It Takes a Village to Raise a Main Street


Civic Lab’s year two teams are tackling the complex problems around bringing life back to tired commercial corridors and main streets.  

Twelve teams from four counties are focused on commercial strips in their communities that need a boost — from major thoroughfares such as Folsom Boulevard and Del Paso Boulevard — to traditional main streets in smaller communities such as Isleton and Meadow Vista. The challenges faced by some of these commercial areas are myriad — from the decline of bricks-and-mortar retail in the face of online shopping to absentee landlords to a lack of housing to missing civic services. 

The teams have explored these issues in daylong workshops with panels of experts and mentors from the private sector and SACOG staff with the relevant expertise.  

The latest workshop was on financing and commercial real estate. Teams worked with Abbie Wertheim from JLL, a real estate professional with over 15 years of experience in urban industrial infill development, real estate economics, and public policy, David Garcia, Policy Director at the UC Berkeley Terner Center for Housing Innovation, and Aaron Laurel, West Sacramento’s city manager. 

Teams consist of staff from each of the 12 jurisdictions along with business owners, property owners, and residents. Three months into the program, teams are nearing the end of the identifying challenges and gathering knowledge portions of the programs and moving into researching potential solutions. Piggybacking off SACOG’s umbrella procurement arrangements with potential solution vendors, the teams will explore potential partners and then start designing pilot programs to test some of the solutions they have come up with. 

The longer-term goal of Civic Lab is to take the lessons learned in the pilot programs and set teams up to scale their innovative policy, land use, and mobility solutions to help transform tired commercial corridors into vibrant centers of communities where people want to live, shop, and play.