Incognito NIMBY-ism

Tim Murphy is alocal transportation advocate(not affiliated with SITA)

Make no mistake about it: The effort of the Save Our Rail Depot (SORD) Coalition is NIMBY-ism cloaked in the flag of preservation.

While SORD claims the support of several transportation organizations, none are made up of transportation planning professionals. These supporting “transportation groups” consist of rail passengers, Bay Area rail advocates and a transportation laborers organization—again, none with transportation planning experience. If SORD truly has multi-modal support, where is the support from the cycling community? Where is any one of the seven regional Transportation Management Associations? Regional Transit and Greyhound?

On the other hand, the plan proposed by the Sacramento Intermodal Transportation Alliance (SITA) meets our community’s current and future transit needs, while promoting the intelligent reuse of the rail yard to develop housing, retail and commercial uses. This type of infill development would create a new neighborhood that would complement Downtown, ensuring the vitality of Old Sacramento, the K Street Mall and Downtown Plaza. This opportunity for balanced transportation and land-use planning rarely makes itself available. The creation of this multi-modal hub in Downtown Sacramento is a strong step in creating a viable alternative to the main culprit of our regional gridlock and poor air quality: single-occupant vehicles.

SORD chair Kay Knepprath demands that SORD’s new plan be presented to the City Council directly, bypassing city transportation consultants and economic development staff. If SORD has indeed crafted a plan that meets the needs of Amtrak and freight haulers, while increasing public safety, why the need to bypass the planning agencies? The truth is obvious: While they claim they have a solution, it is one that would apparently fail to stand up to honest review by transportation planning professionals. By demanding to bypass legitimate city planning processes, SORD’s credibility is instantly suspect.

In order to achieve the full and proper residential and business reuse of the Union Pacific rail yard, the Sacramento City Council should support the intermodal transportation complex as SITA proposes. A progressive city such as Sacramento can preserve the majesty and integrity of our historical buildings while reusing them for the greater good of our community. As our city and region evolves, so must our approaches to land use and transportation. SITA’s plan for reuse of the rail yard ( includes the best long-term approach to transit in our region. Our city leaders must do what is best for our community at large, and not bow to the pressure of NIMBY-ism.