Getting a Revival Right

By Jacqueline Fox  |  2017-10-04

“We want to see this area have its own identity and we would like to see it become a walkable destination, but in order to make that happen we need to address the issues that are turning customers off,” said Richard Hale, owner of Walt’s Auto Service and founder of the Auburn Boulevard Business Association. Photo by Jacqueline Fox

Auburn Blvd. Business Group Crafts Vision for Revival

Citrus Heights, CA (MPG) - Trail a finger down the list of businesses dominating the stretch of Auburn Boulevard from roughly the entrance to Rush Park to Interstate 80 and you’ll find it dominated by a somewhat incongruous offering of service-related outfits, many long-standing vibrant business, while others, suffering from aging signage, dingy parking lots, blight and empty storefronts within feet of their entryways.

Auto repair shops, a veterinarian hospital, tire stores, a printing business, a smattering of gas stations, a few hamburger stands, one new restaurant and a couple of long-standing cafes, as well as several industrial firms, one in business on the boulevard for more than 80 years—all vying for customers in an area struggling for identity as age and a lack of visual cohesiveness, fueled by the growing number of retail vacancies, blight, graffiti and a swelling homeless population collectively work to drive potential customers away.

“We want to see this area have its own identity and we would like to see it become a walkable destination, but in order to make that happen we need to address the issues that are turning customers off,” said Richard Hale, owner of Walt’s Auto Service and founder of the Auburn Boulevard Business Association (ABBA), a group of roughly two dozen local business owners from the area, formed in 2016 to represent the businesses in the corridor from Sylvan Corners to Interstate 80.

Armed with a grant of $25,000 from the city, ABBA’s goal, says Hale, is to work alongside officials as they begin to craft their plan for completing the second phase of the Auburn Complete Streets Revitalization Project, which would continue with the improvements completed in Phase I in 2014.  Phase I covered the stretch of the boulevard running from Rusch Park to Sylvan Corners. Phase II, which remains unfunded at this point, will address the boulevard from roughly Grand Oaks Boulevard to Whyte Avenue.

ABBA would like to see all of Auburn Boulevard obtain a “destination” status and attract new, relevant businesses to the area, such as a big box retailer or two, new restaurants and customer-friendly experiences, anything that would help define and revitalize interest by the community in the area, which will include improvements but also a plan for addressing the growth of homelessness in the area.

With nonprofit status, a board of directors and funding in place, ABBA members rolled up their sleeves and convened for a two-part brainstorming workshop at city hall in September to begin crafting the bones of a final report city officials will use as they prepare to begin Phase II.  Roughly 20 ABBA members, guided by city-funded facilitator, broke out into workshops focused on the four core issues of concern identified at previous ABBA meetings, concerns they view as having a direct impact on their bottom lines: blight and safety, homelessness, a lack of cohesiveness and brand for the area, and the widespread number of vacant storefronts.

“This is the beginning of the future of ABBA,” said Hale.  “We are going to have a say in how we shape what happens next on Auburn Boulevard and we are very glad you’re all here.”

City Manager Chris Boyd, who attended the first of the two-part workshops told the group the city was committed to a plan for revitalization that reflected the desires of the business owners and the community at large.  But he reminded them the plan will take funding and time, likely two to three years.

“I think we have some of the greatest opportunities on the boulevard,” Boyd said. “Our objective is to finish the second phase and we need federal grants in order to make that happen by 2019. We are at a point now where we need to be very focused. The city can’t just do this as a local government. We need the businesses involved.”

Sketching out a vision for the corridor, ABBA members said they want to see their portion of the boulevard, part of the original Transcontinental Highway stretching from Reno to Atlantic City, not only attract customers and new businesses, but also deliver a renewed sense of community pride.  Asked to consider the boulevard and not just their own business, ABBA were asked to comprise a list of desired of aesthetic, as well as cultural changes.  What they came up with was a long list of things ranging from new boulevard signage reflecting the corridor’s historic relevance, a retro-inspired architectural theme with cohesive paint, fencing, signage and graphics for all the businesses in the area, a marketing and branding campaign for the boulevard to attract new business, community-focused events, such as a weekly farmer’s market, street closures for family festivals, and a neighbor-to-neighbor approach to building up interest in the area as a local destination, not just a mainline for the highway.

