The Sacramento Convention Center: Bad Money


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An Old Updated Joke

A man walks into a Pet Store he is immediately drawn to the sounds of a parakeet.  Who resides in this large elaborate cage.   It was love at first sight, he had to have the bird.

The price was unimportant, he buys the bird and a small cage.

Arriving home, he clears a special place in the center of the room for the cage.   He was excitedly awaiting for the bird to sing..  But the bird sat in silence on its perch.  Hours passed. Perhaps it was the new surroundings?  After a few hours the owner, thought the bird would be happier if the cage was similar to the cage in the pet store.   

So he grabbed his keys and drove to the pet store and bought the large elaborate cage that was on display at the store.  Even in it’s familiar surroundings the bird remained silent.   He returned to pet store with his cell phone and at great expense bought every item in the cage and with his cell phone he took a picture so he could correctly stage the cage.    Within minutes the cage looked exactly like the one in the store and yet the bird didn’t sing.     So the owner walked away from the cage and left the bird alone.   After a few hours, the owner was exasperated and screamed at the bird.   I have given you everything, why wont you SING!  The bird slowly opened its mouth and said, FOOD!

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In mid seventies, The City of Sacramento opened the Convention Center.  Leaders said the Center would generate millions of dollars for the city.   Unfortunately, that didn’t go as planned, the center was losing money.  Some believed a hotel of size, near the center would help generate business.

In 1988, the Hyatt Regency opened, it would be the largest hotel in the city with 503 rooms. The City of Sacramento subsidized the project.

Andy Plescia, deputy executive director of the city/county agency refers to as “a $13.3-million investment that’ll return about $28.5 million to local government within the decade.”  Those returns will come in the form of tax revenues, a lease-back parking arrangement involving the city government, the city/county agency and the developers, and from expected land sale profits (under the terms of the 55-year ground-site lease, developers may opt to buy the property outright after the ninth year). Sam Burns, director of the Sacramento Convention and Visitors Bureau, thinks the Hyatt Regency will help attract another 25,000 convention delegates a year and generate $1 million in room tax for the city and $25 million for the local economy.

Once again, with the new hotel the convention center didn’t come close to generating those ambitious numbers for the city.   The good news the city did eventually make a profit after the hotel was sold.

In the nineties, the money losing center was expanded again.  Operators said, the  convention center was too small and not competitive with other centers.  According to”Eye on Sacramento” the City loaned the Center 7.5 million to cover negative cash flows.

 Convention center operators said the center said it needed another component to become profitable. The twenty five story Sheraton Grand opened 2001 across the street from the center.  With all the expansions and additions, what the center needs was CUSTOMERS.

*In the last 17 years, the Center has lost an astounding $268 million taxpayers dollars!  $51 million in the last three years!

At 87% Sacramento currently spends nearly twice as much of its hotel taxes on the Convention Center than other cities. (The average is 45%) San Francisco’s spends 11%.

The Sacramento Convention Center is Sacramento’s “White Elephant”. Despite all the additions remains a drain on the city.    With 87% of the hotel taxes going to the city, Sacramento has virtually no funds to promote tourism.

Eye on Sacramento says:  City staff  presented the council with a staff report that relied heavily on the city’s primary convention center consultant ,the firm of Conventions, Sports and Leisure International (CS&L).  City staff cherry-picked data and findings from the CS&L study, but failed miserably to provide council members with crucial findings in the CS&L study that clearly states that an expansion of the Convention Center is not needed nor justified  given market conditions.

In short, the city council was mislead by its staff into believing that its principal conventions center consultant was solidly in favor of the proposed expansion,when, in fact, it was opposed to it.

If this is true, then there are larger issues in City Hall.  

The Vote to expand the center last December was unanimous!   Mayor and council members approved Two hundred forty million dollars to expand the Convention Center.  Which included adding a large ballroom to the plans .  The convention center will be closed for 18 months so work can be done quicker than initially planned and to renovate the Community Center Theater. 

The city reiterated that its general fund will not be used to pay off the debt.  That’s far from the truth.  If the convention center is unable to make its payments, the city has to cover the shortfall.

From the renderings, the new center and theater will be beautiful.  Mayor Steinberg said: We are going to have a convention center and a community center theater that is equal to the vision of our great city.   

Sacramento is a great city, over five hundred thousand people live within its boundaries.  Like any other city Sacramento has many other needs.  Cities build convention centers to generate income for the city.

