City Beat

News, insight and discussion on Sacramento and its neighborhoods

September 5, 2013
Police begin arrests of Wal-Mart protesters in downtown Sacramento

Roughly 75 people are taking part in a protest against Wal-Mart at downtown's Cesar Chavez Plaza and police have begun arresting some of those involved. Sacramento police had arrested nine protesters as of 5:20 p.m.

The protesters are charging that the giant retail chain underpays its workers and has retaliated against employees who called for better jobs. The protest is one of many taking place around the country.

Assemblymembers Roger Dickinson, Richard Pan and Lorena Gonzalez were expected to attend the event, which was put together by the Organization United for Respect at Walmart, also known as OUR Walmart.

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 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.

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 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 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 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 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.

May 22, 2013
Murals popping up in downtown Sacramento

Downtown has become a neighborhood of murals.

In the last few days, the central city's public art collection has expanded with a few new installations.

That includes the first couple of murals to be placed at the corner of 8th and K streets. The art is part of the Downtown Mural Project, sponsored by the Downtown Sacramento Partnership.

May 22, 2013
Seven new Kings owners, former players Webber, Richmond to attend rally

The lineup is set for Thursday's fan rally to celebrate the Kings' future in Sacramento.

Seven members of the new ownership group - including managing partner Vivek Ranadive - are scheduled to attend the free event, which runs from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at downtown's Cesar Chavez Plaza. Ranadive will be joined by partners Paul Jacobs, Raj Bhathal, Mark Mastrov, Mark Friedman, Andrew Miller and Chris Kelly at the rally.

Are you going to the rally? Look for our Snapshots photographer. See all of our Snapshots galleries.

Kings legends Mitch Richmond and Chris Webber will attend, along with current Kings Tyreke Evans and Isaiah Thomas. Former players Scot Pollard and Bobby Jackson are also slated to make appearances.

March 22, 2013
Conceptual drawings of new Kings arena released by city

arena concept.pngThe city still hasn't nailed down a plan to finance the project, but today it released what it is calling a conceptual drawing showing a new Kings arena at the Downtown Plaza site.

The drawing, by architectural firm AECOM, show the arena facing L Street between 5th and 6th streets.

It also shows a line of new towers along J Street along the northern border of what is now the mall and a tree-lined pedestrian walkway area on K Street on the western edge of the plaza.

As of 3 p.m. today, city officials had not come to an agreement with billionaire Ron Burkle over the financing of the arena. City Manager John Shirey is still aiming to have the financing term sheet completed in time for the City Council to vote on the plan Tuesday night.

March 15, 2013
Sacramento plans three public forums to discuss arena plan

Responding to calls from the public and City Council for a more open discussion about the details of an arena financing plan, the city has now scheduled three forums next week to discuss the proposal.

The city is still negotiating the plan for an arena at Downtown Plaza with billionaire Ron Burkle and does not expect to release the details until Thursday.

The first forum is scheduled to be held that evening, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at City Hall, 915 I St. Another forum is slated for a week from today from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Robertson Center, 3525 Norwood Ave. The third forum is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on March 23 at the Pannell Center, 2450 Meadowview Rd.

March 12, 2013
Sacramento city manager: Talks on arena financing plan going well

Sacramento City Manager John Shirey told the City Council tonight that "talks are progressing well" between city negotiators and the investors seeking to build a new sports arena at the Downtown Plaza.

Top city officials are in intense talks with billionaire Ron Burkle over the financing of a new arena. That facility would house the Kings should the NBA reject a deal the team's owners have to sell the franchise to a group in Seattle.

Shirey said he remains on track to deliver a financing term sheet to the council in time for a vote March 26. He said he is hopeful that term sheet will be made available to the council and public March 21.

March 11, 2013
City seeks feedback from public on Downtown Plaza arena plan

Think a new arena at the Downtown Plaza should have a giant cowbell statue out front? Have a favorite restaurant you'd like to see nearby? Think the whole idea is just plain lousy?

Tell the city.

City Hall is seeking input on the proposal to build a new sports arena at the lagging Downtown Plaza through its Envision Sacramento website. The survey can be found here.

