Sactown Urban Update

Sactown Urban Update

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Streetcars in our future? And what has that to do with DT/MT realty issues?

Downtown Sacramento business leaders have been trying to raise the awareness level of those in city hall and even some council members about the need for and benefit of a street car system that would tie West Sacramento together with Sacramento’s Downtown and perhaps (Midtown) districts and even beyond.  West Sacramento appears ready for the concept, Sacramento, not so much.  The idea is to reduce the need to build and maintain parking lots or develop parking spaces within developments.

As currently proposed (for the Sacramento side) the line would cross the Tower Bridge, then north on 3rd street, right on H street.  At 6th and 7th the line would return south to K street and at 12th Street make a loop around the blocks along 12th, L, 19th  and returning on J street west to 7th for the return trip to West Sacramento.  The coverage area now being looked at would be a starting point with later expansion perhaps connecting Broadway and the Rail yards.

Meanwhile, business leaders, and to some degree city staff, have been exploring funding methods to get a street car system built and operated that would include federal, state and local funding shares. They’re looking at options including an assessment district verses Mello-Roos, the latter would mainly affect property owners closest to the envisioned streetcar lines. Key concerns among business leaders include: the people paying the assessment should decide, not city staff; they don’t want Sac to be paying a disproportionate share; and that if the benefit doesn’t outweigh the burden then the project should not move forward.

A lot pf complex issues to work through and something of a chicken and egg problem: build a streetcar line so people will gravitate away from autos or get people downtown with new development then expand public transportation services.  Washington State’s Portland downtown development was cited as a very successful example of building the line first then the places for people to move to and live. A working group to dig into details is planned by Downtown Sacramento Partnership.

Next Up: ESC update and other news

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