's been closed, but it's apparently been at least a few weeks.

Both numbers for the business are disconnected, as is the home number for the woman who was listed as the owner.

July 10, 2013
Sacramento Kings hire top NBA executive as new president

A high-ranking marketing and business executive with the NBA has been named the new president of the Sacramento Kings.

Chris Granger, an NBA executive for 14 years, will oversee the team's role in the development of a new downtown sports arena and its business operations.

He'll report to Kings principal owner Vivek Ranadive and oversee the franchise's executive team, including president of business operations Matina Kolokotronis and chief financial officer John Rinehart. General Manager Pete D'Alessandro will oversee player personnel issues.

July 9, 2013
Three seek leap from Sacramento City Hall to Capitol

City Hall has long been viewed as a springboard to the state Capitol or other higher office. The line for the springboard is particularly long right now.

Three council members are trying to make the leap to the state Assembly - Steve Cohn, Darrell Fong and Kevin McCarty. They're attempting to follow in the footsteps of five other City Hall politicians who have won seats in the Assembly since the 1980s.

The campaigns will make for some interesting council dynamics between now and next June's primary. McCarty and Cohn are running against one another for Assembly District 7, which represents most of the city, West Sacramento, and parts of Antelope and North Highlands.

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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