City Beat

News, insight and discussion on Sacramento and its neighborhoods

August 20, 2013
Sacramento City Council eases restrictions on 'big-box' stores

The Sacramento City Council eased the city's restrictions of big-box superstores Tuesday night following a contentious two-hour debate that pitted some of the region's top business interests against influential labor leaders.

By a 6-2 vote, the council erased most of a 2006 ordinance that required superstore chains to conduct wage and benefit studies of nearby businesses before being permitted to build new facilities. Complex economic impact studies will also be waived for stores seeking to expand, or open in "food deserts" or some major planned developments.

The City Council chambers were packed for the hearing, with those who opposed easing the restrictions outnumbering those who advocated for easing the restrictions by a 2-1 margin.

August 20, 2013
Sacramento arena supporters want Hansen to not file petitions he financed

Sacramento's arena boosters want Chris Hansen to do more than apologize for financing an effort to derail the project. They want him to shred the signatures his money funded that could send the arena plan to the June 2014 ballot.

In a letter sent Monday, members of the campaign asked Hansen to "not allow these petitions" to be used in the arena vote effort. The letter can be found here: HansenLetter.pdf

Hansen, who tried to buy the Kings this spring and move them to Seattle, was revealed last week as the secret financier of a campaign to collect signatures for a ballot measure that would require voter approval of sports facility subsidies in the city. He made a $100,000 contribution to the campaign on June 21 through Los Angeles law firm Loeb & Loeb, campaign finance records show.

August 20, 2013
Sacramento makes progress against tobacco sales to minors

Sales of tobacco to minors in Sacramento have plummeted in the nine years since the City Council enacted strict rules on retailers, city officials said.

Bob Rose, a code enforcement manager with the city, said that between 8 and 10 percent of retailers were discovered selling tobacco to underage decoys this year. Those numbers are less than half the retailers found to be selling to minors when the council adopted a tobacco ordinance in 2004, Rose said.

Under the ordinance, tobacco retailers must purchase a license from the city to operate. That $370 licensing fees pays for the store inspections.

August 15, 2013
FPPC files lawsuit seeking identity of Sacramento arena vote funders

The state's political watchdog is filing a lawsuit today in Sacramento Superior Court seeking the identity of the funders behind a campaign to force a vote on the city's arena subsidy.

The Fair Political Practices Commission plans to file the injunction this afternoon against Los Angeles law firm Loeb & Loeb, charging the firm has "failed and refused" to report the source of the money.

Loeb & Loeb paid Tulare-based political consultant Olson Campaigns $80,000 on June 21 to pay for signature gatherers collecting petitions for a proposed ballot measure that would require voter approval of subsidies for sports facilities in the city, according to a the FPPC complaint.

August 14, 2013
Sacramento arena vote campaign says it's more than halfway to signature goal

The campaign seeking a public vote on the city's arena subsidy said this morning it has collected more than half the signatures it needs for the proposed June ballot measure.

Sacramento Taxpayers Opposed to Pork (STOP) also said it will continue in its effort using only volunteers as it pushes to collected 22,000 valid signatures from city voters by mid-December. STOP also sought to separate itself from the paid signature effort that has come under scrutiny amid an inquiry into who was funding that side of the campaign, describing itself in a press release as "a fiercely independent, grass-roots organization."

Still, the signatures that STOP is counting toward its goal include those collected by paid signature gatherers, said John Hyde, a spokesman for the group. Those signatures were funded through an $80,000 payment to a political consultant by Loeb & Loeb, the law firm that represented the Maloofs when the family struck a deal to sell the Sacramento Kings to a group in Seattle.

August 13, 2013
FPPC still reviewing - not investigating - arena signature money

The state's political watchdog is still in the process of reviewing allegations that the funding for a signature drive seeking to derail the city's arena plan was not properly reported. However, the Fair Political Practices Commission has not yet launched a formal investigation, as a pro-arena campaign group announced in a press release today.

Gary Winuk, chief of the FPPC's enforcement division, said only that the commission is reviewing the case and that no decision has been made on whether a formal investigation has opened yet.

"We can, however, gather information and request compliance during our review period," Winuk said. Winuk previously said that the FPPC would review the case for about two weeks before a decision on whether to investigate would be made.

August 12, 2013
Kings pay city $1.4 million owed from 1997 loan agreement

The new Kings ownership made good on a debt last week that was 16 years in the making.

City officials announced Friday they had received $1.4 million in deferred development fees from the team that stems from the 1997 loan the Kings took out with the city. Those fees were originally due last August and will be earmarked for public projects in North Natomas.

Assistant City Manager John Dangberg said the Maloof family, who sold the Kings in May to a group led by Silicon Valley software executive Vivek Ranadive, had inquired last year about paying the fees back over a 10-year period. The fees were then included as part of the sale agreement the Maloofs had to sell the Kings to a group in Seattle.

August 8, 2013
Kings ask for city's help to buy key Downtown Plaza site

The new Sacramento Kings ownership group has been unable to buy a parcel at Downtown Plaza seen as vital to the development of a new arena. Now, the group has asked City Hall for assistance, with the threat of eminent domain looming as a potential negotiating tactic.

The City Council on Tuesday will be asked to allow staffers to help in the Kings' negotiations to buy the Macy's men's store from a New York-based real estate firm. Under the agreement, the Kings will reimburse the city for all costs incurred through those negotiations, including the property purchase and legal fees.

While describing the tactic as a last resort not yet needed, city officials said they could eventually exercise eminent domain to acquire the property at 600 K St. That step would require City Council approval.

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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