McKinley Village returns, neighborhoods fight back—Sacramento bans marijuana

They must be high?

It takes a village, but apparently only one village in particular, to truly piss off Midtown and East Sac denizens.

This village in question doesn’t even exist yet, and may never: McKinley Village is a proposed neighborhood for the landlocked wedge northeast of the grid that’s located between the American River, the railroad tracks and Business 80 (you can see it east of the freeway while heading into town just past Cal Expo). Developers have tried for years to do something with this open space. Now, they hope the expanse—many refer to it as “Centrage”—will soon give way to a single-family-home neighborhood.

But as SN&R contributing editor Cosmo Garvin wrote back in 2007, folks have been trying to build on this “bad-luck lowland” for a quarter-century. And, each time, neighborhood groups “beat into submission” development dreams.

Last week, however, former gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides’ Riverview Capital Investments resurrected its plan and began reaching out to neighborhood groups for input.

Surprise—the neighbors are less than thrilled. And really, who can blame them?

The McKinley Village plan, while technically an “urban infill” project, is anything but smart growth. Some 400 single-family homes on 48 acres obviously lack density, so it’s basically building an Elk Grove tract-home development. There’s no public-transit access to the site. Plans are devoid of retail or business spaces, so residents will have to drive often to get what they need.

But the biggest kicker is access to the proposed community. Or a lack thereof: The city would have to blow a hole in a levee so that hypothetical McKinley Village residents could drive in and out.

Angelides’ group has plans for more community meetings in the coming weeks, but I’ve got some advice that will save time and money: Give up.

If neighborhood activists are in fact able to block Centrage development again, they’ll invariably be tagged with the “NIMBY” or “obstructionist” label. It’s not necessarily fair, but that’s how it goes.

A new neighborhood group, meanwhile, aims to debunk this stereotype by celebrating the city’s strong residential nooks and vital small-business crannies. The newly formed Turn Downtown Around doesn’t want to complain, it wants solutions.

TDA is holding community forums—which hopefully will be more than a couple Midtown and downtown fruits cranking about curfews and drunks—and even block parties, such as the Beer Bust street festival on Thursday, March 14. The party is a fundraiser for K Street Mall businesses and art projects, and beer and snacks will flow endlessly for just $35 in advance (more details are at

Sacramento City Council is poised to turn downtown stoner life not just around, but completely on its head this Thursday, February 21, if it votes, as expected, to ban all medical-marijuana dispensaries within 1,000 feet of a school or church.

The logic behind this proposed city-ordinance amendment is fuzzy. Consider: Pot is illegal federally—it’s a Schedule 1 narcotic—but the city of Sacramento ignored this and legalized and taxed medical-weed clubs, anyway.

But now, after the feds recently reminded that selling weed within 1,000 feet of a school or church qualifies offenders for enhanced penalties, the city suddenly is concerned about the lawfulness of marijuana. And it wants to enact new restrictions that essentially banish its clubs.

As I’ve written in the past, this change would cast out each and every pot club to the far reaches of the city—a smidgen of industrial-zoned land in the northern reaches of Allen Warren’s district, a similarly zoned plot in Kevin McCarty’s district east of Power Inn Road. Councilman Steve Cohn referred to the new rules as essentially a “de facto ban.”

Figure it out, Sacramento: Are you going to legalize and tax medical pot and rake in millions of dollars? Or are you going to tiptoe around the issue and kill a vibrant, harmless local industry? Smoke on that.