The Sacramento Convention Center: Bad Money


Image result for new sacramento convention center

 

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!

_______________________________________________________________

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

Advertisements

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


Image result for white elephant

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

Broke Down Diva


What is a”Broke Down Diva?”

A woman who wants everything her way and nothing else! (Jennie.G)

A Female that expects everything from someone else (Trophy wife) ( Stephanie F)

A pretender, a Diva wanna be, who gets off on belittling others, wants to live the lives of the Rich and famous but she eats at Denny’s and shops at Ross (Wayne. C)

_________________________________________________

The Sacramento Applebee staff knows who she is.  She visits the restaurant on Friday nights with an entourage (6 to 10 people) during the restaurants busiest period  between 7-8.   She doesn’t want to wait and has on occasion slipped onto table as the patrons were leaving insisting, her table cleaned immediately!   She makes the staff wait, as she inspects the water glasses and if one doesn’t meet her standard then she demands all the glasses replaced.   Everyone food, must meet her standards, or they’re returned.   Ignoring her means DRAMA, something she seems to enjoy.  If doesn’t matter if “A” server has her hands full of hot platters, doesn’t have to be her server.  SHE must be attended to immediately.   Loud disagreements are common place, if she isn’t getting her way!   ” Any in fraction should come with a discount, after all it wasn’t perfect, something she expects every time. She has memorized the customer service number and has complained in the past when her all demands weren’t met!     She openly tells her friends the wait staff  should be thankful that they are receiving a tip from her.    She feels  her 4% or 9% tips are more than generous considering the service!

__________________________________________________________

She arrives at the hotel in her signature gold outfit, with matching purse, polyester on parade.   She wants nothing but the best, her initial tone is pleasing, if she is displeased it becomes shrill.   She arrived at 1am with a story.  Another hotel had her on hold for more than an hour  OMG! OMG! she cried!   She wanted a suite but a suite wasn’t available.  She was appalled! “You don’t have a suite!  (They expected her to say OMG-but she didn’t)   She is expecting a visitor.  She has always stayed in a suite at this hotel.  And her demeanor says she had  never experienced a pedestrian room!    A room without a sofa and amenities!   She reluctantly accepts a “pedestrian room.  A few minutes later, she returns and says she is sick to her stomach.  How could she face her company in such a room?   She calls the reservation line to locate a suite in the greater Sacramento Area, however, she doesn’t want to spend much.  They locate a reasonably priced suite near Cal-Expo that’s 20 dollars more.    She apologizes, and thanks the front desk for not charging her for THAT room.    Oh my gawd!

______________________________________________________________

Tracee is well known to the merchants of this small foothill community.  For her outrageous behavior, demanding discounts and returns.     Some of the cashiers go on a break when she walks in.  She is always over dressed and over perfumed.  She wears stilettos in the rain, everyone knows where she is at all times by the clacking sounds of her shoes. She often keeps the items until the last day they can be returned.   She will argue past closing time.   One supervisor said, I hate to say it, but I think we all hate her.  She goes out of her way to be mean and just nasty!    There is no reason for her to be like that!    If anyone in this town is a Broke Down Diva, Tracee (not her real name) fits the bill.

 

 

Bleak and Scary “J” Street


A few days ago, I picked up a few friends from Boston and drove them from Airport to their downtown hotel. . This was their first visit to Sacramento.   From the airport, I was peppered with questions about my city.  They were in town to attend a workshop and worried about having options in the evenings.

In the car, they were taking the in city, asking about undeveloped areas in Natomas near the Sleep Train Arena.  In Boston, there aren’t any large  undeveloped parcels.   There were smiles, as we crossed over the American River looking downtown. “Ohh this is nice and bright”   “What’s that?” pointing at Old Sac, more ooh’s.

As we exited onto “J” street, the car became silent.   I slowed down so they could see the Golden One Center and someone said, I see you have homeless here too.   The car was silent as we arrived at the Sheraton.  We’re having dinner tomorrow right?  Yes.

After dropping them off, I drove back to 3rd and J streets and looked at the area after dark  as if it was my first time.

J Street ,is the Gateway to downtown Sacramento. Everyday, thousands of people visiting Sacramento for the first time enter via J street.

As you enter J street , to the right, there is the bright Holiday Inn, to the left was a closed (at 10pm ) resturant.  Next to the Holiday Inn  is the rear of Downtown Commons which is very dark. Across from it ,is The Pier Lounge which is bright.

As  you cross 5th Street, the brightest building is not the New Sawyer Hotel and Condominiums, its the new Kaiser Permanente building.

From 6th to 7th Street everything is dark.

On the left side of “J” street, between 7th and 8th there is a series of vacant buildings with homeless people sleeping in front of them and one  Subway Resturant and a bail bondsman.

Between 8th and 9th Streets is modern apartment building with a few closed restaurants. Across from it is an office building.

9th and 10th  Cesar Chavez Park on the Left Side and on the Right side are a few closed businesses and on the corner of 10th is the Citizens Hotel. 

The block between 10th and the 11th Street is the worst block in Downtown Sacramento. With the exception of a Liquor Store across from the Citizens Hotel, every building on both sides of the street is vacant.

Thing begin to get better beyond 12th Street near the Sheraton Hotel. The areas is bright, with restaurants and activity.  With the exception of the crowds outside the 7/11 the area feels safe.

For the first time since moving here, I saw the city through the eyes of a visitor. After a driving a few mostly vacant blocks on J Street, I’m not sure if I would want to continue.

