City Hosts Open House for Electric Greenway Trail Project
CITRUS HEIGHTS, CA (MPG) - On January 8 at Sunrise Tech Center, the City of Citrus Heights hosted a well-attended Open House event for the Electric Greenway Trail Project. The proposed project is a 2.9-mile paved trail that will follow the existing Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) electric transmission corridor. Local residents were invited to attend the Open House to learn about the project, offer their input, and voice any concerns. Leslie Blomquist, senior civil engineer for the City of Citrus Heights, said, “Community comments and feedback are essential as we move forward.”
The project is a partnership between the City of Citrus Heights, SMUD, Sacramento County, San Juan Unified School District, Sunrise Recreation and Park District, and Orangevale Recreation and Park District.
The goal of the project is to highlight the natural beauty of the area while providing a safe, paved area for pedestrians and bicyclists. The trail will run between Sunrise Blvd. to the west and Wachtel Way to the east. It will connect many of the parks and nature area in Citrus Heights, including Arcade Creek Park Preserve, Tempo Community Park, Sundance Nature Area, Streng Avenue open space, Northwoods Park, C-Bar-C Park, Woodside Oaks Park, and Olivine Dr. open space.
The trail will also provide a safe route to school for students at Woodside K-8, and it will provide a shorter route to other area schools. Dan Allison, Safe Routes to School coordinator for the San Juan Unified School District, explained that currently “some students walk to school on streets without sidewalks. The trail will give students a safe, paved area to walk to school.”
Vice Mayor Jeff Slowey said, “I think it’s great that we’re using SMUD easements, which wouldn’t be used otherwise. And it’s a great partnership.” Slowey also noted the importance of considering the people who live near the project site: “We need to ensure their privacy.”
Eldon Pawson was a resident of Citrus Heights from 1968 until he moved to nearby Orangevale in 1980. He said, “I think it’s long overdue. All this area right along the power lines, we might as well use it. My only concern would be people using it as a campground…I’m not against homeless people, but I don’t want it in my backyard.”
Citrus Heights residents Ronna Safonov and John Thomas said they’re concerned because one area of the proposed trail would be located just 5 ft. from the back of their property. Thomas said, “We don’t want our private area to become accessible.” They are also worried that the project plans to pave over a floodplain behind their home, which they believe would exacerbate flooding in that area. The floodplain is a wildlife area featuring heritage oaks, and Safonov and Thomas do not want to see that area disturbed. Thomas said, “Apparently they can do whatever they want as long as they mitigate for it, but putting little trees in another area to replace those heritage oaks just isn’t the same.”
Safonov suggested that the engineers could re-route the trail rather than trying to re-engineer the floodplain area. “The floodplain has been there for 50 years, longer than the city.”
Jerry and Linda Lemon like the idea of the trail project, and Linda said “I’m 100% in.” She explained that riding her bike in the City currently requires her to pass through some areas where she doesn’t feel safe, and she believes the Electric Greenway Trail will create a safer environment for local recreation. “It will promote physical activity and family activity,” she said.
Jerry Lemon said, “I like that it connects parks together. You can go for a bike ride and stop to rest in a park.”
Sergeant James Evans of the Citrus Heights Police Department said that some residents are concerned that the trails will increase the transient population in the area or encourage illegal activity, but he explained that similar trail projects have not found that to be true. Evans said that many local residences already have hidden dirt trails behind their properties, and that open trails with wide paved areas, bright lighting, and lots of foot traffic will actually discourage criminal activity. And Officer James Garing said that the trails will be wide enough to allow access for police cars, ambulances, and fire trucks—so emergency services will be able to more quickly address any issues that might occur.
Kathilynn Carpenter with Sunrise MarketPlace said the trail will be “a nice amenity and will bring positive awareness to the City. It has great connectivity and will bring more footsteps to the district.”
Mayor Jeannie Bruins supports the project, saying, “I’m all for it…It will be a wonderful addition to the City.”
The project is still in the preliminary planning phases and environmental analysis is currently underway. Construction is expected to commence in spring of 2021 and be completed in 2022.
