Stating the obvious

Obvious Point #1

It’s been too long since we’ve had a new post, so here goes the obvious assertion that it’s a great idea to have a moratorium on new construction starts in the Natomas basin.

If you don’t believe me, take a trip to New Orleans (as Sac-Eats and I just did) and talk to some of the locals about some building decisions their officials made over the past couple of hundred years.

Obvious Point #2

We seem to have a group of intelligent and quick-to-judge folks here, so why not channel that energy to good use? I’m not sure who else caught this plea for help in The Bee the other day, but if I didn’t already have plans for this day, I’d be all over this:

Academic Decathlon seeking volunteers

Published 12:00 am PST Tuesday, January 15, 2008

SACRAMENTO – Volunteers are needed for the Sacramento County Academic Decathlon in three categories:

• Interview judges will work with two other judges to interview students throughout the day. Volunteers should have experience conducting job interviews and feel comfortable judging people based on a scoring guide.

• Homeroom proctors will work with a partner to administer multiple-choice exams to 25 students. Volunteers need to be able to follow directions and keep test-takers on task.

• Super quiz proctors will work with a school team administering the oral part of the super quiz. No special qualifications are required.

All volunteers will receive a short training session the morning of the competition. The Academic Decathlon will take place Saturday, Feb. 2, at Valley High School. About 300 students from 27 high schools are expected to participate.

Anyone interested in volunteering should contact Claudia Golsong at (916) 228-2670 or

11 thoughts on “Stating the obvious”

  1. Why do open spaces in this area have to be covered with houses?

    Heather Fargo, who is on the flood control agency board, is anxious to continue to build in the Natomas area.

    Some areas belong to nature: such as areas where the Santa Ana winds blow, the areas of New Orleans below sea level and flood plains. Someone from the Army Corps of Engineers said that new buildings in the Natomas area must be 33 feet above sea level…


  2. The Bee has long been questioning the unbridled development in Natomas, yet now Mayor Fargo and city officials react with surprise when the feds ding ’em for not being more cautious in their approach. Things that make you go hmmm… (Actually, things that make you roll your eyes.)


  3. Runnergirl, how was NOLA? We are going in a couple of weeks…Does SacEats have any restaurant recommendations for us?


  4. No problem, runnergirl. It’s the least I could do, minding the store while you and sac-eats were out of town!


  5. Heh…I was on the Academic Decathlon team in high school. I liked it because you actually got money (well, savings bonds) for winning medals in the scholastic events: it helped pay for a little bit of college. I liked how they had three different sub-teams based on grade point average (as I recall, one for 3.75 and above, one for 3.0-3.74, and one for us 2.99 and below types who can take tests but can’t finish homework.)

    Much of Sacramento is built on land that is dry in winter only because of the levees: West Sacramento, North Sacramento, Land Park, East Sacramento…and downtown! Properly built, a levee can be an effective flood-control measure, but they have to be maintained or they fail. They also have to be tall enough to stop the worst floods: the original downtown levee was only a few feet high, and proved woefully inadequate.

    The Natomas levee was and is a ten-year levee, but we got lucky and it didn’t flood for eleven years. The change to 100 year status was ADMINISTRATIVE, not due to levee improvements. Changing things on paper doesn’t have much effect in the real world, so the real-world risk of flooding didn’t change just because the assessment was altered. Now it is being altered back to reflect reality.


  6. Natomas is surrounded by levees. If there was a breech in a levee, the area would fill up. In some places the water would be 20 feet deep.


  7. Note: Pointing out that there had been no new post in a couple of days was a simple observation and in no way was meant as a rap on the knuckles to other contributors — especially our esteemed and venerable founders.

    Jennyo: I think sac-eats sent you some restaurant recommendations via e-mail (instead of his regular semaphore flag signaling method), but for anyone else who is remotely interested in visiting NOLA, I urge you to GO. GO NOW.

    The restaurateurs and merchants are exceedingly pleased to have visitors spending money and getting the local economy buzzing.