As a business model ,the Sacramento Convention Center is a poor investment with little or no benefit to the majority of its citizens.  If the Convention Center was operated by a private entity, the owners would have longed walked away from the project.

It is no secret, The Sacramento Convention Center is a drain on the city and yet those charged with expenditures in the city unanimously approved spending 240 million dollars towards upgrading and expanding something that had never worked.    In a city who’s budget is already at its limits due to increased pension costs.   

City leaders often get it wrong. If they have one in Anaheim, we want one too.  Prestige at any cost to the city.  It doesn’t have to make sense, as long as we get one, just reach into the bottomless taxpayer cookie jar.    The Sacramento Convention Center is a forty year old joke, that’s not funny.  They’ve done everything imaginable to make it competitive with other convention centers in the state, and based on its history, it will be state of the art and has everything except CLIENTS.

CityFella

*Eye on Sacramento

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Something old and different for Friday 9-28-2018 (yes, there’s video)


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Spotted on the streets of Sacramento 

A vintage 1955 Buick Century Cailfornia Highway Patrol Car 20180914_073145-353455096.jpg

These cars were specificly built for the CHP.

They had the Special 48 coupe body, Century engines and Roadmaster brakes  (This was back in the day when GM built different engines and parts for each divison) They were among the first cars (Code name: Century 68) built specifically for police use. The half of cars were equipped with a three speed column shift manual transmission.  The other half was built with a less reliable Dynaflow automatic transmisson.

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Like all, 1955 Buicks, the (Century 68) featured updated styling with “tower” tailights and a large “widescreen” front grile.  Century models carried, like the top-of-the-line Roadmaster, four portholes alongside their front fenders to denote the high-output of their V-8s.  The Century series was Buick’s performer, combining the Special’s lightweight bodies with the Roadmaster’s 322-cubic-inch OHV V-8.   The 9.0:1-compression-ratio engine inhaled through a Carter four-barrel carburetor and produced a gross-rated 236 horsepower at 4600 rpm.

“A Beast”

According to the April 1955 issue of Highway Patrolman Magazine, “During dynamometer tests, the car developed 148 horsepower at the rear wheels and reached a wheel speed if 108 mph against the 4-horsepower drag of the machine.  At this point, the test was terminated abruptly when the rubber tread spun off the tires of one of the rear wheels that was being tested.

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A Star is Born! 

Highway Patrol: Best of Season 2 (2-DVD)

“Highway Patrol” was on the air for four seasons from 1955 to 1959.  It still airs in syndication.
 It is said, there are only a couple of the Century 68 on the road, one wonders if the car spotted in Saramento is one of the two?

This Episode “Lady Bandit’s doesn’t feature the Century’s with the exception of the opening. 

Enjoy!!

CityFella
Sources: MotorTrend, Wikipeda

 

End of the line for Sac’s Riverfront Street Car ?


The Trump administration isn’t keen on Public Transportation.  The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is not distributing money earmarked  for public transit.  Many projects in cities across the nation including Sacratomatoville are waiting for federal funding have hit Trumps Wall      Nearly 2 billion dollars is on hold.   Construction has already begun in some cities awaiting funding to complete the projects.

The FTA says the reason the projects haven’t received funding is because they aren’t yet ready. The Transportation Department hasn’t set a specific date when the funds will be released.   Many communities are hesitant to complain because it could result from in future delays.

In 2015, the astute citizens of Sacramento rejected the ridiculous  ( measure B ) 4.4mile street car line between West Sacramento and Midtown called the Riverfront Street Car Project.   The 100 million dollar line duplicates existing bus routes operated by Yolo County and Regional Transit.

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 Undaunted by the defeat, Council Member Steve Hansen and company went looking for extra funding for the project.   Shortly after the election he told the Bee  “We have identified all but $30 million of the funding we need, and we will work to find that $30 million.”

Did they? 

One of the challenges for Sacramento and a few other cities is funding. Transit agencies have to round up funding for the rest of the project, get agreements with contractors and other third parties, develop cost estimates and prove that they can manage a project of its scope. Then the FTA reviews the projects and rates them. Projects must earn a “medium” rating to obtain funding. To qualify for  Trump dollars, cities need to secure all of its non-federal funding first.    Sacramento hasn’t, as a result the project is in jeopardy.