Funds will provide job skills training and financial literacy for homeless women
SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - Women’s Empowerment has received a $25,000 grant from U.S. Bank Foundation’s Community Possible program. The grant will fund job skills training, career-readiness classes and financial literacy programs for Sacramento women experiencing homelessness.
“U.S. Bank continues to invest in the bright futures of homeless women through its generous donations to our job-readiness programs,” said Lisa Culp, executive director, Women’s Empowerment. “Our partnership with U.S. Bank ensures women can break the cycle of homelessness by gaining the skills needed to secure employment, regain a home and manage finances. When our mothers become financially self-sufficient, they create a better life for their children.”
Since 2001, Women’s Empowerment has been working to break the cycle of homelessness for women and children in Sacramento. In the initial nine-week program, women who are homeless receive free onsite child care in the group’s child development center and transportation assistance. Each woman works with a master’s level social worker to address her root causes of homelessness. She attends classes on job-readiness, confidence building, health and empowerment, as well as support groups for domestic violence and substance abuse. Financial empowerment courses are provided, including budgeting, improving credit score and second chance checking. With the help of volunteer teachers, women unlearn financial habits and create a step-by-step action plan for achieving their financial goals. Women then focus on job placement with their employment specialist and volunteer career mentor.
Women who have graduated from the nine-week program can enroll in the group’s graduate services at any point when they need assistance. Services include paid job training, vocational certifications, counseling with a social worker and employment specialist, access to a professional clothing closet, and job retention services for employer and employee.
“At U.S. Bank, we invest in and support programs and organizations that help people succeed in the workforce and gain greater financial literacy,” said Jessica Cook, assistant vice president at U.S. Bank. “Through our Community Possible giving and engagement platform we are working to close the gaps between people and possibility. Our partnership with Women’s Empowerment is doing just that.”
Women’s Empowerment is an award-winning organization that has graduated 1,554 homeless women and their 3,738 children. Last year, 82 percent of graduates found homes and 76 percent found jobs or enrolled in school or training. The program combines self-esteem courses, job training, health classes and support services to help homeless women across diverse ages, races and cultures. Women’s Empowerment is funded through private donations from the community and receives no government funding except for in-kind rent from the County of Sacramento. To make a donation: www.womens-empowerment.org.
Community Possible is the corporate giving and volunteer program at U.S. Bank, focused on the areas of Work, Home and Play. The company invests in programs that provide stable employment, a safe place to call home and a community connected through arts, culture, recreation and play. For more information: www.usbank.com/community.
Source: Thébaud Communications
FAIR OAKS, CA (MPG) - The Heritage at Gum Ranch, a new housing community developed by Elliott Homes, is currently under construction on the south end of the Gum Ranch property, northeast of Bella Vista High School. The project will add approximately 250 new homes to the area.
Many streets in the development have been paved and some street signs are already in place. The community’s main entrance, off Kenneth Ave., will be “Gum Ranch Road.” Secondary access will be from Treecrest Ave. to the west and from Madison Ave. to the south.
Ralph Carhart, chairman of the Fair Oaks Recreation and Park District (FORPD) Board, said that “the Gum Ranch property has been like the elephant in the room for decades…Everybody has been curious what would happen there. So there’s some relief that we finally know what is going in.” Carhart explained that various developments have been proposed for the Gum Ranch property throughout the years, but they were opposed by the neighboring residents. Carhart said that he believes this project has been “pretty well supported because it’s consistent with what’s been expected as part of the special planning area.” Carhart described prior proposals that pushed for the development of high-density housing, such as apartments, but Elliott Homes has “evened out the density,” which he believes is very important to the people who live in adjacent neighborhoods.
As part of their development of The Heritage at Gum Ranch community, Elliott Homes will also be building Gum Ranch Park, which will be dedicated to FORPD upon completion. Carhart said that as the density of housing in Fair Oaks increases it is critical to maintain parks and open spaces. He said, “Acres of native oaks have been saved in the area adjacent to Arcade Creek where the late Claudia and Irving Gum formerly sold pumpkins and provided hay rides through the pumpkin patches. The protected oak woodland will be incorporated in the new park as nature walk areas.”