March 5, 2013
Sacramento city manager wants council vote on arena deal March 26

Sacramento City Manager John Shirey said tonight that he intends to bring a financing term sheet for a new downtown sports arena to the City Council for a vote at the council's March 26 meeting.

Shirey had previously said he wanted that council vote to take place April 2, but said tonight that "was cutting it close" for the NBA's Board of Governors meeting just more than two weeks later. The league will decide during that April 18 and 19 session whether to approve the Kings' sale to a group in Seattle seeking to move the franchise to the Pacific Northwest.

The city manager said he expects negotiations to begin next week with billionaire Ron Burkle and 24 Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov over the arena financing plan. He said he and other top city officials, along with a team of consultants, has spent the past two days preparing for those talks.

February 25, 2013
Sacramento councilman wants to combat bike thefts

Midtown might be the city's most bike-centric neighborhood. It's also a haven for bike theft.

As a result, the area's new councilman - downtown resident Steve Hansen - is asking city officials to start looking at ways to combat what is a major quality of life issue in the Central City.

Hansen's idea is to create a bicycle registry through the police department and city to help keep tabs on bikes. Right now, there are few ways to track stolen bikes. Many owners don't even bother filing reports when their ride is stolen. And when they are found, bikes go unclaimed, accumulating in a police warehouse, Hansen said.

February 15, 2013
Murals to add artistic touch to K Street as area awaits development

Looking to tap into the city's burgeoning mural scene, downtown officials are seeking entries from artists willing to provide a cosmetic upgrade to a blighted corner of K Street.

The Downtown Mural Project, launched by the Downtown Sacramento Partnership, will result in up to 14 murals being placed on walls surrounding a vacant stretch of the 800 block of K streets, where previous buildings collapsed or were demolished. For the last few years, a fence standing at that corner has been draped with an advertisement for downtown activities.

"The murals on the 800 block are the start of a conversation with the community and a way to make small--albeit cosmetic--short-term changes in the physical environment," said Michael Ault, the executive director of the Downtown Sacramento Partnership.

January 31, 2013
City Hall analyzing potential arena at Downtown Plaza

In another indication of how seriously City Hall is taking the prospect of an arena at Downtown Plaza, City Manager John Shirey's office has launched a feasibility analysis of the site.

That analysis will examine the different locations at the Downtown Plaza site where an arena could fit, an arena's impact on utilities and the transportation infrastructure near the site. JMA Ventures, the firm that bought the mall last year, conducted its own feasibility study of placing an arena at the mall.

Billionaire Ron Burkle - who along with 24 Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov is discussing a bid to buy the Sacramento Kings - has advocated directly to NBA Commissioner David Stern for building an arena at Downtown Plaza.

September 27, 2012
Sacramento Council approves use of K Street building for gym

The Sacramento City Council has approved the use of a pivotal K Street property as a California Family Fitness and granted the gym a parking validation program.

California Family Fitness is in lease discussions with the building's owner, developer David Taylor. The building is adjacent to the Dive Bar/Pizza Rock/District 30 entertainment complex.

City officials hope that the gym - which would be at 1012 K St. - will serve as an amenity to attract young professionals and new residents to the downtown area. The gym plans to build a full-service fitness center, along with a rooftop lounge.

September 24, 2012
City rejects plan to revive New Year's ball drop on K Street

Citing security and traffic concerns, City Hall has rejected an application by some downtown merchants to revive a Times Square-style ball drop on New Year's Eve along K Street.

In a letter sent last month to Dale Robertson - co-owner of the Parlare Euro Lounge at 10th and J - city Neighborhood Services director Vincene Jones wrote the proposed event "would not be consistent with the sound use of city resources, and may be detrimental to the public's safety and welfare." The city's letter can be found here: BallDrop.pdf

Jones wrote that city officials met with the California Highway Patrol and Regional Transit before determining the ball drop was too much to handle. In order to pull of the event and the annual fireworks display in Old Sacramento, the city would need "additional security and traffic control resources," Jones wrote.

September 21, 2012
California Family Fitness plans move to K Street

A key property in the ongoing redevelopment of K Street is about to get a tenant.

