Why bother?

Two weeks ago, jaws dropped all over town as the Sacramento City Council voted 6-3 to go ahead with a rezoning for a Target store and big-box shopping center off Truxel Road in North Natomas.

What happened to good planning? What happened to the hard won Natomas Community Plan (NCP), arguably the city’s most progressive experiment in smart growth? That’s what critics wanted to know.

After all, the project was opposed by the city planning staff, the Planning Commission, Regional Transit, the Natomas Community Association, Mayor Heather Fargo (who once represented that district) and Councilman Dave Jones, all of whom see the project as a threat to the NCP and its principles of compact, mixed-use and transit-oriented development.

But the council majority, some of whom had been lobbied heavily by the developers—in this case, Coca-Cola Bottling Co. and Raley’s Supermarkets—saw fit to ignore the plan this time. The next day, environmentalists, community activists and even some prominent developers collectively muttered, “Why do we even bother?”

Here’s why: The council only overturned the Planning Commission’s rejection of the project. The proposal will be taken up again on December 4 for final action.

“It is possible, but admittedly difficult, to turn the council around. It could happen if they see a big turnout,” said community activist Brooks Truitt. Otherwise, “they’ll do it if we let them get away with it,” he said.

The item is scheduled for 7 p.m., December 4, at City Hall. That is the same evening that the council is expected to approve a new set of smart growth planning principles to be added to the city’s general plan. If the council approves both items, City Hall watchers say, it would be the most acute form of political oxymoron.

The meeting may be rescheduled, so call the city clerk at 264-5799 before you make the trip. Also, councilmembers’ phone numbers and e-mail addresses can be obtained at www.cityofsacramento.org.

Organized hospitals
Service workers at four Sacramento area Mercy hospitals voted on November 13 and 14 to join Service Employees International Union Local 250. However, the election among technical workers has yet to be decided.

Technical workers voted 214-186 against the union, said SEIU organizing director Glenn Goldstein. But 35 votes have been challenged on procedural grounds by both Mercy’s parent company, Catholic Healthcare West, and the union. The verdict of those 35 could affect the outcome of the election.

SEIU is also filing an objection to the technical workers’ election, alleging that management violated the election agreement that had been arbitrated several months ago.

“The objections are substantial [and] warrant a hearing,” said Goldstein, so that an arbitrator can decide whether the election should be upheld or not. The allegations involve management holding mandatory meetings as well and having one-on-one talks with workers.

Susan Cozzolino, of Mercy, said: “We believe our actions were appropriate and well within the agreement. We’ve supported our employees’ right to make an informed decision and are looking forward to working together.”