Carhart expressed gratitude that the natural beauty of the property will be preserved, stating how important the property was to the late Irving Gum: “That land was his love.”
Carhart explained that Elliott Homes is developing the park but it will be maintained by the FORPD, funded through district assessments paid by the property owners of the Gum Ranch community. The collected funds are required to be spent maintaining the Gum Ranch Park and cannot be spent elsewhere in the District. While Elliott Homes is paying all the costs associated with development, the FORPD has been involved in the park design and worked with the landscape architects. Carhart said, “It will provide a nice transition from Kenneth Ave., with paths off Kenneth into the nature area that will be preserved with the oaks, and then into the developed park.”
Price Walker, vice president of project development for Elliott Homes, said that the model homes are currently under construction, but work on the park has not yet started. “We plan to start work on the park later this year,” said Walker. “The park will be a great amenity…It will be about four acres in total.” Walker said that native grasses and “the existing oak grove will be preserved,” and Elliott Homes plans to create walkways for easy access through the extensive nature area.
The FORPD has approved the design of the park, and Walker said, “Per our park development agreement with the District we are required to complete the park by April 1, 2020. So we should be under construction this summer.”
The park will have numerous amenities, including an open-turf play area, a tot lot designed with rubber safety material, a spin merry-go-round, a water play area, a wooden climbing structure, an outdoor fitness complex, picnic pavilions with tables and BBQs, and various paths and benches. The park will also have security lighting for increased safety.
SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Valentine's Day is almost here! You can give that special someone an unforgettable gift! Candy, cards and flowers are nice, but adding a Singing Valentine will create a lasting memory! Quartets from Sacramento Valley Chorus will deliver Singing Valentines on Thursday, February 14. Your sweetheart, family member or good friend will be surprised and thrilled when a quartet delivers two songs, a rose, candy and a beautiful card to him or her. The package is only $40, and can be delivered to the home or business of your choice in the greater Sacramento area, including Placer, El Dorado and Nevada County. Singing Valentines are popular, so call early to ensure availability. Call 916-761-2998, to arrange for delivery.
The award winning Sacramento Valley Chorus, under the direction of Master Director, Dede Nibler, has approximately 90 members. The Chorus is preparing to compete Internationally in New Orleans in September.
Ladies from the community are invited to attend rehearsals any Wednesday night at 6:30 pm. For more information, visit SacramentoValleyChorus.com.
CITRUS HEIGHTS, CA (MPG) - The five members of the Citrus Heights City Council serve overlapping four-year terms and are chosen through at-large elections in which the candidates who receive the highest number of votes are elected to represent all the citizens of the City.
On December 3, 2018, the City received a certified letter from a Malibu attorney, Kevin Shenkman, who—on behalf of his client, Southwest Voter Registration Education Project— alleges that the City’s at-large election method for selecting councilmembers violates the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA).
In his letter to the City, Shenkman alleged that the current “at-large system dilutes the ability of Latinos (a ‘protected class’) to elect candidates of their choice or otherwise influence the outcomes of the City’s elections.” Shenkman cited 2010 Census data that indicates Latinos are approximately 16.5% of the City’s population. He said that despite making up a significant portion of the overall population, no Latinos have ever been elected to serve on the City Council. Shenkman alleged that the current election system is “fundamentally hostile towards Latino participation.” He further stated that a Latino has never emerged as a candidate for the Council during the past 20 years, which “reveals vote dilution” in the City’s election process.
Shenkman urged Citrus Heights to voluntarily change its at-large election system, stating that his firm will file a lawsuit if the City does not declare its intent to transition to district-based elections.
On January 10, the city attorney, after much research on the subject, told the Council that she was unable to find any cases in which a city or public agency has successfully defended at-large election systems against a legal challenge under the CVRA. Most public agencies, when threatened with litigation, have chosen to switch to district-based elections. The cities and agencies that have gone to court to defend their at-large elections against CVRA challenges have lost—at a high cost: In addition to paying their own attorney’s fees, they have been ordered to reimburse the plaintiffs for attorney’s fees and legal costs.