California Family Fitness has proposed moving into an empty storefront at 1012 K St., wedged between the rebranded K Bar and the entertainment complex that houses Pizza Rock, the District 30 nightclub and Dive Bar.

Several ideas had been mentioned as potential uses for the property, including a sports bar or retail. But California Family Fitness approached the city this summer and plans to turn the space into a gym with "an urban flair," according to a city staff report.

September 18, 2012
Mayors urge investment in transit, infrastructure to aid recovery

Flanked by his counterparts from West Sacramento and Fresno, Mayor Kevin Johnson today promoted investment in infrastructure as a path to guiding cities into economic recovery.

Johnson pointed to a series of projects in the city that he sees as economic priorities, including work on a new downtown transit hub, expanding light rail to the airport and building additional bridges across the Sacramento River.

"We have aging infrastructure and (investing in those projects) is something that we have to do," he said, referencing a July report from the U.S. Conference of Mayors that calls for increased investment in transportation and other infrastructure projects. "We have to make that a priority."

August 17, 2012
What does the future hold for Sacramento's Downtown Plaza?

Got ideas for Downtown Plaza?

News this week that the mall had been purchased by JMA Ventures of San Francisco sent a wave of euphoria through downtown and City Hall. Naturally, the first thought on everyone's mind was what will become of a mall that city officials complain had been neglected by its former owner, Westfield.

I've heard a few ideas thrown about. More than one person has mentioned they'd like to see a ski and snowboarding shop in the mall - something that might connect well with JMA's other properties in the Lake Tahoe area. There's even been talk of a snowboarding half-pipe being set up inside the mall.

July 3, 2012
Mayor Johnson: Arena 'Plan B' won't work, focus will broaden

Mayor Kevin Johnson's "Plan B" for a downtown arena is officially dead.

AEG, the international arena operator tapped to help fund a proposed arena in the downtown railyard, has determined the project does not make economic sense without an anchor sports tenant. The Sacramento Kings pulled out of a plan to help finance an arena earlier this year.

"The economics just didn't pencil out," the mayor said, describing AEG's concerns. AEG had previously agreed to contribute $58.75 million toward the arena in exchange for operating the facility and receiving a large chunk of the profits.

June 25, 2012
Big box shows up on K Street, mystery ensues

Is it a new mermaid tank? A light rail station? An arena?

No, no and no. Actually, we don't really know what the city is building on K Street today, but it definitely has something to do with the environment.

City crews are constructing a 30 foot by 30 foot by 30 foot cube in Cathedral Square today, part of the Cut Your Cubes campaign. The box is made out of scaffolding and mesh fabric and will be in Cathedral Square until Thursday.

June 15, 2012
First light rail train rolls into station north of downtown Sacramento

The inaugural Sacramento light rail train on the Green Line rolled into a new station at 7th Street and Richards Boulevard this morning - another important step in the redevelopment of the industrial area north of downtown.

Elected officials who arrived on the first train could barely contain their excitement. Fireworks exploded as the green train arrived shortly before 11 a.m., met by more than 100 spectators.

"I am confident that the Green Line will lead us to a renaissance in the River District," said Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento, referring to the neighborhood surrounding the new station.

May 1, 2012
With 'Plan B' still in play, mayor acknowledges city won't have arena done by 2015

At the very least, the collapse of the city's arena plan has delayed the potential opening of a new facility.

As the city explores a "Plan B" to build a downtown arena without the Sacramento Kings, Mayor Kevin Johnson acknowledged today "we're not going to make 2015."

City officials had hoped to open a planned $391 million arena in the downtown railyard in time for the 2015/16 NBA season. That plan fell apart after the Kings' owners pulled out of a handshake agreement to help finance the project. As a result, pre-development work on the arena has been halted, making the city's target date unrealistic.

May 1, 2012
First phase of facelift for downtown Sacramento's Chavez Plaza completed

City crews have put the finishing touches on weeks of renovations to downtown's Cesar Chavez Plaza. And just in time for the park's peak season.