 According to Eye on Sacramento, The California Transportation Commission provided 25 million dollars and the 30 million dollar rejected by the voters?  May come from the Cap and Trade funds.

Where did the money come to work on the project, thus far?

 

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These desperate times for supporters of Downtown Riverfront Street Car Project.  Failure to meet all the requirements could mean the end of the line.   Last December, the group representing  the Downtown  Riverfront Street car requested for 3.5 million dollars in Proposition A1 funds from the cash strapped Sacramento Regional Transit District.

Proposition 1A (High Speed Rail Act 2008)  bond proceeds are to made available for capital projects on other passenger rail lines to provide connectivity to the high-speed train system and for capacity enhancements and safety improvements to those lines.

RT’s  Board of Directors denied the request. It would consider releasing the 3.5 million dollars after the Federal Transportation District approved the project.

The issue for RT is if the street car financing isn’t nailed down, those fund may not be available for other projects.  The Street Car project was an agenda item at last weeks RT meeting.

News at 11

 

CityFella

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rent Control Sacramento: The City offers a Bandaid to slow the bleeding


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Sacramento is the fastest growing big city in the State of California.  The capital city has seen a 9.4 increase in rent, three times higher than the national average and double the states average.

With rents averaging $1700, the Capital city has become an attractive and lower cost alternative to renters in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles County.  The city has become popular with Millennials.  Sacramento, is the third most popular destination after Seattle and Nashville.

The new arrivals aren’t challenged by the rent prices

In Sacramento, fewer landlord are offering yearly leases ,opting for month to month agreements where they can increase rents with a 30 notice.     Many long term renters have experienced several rent increases this year.    After 16 years in a South Land Park Apartment, one tenant received 3 rent increases in less then seven months. Her dishwasher and disposal hasn’t worked in more than two year.  Today her rent is 62% of her income and she is not alone.    Sacramento’s eviction rate is more than twice the state average.

Fast Facts 

Don’t believe the Hype, not everyone is leaving California for Texas, Nevada, Oregon and Arizona, the state’s population continues to grow.  Nearly 40 million people call the Golden State Home.    There is a housing shortage in most population centers in state with Sacramento being one of the worst in the nation. According to Yardi matrix , Sacramento ranked 90 of the 96 markets. While Sacramento needs 2700 units annually to meet demand, only 593 apartments were completed in 2017.

While there has always been a need for affordable housing, the city eased requirements shortly after the Real Estate bubble burst and reduced funding for the program.

The Basic Myth 

Rent control will stop construction on new housing units……..

In most cities in California, (including Sacramento) apartment construction are at record levels.   Even in cities with existing rent control laws.  Developers set the rent on new developments,  once occupied, the cities rent controls would apply.   

Passage of Proposition 10 in November would allow California cities to place rent controls on new development. 

 (If the developer cant make a viable profit they may choose not to build.)

Tenants will not leave their rent control apartments, resulting in an shortages.  

The objective data, doesn’t support this.

 

Sacramento’s 

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It very clear, Sacramento’s Mayor Darrell Steinberg’s and some members of the city council do not support any form of rent control.   His support of temporary measures disappointed many attending the rent control workshop last night.

Steinberg: “I do not favor permanent rent control in our city,” “I believe building more affordable housing is the best way to stabilize rents. 

  Funding for affordable housing may take 7 to 10 years. The reality for his constituents is they needed rent relief yesterday. They needed relief the first hour he took office.

(Government:   I want you to know we understand what your going through, needing shelter from the rain.  Currently there isn’t funding for umbrellas.   I have instructed my  has been instructed to locate funding.   Finding a source may take some time, but I assure you we will make this a top Priority. After a few necessary meetings with governmental agencies,  we should get funding for that umbrella you clearly need in two years, nine years tops! )  

Mayor Steinberg, supports a cap of 5% on annual rent increases that would expire after three years. The cap, would apply to apartments older than 20 years.

This is a slap in the face for renters in the city.  He has excluding more than a few thousand apartments units, built during Sacramento’s last building boom between the late nineties to 2007. What happens to rents after the cap expires? 

Council members Steve Hansen, Eric Guerra and Rick Jennings suggested mediation be available to tenants if a landlord attempted to raise the rent by more than 6 percent.  Their plan would also make it mandatory for landlords with more than five units to offer 18-month leases, which Jennings said isn’t as extreme as rent control and would help stabilize rental rates.“  According to their proposal, if a tenant who receives a rent increase of more than 6 percent within a 12-month period requests mediation, they must still pay rent, plus the 6 percent increase, until the dispute is resolved.

