Levee leveraging: Sacramento vies for cap-and-trade funds that could add housing, infrastructure

City is a front-runner for state’s new TCCP initiative

This story was made possible by a grant from Tower Cafe.

As climate change intensifies, a movement is underway to keep Sacramento’s River District above water—literally.

That part of the city could see millions of dollars in investment from the state’s new Transformative Climate Communities Program, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by funding smart growth in traditionally low-income neighborhoods. Some quarters of the district fall into that category, and also lie along the very levees that will be affected by climate change. Last week, the City Council approved a proposal led by the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency to apply for $35 million in cap-and-trade funds that would come through the TCCP to boost infrastructure in those areas.

If the funding is approved, Sacramento leaders plan on giving the River District more affordable and market-rate housing, a light-rail station, and a host of job and health programs. A community garden and expanded bikeways, sidewalks, landscaping and lighting would also be added.

“This is about transforming the urban environment,” said Tyrone Roderick Williams, SHRA director of development. Roderick added that the plan would bring the city’s first large-scale, mixed-income housing development to one of Sacramento’s poorest neighborhoods—an urbanscape generally known for Loaves & Fishes and the railyards.

City officials said the state’s decision on the TCCP grant is down to a contest between Sacramento and Ontario.

Councilman Jeff Harris, who represents the River District, believes the funding would finally move the neighborhoods in the direction of having more integrative housing. “When you segregate incomes, the outcomes aren’t that great,” Harris said. “The Twin Rivers we have today is a low-income, isolated project in the middle of commercial and industrial areas with no transit. It’s an island.” (Michael Mott)