The first two phases of a major facelift of the park were completed just before the farmer's market returns to the plaza on Wednesday. The Friday Night Concert in the Park series kicks off on Friday.

So far, crews have installed raised planters at the corner entries to the plaza; put in new benches; made landscaping improvements; and replaced half the turf in the park. The $300,000 in work was funded by Quimby Act dollars collected from private development projects in the area.

April 19, 2012
NBA's Stern: 'Cooling off period' might be best in Sacramento arena effort

NBA Commissioner David Stern said today that it might be best for the city and the Maloofs to go through a "cooling off period" in the arena saga.

In a meeting with the Associated Press Sports editors, Stern added it was "unfortunate to not be able to deliver on what was a very promising situation." He had nothing more to add on the arena situation, according to AP reports.

April 19, 2012
Councilman: Even with arena deal gone, Sacramento should still explore squeezing more out of downtown parking

Following the collapse of the city's arena deal, the proposal's most ardent opponent says the city should still explore generating cash out of its parking operations.

Councilman Kevin McCarty told me this week the city is "sitting on an untapped asset to potentially make this city millions annually."

Mayor Kevin Johnson and City Manager John Shirey had proposed monetizing downtown parking - either through leasing those assets to a private firm or creating a city-run parking authority - to generate as much as $250 million for the proposed downtown sports arena.

April 2, 2012
No I-5 deck, but Sacramento still wants better downtown-river connections

It's been the dream of city planners for years: covering I-5 in downtown with a massive deck and eliminating a noisy barrier between the center city and the Sacramento River.

While plans under discussion aren't quite as grand as they once were - planners once tossed around the idea of a project costing more than $100 million - City Hall does want to hire a firm to come up with some design ideas that will increase flow from downtown streets to the riverfront area.

The City Council will be asked on Tuesday to approve a $799,178 contract with Parsons Brinckerhoff for design plans that could eventually include a bridge over I-5 at N Street, extending 2nd Street out of Old Sacramento, creating a new "gateway intersection" into Old Sacramento from Capitol Mall and building new sidewalks. A lot of that work is designed to improve access from the Crocker Art Museum to Old Sacramento.

March 7, 2012
Live chat: Sacramento's path to a new arena

February 29, 2012
Sacramento will contribute $255 million to new arena

By Tony Bizjak, Ryan Lillis and Dale Kasler

Sacramento city officials will release details tomorrow of the arena deal reached earlier this week with the Kings, including this notable number: $255,530,000.

That's the amount Mayor Kevin Johnson and his negotiators agreed the city officially will contribute to building an arena in the downtown railyard by 2015.

The official price tag of the arena was also bumped up from $387 million to $391 million.

February 9, 2012
City staff narrows field of qualified firms interested in leasing Sacramento parking

Three of the 13 private firms that had expressed interest in leasing city-owned parking to help fund a new arena have been eliminated from the process.

Teams needed to "demonstrate strong financial resources and have a parking operator that has substantial experience managing both on and off-street parking assets," according to a city staff report released today.

Among the teams eliminated were local firm Revitalizing Sacramento LLC, made up of local parking operator Aaron Zeff and developer Larry Kelley. Bainbridge ZKS and CMB Export LLC were also crossed off the list.

February 3, 2012
Companies interested in Sacramento parking assets named

The 13 companies that responded to a request for firms interested in leasing city-owned parking operations includes several large companies specializing in parking assets, two partnerships with local ties and the largest single-profession pension plan in Canada.

City staff is examining the qualifications of each firm and is scheduled to go to the City Council on Feb. 14 to narrow down the list to the most qualified companies. After that, city staffers will ask the council to approve a formal request for proposals (RFP) that would lead to bids on the city's parking assets.

City officials are hoping to raise as much as $200 million from the leasing of downtown parking spaces, garages and enforcement. Officials have proposed using that upfront cash to help finance a new $387 million Kings arena in the downtown railyard.

January 27, 2012
City cops like arena - and the idea of handling game security

The city's powerful police union supports the plan to build a new Kings arena downtown. But this isn't simply an issue of public safety.

