Grid-life crisis

Cops follow up on Midtown's muggings; suggestions for city's post-arena future

Seasons greetings—now gimme that iPhone and purse, sucker.

If you live in the central city, you probably know someone who was robbed last month. There were 22 such incidents reported, most on the Midtown side of 15th Street, between December 1, 2012, and Christmas Day, according to the Sacramento Police Department. This was nearly three times the number of muggings during a similar 25-day period the prior month.

Is getting your goods jacked the new way of the grid?

Officer Doug Morse told SN&R that while predicting crime is “the hardest thing to do,” the department is investigating these incidents. And the police actually have “pretty good news,” he said.

For starters, there have been multiple arrests, which perhaps could be related to the robberies; detectives are following up to see if there are connections. Plus, “patrol officers are obviously aware of the robberies and are focusing on the area,” Morse assured.

And there’s also a suspect description out there: male, Hispanic, adult, 20-something, red baseball cap, white T-shirt.

As for why, police had little insight as to the spike in muggings at this point, other than to give a robber whatever he or she is asking for.

The muggings apparently got so bad, though, that victims started fighting back: On Saturday, December 22, near E and 24th streets just after 1:30 a.m., an armed suspect demanded a woman’s purse. The victim obliged—but then chased the suspect down (something police advise against) and got the purse back. (Interestingly, robberies in Midtown have been on the decline since this woman’s vigilante moment.)

So, should residents leave the cash and phones at home? Keep the porch lights on?

Should we shutter-up completely, drink grogs and watch Matlock on Netflix until May?

Leaders and law enforcement say don’t worry. So, here’s to the new year—hopefully a lucky ’13 for grid dwellers.

Nine months ago, the city was poised to put out a few hundred million for the discount version of the kinds of pricey NBA arenas—sorry, I mean “entertainment and sports complexes”—that’ve popped up in Orlando, Fla., and Brooklyn in New York City over the past few years. It was, as the media so assured, a done deal. Until it wasn’t. As you know.

But regardless of your opinion on the merits of using public money to pay for sports meccas, an arena on H and Fifth streets certainly would have transformed downtown. Perhaps into a Pleasure Island on steroids, complete with El Dorado Hellions driving the wrong way down one-way streets, never-ending beer and chicken-wing houses on J Street, everyone with requisite Taco Bell or Coors Light in hand. But transformed, nevertheless.

I’m almost curious. But not $256 million curious.

What does pique my interest is whether City Hall will pursue another flagship project for the grid in 2013. Rebranding K Street Mall as “The Kay” or souping up the Sacramento Downtown Plaza don’t qualify as game changers. But how about spending that parking money on a confluence of multiple smaller projects?

Why not green light an urban park, some new outdoor space, complete with relocating the zoo to downtown? Then, in addition to that, throw in a ramped-up, relocated, permanent farmers market, something like those in Europe, which draw in people from outside the city? (This embraces the mayor’s “Farm-to-Fork” and “Emerald Valley” visions, no?) Then, also, maybe subsidize a strip of eateries and music venues—&#;agrave; la Austin, Texas—but owned by the new generation of doers in Sacto (Ace of Spades, Shady Lady Saloon, Magpie Cafe, Hook & Ladder Manufacturing Co., The Red Rabbit Kitchen & Bar, Pour House, LowBrau) instead of corporate chains. These locals know how to succeed and can draw in crowds. Throw in some breweries, coffeehouses, comedy clubs and theater stages for good measure and bam—a veritable entertainment district, all on one block.

The “think-big” crowd may never get over the dethroned downtown Kings arena. But we don’t need NBA palaces—or even a Lucky Strike bowling alley, as the mayor recently told me he’d like to see—to grow up. Sacramento has most of what it needs.