In CVRA lawsuits, a “Safe Harbor” provision in California Elections Code limits the City’s liability to plaintiffs’ counsel (capped at $30,000 for legal fees) if the City adopts a resolution of intent to switch to district-based elections within 45 days of receiving the demand letter (in this case, that deadline was January 17). Adopting the resolution bars the prospective plaintiff from filing suit for 90 days, during which time the City must conduct at least five public hearings to draw district maps and adopt an official ordinance establishing district-based elections. If the City voluntarily transitions to district-based elections under Safe Harbor, it retains control over determining district boundaries with input from the community through the public hearing process. A written agreement between the City and the prospective plaintiff can add an additional 90 days to the process, for a total of 180 days to conduct public outreach and determine district boundaries, and Mr. Shenkman has expressed willingness to agree to the extension.
The City does not acknowledge that any CVRA violation has occurred due to the current at-large election system, but since public agencies that have litigated this issue ended up paying millions of dollars to prevailing plaintiff attorneys, the recommendation was for the City to adopt a resolution declaring the Council’s intent to transition to district-based elections under the Safe Harbor provision.
In the proposed district-based election system, the City will be divided into separate districts with one councilmember residing in each district. Adopting the resolution of intent will not affect the terms of any of the current councilmembers. Regardless of what boundaries are drawn in the districting process, all current councilmembers will serve their full four-year terms. But when a councilmember’s term ends, they will only be able to run for election in the new district where they live.
During public comment on this issue, local resident David Warren expressed concern that “the City is being extorted by this attorney to generate fees.” He suggested that before the City Council votes on this issue they investigate whether Shenkman actually has the legal authority to file a lawsuit for this jurisdiction. Warren believes that creating districts within the City will ensure small groups of people will control the decisions for everyone. He said, “We will not be benefitted by this…We need the best people on the City Council, even if they happen to live near each other.”
Mayor Jeannie Bruins said, “I feel like we’re being held hostage. If even one city had prevailed against these lawsuits, we might have a hair of a chance. But it’s not a good use of taxpayer dollars to lose a case.” She called for a vote, and the Council voted unanimously to adopt the resolution. Mayor Bruins said, “It reluctantly carries.”
CITRUS HEIGHTS, CA (MPG) - On January 10, the Citrus Heights City Council heard a presentation about a proposed affordable housing development—Sunrise Pointe— which would be located at 7424 Sunrise Blvd. on a 2.35-acre vacant lot on the east side of Sunrise Blvd. between Oak Ave. and Old Auburn Rd. The property is the former site of Abel’s Christmas Tree Lot.
The developer, Jamboree Housing Corporation, is a non-profit with 28 years of experience in developing high-quality affordable communities. Michael Massie, senior vice president of Jamboree, stated that there is a housing crisis in California and it is “vital and necessary” to provide housing for those in need—like seniors, veterans, and those with disabilities. Jamboree is partnering with TLCS, which will provide services to the residents of Sunrise Pointe. TLCS is a non-profit that has been providing mental health and supportive housing services in Sacramento County for almost 40 years.
Sunrise Pointe is a $23 million project, with multiple funding sources, including private investments and state and federal affordable housing funds. Jamboree has made a 55-year commitment to maintain the development as affordable housing. “We are long-term holders. We intend to be partners in this neighborhood,” said Massie. He explained that his company’s affordable housing developments typically encounter neighborhood resistance at first, “but the community learns that we are good neighbors.”
Sunrise Pointe is a family-focused project that would provide affordable permanent housing to help tenants work toward continued independence and stability. A property manager would reside on-site, and a variety of services would be provided to residents through TLCS. Residents with children would also be provided on-site after school care. Jamboree requested significant input from neighbors during the planning process and has amended their design in response to community concerns.
Typically, development projects of this type would be approved by the Planning Commission, but the developers were asking for a specific parking concession that needed to be approved by the City Council. The property is zoned for commercial use but is being developed for residential use, so two sections of code apply and are in conflict. Residential use states that parking cannot be placed in a setback, while setback parking is allowed under the commercial code. Affordable housing projects are eligible for concessions if the concession is needed to ensure economic feasibility. Massie explained that if the residential code setback requirements are enforced, the project will have to reduce the number of units from 47 to 40, which would result in a loss of over $2.5 million in capital funding and hinder them from providing the level of services that are currently planned.