Mark Tyndale, the head of the Sacramento Police Officers Association, said his organization has been told city police officers would handle arena security during Kings games should the facility be built.

Since 1999, those duties have fallen to the Sacramento Sheriff's Department in a deal worked out between the team and former Sheriff Lou Blanas. It's an arrangement that has "always been a little bit of a thorn in our side," said Tyndale.

January 24, 2012
Downtown's Cesar Chavez Plaza to get a makeover

Cesar Chavez Plaza - the site of Occupy protests, rock concerts and farmer's markets - will be rehabbed starting Feb. 6.

City parks officials will place raised planters at the corner entries to the plaza, put planters along J Street, extend a walkway within the park, replace tables, install new benches and replace some turf with granite. The work is expected to be completed by the middle of March.

Two more phases of the makeover will follow. The project's first phase will cost $91,000 and is funded by Quimby Act dollars collected from private development projects in the area.

January 17, 2012
S.F. Giants owner to Sacramento: Arena worth the fight

San Francisco Giants president and CEO Larry Baer has this message for those trying to build a new downtown sports arena in Sacramento: "Don't give up."

Baer, the keynote speaker at this morning's State of Downtown breakfast at Memorial Auditorium, noted that the Giants organization tried multiple times to build its new ballpark before opening AT&T Park in 2000. Throughout those attempts, the franchise threatened to move twice and voters turned down four funding proposals.

"It can be done, don't give up," Baer said. "You must persevere, you must exercise patience, you must have strong leadership in the private and public sector."

January 12, 2012
Work begins on housing and retail project on 16th Street

It hasn't happened very often lately, but a groundbreaking ceremony was held this morning for a large multi-use real estate project in downtown.

By next year, 84 apartments and 13,000 square feet of retail will fill two Spanish-style buildings at the East End Gateway site at 16th and O streets. The $24 million project will create between 300 and 400 construction jobs.

Financing for the plan had been elusive, until developers Ravel Rasmussen Properties and Separovich/Domich received a $17.5 million construction loan from Union Bank.

January 12, 2012
City Beat poll: What to do with downtown parking assets

As the private sector begins to examine how much downtown's parking spaces, garages and enforcement operations are worth, I thought it might be worth gauging support for leasing those facilities to help build an arena.

You'll find a poll to the right with a couple of answers. But if you'd like to expand on your thoughts, please email me at

There are a few options.

December 30, 2011
With redevelopment money gone, effect on K Street mixed

As the dust settles over the state Supreme Court's ruling Thursday that redevelopment agencies can be eliminated, there's both good news and, well, uncertain news when it comes to K Street.

First, the good news. City development officials are confident that a large plan to revamp the 700 block of K Street will not face the threat of losing redevelopment funds.

In June, the City Council unanimously approved the development agreement and financing plan for the $47.7 million project. In doing so, the council allocated $14.7 million in redevelopment funds, an action that city downtown development manager Leslie Fritzsche said designated the money as "an enforceable obligation."

December 13, 2011
Sacramento council on verge of approving key arena vote

It appears the Sacramento City Council will approve tonight issuing a request for qualifications from companies interested in leasing the city's downtown parking operations, the key peg in the financing of a new arena.

Tony Bizjak tweets from the City Council meeting

Mayor Kevin Johnson and four council members have told The Bee in recent days they support issuing an RFQ. In addition to the mayor, Council members Steve Cohn, Rob Fong, Jay Schenirer and Kevin McCarty have all said they are open to the RFQ. Five votes are enough to pass the proposal.

The RFQ is a key step in the arena financing model, but it isn't the biggest step. That will come early next year, when the City Council - armed with a complete financing package that also includes contributions from the NBA, Sacramento Kings and arena operator AEG - will decide whether to issue a request for proposals seeking formal bids for the parking assets.

November 17, 2011
Sacramento looks to Kansas City for lessons on arena deal

Proponents of a new downtown Sacramento sports arena think they have a pretty good model to follow in Kansas City.

That Midwestern city - which is comparable in size to Sacramento - opened the Sprint Center in 2007. The $276 million downtown arena was financed through both private and public sources and, even without a professional sports team as an anchor tenant, has exceeded city officials' expectations.