“We want to see more restaurants and big retailers that people want to shop at come in because they will entice more businesses to come in,” said Linda Finn who manages Aba Daba Rentals’ Citrus Heights location, which benefited from some upgrades under Phase I. She is currently planting flowers in front of the business, which is dominated by cement mixers and heavy equipment, guarded by a wrap-around, wrought iron fence.

“I’m planting flowers in the planter in the front, I’ve been getting out and talking to other business owners in the area, and, so far, being a representative on ABBA has really been inspiring.  We all want to see the area get better.”

Over and over again the group came up with adjectives to describe a revitalized Auburn Boulevard, adjectives such as “inviting,” “appealing,” and “secure.”  They say they want it to be both industrial-friendly, but modern, contemporary and convenient.  And, above all, it needs to be safe.

Realizing that vision will require a delicate balancing act between the city, business owners and local law enforcement as, many agree, the growing homeless population is at the root of many of the areas of concern.  Vacant buildings are prime real estate for homeless encampments and transient behavior, which in turn, leads to blight, crime, drug and alcohol related problems and are a significant deterrent to companies scouting new locations.

“A lot of the concerns we all have are tied to the homeless population,” said Hale. “But we are working on how to address it and we have a plan to work with the city and law enforcement to figure out first, why they are here, and then how we take care of it.”     

While the city’s Activate Auburn grant program offers funding to small businesses to refurbish storefronts, signage and make other aesthetic improvements, the homelessness issue and related problems seemingly continue to work against those efforts in some instances. 

Martin Garcia, co-founder of Crepes & Burgers, which opened on the corridor in February, said although he received a grant to refurbish the building and that business was slowly building, he and his staff frequently deal with transients and a frequent presence of police activity involving the homeless, both of which are impacting operations and customer loyalty.  

“The city offered to help me bring my business here,” said Garcia, whose previous restaurant, Crepe Escape in East Sacramento burned down in 2015.  “This building was a complete disaster but the city told us they were working on a plan to make this area nice.  But often at night we have a lot of homeless people congregating around the area and a lot of times there are a lot of police and sirens coming around to deal with it.  We have to close at 9 p.m. now because after 10 p.m., we see the homeless out there walking around and screaming and customers won’t stop to come in.

Police officers assigned to the city’s Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design program (CPTED) are working nonstop with business owners on ways to deter the homeless from sleeping in their doorways, congregating at night and vandalizing their shops, encouraging them to install better lighting, surveillance systems and fencing, and cautioning them to ensure there is no access to public Wi-Fi or outlets for charging phones.

The City’s Homeless Assistance Resource Team (HART), comprised of representatives from local non-profits, churches, the San Juan Unified School District, and Sunrise MarketPlace has received support to coordinate efforts with a city appointed Homeless Outreach Navigator, one individual, who acts as a case manager, connecting homeless individuals with city and county resources. 

Despite the challenges, there is momentum.  Roseville resident Ben Aibuedefe announced plans earlier this year to bring in a Checkers Burgers on the vacant corner lot at Auburn and Grand Oaks boulevards. Maita Mazda set up shop in a new 40,000-square foot facility in May and is upgrading another Mazda dealership at 2410 Auburn Blvd. 

And, while perhaps representing one of the starkest examples of vacancy related concerns, there is a move afoot to bring in a Movie Studio Grill to share space alongside Big Lots, which is tentatively slated to take up a portion of the long-shuttered 90,000-square-foot Kmart building.

The city also is said to be courting the San Juan Unified School District to potentially purchase the surplus chunk of land that housed the former Sylvan Middle School for a future development project.  Although he declined to specify details, Mayor Jeff Slowey told ABBA members at the first of the two meetings that the city was vigorously pursuing the parcel for “great things.”

ABBA’s vision for revitalization is now on paper and part of a working “action plan,” a first big step toward a formalized report to be crafted by the consultants and delivered to the city and ABBA members at the group’s next meeting November 14.

“We’ll be taking everything we have worked on here in the two sessions and drafting a very thorough and detailed report that reflects the vision for the future of Auburn Boulevard as the business owners have laid it out,” said the firm’s founder, Lucy Eidam Crocker who facilitated the workshops. “We are working with them every step of the way to make sure they are heard and represented.”

