Council rips SACOG map

Special meeting addresses concerns
By: Stephanie Dumm News Messenger Reporter
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A Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) presentation led to a two-and-a-half hour discussion at Tuesday’s City Council meeting. Mike McKeever, the Sacramento Area Council of Governments chief executive officer, presented the council with information about its Metropolitan Transportation Plan 2035. While four out of five council members had several questions and concerns Tuesday, McKeever said on Wednesday that he wasn’t surprised by the discussion his presentation prompted. “We were aware there were concerns and questions on the minds of the City Council,” McKeever said. According to the Sacramento Area Council of Governments web site, the plan “is a 28-year plan for transportation improvements in our six-county region based on projections for growth in population, housing and jobs.” Those counties are Yolo, Sutter, Yuba, Sacramento, El Dorado and Placer. “I think we have a good growth plan for the region and it will be updated by law,” McKeever told City Council. “I want to say on the record, specific to the land to your west, there is no direct or indirect implication here that should in any way limit land should it start to grow.” Councilman Spencer Short said a map provided by McKeever showing future growth for the region looked like a “zoning map.” “We seem to be developing on the east side, which seems far away from the infrastructure core,” Short said. “We show the center of the community as a two-block point, one block on either side of Fifth Street. I’m a little concerned about how that community core drives what you are doing with the overall process of the plan.” Roseville, Rocklin, Auburn and Colfax, according to Short, were given “a greater area” on the map for their “central core.” “I’m wondering why we got the short shrift,” Short said. “You have to break out a magnifying glass to see that for Lincoln.” All council members, except for Tom Cosgrove, who is on the Sacramento Area Council of Governments; expressed their concerns. “My concern is that it looks like we are branding certain communities,” said Councilman Stan Nader. “When you brand a cow, you don’t get to change the brand.” Nader told McKeever he “appreciated” that the document “can be massaged and tweaked.” As he read the document, Mayor Paul Joiner said, “the more it became the biggest exercise in social engineering that I have seen since being on this council.” “Maybe part of the problem is it’s two documents blended into one,” Joiner said. “It’s blended with sustainable community strategy and has elements of offering housing and transportation and mixed land-use. That drifts into fear of losing control.” McKeever said the area designated on the map for the downtown area “is roughly consistent with other areas.” “The phrases centering corridor and developing community are our account to describe different development,” McKeever said. “It’s just a way to organize the different development conditions around the region.” Cosgrove said on Wednesday that Lincoln’s downtown is not a two-block area, as the map indicates. “It identifies a general place of the downtown core area on the map. We can make that area bigger if that’s the preference,” Cosgrove said Wednesday. “It just identifies the general area. The overriding factor is that SACOG, in putting together the Metropolitan Transportation Plan, has no authority over local land use. What it does is reflects the information that was provided to SACOG by local jurisdictions.” Participating in the Metropolitan Transportation Plan means Lincoln will receive federal transportation funding, Cosgrove said Wednesday. He did not have a figure on how much transportation funding could come to Lincoln as a result of the plan. “I can tell you, that had we not been part of the Metropolitan Transportation Planning process over the years, we would never have gotten any money for the Lincoln Bypass and we wouldn’t have gotten funding to widen Highway 65,” Cosgrove said. “In those terms, if we are looking at past history and the amount of money that have come in to benefit Lincoln, we are probably talking in terms of hundreds of millions.” McKeever, on Wednesday, also said he does not know how much transportation funding would go to Lincoln. McKeever said the plan is “constantly updating.” “We are required to estimate where the growth goes. We have to have a map and we made this as fuzzy and flexible as we can,” McKeever said Tuesday. “To meet our federal and state requirements, we have to make an estimate of where we think the growth will go. There is nothing in the land use that requires you to follow that map growth estimate.” McKeever said the draft land use forecast “is consistent with your adopted General Plan,” and that the map “could be changed.” “At this point, to change those colors would require substantial redoing of significant portions of the project,” McKeever said. “As staff, I cannot recommend to my 31 bosses that they change the map to the extent that it changes the footprint between 2035 growth and growth beyond that.” City Council discussed the possibility of having a special meeting to discuss what changes they will suggest to Sacramento Area Council of Governments. Cosgrove said that meeting would have to happen before Nov. 17 because that’s when the Metropolitan Transportation Plan is on the Sacramento Area Council of Governments’ meeting agenda. Lincoln City Council will hold a special meeting at 9 a.m. Tuesday in City Hall to discuss what changes they want to see made to the plan.