    Sac-eats had a conference this past week, so we flew out the previous week to spend a few days exploring the area, and I came home earlier this week.

    Some highlights include:

    Meals at Jacques-Imo’s, Herbsaint, The Gumbo Shop, and Cafe Adelaide (yes, it’s inside a hotel, but the grub & service were top-notch, and it’s owned/operated by the Commander’s Palace family)

    Audubon Park and the zoo

    Bumming around the Garden District and Magazine Street

    Drinks at the Carousel Bar inside the Monteleone Hotel

    Hurricanes at Pat O’Brien’s — yes, it’s a tourist trap, but what part of the French Quarter isn’t, really?

    Speaking of the French Quarter, a few people asked me how it smells down there with the proliferation of bars and over-indulgers. It’s really no different an aroma than that of Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, but I wouldn’t want to be there on a hot & humid day.

    Some blocks in the downtown area are like a ghost town, and there are countless homes for sale. Some homes have been renovated beautifully, while others still have dumpsters out front and are in the midst of being fixed up, while others are boarded up and still have the rescue markings spray painted on them.

    Before sac-eats moved over to the Ritz-Carlton for his conference, we stayed at the Homewood Suites on Poydras. It’s a Hilton property, so if you’re an HHonors member, it’s a good place to use your points. It’s close enough to all of the action to make most adventures walkable, yet it’s far enough away so it’s peaceful at nighttime. Plus, the morning breakfast was a lifesaver (see “Hurricanes at Pat O’Brien’s” above).


  8. Natomas is a floodplain, even more so than usual in this city of floodplains. I remember my parents quite clearly getting angry way back when they were trying to push through the permits— the voters refused them several times before giving in (fatigue, perhaps.)

    It’s a floodplain in a city only a little above sea level. Building there is a Dumb Idea.

    I feel sorry for only some of the people who bought there— those that come from out of the area, and had no idea what they were getting into. Most people can’t read contour maps and have little idea about how waterways work— I know that I am very unusual in that regard, and I blame a deep-seated (though not overwhelming) fear of drowning. Plus very clear memories of 1986, even though I wasn’t quite nine years old.

    Or maybe because I was not quite nine years old.

    But anyway, I don’t feel particularly sorry for folks who bought there knowing that they could flood. Or maybe I only feel sorry that they can practice self-denial so thoroughly as to think “it could never happen here” when examples pop up every five to ten years that levees fail around here. And even if they don’t, they are stressed to the limit.

    On the American River in February 1986: 130,000 cfs through levees designed to hold 115,000 cfs. Above Discovery Park the Sacramento River ran backwards for eight days.

    Don’t tell me that isn’t scary.


  9. RunnerGirl, thank you for posting this topic.

    From what I’ve heard, many people who bought homes in the Natomas area aren’t from this area. I read about locals who bought homes in the Natomas area: they were assured that they didn’t need flood insurance. People from this area should know better.

    FEMA might require homeowners in Woodbridge and northwest Lodi to get flood insurance. They are trying to figure out if the area is high risk. The insurance would cost 800 dollars a year.


  10. In a Land Far Away, or no… it was Sacramento… Twenty or so years ago there was a moratorium on all residential building in South Natomas, due to flood risks. Finally, the City Planning Dept. and Council relented, and houses popped up in South Natomas like warm biscuits, about 5 houses a week, I think. (And I am the former facilities planner for the Folsom Codova USD, so I know
    insta-development when I see it, aka Folsom.) Don’t know the whole story; whether it was strengthened levees or a simple case of bribery, but development previously put on hold was approved after a delay of several years.

    I understand that there is another moratorium en route, for those builders who don’t pull their permits (aka “We’re going the build here, NOW,”) by next December. Of course we may all be under water by then unless this frigging rain doesn’t let up! The moratorium would become effective if the levees aren’t strengthened to 100 year flood standards by then.

    The story is that the City’s position is “Damn, we hate moratoriums… think of all that tax revenue we’re going to lose in the meantime!”