During public comment, some local residents spoke in support of the project because they feel Citrus Heights needs a place to serve those in need within the community. One resident cited the high number of “families without homes” in the San Juan School District, many of whom are in Citrus Heights. He said an affordable housing development could help these families survive and ensure the kids have somewhere safe to sleep each night.
Many neighbors with homes adjacent to the proposed development voiced concerns about the plan. Some speakers were worried about increased traffic congestion in the area. Others were concerned about having people with potential substance abuse issues living in the neighborhood. Some speakers don’t want a low-income housing development in the neighborhood because they feel it will devalue their own homes. Others were worried that the landscaping trees won’t be mature enough to offer any real privacy between the properties and that the tree maintenance will affect their properties, with leaves and branches falling in their yards.
Councilmember Bret Daniels said, “We do need affordable housing. This project addresses a need.” Regarding the neighbors’ concerns, he said, “We can’t eliminate impact, but we need to minimize it.”
Councilmember Porsche Middleton said she appreciates the developer’s flexibility throughout the process and sees this project as an opportunity for people to break the cycle of poverty and homelessness. She acknowledged the concerns of the neighbors, but said “We have to find a balance between needs.”
Councilmember Steve Miller said that Jamboree’s architecture and design are extremely high quality. He acknowledged the concerns of the local residents, saying, “This change will be difficult, I appreciate that.” But he noted that they can’t expect an empty lot to remain empty forever.
Mayor Jeannie Bruins said she sees the major issue as parking located too close to the adjacent properties. “We should require that the amount of parking be reduced.” She said Jamboree put in more parking than they needed in order to meet the City’s code, so they would be amenable to reducing the number of spaces.
The Council voted to approve the project with the following revisions: change to an 8 ft. wall all the way around the property, specify that the landscape plan should include the installation of mature trees to increase the privacy screen, ensure that neighbors are asked for input during the tree-selection process, and require Jamboree to provide neighbors with regular construction updates. The Council approved the parking concession (with one “no” vote from Councilmember Daniels) on the condition that the number of parking spaces be reduced.
SACRAMENTO COUNTY, CA (MPG) - Sacramento County Airport Firefighters shaved their heads as part of the second annual “Brave the Shave” in honor of Captain Tim Anderson, a Sacramento County Airport Firefighter who lost his life to cancer in 2017. Brave the Shave was started one year ago by Tim’s son Mason, when his mother Lacey was diagnosed with breast cancer just 6 months after his dad, Captain Tim Anderson died.
After hearing the news of his mom's diagnosis, Mason at 10 years old wanted to have a shaving party in an effort to turn a difficult situation into something positive. Mason challenged local area firefighters to shave their heads with him as a way to honor his dad and support his mother. In 2017, 112 firefighters in 4 states and 2 countries shaved their heads in support of the Anderson family.
Mason’s mom Lacey is now cancer free and this year Mason would like to open Brave the Shave up to all firefighters and their families affected by cancer in an effort to make December Firefighter Cancer Awareness month. Firefighters and anyone else wanting to offer their support were asked to shave their heads in the month of December and post the pictures or videos to Mason's Facebook page Brave the Shave with Mason Anderson or his Instagram Brave the Shave Mason Anderson. This year's goal is 150 shaved heads. Mason is only 57 shaved heads away from meeting that goal!
Source: Sacramento County Media
The Latest Job demand and hiring trends
SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Employers are downshifting in the hiring race as 2019 begins. One regional company is reducing workforce by more than fifty percent (50%) as tariff related contract losses impact Sacramento area employment. In direct contacts with regional employers between November 19th and December 17th, Pacific Staffing discovered fifty-six percent (56%) of companies are hiring in the First Quarter of 2019.
Hiring has pulled back from this same time one year ago when sixty-five percent (65%) planned to hire in January, February and March. While the pace of hiring among top Sacramento regional employers has fallen throughout 2018 companies report finding applicants and specific skilled workers remain a top challenge in the new year.
