SN&R Letters 04-26-2012

Sprawl and the 1 percent

Re “Onward, sprawl” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Feature, April 19):

Cosmo Garvin’s article describes the sprawl problem facing the Sacramento region. Such edge-city development continues to lengthen commutes and increase congestion, while 20 years worth of infill land remains undeveloped.

Some maintain the market dictates this outcome, but that is far from true. The region’s most valuable real estate is in McKinley Park, a pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use traditional neighborhood—definitely not sprawl.

So why the sprawl? The biggest reason is the “unearned increment”—the profit a land speculator (a.k.a. “developer”) gets when some local government rezones the land. Outlying agricultural land often becomes 50 to 100 times more valuable once it has been rezoned for development.

Rather than subsidizing sprawl, the Germans require that developers sell the land to the local governments at the agricultural land price. Then the developers must repurchase it at the rezoned, development-land price. The government retains the unearned increment. For a little perspective, the arts budget for the city of Berlin in Germany exceeds the National Endowment for the Arts in the U.S.

Other motivations exist, but the bottom line here is that sprawl is the physical manifestation of the redistribution of society’s benefits to the 1 percent.

Mark Dempsey

Pay attention, Elk Grove

Re “Onward, sprawl” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Feature, April 19):

Excellent article! Our group, Elk Grove Grasp, will be sharing this with members of the community. We continue to gather petition signatures to present to the Sacramento Local Agency Formation Commission the night the Elk Grove sphere of influence is a public hearing item for a LAFCo decision.

I hope you will consider a follow-up article introducing the region to Elk Grove Grasp (

Lynn Wheat
Elk Grove

Hiding the cost of sprawl

Re “Onward, sprawl” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Feature, April 19):

Great work, Cosmo [Garvin].

Here’s the problem: The developers continue to create “suburbs” that rely on cars. Cars cost us time, energy, pollution and health.

If it were a truly “free market,” the developers would be required to include the cost of light rail, buses, walkable shopping and recreation areas in each housing subdivision. That’s right, build it in instead of waiting for the city to do it at taxpayers’ expense. Suddenly these “suburbs” and “exurbs” wouldn’t be so affordable and appealing. The real cost of sprawl is hidden by the way that developers shift the responsibility for making these developments appealing and livable.

Of course, Midtown, Land Park and East Sacramento all manage to make themselves both appealing and walkable. But they’ve already got the infrastructure: public transport, parks and shopping areas are all walkable and in place.

Jan Kline

Show some respect to Bruce Lee

Re “Beyond Bruce Lee” by Anthony Nathan (SN&R 15 Minutes, April 12):

I was appalled to read what Terry Maxwell had to say about Bruce Lee. He “wouldn’t be able to beat a C-level fighter”?

I don’t know who this guy thinks he is, but he needs to show some respect to the legend. Sure you might be able to beat him wrestling around onr the floor with your fancy jiujitsu, but good luck even getting your arms around him. Bruce Lee’s striking speed from 3 feet away was five-hundredths of a second. How can you grab him when he had already kicked your feet off the ground?

Oh, and Chuck Norris wasn’t even in Enter the Dragon.

Matthew Zeh

Bain is ‘no-fault Communism’

Re “Bain’s benefactors” by Darwin BondGraham (SN&R Frontlines, April 12):

The owners of the New York Mets agreed to pay $162 million to settle claims that they willfully blinded themselves to Bernie Madoff’s epic Ponzi scheme, but Mitt Romney is saying that ignorance to his own profit making with Bain in China is to be ignored? I never heard of no-fault Communism.

Matt McLaughlin
via email

Confusing review, good cannelloni

Re “Pass the cannelloni” by Greg Lucas (SN&R Dish, April 5):

I read the review of Vince’s Ristorante and seem to be confused about what the author is trying to say. This is one of my favorite restaurants, and I don’t have gray hair, though I can be considered to be a senior citizen. [Greg Lucas] chooses words like “paltry” and “mundane” to describe what I think is a compliment, but I’m not sure.

I had dinner there [recently] with some friends to celebrate a birthday and the food was wonderful, the service was professional, and the owner came around to the tables to make sure all was well with his patrons. I highly recommend this restaurant to everyone I know.

I am not sure what Mr. Lucas was trying to do with his review.

Linda Cousins


Sacramento City Council candidate Dave Turturici, who participated in the April 16 District 4 forum at Hart Senior Center, was incorrectly identified as Kai Ellsworth in the April 19 SN&R’s You Are Here photo caption.