City council should approve McKinley Village

More people need to be living in central cities and along mass-transit corridors

McKinley Village isn’t perfect. Even developer Phil Angelides says this. The project, which would bring 336 single-family homes to what has been an otherwise challenging-to-develop plot just north of East Sacramento, goes in front of the city council later this month for final approval.

Neighborhood opposition to McKinley Village is strong. Lawn signs emblazoned with “Stop McVillage” dot East Sac and Midtown. Town halls and public meetings on the proposed community have been heated. In other municipalities such as Roseville or Davis, similar resident resistance would probably be enough to kill a project. But not here in Sacramento.

Most residents are upset about potential traffic from proposed development. The project includes only two entry points for cars: one at 40th Street in East Sacramento and another at A and 28th streets in Midtown, near Sutter’s Landing Regional Park.

A majority of residents lobbied aggressively for a third vehicle tunnel at Alhambra Boulevard at B Streets. The city, however, isn’t requiring more than two vehicular-access points. And the city’s environmental-impact report cites that traffic from a projected 3,500 new McKinley Village car trips will not detrimentally impact congestion on East Sac and Midtown roads.

But residents, and even Councilman Steve Cohn, argue that there’s a huge difference between projections and reality. East Sacramento’s sleepy roads are narrow and quiet, they point out. A couple-thousand extra car trips a day will awaken them, and possibly change the tenor of the neighborhoods.

Angelides, however, says the multimillion-dollar cost of building a third vehicle tunnel into the neighborhood at Alhambra will kill the project. It’s also worth noting that a city study of a tunnel’s feasibility at that location is inconclusive; it may not be possible to construct one under Union Pacific’s railroad tracks.

Angelides has promised to either build a bike and pedestrian tunnel at Alhambra and B Street, or donate $1.7 million to city transportation projects. That’s not what residents want to hear. But that seems fair.

There are two reasons the Sacramento City Council should approve McKinley Village. The first is that we need more people living in the urban core, and not sprawl neighborhoods such as Cordova Hills. The second is that, given the proposed site’s contentious history, this may be the best—and possibly last—applicant for the land.

Quality of life in our inner-city neighborhoods is vital. We trust that city staff diligently investigated McKinley Village’s traffic and environmental impacts despite resident dissatisfaction with their results. We also realize some residents will never be happy with any development at the site in question.

At the end of the day, climate change is real. More people need to be living in central cities and along mass-transit corridors. McKinley Village satisfies this criteria.