Mediation?  Rent control let talk about it?  This proposal is completely absurd! 

This was clearly written by individuals who a have close ties with developers or own property in the city.  Rent control isn’t a new language, there isn’t a code to crack.  Not only is there several resources available members of their staff could make calls to cities along I-80 as  Richmond, Berkeley and San Francisco have rent control legislation in place. There is nothing ambiguous in those cities agreements.  In San Francisco, rent increases are limited to 6% a year*  no meetings, the landowner would need to get permission from the city to increase rents beyond the cap.   (* The landlord can exceed the cap if capital improvements are required) 

 

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Sacramento currently needs 2700 units of new housing annually.  In time, the demand  will only increase.  The city’s homeless population is growing by the hour. Sacramento has joined, San Jose, San Francisco and many other cities with employed individuals living in their cars, camping in our parks, because they cant afford housing.   According to the Sacramento County Coroner’s office, in 2016, 78 homeless people died within the county. But in 2017, 124 people died: an increase of more than 150%. One homeless person dies every three days.

This issue of housing and homelessness isn’t just a Sacramento problem its a national problem.  Its a national disgrace.  Ignored until it overwhelms.

The primary issue isn’t rent in the the new developments in Sacramento.  It is the exorbitant rent increases renters are experiencing all over the city.    Long term tenants are facing rent increases because the landlord can.   Resulting in fear, insecurity, and helplessness.

Proposition 10, may not be the answer to the state’s housing shortage. It is an reaction, to the inaction of local government .  The noise generated by the  renters of Sacramento have forced Mayor Steinberg and company to look at rent control.  Their proposed fixes won’t slow the bleeding Sacramento.

A genuine approach would be an ordinance that would immediately cap all rent increases to 6% city wide.   An ordinance that would prevent evictions without cause. (which would prevent landowner from evicting tenants to circumventing the law)

Tax incentives to those developers that include market rate housing in their projects.  Incentives to developers who add housing to their projects throughout these adding additional intensives for developer to build near light rail stations.  These projects could be managed thorough  Sacramento’s Housing Authority.   Returning to reality, none of these are likely to happen.

Renters of Sacramento,will have to make rent control a part of law.   There is no need to   have to re-invent the wheel as several templates   There are rent control advocates in the State that will participate in penning the law.

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CityFella

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shopping While Black in Citrus Heights


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By: Erika D. Smith/Sacramento Bee

The story of Zhalisa Clarke — a black woman who was minding her own business at a Raley’s in Citrus Heights when cashier accused her of shoplifting and called the police — didn’t make national news.

It could have. In fact, it should have.

Like Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson, the black men who, in April, went to a Starbucks for a business meeting and soon found themselves being handcuffed by Philadelphia police, Clarke went to Raley’s for the most innocuous of reasons: to go grocery shopping.

She and a friend, who is Asian American, were headed on an extended camping trip and were stocking up. They spent quite a bit of time wandering the aisles looking for the right food and condiments., and in Clarke’s case, apparently a little too long looking for a vegan spread.

Click on the Link Below for the complete story

https://www.sacbee.com/opinion/opn-columns-blogs/erika-d-smith/article217290380.html

He Slapped her back at the Light Rail Station


I imagine female to male violence  has always been around.  You see lot of it on social media ,where a female or females will taunt a male and hit him .  Random men on the subway to Bus drivers.  Females slapping often hitting men as hard as they can. Usually, these are young women, often traveling in packs.

A few months ago, a very young woman cut in line at the R Street Safeway  When the man in front of her objected, she called him a racist.  I was behind him and his wife and said  he wasnt a racist, and she was wrong.  As I was talking to wife, the young woman  pushed past him and his wife and attempted to chest bump me and ordered me to stop talking!  I’m double her weight and stand more than a foot taller.   I left the line to defuse the situation .  She told the man in front of her, she would be waiting for him outside.  As she and her freinds were leaving the store, the very young woman kicked a display  getting the attention of the security guard.

At an early age, males are taught never to strike a woman.  NEVER !  There isn’t an asterisk here.  It doesn’t matter if she attacks you.   You shall NEVER hit a woman!   I have seen alcohol fueled women attack the bouncers at nightclubs, often without provocation,  Young women in groups attacking men, provoking men.  Men who retailate are often restrained and sometimes attacked by other men.

