Fighting the pro-mansion faction

Jacques Graber is an engineering geologist and avid bicyclist from Sacramento

In 1976, I moved to Sacramento after getting a degree in geology from the University of California, Berkeley. I came here to further my education with a second bachelor’s degree, in biology. Upon settling in, I discovered a wonderful feature: the American River Parkway. With my bicycle, and later my kayak, I discovered the wonder and solace the parkway had to offer.

Soon I was paddling the river from 13th Street to Sunrise Boulevard and back. As I paddled upstream, I began noticing the many houses overlooking the river from the bluffs above. Little did I know the furor those houses represented.

I learned the history of the parkway and its origins. In 1961, a forward-thinking group foresaw the idea of a recreational area spanning the city, where people could retreat from the pressures of city life.

Today, we are in a battle. The parkway is being encroached upon by “McMansions,” disproportionately sized homes, manifestations of outsized egos imposing on the green space. The people are furious, and our elected officials are insensitive to the issue.

It has now become obvious that the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors has absolutely no interest in protecting the quality of the American River Parkway. It is obvious that the American River Parkway Master Plan is a totally meaningless collection of paper to the board.

It is plain to see that the special moneyed interests far outweigh the overwhelming public interest of citizens desirous of protecting our parkway from encroachment. What the board, as a body, has demonstrated is a total disregard for the public. The series of meetings that were held on this subject, the county planning meeting at which the Markis/Lein building project was denied, and the board meetings themselves were nothing more than a charade to entertain someone’s perverse idea of “democracy” and “government in action.”

There are some individuals on the board who were against this project. That was not good enough. Their opposition does not appear to be sufficient to counter the pro-mansion faction. The whole is greater than the sum, and the individuals are in danger of failing the master plan.

Every time I kayak the American River or bicycle along the parkway, I see those houses. They symbolize much to me. Each house represents another snub in the parkway users’ faces. Each house represents careless development. Each house is symbolic of every failure the county has made in upholding the master plan.