For more information about ABBA, please visit www.auburnblvd.com

For more information about the city’s CPTED program, please visit www.citrusheights.net

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Bullies Beware

By Jacqueline Fox  |  2017-10-04

“Bullying is becoming an epidemic in our country, no question about it,” said Family Tae Kwon Do founder, Professor Dominic Cirincione. Photo by Jacqueline Fox

Family Tae Kwon Do Plus Plans Anti-Bullying Workshop

Citrus Heights, CA (MPG) - Family Tae Kwon Do Plus is gearing up for its bi-annual Citrus Heights Hyper Bully Defense workshop, part of a world-wide movement against bullying in schools and elsewhere by participating martial arts instructors, taking place simultaneously across the nation throughout October in recognition of “Anti-Bullying Month.”

Family Tae Kwon Do will host a free, two-hour, age-specific defense workshop for kids, teens and their family members, exploring the nature of bullying, ways to recognize it and how to put an end to it. The workshop will be held on Saturday, Oct. 14 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.  More than 100 participants are expected.

The anti-bullying and educational event, held twice annually in spring and fall, will teach participants how to defend themselves against bullying, especially bullying in schools, which, according to Hyper Bully Defense, a world-wide network of martial arts professionals and schools working in tandem to spread the word that bullying is a life-threatening, serious and growing epidemic.

“Bullying is becoming an epidemic in our country, no question about it,” said Family Tae Kwon Do founder, Professor Dominic Cirincione.  He said Hyper Bully Defense statistics on bullying show that roughly 100,000 kids miss school every day in the country because they have been bullied or are in fear of being bullied by someone once they get there.  “It’s real. And some cases are even leading to suicides. We have to take this very seriously.”

In fact, Hyper Bully Defense has some rather startling statistics to consider.  For instance, roughly 34 percent of children in America report being bullied on a regular basis. Also, every seven minutes a child is bullied by another student somewhere in the country, equating to roughly nine kids an hour.  Finally, close to 85 percent of bullying incidents happen in secret with no intervention and a vast number of victims do not tell anyone out of fear of reprisal by the bully and or shame.  

“Bullying is a serious and we are going to teach kids and their parents how to do their part to make it stop,” said Cirincione.

The workshops will offer participants physical and mental tools for quickly assessing their surroundings, recognizing a potential bullying scenario and, perhaps most importantly, for carrying themselves with confidence in order to disarm a bully.  Representatives from the Citrus Heights Police Department also will be there to provide educational information about bullying, as well as gun violence and drugs in schools.

 “Nationally the campaign will involve some 800 schools across the country and roughly 12,000 kids,” said Cirincione. “Our workshop will involve reaching out to all Citrus Heights schools and roughly 3,500 students.”

The event is free, open to all, and there will be pizza.  If you can’t make the event but want to learn more, go to Citrus Heights Hyper Bully Defense online, sign up and link to the download for a free, 32-page handbook called “The Parent’s Guide to Bullying.”

www.citrusheightshyperbullydefense.com

Citrus Heights Hyper Bully Defense Workshop
Where: Family Tae Kwon Do Plus
7831 Sunrise Blvd.
When: Saturday, Oct. 14 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
(916) 725-3200
www.citrusheightshyperbullydefense.com

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Citrus Heights, CA (MPG) - While the city has yet to receive an official application from the company, officials and some local business owners say there is serious interest by Dallas-based Studio Movie Grill to occupy a portion of the 90,000 square-foot Kmart building on Auburn Boulevard.

Devon Rodriguez, development specialist with the city said there is nothing yet to share publically about Studio Movie Grill, but confirmed they have come forward as an interested tenant that would share the site with Big Lots, said to still be interested in taking up a portion of the site. 

In late July, Rodriguez confirmed that Rebounderz trampoline fun center had pulled out of talks with the city to share the space with Big Lots.  Rebounderz was set to take up approximately 55,000 square-feet on the site, with plans to bring in a 24-hour, extreme fun center and a goal to open alongside Big Lots sometime in 2018.

With those plans off the table, Big Lots remains the only confirmed tenant to be in negotiations with the city.

Studio Movie Grill is considered an innovator in the in-theater dining movie concept, with roughly 24 locations across nine states, including California.  Studio Movie Grill offers movie-goers an in-theater dining experience with classic cocktails, beer, wine, burgers, chicken fingers, pasta dishes, salads and of course popcorn.