    Not “How can we make this flood plain safer for foolish people who want to buy houses here?”

    Oh and I remember the 1986 flood… I was living in River Park at the time (had finished college at CSUS shortly before) and left work early downtown to rescue all my important belongings (pets, birth certificate, bong) since they were talking about evacuating the River Park/Campus Commons area. The river was actually cresting at the top of the levee next to Sac State…scary! Luckily the rain stopped just in time, the river began to recede, so no evacuations took place.


  11. I got this from another nessage board group I belong to. I’m sorry for “hijacking” this thread, but since I can’t post original posts, this was the best way I could get the message out. I currently can’t help too much, since my disposable income is being directed at caring for my mother who has Alzheimer’s and my ex who is in the terminal stage of brain cancer.

    But if anyone on this list can help and loves critters, please do! Thanks.

    The description of the problem follows:
    On Monday, January 14, 2008 Gentle Barn Rescue Staff arrived on
    > scene at a property in Lancaster, CA that, from a far, just looked like some fences and trees. As we got closer, it became a city of
    > cages made out of chain link with approximately 400 animals in the worst case scenario. When we stepped out of our car the stench that hit us almost doubled us over and as we looked closer we saw 400 little eyes filled with loneliness and heart break begging us for
    >here are approximately 200 dogs (about 50 needing immediate life threatening medical attention, about 10 pregnant females), 30
    cats, 40 chickens and turkeys, 100 goats and sheep, a Llama, an Emu, a pregnant horse, 3 potbellied pigs (one that can’t stand) and a 600
    pound farm pig.
    The animals had no water and had not eaten for God only knows how long. There were bags of wood pellets for starting fires in a stove,
    resembling animal food pellets which were being fed to some of the animals. Dogs were found dead in wheelbarrows, ducks were found dead
    in black mud/sludge, and chickens were found half eaten in dog cages.
    A majority of the animals have mange, upper respiratory problems, pink eye, vomiting, diarrhea and all are exhausted. Five litters
    of puppies have been removed from the property with horrible medical issues. The temperature has been below freezing and the animals
    have no protection from the extreme climate and because of the rain are living in mud puddles with no dry area at all.
    The Gentle Barn is taking in many of the animals including pigs, emu, llama, and a pregnant horse and is working on the scene to
    rescue and place the remaining animals. Animal control said that they do not have room for all of these animals so it is up to The
    Gentle Barn and the rescue community to assist in the saving of these helpless angels.
    >> 1. Adopting, fostering or helping find homes for the animals.
    > 2. Volunteering with The Gentle Barn to help feed and clean these
    > defenseless animals.
    > 3. Donating to The Gentle Barn for the following:
    > We need funding for:
    > Feed for the emu, pigs, horse, llama and dry food for 200 dogs
    > Veterinary Care for neutering (there are about 200 dogs and they allneed to be fixed at about $40.00 each), vaccines, stitches and
    > treatment for mange and other sicknesses.
    >> Animal transportation costs>
    > Cleaning Supplies: flat oversized shovels, green metal leaf rakes,
    > pooper scoopers, and more.
    > The Gentle Barn is a nonprofit sanctuary home to animals rescued
    > from abuse and host to at-risk, inner-city and special needs
    > Thank you so much for your support.
    > Please make donation on line at
    >Or send donations to The Gentle Barn’s mailing address at:
    >> 26910 Sierra Highway D-8 #318
    >> Santa Clarita, CA 91321
    >> Media contact: Jay Weiner 661-252-2440″
    > The e-mail I was sent from a rescue friend asked for at least 50 dog igloos for the dogs, who are left in the freezing cold.They have
    no shelter whatsoever. If anyone can donate anything please do it through
    > Creative Pet Supply
    > Call toll free number to place your order|
    > USA & Canada: 1-800-227-0001
    > Outside of USA: 1-310-832-9929
    > FAX: (310)832-9982.
    > Email:


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