The Union Pacific Food Hall

I just got back from Los Angeles yesterday and returned to our fair city with an appreciation for good urban planning.  I’ve been to several California cities in the last few months in fact, and I can say that Sacramento is much farther along in its trendy “dowtown revitilization” project than most of the others.  Nowhere is this more evident than in downtown LA.  For those of you that haven’t ventured to downtown LA recently, you’re missing a goldmine of an opportunity to see some of this country’s seediest homeless people along with one of the surest and slowest transformations of an American city.  The plodding gentrification of the downtown area is slow, true, but also relentless, transforming historical buildings and retaining some sense of SoCal history.  Instead of the “out with the old, in with the new” mentality so prevalent in LA,  planners are seizing this opportunity to do it right, mixing old and new in a symbiotic fusion.  The best example I can see of this attitude is at the Grand Central Market, an alomst open-air food haven that mixes spice sellers and fish mongers with kitchens and food stands, dishing out counter and street food from all over the globe.

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Grand jury slams arena backdoor dealings

News10 reported yesterday that the County grand jury found that Sacramento officials “violated the public trust” in rushing measures Q and R to the ballot last fall. Ironically, it’s not a binding decision and finds nobody at fault for any specific infraction.

My own take on this saga is completely in evidence so obviously you know how I feel. However, read the PDF of the Grand Jury’s report. It is very strange. With headings like “Hail to the Kings! The Costly Illusion that City Greatness Requires the Presence of Professional Sports” and “Downtown Railyard Development – What Have We Gotten Into?” and “The Train has left and the City now has the Station!” and with language like “Has the city initiated the much wished for revitalization of downtown or has it stepped into a polluted black hole?” it doesn’t read anything like the legal document you will expect. It reads more like some snarky blog poster obviously biased against the whole deal from the start. I don’t know much about grand jury proceedings but is this normal?

Looks like the city and county officials have to respond to the findings in this report later in the year. Specifically, by “June 00, 2007.” So we’ll all stay tuned for that!

SNR website revamped; Mayor admits railyard purchase misstep

I’m getting a little behind here, working on launching a new website called BLUE MAG, an entertainment wing to my online mansion. Enjoy…

So a completely new look for the News & Review website. I think aspects of it are very attractive but it seems to me to be way too busy.

A great railyard story in last week’s issue as well. Mayor Fargo thinks that Thomas Enterprises didn’t bargain hard enough to get Union Pacific to move the tracks to accomodate the new infrastructure.

“Union Pacific should have moved their tracks. They could have done it. It would have been easy. … It’s a little bit of a sore subject, because we had hoped that our partners in all of this would be stepping up a little more, but the reality is, we wanted to get this done badly.”

So had we, Heather.

Railyard cleanup on the fast track, or pile that asbestos in the closet

According to the Bee today, Thomas Enterprises, Inc., new owner and developer of the railyard, are going to be moving as fast as possible to clean up the toxic areas of that site.

The faster the cleanup, the sooner Thomas will get city approval for development. The sooner the company sells parcels to developers, the faster it can pay off loans and turn a profit.

My mom always loved this approach to cleaning my room. Why on earth would you attempt to portray your handling of a gigantic environmental mess as proceeding as fast as humanly possible? It’s one thing if there are just a few big-box stores going in there, but there are going to be thousands of homes on that site.

That’s some good fiddling, Heather Fargo

What, me worry?
Mayor and buyers celebrate railyard sale

A telling quote from Mayor Fargo in the Bee’s report today on the railyard sale:

“I never thought I’d be spending most of my political career on this site,” Fargo said of her longtime role as railyard booster.

With 59 murders in Sacramento this year, easily the highest total in a decade, including at least 3 in the last week, along with other horrible stories of assaults, unidentified bodies turning up almost daily, and gunfire at the entrance to Arden Fair (that’s just this week), really, what else could she be remembered for? I bet you a Sac Rag t-shirt we bust through 60 by the end of the year.

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Read the arena “Memorandum of Understanding”

The City released the MOU today and KCRA has the document (31 page PDF). I’m not going to read this very closely and as always I’m no expert, but so far I can only find a few things of note…

UPDATE: KCRA has Dave Jones stating that the MOU contains new costs, but I actually disagree on that point; the preliminary term sheet didn’t contain the $45 million for parking, but the July 25 Quality of Life measure did.

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Maloofs blast city, county

Remember: women and children out of the ship first…

The owners of the Sacramento Kings have sent out a letter blasting city and county leaders for taking the side of a developer who they say wants to renegotiate terms of a deal for a new arena.

The letter was sent to season ticket holders, other customers, team members and at least some city leaders.

Is anybody out there in Sac Rag land on that mailing list? We’d love to get a copy of that letter…

UPDATE: Thanks, “somebody else” for hooking us up so quickly (26 minutes). This thing is turning into a full blown fiasco. The timing of this is great, even if the city/county could react it wouldn’t be until the weekend. Wonder how they’ll distance themselves from this?

One thing, though: “For us, failure at the Railyards would mean everything.” I thought it just meant that they “may have to consider other options”?

Wheels coming off the wagon?

Various sources are reporting that the talks between the Maloofs and the JPA are stalling over parking spaces. In a stunning turn of events, the pro-arena campaign is now saying that it will press on with or without the Kings:

“We still consider [the Maloofs] part of our team, but it is our arena, and we will decide where it goes, and the public has said loud and clear that the best place for the arena is in the railyard,” said Assistant City Manager John Dangberg

Again I ask how and when we made our voice “loud and clear” on the arena issue. This is starting to completely unravel into a major scandal. What are these idiots doing? More later…

Arena boosters distance themselves from Maloofs, voters

I don’t blame the Arena supportes for distancing themselves from Joe Maloof’s apparently off-the-cuff prepared statement last week about the possibility of the railyard site not materializing. But in doing so they bury a key point of the agreement they made with the Maloofs: namely that the railyard site might not materialize and that “we may have to consider alternative locations in Sacramento.” They know it’s true because they signed the document, things Dignan’s not supposed to touch. Oops, sorry.

Campaign chairperson Sandy Smoley told News10 in a written statement. “The community has decided that the best place for its new arena is at the old Sacramento railyards, and we have no doubt that this is where it will be.

The community decided that? When was that, was I out of the country when we decided that?
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Joe Maloof drops railyard arena bomb

UPDATED 9/6/06 at 8:00 pm

To quote Conan O’Brien, you just can’t make this stuff up; you wouldn’t want to, it would waste everyone’s time.

Kings Owner Joe Maloof’s statement: “We share the vision that everyone here has. The future would be fantastic to have a new arena downtown to revitalize the railyards. But it isn’t going to be easy. The site has been vacant for decades because it’s such a difficult site to develop. There are a lot of moving parts: The railroad, the developer, the cleanup, and all the work the city and county have got to get done. We believe it can happen, we believe an arena can help make it happen, but we want to make sure the people are aware that we will do our best. If for some reason it can’t happen at this site, we may have to consider alternative locations in Sacramento.”

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