The public contribution to the project comes in the form of a tax on rental cars and hotels that was passed by voters. That revenue covers the annual $14 million bond payments on the project and - so far anyway - enough tax has been collected to cover those payments, keeping the city off the hook, Dennis Gagnon, a spokesman for the city of Kansas City told me today.

November 12, 2011
Mayor in Ferrari leads parade as cars return to K Street

For the first time in 42 years, automobiles rolled onto the K Street Mall this afternoon in a moment that city officials and business leaders hope will inject new life into downtown Sacramento's historic thoroughfare.

The first car to roll onto K Street was a red 1966 Ferrari 275 GTS with Mayor Kevin Johnson riding in the passenger seat. That car was followed a parade of classic automobiles driving past hundreds of spectators in a parade-like atmosphere that even included red, white and blue confetti falling from rooftops.

"K Street is finally changing," said Steve Cohn, Sacramento city councilman.

October 19, 2011
Share your memories of cars on Sacramento's K Street

With cars returning to downtown's K Street Mall in just over three weeks, City Hall wants to hear your memories of driving down Sacramento's historic commercial thoroughfare.

The city has set up a Facebook page - which can be accessed here - where residents can reminisce about the days when automobiles rolled along K Street. For that matter, I'd like to hear your memories as well - leave them below in the comments.

Scenes of cars meandering down K Street will be revived on Nov. 12, when the city holds a ceremony at 12th and K to officially give cars the green light to return to the mall after 42 years. Who do you think should be the first person allowed to drive down the street?

October 18, 2011
Occupy Sacramento and City Hall at odds as protesters stay put

Setting up a potential showdown between a small group of protesters and city officials, Mayor Kevin Johnson said today the city should continue to uphold its anti-camping ordinance and clear the Occupy Sacramento group from downtown's Cesar Chavez Park at night.

The mayor said the protesters can stay in the park from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. - and that gives them "ample time" to voice their issues. "I don't think it's in our best interest to remove the (anti-camping) ordinance," the mayor said, adding he "wholeheartedly respects what (the protesters are) trying to do."

As the protest reaches its 13th day, the City Council is scheduled to debate tonight whether to let the demonstrators stay in the park overnight. And if no resolution is found, this is a conflict that could continue to simmer.

September 21, 2011
Proposal to put poker room at former Hard Rock Cafe killed

The City Council killed a proposal Tuesday night to permit a fifth poker card room in the city.

A group including the owner of the Capitol Casino on North 16th Street had sought to operate the fifth card room and proposed placing the facility in the former Hard Rock Cafe space at the Westfield Downtown Plaza.

Clark Rosa, who owns Capitol Casino, said his current card room has been a bonus to an otherwise neglected area and "if we were to go into the downtown area, we would be as great an asset."

August 9, 2011
Design experts: Sacramento arena, transit hub can co-exist

A report by the Urban Land Institute has found that both a new sports arena and the city's planned transit hub could fit in land in the downtown railyard.

When designs for the proposed arena were unveiled in May, transit advocates quickly noticed that the plans called for the facility to be placed directly on the site of the planned $300 million transit hub, known by some as the intermodal facility. City planners hope to one day construct a hub for high-speed rail, light rail and buses.

But the ULI report says the two facilities not only could fit in the railyard - they could work well together.

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.

June 21, 2011
Massive K Street project expected to take big step tonight

K Street's revitalization takes a big step tonight.

The City Council is slated to approve the development agreement for a $47 million project that will bring 137 housing units, restaurants, boutique shops and a live music venue to the 700 block of the K Street Mall.

If all goes smoothly, the developer behind the project said he hopes to break ground by the end of the year - and finish by 2014.

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.

April 29, 2011
Few details emerge on Sacramento's arena plans

Regional leaders met again today on the Kings' future. Perhaps the most notable aspect of the meeting was the presence of developer David Taylor, who is leading a City Hall-sponsored study of what it would take to build a new arena.

The key element of that study - the cost and how it would be paid for - is still being worked out. But Taylor did provide the group with some other details.

