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News and Media

Everyday, our region’s counties and cities are taking actions to make this the best place to work, live, and play. We will share our member city and county milestones here, along with our own regional news and blog posts.

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A Taxing Time for Transportation Taxes
With the country in a recession, many plans for sales taxes to fund transportation projects have stalled

October 28, 2020: This was to have been the year for Measure A, Sacramento County’s half-cent sales tax to fund transportation. Over its 40-year life, the sales tax was projected to raise $8 billion for transportation projects in the county, including a good chunk for transit. Instead the Covid-19 pandemic dimmed its chances of success, the measure was pulled in July, and the title “Measure A” now refers to the strong mayor proposal on the ballot for City of Sacramento voters. 

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The City of Elk Grove's online tool to let residents create their own housing plan for the City.

If Not There, Then Where?
If you think participatory budgeting is the hot new thing, wait till you hear about participatory housing elements

October 28, 2020: California local governments are caught in a vise, squeezed between the need to house future residents as required by state law and having to answer to residents who don’t want more housing on a site in their neighborhood. As Elk Grove’s Director of Strategic Planning and Innovation Christopher Jordan put it in a recent SACOG housing series webinar, “We’re not seeing the forest for the trees because people tend to focus on sites they know.” 

The solution hit upon by the City of Elk Grove is to transform residents into housing planners. “We wanted our residents involved in the sites we will use to count towards RHNA in a more dynamic way than we usually do,” said Jordan. The tool that helped them achieve that is an online budgeting simulation called Balancing Act, which has mostly been used by cities in public engagement around city budgets. Elk Grove was the first city to adapt the tool for housing elements, said Brenda Morrison, a partner at Engaged Public, the firm behind Balancing Act, who joined Jordan’s webinar demonstration of the tool. The city “pushed us to use the platform in different ways,” she said, and that required some custom coding. She said the innovation was driven by ”Covid and the strain on city governments having staff thinking of new ways to communicate changes to the public.” 

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A rendering of The Stages at Northstar, scheduled to open in 2024.

Challenging the Drive-and-Park Model for Tourism
An arts organization confronts its own — and Tahoe’s — congestion problems

October 28, 2020: A large performing arts facility coming to Northstar at Tahoe plans to ban cars with fewer than three occupants. That is just one of the bold proposals that emerged from the Tahoe Mobility Forum, a one-day virtual discussion between academics, consultants, and public agency officials hosted by the Tahoe Regional Arts Foundation in September. 

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A Half Century of Environmental Progress but Much More to Be Done
Local leaders mark California Clean Air Day and the 50th anniversary of the Clean Air Act

October 7, 2020: Today is California Clean Air Day and it is especially timely this year. With a record 4 million acres of California burned already this year and wildfires still out of control, air quality has become a topic of daily conversation.

“Every day that we see smoke in our air and witness the terrible pollution impacts from wildfires we are starkly reminded of the importance of clean air for public health. Clean Air Day is recognizing that we all must continue the fight against air and climate pollution from all sources, including fires,” said Dr. Alberto Ayala, executive director of the Sacramento Metroplitan Air Quality Management District at a press event to mark the day.

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Building Better Cooperation for “Megapolitan America”
Megaregion Working Group tackles issues for more than 11 million people

September 29, 2020: This year has brought powerful reminders that many key issues that affect the greater Sacramento region are not confined to our borders. Viruses, wildfires and their smoke, and global recessions have no regard for lines on a map and require well-coordinated responses.  

Some of these same forces are also accelerating long-standing connections and growth trends that tie Northern California metropolitan areas together. So this was the right year to relaunch the Megaregion Working Group, which brings together board members and staff from three adjacent Metropolitan Planning Organizations: SACOG, San Joaquin Council of Governments, and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. Together, these MPOs serve more than 11 million residents of 16 contiguous counties, stretching from Santa Clara in the southwest to Placer in the northeast. 

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SACOG Board Approves Framework for 2020 Regional Funding Round
$193 million available for regional transportation projects

September 29, 2020: In a unanimous vote at its September meeting, the SACOG board approved the 2020 Regional Funding Round Policy Framework. The funding round has been an important source of transportation investment in the region over the past 15 years. It funds road, transit, bicycle, and pedestrian projects primarily within the four-county region — Sacramento, Sutter, Yolo, and Yuba counties. 

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Lime has taken over the  JUMP bike share business.

JUMP Bikes Return With a Lime Twist
Bike share relaunch provides a socially distanced, affordable option

September 22, 2020: Three weeks on from the relaunch of shared bikes in the Sacramento region, the reception has been welcoming. 