Rodriguez also said previously that the property owners are unable confirm whether Big Lots was still a contender as a future tenant, but there have been no announcements about its departure, yet.  Previous attempts to reach the company were unsuccessful and as vacancy rates seemingly rise at steady pace on the boulevard, there are concerns about that space taking so long to lease.

The site is viewed as a huge eyesore to many business owners on Auburn Boulevard and in the center itself, many of whom have jointly formed the Auburn Boulevard Business Association (ABBA), and are currently collaborating with the city to craft a vision for revitalizing the boulevard, which will, no doubt, carry heavy weight with city officials as they also move toward the completion of Phase II of the Auburn Boulevard Complete Streets Revitalization Project.  

Phase II includes the stretch of the boulevard from Rush Park to the Roseville Boulevard and is not currently funded, according to city officials, and is not set to begin until 2019. 

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Blithe Spirit Opens in Citrus Heights

By Vanessa Voetsch   |  2017-10-04

Photo courtesy Theatre In The Heights

Play Written by Noel Coward and Directed by Blake Flores

Citrus Heights, CA (MPG) - Charles Condomine, a mediocre novelist, summons a medium to his home to study "the techniques" of spiritualists for his new book. Along with Ruth, his second wife, and Dr. and Mrs. Bradman, close friends, he participates in a seance conducted by Madame Arcati, his chosen medium. Madame Arcati supplies Charles with more than he bargained for. She produces a "protoplasmic manifestation" in the form of Elvira, Charles's deceased first wife whom only he (and the audience) can see and hear. With farce and wit unleashed, playwright Noel Coward presents us with some of his best comic characters in a situation full of spirits and satire.

Performance dates are October 6 - November 5, 2017

Fridays & Saturdays @ 8:00 p.m. 
Sundays 10/14, 10/29 & 11/5 @ 4:00 p.m.

All tickets are $15 for all ages

For more information or to make a reservation please call the theater at (916) 509-3445. Also see our website at www.theatreintheheights.com for more information and directions to the theater.

Theatre In The Heights is located at 8215 Auburn Blvd., Suite G, Citrus Heights, CA 95610.

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Sacramento County Growers Smash Crop Output Records

By Bill Bird, SCFB  |  2017-10-04

The high prices for wine grapes and other commodities in Sacramento County masked troubling news that yields in several commodity areas dropped significantly last year. Stock photo

2016 Crop and Livestock Report Tops $500 Million for the First Time

Sacramento Region, CA (MPG) - Led by a dramatic increase in the price for wine grapes, Sacramento County farmers and ranchers set a record for overall agricultural output last year. The 2016 Crop and Livestock Report released by the Sacramento County Agricultural Commissioner's Office revealed that the gross value of all agricultural production in Sacramento County reached a record high of more than $507 million. The figure represents a 7.9 percent increase over last year's numbers, despite a record fifth year of drought that hurt many agricultural operations.

"Wine grapes continue to rule as King in Sacramento County as they have for the past eight years and milk continues to hold onto the number two slot," said Sacramento County Agricultural Commissioner Juli Jensen during her presentation to the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors. "California is the third top producing state in pears, behind Washington and Oregon. Sacramento County is the top pear producing county in California."

The high prices for wine grapes and other commodities in Sacramento County masked troubling news that yields in several commodity areas dropped significantly last year. The numbers for field crops such as rice, wheat, silage corn, oats and irrigated pasture all suffered significant declines. Yields for other crops such as cherries and walnuts also dropped, as did cattle and calves and other livestock. The value of aquaculture also fell sharply in Sacramento County, led by a steep decline in the price for caviar.

Sacramento County Farm Bureau Executive Director Bill Bird admitted that while drought may be to blame for the lower output for some commodities, other factors may also be playing a role.

"Our farmers and ranchers are forced to pay the highest labor costs in this country," said Bird. "The high minimum wage coupled with very expensive workers compensation insurance, liability insurance and health care benefits costs our growers millions of dollars. These are costs that growers in other states are not forced to shoulder."

The 2016 Crop and Livestock report also revealed that nursery stock climbed back into the top five agricultural products produced in Sacramento County, which is attributed to a recovering housing market and efforts by homeowners to replace lawns with drought tolerant landscaping.

The dollar figures in the report do not reflect the cost of the production of these agricultural commodities. The figures also do not reflect grower costs such as processing, transportation and labor.