“J”  is Sacramento’s welcome mat. It is the first thing visitors see off  Interstate 5.  It is the exit, drivers wanting a break from the road on route to San Francisco or Los Angeles  from  Portland and Seattle or would take.  The first few block on “J” street might  determine if the visitor wants to see more of the city.

 Sacramento often forgets ,”K” is just one street in Sacramento.  Millions has been spent on Kay Street   To get to K street one has to exit onto J Street.

Sacramento is a wonderful and beautiful city filled with amazing trees and historic areas.  The midtown area is vibrant day and night with something for everyone.  One could spend a full day touring our wonderful museums.

Unfortunately, the first time visitors have to drive through a seedy and scary mess to get to get to the beauty.

CityFella

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just another Refugee from San Francisco


Image result for bike riding in midtown sacramento

I saw a familiar head in line at the BelAir Market on West El Camino.  We used to call him Peanut head back in the day.   I hadn’t seen Peanut head in more than ten years.  We lost contact after my family moved to Sacramento in the nineties.   There he was, in living color, in South Natomas.   I like a lot of my friends in the Bay, he gave many excuses why he couldn’t visit Sacramento. The number one excuse, was the heat. The number two was, it wasn’t the city and there wasn’t anything to do here.  I parked my cart and intercepted him before he left the store.

It seems Peanut head moved to Sacramento four years ago.  Family members from Hayward and Fremont soon followed.  His younger brother and his partner will arrive this spring.

Peanut head lost his job nearly 30 years and owned a home in the Haight.  After an extended visit in Sacramento he sold his home and paid cash for a home near his friend (a refugee from Los Angeles) in South Natomas.   Today, he owns several properties in Sacramento and has his sights on Oak Park.   He LOVES Sacramento, for more than a half an hour he talked about how much he loved it here.   We discovered we enjoy the same restaurants in midtown., he his a major soccer fan and often attends sporting events in the area.

In the last few years, nearly a dozen friends had quietly moves to Sacramento.   If your a Millennial its possible to own a home here.  If your a baby boomer with children or grandchildren in the state.  You can sell you home in Los Angeles and San Francisco and with the savings have an easier retirement.

Sometimes its difficult to find someone who was born and raised here to have a good word about their city.  Like the central character in Ladybird, they only dreams to leave the city.

I think the refugees are wining ,as Sacramento is the fastest growing big city in the state. While the local say there isn’t much here, the refugees are amazed by what is here.  The initial attraction here is the lower cost of living.  Sactown cost are  higher than most southern cities. Its much lower than the coastal areas of California and Washington.

Refugees have nothing put praise about the city and they are coming in by the car load.

Wikipedia Says, Sacramento has one of the highest LGBT populations per capita, ranking seventh among major American cities, and third in California behind San Francisco and slightly behind Oakland, with roughly 10% of the city’s total population identifying themselves as gay, lesbian, or bisexual and Sac is as the most “hipster city” in California.

After twenty years in Sactown, I wish it were a bit more urban. A bit more vertical. However what keeps me planted is the diversity, the people. I travel often and one thing I haven’t heard in Sacramento, “people who look like me isn’t welcome in this part of town”.  Something you hear in many cities.. So far, not in Sacramento.

The new refugees don’t share my complaints.  Go to a restaurant along 16th Street in one of the new buildings  or walk along “R”St corridor and you’ll hear (well, with one very vocal exception from Los Angeles who cant wait to leave this pile of …) I like Sac.

CityFella

 

 

 

He Urinated on the Deputy


 

Placer County Deputies noticed ,Sacramento resident, Steven Holley was acting strangely around the Miners Ravine Natures Preserve in Granite Bay on Thursday..

In a short struggle with the deputies, the 55 year old’s dingy sprung a leak and he urinated on the Deputy.

The Deputies found methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia, on the moist suspect.

Perhaps, Holley will used the patent”I was looking for a rest room and how did those get in there?”defense.

CityFella

 

Welcome to Sacramento: Get out of our Parks


 

20170701_093800

The Citizen’s Hotel opened in 2008.   The building was once the former headquarters of California Western State Life Insurance.

 Built in the 1920’s the building was one of Sacramento’s first skyscrapers.

The Citizens hotel has become very popular for those who want something different from the cookie cutter hotels in the area as no two rooms are alike.

The hotel is located at 10th and J Street downtown across the street from Cesar Chavez Park .  The park is well known in the area as a place for concerts. farmers markets, wine tasting and other events.

20170701_093934

 If your a guest of the hotel and want to sit down outside, its fine as long as its before 11pm.

20170701_093911

A first time visitor to Sacramento from Houston said he having a cigarette after a late meeting and was told by a police officer the park was closed and he would have leave.

Some cities close their parks in the evenings mitigate the homeless population.   With the exception of K street, there are few places, where one can sit down.

  The new Sawyer hotel next to Golden One Center opens in a few months.   The plaza between the new hotel/condo isn’t visitor friendly once the events has ended at the arena. The nearest park is Cesar Chavez.

The gentleman from Houston will share his experience at the park with others.  Perhaps to professionals in the Travel Industry.

  New York, Miami ,New Orleans, Memphis and Honolulu and others cities with large homeless populations have programs in place to keep their public parks and open areas near hotels and attractions safe for tourists.

Sacramento wants to be an destination. Attracting conventions and National sports events.  To accomplish that, the city will need to become visitor friendly.

CityFella