First, Midtown and downtown needs more housing

Ask the people who actually live on the central-city grid, and they’ll tell you: Full, vibrant neighborhoods aren’t just safer.

Neighborhoods where people actually get out of their cars and walk around, spend their money, relax and talk to the people next door are also healthy and prosperous.

It’s been a long time since those things could be said of Sacramento’s downtown core. While Midtown has changed dramatically in the past decade or so, as local historian William Burg told Cosmo Garvin in these pages a few weeks ago (see “58,000” SN&R Bites, November 21), the number of people living in the inner city is still far from the population high point of 58,000.

How far? About 20,000 people.

While there have been numerous attempts at revitalization, these have all relied on getting people to come to grid for something: arts, nightlife, restaurants, booze. And now, an arena. But what about a revitalized grid that didn’t need freeways to bring people in for short periods, and instead, had people there all the time?

We applaud the inclusion of housing in the recently released plan for the new arena. It’s a move in the right direction. But are the proposed 550 apartment units enough? No. Let’s hope that the project spurs further housing development of all kinds, affordable and otherwise. As well as the neighborhood amenities like grocery stores and small shops to support a population that will really bring things back to life.

A commitment to a renewed downtown and Midtown has got to rely on having people live there. If we build shiny things to attract visitors, we’re left with empty and desolate streets in between visits.

And that’s simply no way to live.