Lime, which recently took over Uber’s JUMP-branded bike share and scooter business, started operations on August 29 in Sacramento and West Sacramento and is working with the City of Davis to relaunch shared bikes there soon. Lime began with 200 bikes across the two cities and will ramp up to 600 bikes based on rider demand. 

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Telework’s Great Leap Forward: How an unexpected experiment could transform work and travel
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Can we keep some of the good parts of the Covid-19 shelter-in-place era without all bad parts? Telework offers that possibility: as workers and employers have had it thrust upon them, some have found it has worked better than expected. There is a path forward to having increased worker flexibility and lower greenhouse gas emissions without the economic pain of the lock-down. 

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Sutter Street in Folsom's Historic District on the first weekend  of a street closure trial in August.

Fresh Programs to Dine Outdoors
Lessons from cities in how to take commerce to the streets

August 21, 2020: When the restaurateurs of Folsom’s historic downtown district asked the City to close Sutter Street to allow more outdoor dining space, they were not expecting to be serving in 110-degree weather. But on August 17, the final night of the first trial weekend of the street closure, the mercury hit that mark at 6pm as California experienced the hottest two weeks in its history. 

It was a reminder that nothing about the hospitality business during a pandemic is easy, and especially not the supposedly simple solution of allowing restaurants, bars, and other retailers to expand onto public rights of way. Several cities around the Sacramento region have made efforts to allow businesses to expand outdoors and so we checked in with two cities at different stages of those initiatives to learn what is working.

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Less Traffic, More Telework, More Productivity
Big data shows how work changes might outlast the pandemic

July 29, 2020: The suffering caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has been immense. In the United States alone, more than 150,000 people have died from the disease, more than 4.2 million people have been infected, and by the end of June, more than 12 million people had lost their jobs since February, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics

The changes wrought by the pandemic have also had unintentional benefits: cleaner air and, for those fortunate enough to still have jobs that can be done remotely, a chance to experience greater flexibility in where they work. 

Work travel was down by about 50 percent from pre-COVID levels across the four-county Greater Sacramento region in mid-April, and by about 40 percent in early July, according to smartphone data from Google. And as vehicle traffic declined statewide in the early months of the pandemic, studies conducted by the California Air Resources Board revealed a 20 percent reduction in ozone-forming pollutants and a 50 percent drop in fine particulate emissions. 

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Making a Rural City Affordable For All
Placerville adding 154 affordable housing units

July 29, 2020: It has been roughly two decades since the City of Placerville has seen any type of affordable housing developments come through. But as Community Development Director Pierre Rivas described it, there has been “an alignment of the stars,” and now two major projects are on the way — changing that decades-long slumber. The two approved projects are the Mallard Apartments located within The Ridge at Orchard Hill at Mallard Lane and McIntosh Drive and the Middletown Apartments located at Cold Springs Road and Middletown Road. 

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This unwelcoming  bus stop is not in Sacramento County.

Smarter Plans for a Better Prepared Region
How Caltrans Sustainable Transportation Planning Grants will aid Greater Sacramento

June 20, 2020: Better plans lead to better outcomes and the plans that will emerge from the latest round of Caltrans sustainable planning grants will improve the region’s emergency preparedness, access to buses, trail networks, and street safety. 

These are just some of the needs addressed by the 10 successful projects in the Sacramento region that were awarded more than $2.5 million in planning grants by Caltrans in the latest round of the Sustainable Transportation Planning Grant Program, out of a statewide total of 77 grants totaling approximately $21.5 million.

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Sutter Commuter Bikeway

Yuba City Plans a New Trail to Connect Communities
City receives a grant to begin study and prep work for a new trail

June 29, 2020: Yuba City is making moves to keep its residents walking and pedaling. This month the city received a planning grant from Caltrans to create a feasibility study for an abandoned Union Pacific Railroad. The stretch of rail is about 2.8 miles long and 80 feet across and would essentially extend the existing Sutter Bike Path all through Yuba City and right up to the Feather River across from Marysville.

This study will result in walking audits, community engagement efforts, a benefit-cost analysis for possible alternatives, early design plans, and recommendations for how to fund the construction. All of this is needed before the city breaks ground on the trail that is already in Yuba City’s Bicycle Master Plan and the region’s Sustainable Communities Strategy for 2035.

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Completing “Main Street” in West Sacramento
Road rehab project helps transform former US Route

June 29, 2020: West Sacramento is taking the last step in transforming West Capitol Avenue into a functional “main street” for the city. Until the mid 1950’s West Capitol Avenue was US Route 40, which served as the only connection between the Bay Area and Sacramento. As an interstate highway the roadway was built to keep traffic moving at high speed while the development adjacent to the highway largely served the highway travelers, such as auto service and lodging.