Sprawl Update: Sacramento Supervisors Approve Controversial 2,700-Acre Project

As we reported last week, the central question facing the Board of Supervisors was how could they approve a project that appeared to violate a regional sustainability plan - one that they voted for as MPO members? They did - by a 4-1 vote.

The sprawling, 2,700-acre greenfield development called Cordova Hills and its potential conflict with the Metropolitan Transportation Plan/ Sustainable Communities Strategy, the regional plan that complies with with a state law designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions stemming from vehicle emissions - tied in part to land use descisions, was described here on Jan. 25.  Cordova Hills is expected to bring 8,700 housing units to exurban Sacramento County.  

Brad Branan provides a postscript to the Jan. 29 meeting. The day before the vote, the supervisors received a letter from SB 375 author Sen. Darrell Steinberg, stating: "To achieve the state's greenhouse gas reduction goals, significant greenhouse gas reductions from both changed land use patterns and improved transportation are critical."

About 30 people spoke to the board about the project, most of them in opposition. The board chambers were full of red signs saying "Just Say No! Sprawl Hurts Us All!"

The project received support from business and construction groups, such as the Sacramento Metro Chamber, while drawing opposition from environmentalists, including the regional chapter of the Sierra Club.

Branan writes that the supervisors were advised by Mike McKeever [PDF], executive director of the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG), that the project "could make it difficult to meet state standards for greenhouse gas emissions", i.e. the targets that the Air Resources Board approved for the region. McKeever indicated that "the region barely expects to meet greenhouse gas standards in 2035 and Cordova Hills could push it out of compliance".

Those targets are designed to be met by SACOG's regional plan adopted unanimously in April 2011 by its board that includes members of the Sacramento Board of Supervisors

However, the major issue for the supervisors was not compliance with SB 375 but whether the developer would accommodate a private university that was seen to lessen commuting by the new residents. The lone vote against the project dealt with that issue.

The vote shows what some would consider to be SB 375's major flaw - it is applied regionally, not locally - to the individual county or city that is part of the MPO.

Full Story: Sacramento County supervisors approve Cordova Hills development



Irvin Dawid's picture

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished? Not!

The hold-out vote was rewarded (well - not really) with an appointment to the California Air Resources Board

Irvin Dawid's picture

Sierra Club Sues To Halt Cordova Hills, Sacramento County

Mark Anderson, staff writer for the Sacramento Business Journal writes on March 1 that "The Environmental Council of Sacramento and the Sierra Club filed suit Friday challenging Sacramento County’s approval of Cordova Hills."

“This project is classic leapfrog sprawl development that utilized an enticement of a major regional amenity, namely the university, to give the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors cover to approve the destruction of some of the finest remaining vernal pools in our region. And there isn’t even a university on the hook to locate there,” said Sean Wirth, conservation chair for the Mother Lode Chapter of the Sierra Club, in a release."

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