Sacramento County farmers put food on your fork.  Our agricultural operations and products are as diverse as the lands we carefully manage.  We are proud to provide healthy, fresh food for your family and ours.

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Washington, DC (MPG) - The Internal Revenue Service has an important reminder for taxpayers who filed for an extension and face an Oct. 16 filing deadline: The adjusted gross income (AGI) amount from their 2015 return may be needed to electronically file their 2016 tax return.

For those taxpayers who have a valid extension and are in or affected by a federally declared disaster area may be allowed more time to file. Currently, taxpayers impacted by Hurricanes HarveyIrma and Maria as well as people in parts of Michigan and West Virginia qualify for this relief. See the disaster relief page on IRS.gov for details.

As a reminder, taxpayers should keep a copy of their tax returns and supporting documents for a minimum of three years. Prior year tax returns are even more important as the IRS makes changes to protect taxpayers and authenticate their identity.

Extension filers should plan ahead if they are using a software product for the first time. They should have kept a copy of their 2015 tax return or if not, will need to order a tax transcript, a process that may take five to 10 calendar days. The AGI is clearly labeled on both the tax return and the transcript.

Taxpayers who prepare their own electronic tax returns are required to electronically sign and validate their return. Using an electronic filing PIN is no longer an option. To authenticate their identities, taxpayers will also need to enter either of two items: their prior-year AGI or their prior-year self-select PIN and their date of birth. If married filing jointly, both taxpayers must authenticate their identities with this information.

Generally, tax-preparation software automatically generates the prior-year AGI and/or self-select PIN for returning customers. However, taxpayers who are new to a software product must enter the prior-year AGI or prior-year self-select PIN themselves.

How to Find AGI; Plan Ahead if a Mailed Transcript Needed

The adjusted gross income is gross income minus certain adjustments. On 2015 tax returns, the AGI is found on line 37 of Form 1040; line 21 on Form 1040A and line 4 on Form 1040EZ. Taxpayers who e-filed and did not keep a copy of their original 2015 tax return may be able to return to their prior-year software provider or tax preparer to obtain a copy.

Those who lack access to their prior-year tax returns also may go to irs.gov/transcript and use Get Transcript Online or Get Transcript by Mail. A transcript is a summary of the tax return or tax account. There are various types of transcripts, but the Tax Return Transcript works best. Look for the “Adjusted Gross Income” amount on the transcript.

Taxpayers must pass Secure Access authentication in order to access Get Transcript Online and immediately access their transcripts. Those who cannot pass Secure Access authentication should use Get Transcript by Mail or call 800-908-9946, and a transcript will be delivered to their home address within five to 10 calendar days.

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Sacramento Region, CA (MPG) - The Parkinson Association of Northern California (PANC) is holding its Annual Education and Information Conference at the Sacramento Convention Center on Saturday, October 21st from 9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

The event will provide information, education, and inspiration to people living with Parkinson’s disease (PD) along with their carepartners and family members and interested members of the community. Featuring regionally recognized expert clinicians and therapists in the field of movement disorders, the conference will highlight the future of the disease along with inspiration and tools to help attain the highest possible quality of life for people living with Parkinson’s disease.

Additional Information about the event and registration options can be found by visiting the PANC website at www.panctoday.org. The cost to attend the event which includes a full-day of presentations, exhibit fair, and lunch is $25 per registrant.

“Our annual conference is an upbeat event of community, learning and connection. We educate attendees about the latest in Parkinson’s disease research and therapies and connect individuals who share challenges and successes with PD. We’re excited to host this event for our Northern California constituents and look forward to an uplifting day,” says PANC president, Nancy Kretz.

Parkinson’s disease is diagnosed in more than 50,000 Americans each year. We are asking for the assistance of the media to help make this event a successful one and provide this information and event coverage to your audiences who may have PD, know someone with PD, or possibly be diagnosed in the future.

The Parkinson Association of Northern California has been dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for people living with Parkinson’s, their families, and carepartners since 1996. We facilitate over 30 regional Support Groups, host the Annual Conference, publish a quarterly newsletter (Parkinson Path), offer financial support for caregiver respite, support medical community collaboration across healthcare providers, and more. We live our motto, ”Until there is a cure…hope and healing every day.” For more information see www.panctoday.org

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