While not a single company surveyed planned first quarter layoffs in 2018, in the first three months of 2019 seven percent (7%) are reducing workforces. Staff reductions are attributed to seasonal change and slower demand for products and services. Forty-four percent (44%) of hiring in the first quarter is for attrition, or replacements, among existing workforces while employers seek just forty-two percent (42%) for growth.
By talking to top regional firms each quarter since 1992, Pacific Staffing has learned there are always hiring challenges for employers, regardless of economic direction. In this first quarter of the new year seventeen percent (17%) of employers also report a continuing challenge with finding enough applicants, despite the slowdown. Others also citing increased minimum wage and hiring specific skilled trades as workplace concerns.
Sales, customer service, accounting/finance, technical, warehouse and shipping experience is in high demand through March. Drivers for route and delivery remain scarce.
The most active sector is Service companies with Manufacturers second, followed by Construction and Retail through January, February and March of 2019.
Sacramento Regional Top Companies Polled by Industry were Service (54%), Manufacturers (25%), Construction (19%) and Retail (2%)
For more information, employment blogs & market surveys go to www.pacificstaffing.com.
Source: Pacific Staffing
SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - SMUD’s Board of Directors recently recognized the 21 college students who have been awarded Powering Futures scholarships for the 2018/19 academic year. All students received scholarships between $1,500 and $5,000, and the opportunity to work at SMUD as a paid intern.
The awards were based on academic merit and financial need, and preference was given to students who have declared a major relevant to SMUD.
Most of the students who receive a scholarship also accept paid summer internships in a variety of SMUD departments, including Grid Operations, Customer Operations, Geographical Information Systems, Warehouse and Fleet Operations among others. The internships provide students with excellent opportunities to learn practical skills and help launch themselves into future careers.
“The Powering Futures scholarship program helps us strengthen our talent pipeline and meet our future workforce needs,” said SMUDHuman Resources, Diversity & Inclusion Director Laurie Rodriguez. “We’re proud to support such an exceptional group of Sacramento students this year, and we look forward to seeing them back in the summer for their internships. They’ll have a great chance to learn about working in the energy industry and gain real-world experience that will help them in all of their future endeavors.”
The 2019/20 scholarship application period began on January 7 and will close on February 24. For those interested in applying, please visit,smud.org/Scholarships.
Senator Gaines Sworn in as Board of Equalization Member
SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - Senator Ted Gaines (R-El Dorado) was sworn in as an elected Member of the California State Board of Equalization (BOE) during a ceremony held at the Stanley Mosk Library and Courts Building in Downtown Sacramento. The oath of office was administered by Governor Gavin Newsom.
“I am excited to continue serving Californians as a taxpayer advocate,” said Senator Gaines. “My new role as a BOE Member comes with different challenges and opportunities, but my number one priority is to ensure hardworking Californians are allowed fair tax policies that create jobs and grow our economy.”
Senator Gaines will represent more than nine million California residents living in the 1st Equalization District, which spans inland California from San Bernardino County to the Oregon border. The five-member BOE is a publicly elected tax board responsible for administering Property Tax, Alcoholic Beverage Tax, and Tax on Insurers programs.
“Californians should be treated with respect and fairness when it comes to tax administration. They are tired of being over-taxed, and over-regulated. I pledge to fight on their behalf,” said Senator Gaines.
Prior to being elected to the BOE, Senator Gaines served 12 years in the State Legislature as a tireless advocate for California’s taxpayers, ratepayers, businesses and families. He fought to protect citizen privacy and led major efforts to bring thousands of new jobs to the state, as well as support critical legislation to strengthen and expand California’s infrastructure.
In addition to his life in public service, Senator Gaines is a successful small business owner, having owned Gaines Insurance for more than 30 years. He has been married to his wife Beth since 1986 and together they reside in El Dorado County and are blessed with six children and two grandchildren.
As a constitutional officer, Senator Gaines is currently the highest-ranking elected Republican state official in California.
Source: Office of Ted Gaines