Recently, there was a commotion at the 12th Light Rail Station, a thirty-ish woman was slapping kicking, yelling and biting a late thrity-ish male.  Angry, yes, out of control, yes.   There were two groups, one group was horrified and the other entertained, capturing the drama with their cell phones.  You could feel some of the slaps.  As the male was attempting to protect himself from the blows, she was screaming and threatening to get other males she knew to “beat his ass” .

After landing some stinging slaps, he slapped her, knocking her to the ground.  None of the men stepped in.  When she stood up, her nose was bleeding.  Her voice grew higher and stronger than before ,the words she used were unrecognizable.  As she walked towards him, he raised his hand.  She said, “he would be dead later” for hitting a woman!   She called him faggot and a punk for hitting a woman.  She was crying now.  She looked towards the four women for sympathy, and couldn’t fine a sympathetic eye.

As a light rail trail entered the station, she started screaming at him again. She screamed as they boarded the train. Suddenly he jumped off the train through the rear doors as they were closing and started walking towards downtown.

One of the men, at the station said “these females are crazy, you can’t go just walkin up to some man and start wailing on him and expect him to stand there and take it!”  “I would have beat her ass the second time she hit me!”

CityFella

 

 

 

 

 

Street Cars: Trump Delays funding on Sacramento’s next White Elephant


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white elephant (def)  a possession that is useless or troublesome, especially one that is expensive to maintain or difficult to dispose of.

 

 2015, Supporters of  Sacramento’s measure B told us.  Sacramento would  benefit all our neighborhoods by improving mobility between midtown, downtown, and West Sacramento with an affordable transit system that is authentically Sacramento.   Measure B would improve our economy. Streetcars create a vibrant local economy, which means more small businesses and more jobs in downtown and midtown.  The streetcar project will help create 12,000 jobs and $2.5 billion in economic development over 20 years and will allow seniors, students, visitors, workers, and central city residents to go car-free.

Those opposed to Measure B said, the streetcar project would operate at an enormous annual loss. Ticket sales are expected to cover about 20% of cost of operation; the other 80% will require a subsidy.  The shortfall will likely come from the City’s General Fund, reducing local services such as parks, bike lanes, street repairs, the homeless, and police.  It runs on, or near, the same Streets served by existing light rail and buses.

November 2015: Measure B, didn’t receive the required ( two thirds) required to pass the tax increase.

Despite its failure, Mayor Steinberg and other city leaders continued to press on. The voter rejected project received funding from the state and a 100 million dollar  commitment from Congress.  The Riverfront streetcar project grew in size, from 3.3 miles to 4.4 miles ending at West Sacramento’s City Hall.

The arguments against the project in 2015, continues to be true in 2018.  The proposed route continue to be served by buses and light rail.   While there are more housing along the routes, no one has identified need.

What we do know!

If completed, the route will require a subsidy.   Regional Transit, is looking for riders.

In the last 12 months, Regional Transit has seen more than 2 million fewer bus and light-rail trips compared to the year before, a 10 percent loss. That adds up to a more than $800,000 deficit in fare revenue.  The hope was the Golden 1 Center would attract more customers, but a year after opening and a year after rate hikes, RT just isn’t seeing the impact (CBS Sacramento January 2018)

Nearly four years ago, Regional Transit opened the Green Line from Downtown to Richards Boulevard (Township 9)   Today the line carries fewer than estimated 200 passengers a day is a drain on RT.

Sacramento along with Albuquerque, Dallas, El Paso, Jacksonville, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York City, Orange County, Reno, Seattle, Gary,Indiana, St. Petersburg ,Florida and Tempe Arizona.  Recently learned, the funds approved by Congress in March is being held up by President Trump’s Federal Transit Administration.

Thank you, Donald?

It isn’t clear why the Trump’s administration halted transportation funding. If his administration re evaluated the methods used for cities to qualify for funding, then this is a positive move for tax payers.   If the project is completely funded, Sacramento’s Riverfront  street car line will be a financial drain on Sacramento and the cities served by RT on day one.

Its only taxpayer money, the project doesn’t have to make fiscal sense.  Fiscal independent studies aren’t important, history or profitability isn’t important (Sacramento Convention Center) If Des Moines have one, well our city should have one too.

CityFella