Mayor Kevin Johnson said Taylor told the officials an arena here should be in the 650,000-square-foot range. Power Balance Pavilion is 442,000 square feet. Sacramento doesn't need something on par with arenas built in L.A. or Orlando - but it does need something bigger than its current facility, Johnson said.

April 21, 2011
Landmarks, firms color Sacramento purple today

Some downtown landmarks are showing their colors as a delegation from the NBA begins a tour of Sacramento today, trying to determine whether the city is a viable pro basketball market.

At the Sheraton Grand Hotel, soft purple lighting lit up the large windows looking out on to J Street. Inside, the bar will be serving purple sangrias on purple napkins.

A few blocks away, the pillars of the iconic Memorial Auditorium were lit in purple Wednesday night. And at the U.S. Bank Tower on Capitol Mall, the LED lights were also aglow in purple.

February 14, 2011
What should we do with downtown Sacramento?

A team of urban design experts and city planners are in town this week to evaluate the development plans for downtown's J-K-L corridor and provide pointers for moving forward.

In the meantime, I'd like to hear your thoughts. What's missing from downtown? Is it housing? Retail to rival the suburban malls? An arena?

Those are some of the elements the Mayors' Institute on City Design will be looking at through Wednesday, when team members will submit their findings at City Hall. Mayor Kevin Johnson said at a morning press conference the visit was part of the city's push to "challenge some of our assumptions and invite new people with new ideas."

February 12, 2011
City Hall working on bringing streetcars back to Sacramento

It's been 70 years since streetcars navigated the streets of Sacramento. The city is about to begin the process of potentially bringing them back.

Next month, a consultant team will begin a year-long streetcar planning study to evaluate routes throughout the city. The study is being funded primarily through a $300,000 federal grant from the Sacramento Area Council of Governments.

The city is asking for your input during a series of public meetings this summer. Dates will be announced later.

February 12, 2011
Show your love for downtown Sacramento

Do you love downtown? Show it.

The Downtown Sacramento Partnership wants you to share that love by using the hashtag #ILoveDowntown when tweeting why you love downtown.

And for those who don't use social media like Twitter, the Partnership is also asking that you leave Valentine messages on Post-it notes on the storefronts of downtown businesses this weekend and Monday.

"Local entrepreneurs are the heart and soul of our community. Local businesses are what gives downtown its character," said Lisa Martinez, the Partnership's director of Marketing and Outreach. "As you can imagine, being a business owner in today's economic climate can be difficult. We wanted to share some appreciation for the businesses who make downtown a dynamic district and go above and beyond everyday."

I'll add to this: leave a comment on the blog this weekend expressing why you love downtown.

February 8, 2011
Sebelius joins Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson on his jog

Mayor Kevin Johnson goes on a lot of early-morning jogs. Heck, yours truly even joined him once on a pre-dawn jaunt through Oak Park the week after Johnson was elected.

But the mayor's jog this morning had to represent a first.

Johnson was joined by Kathleen Sebelius, the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services. The pair - presumably joined by security - did a three-mile loop through Old Sacramento, past the Crocker Art Museum, down Capitol Mall and around Capitol Park. Johnson was particularly interested in showing Sebelius the view of the Capitol dome from the west as you enter the city.

Sebelius is in town to promote Let's Move!, an initiative launched last year by First Lady Michelle Obama with an aim to wipe out childhood obesity within a generation.

Here's some raw video I shot of the mayor and Sebelius greeting students at Will C. Wood Middle School on Lemon Hill Avenue:

February 8, 2011
Sacramento to pick Kings arena development team tonight

Tonight's Sacramento City Council meeting is a pivotal moment in the city's quest to get a new sports arena built.

The council is expected to vote on working with a development team on a 90-day analysis of whether building a new complex in town is financially feasible. Four development groups are in the mix and have submitted their qualifications to the city.

Two weeks ago, the council asked the development teams to submit their resumes directly to city staffers, setting aside the recommendations of a task force appointed by Mayor Kevin Johnson.

I'll be at tonight's City Council meeting. Follow my tweets at Ryan_Lillis and look for coverage in tomorrow's Bee.

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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